Sometimes, you just have to leave the beach. Like when Estela y Jorge want to take you and Wendy on an adventure, that’s when. Been here six weeks and everyone says You have to go to Patzcuaro! Or, You haven’t been to Patzcuaro? Or some such. Manifestation occurred. Wendy just met Estela and I a couple weeks ago, but we are all heart-bonded now(June babies?). We spoke Spanish together most of the time and, since Estela speaks English well from her 16 years in Chicago, we rapidly learned any words we didn’t already know. Jorge was our ever-valient chauffeur (don’t know how to say that in Spanish yet), and we got there in record time. It’s been cool and rainy here for a week, but we were told it gets really cold up in the mountains (like 49), so I borrowed a hat (in which I slept), gloves (no comments, please), and wore extra socks.
We braved the weather and sight-saw, shopped and ate — so fun to see the same antiquity I enjoyed in Rome. Ok, so it’s 15th century instead of 1st century. Hey, I’m from California — anything before 1920 is ancient, right?
But, I get a head of myself. First, we went to the big city of Morelia (old, old) and took a bus tour around the original part of the town. Past the jail where the evil Spaniards imprisoned priests for life (if they weren’t immediately beaten to death) and the convent where there was one little door for the seven-year old girls as they entered (never to leave) and a second entrance for regular people. At least that’s what Estela told me; the hourlong tour was in Spanish, of course, and way too fast for me to follow. It was cool.
Here are a few of the pics I took (on Wendy’s camera — how will I ever blog with mine broken, I ask you). The aqueduct was just like the one in Rome – amazing.
After getting stuck in Morelia’s (not-so-ancient) rush hour, we escaped to the tranquility of sweet little Patzcuaro, every bit as enchanting as advertised. And how cool are these doors?
There was a priest (long ago) who wanted the indigenous people to be independent of the (aforementioned evil) Spaniards. There’s a lake near Patzcuaro (of course, it’s named Lake Patzcuaro, silly!) — he taught the locals to be artisans and crafters, so yet today there are many little villages all around the lake, each specializing in textiles, copperware, stone carvings, or woodworking. And los Indios lived happily ever after. Well, at least they got a bunch of tourists to come shop there, and that was a good thing. We went to the village called Tzintzuntzan (so fun to say), the first capitol of the state of Michoacan, where Wendy set about finding a new dresser for her beach house. First, we came upon the stone sculptors, then we found the furniture makers. Big fun.
As luck would have it, this happened to be the day of a big festival in Tzintzuntzan! It was some saint’s day — not the old one, St. Francis, he got beat out by some local Catholic-Indo politics (yes the Mayans and Catholics often worship together here). No one seemed to know who the new saint was, but he was obviously very popular. People were walking ten miles and more to get to this little festival – you could tell that some of the folks only leave their rustic farms rarely, and they were duded up for this event.
We only spent one night on our little adventure up into the mountains, but had such a wonderful time. There were many toll roads, and the military stopped us a couple of time. They were so sweet and respectful (didn’t hurt that “we” were Mexican, I’m sure). Turns out the government is looking for bad guys, in order to protect their #1 GNP: Me! (Tourism.)
The Mexican people who live in places like Troncones, where people from the US and Canadia have settled, are actually safer because of it. They are protected by our gringo asses from the bad guys, too. Win-win.
Not sure I’ll ever get used to the truckloads of young men in their spiffy uniforms driving around Mexico with their automatic weapons, but it has always been so.