Category Archives: Tourist Sites in Mexico

Playing Tourist–Dolores Hidalgo, Gto

I’m not a big fan of Mexican movies, but every now and then, one catches my fancy. Our latest tourist adventure was inspired by 2014 movie En El Último Trago. Three old geezers set out on a whirlwind adventure, well, as whirlwind as 3 old geezers can spin, to Dolores Hidalgo, specifically to the José Alfredo Jiménez museum. The movie is a hoot. There was nothing for it but to recreate their journey to Dolores Hidalgo ourselves.

It’s only about 3 hours from our home, so it was an easy day trip. Thank god, we had no vehicle problems or no random police stops. Nearly all of my proposed visit sites were clustered near the centro, so we parked and hoofed it.

After stopping for refreshment at a torta place, we began our tourist adventure with the Casa Museo José Alfredo Jiménez. I even got some pictures of the signature of José Alfredo Jiménez, which is a key feature of the movie. Entrance is $40 pesos with a discount for teachers and students with appropriate ID. We bought most of our souvenirs here, which meant lugging them around the rest of the day, but after seeing the other gift shops, we decided it was worth it.

We passed the Parroquia de Nuestro Señora de Los Dolores and saw some class trips reenacting the Grito de Dolores.IMG_20180711_121814

We went to El Museo del Bicentenario which was disappointing. I wasn’t able to exactly understand how the displays came together. The nearest I could figure each room represented an oppressed society. One had posters about censorship in Russia, another Vietnam, 2 full rooms were devoted to China and the last room was all about Israel. There were some exceptional stained glass windows in one room and a few spectacular Catrinas in another, but that was about it as regards to Mexico. Oh, and the two full wall surrealist murals were something to see. Admission was $20 pesos, half price for students and teachers.

Our next stop was La Casa de Los Descendientes de Hidalgo (the House of the descendants of Miguel Hidalgo), which was also an upscale restaurant. The entrance was $30 pesos per person and $10 for camera use. As the name implies, this was the home of the 5th generation descendants of Miguel Hidalgo, the last remaining descendant having just celebrated her 106th birthday. Apparently, after the 5 generations, the blood is no longer pure and the generation count begins again. So the children of the 5th generation, are no longer descendants of Miguel Hidalgo, or so our tour guide told us. This was my favorite museum. There were dioramas depicting some of the most relevant aspects of the fight for Independence. I have to admit, I always wanted to have my own handmade wooden dollhouse and these little scenes made my heart go pitter patter with longing.

We then took a turn around the centro, which was very pleasant, and had some ice cream (another reference to the movie). There were a few nice statues, lots of benches to sit on, and a whole lotta shoe polishing carts. We admired La Casa de Visitas from our park bench.

We hiked a few blocks to the Museo del Vino and the Casa de Hidalgo. Both had a $45 peso admission fee, which seemed a little steep now that we’d been to a few of the other museums. We opted not to tour either. I did peek in Hidalgo’s house and was reminded of another movie Hidalgo la Historia Jamás Contada which as far as historical movies go, wasn’t bad.

Of course, it could be that Hidalgo, who fathered children with two different women and spearheaded the national fight for Independence, was not quite what you would expect from a Catholic priest. Hidalgo had his own vineyards which were burnt in punishment for his treason against the crown, so the Museo de Vino wasn’t a far stretch of the imagination right there next to his house in what used to be a hospital. We did hit the gift shop and bought a locally produced bottle of wine called Lloro de Tierra. It was a nice, sweet, fruity rose and we enjoyed it immensely when we got home.

We did not get to the Museo de la Independencia, nor did we stop to see la Tumba de José Alfredo Jiménez en the Panteon. When we asked for directions to the cemetery, hoping it was close enough to walk to, we were told we’d have to walk “un chingo” to get there. My son’s flat feet were starting to ache and we were getting tired, so walking un chingo didn’t seem like something we were interested in doing.IMG_20180711_140241.jpg On the way out of the town, we stopped in another nice park with statues, a playground, some nice fountains (without any water) and benches that resembled sofas.IMG_20180711_141220As far as Pueblos Mágicos go, Dolores Hidalgo should be on your must-see list, not for the quality of the museums because they were rather ho-hum, but for the historical significance of the area, and the wine. I would recommend staying more than one day since there are so many things to see.

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Playing Tourist–Uriangato, Guanajuato

Uriangato, Guanajuato is Moroleon’s neighboring town and also believes itself to be a city.  They are so close they share the Calle de Ropa (Clothing street) and have been involved in recent land disputes over the Moroleon/Uriangato border. However, the culture between the two is centuries apart. Moroleon is on its way to becoming an unimaginative merchandising metropolis while Uriangato still has bonfire festivities.  

The name Uriangato (which to me sounds suspiciously like something that translates as cat pee) actually comes from the original Purepecha name of the settlement which was anapu-nani-hima-huriata-hari-jatzhicuni-anandini.  This translates roughly as Lugar donde el sol se pone levantado (the place where the sunset occurs on top) and refers to the fact that the western surrounding hills do not allow the sun’s rays to reach the town center from the early afternoon on, causing it to look like sunset most of the day. Apparently, the conquering Spanish could not pronounce the name and dubbed the area Uriangato.

Back in the year 940 or so, the area was inhabited by the Chichimecas and Otomies under the general jurisdiction of the Purepechas of Yuriria. At the time of the Spanish conquest in the 1500s, Uriangato was considered a border area dividing the Chichimeca and Purepecha domains.  In 1529, the area and its inhabitants were gifted to Juan de Tovar.  In 1549,  Fray Diego de Chávez founded la Congregación de Nativos (The Congregation of Natives), with the supposed goal of bettering the lives of the indigenous left in the area.  On February 20, 1604, King Felipe the Third decreed that the area would henceforth be known as the town of San Miguel Uriangato.

The monument in honor of Hidalgo and his forces passing through on the way to Morelia.

During the Mexican Independence War, Uriangato’s only involvement was allowing Hidalgo and his troops to pass through on their way to Valladolid (Morelia) on November 14, 1810.  There’s a monument in the town center marking that they too were part of the “Ruta de la Independencia.” (Road to Independence).

The animosity that still exists between Moroleon and Uriangato apparently began in the early 1830’s. There were some issues with vendors from Uriangato who wished to set up stalls in the area that is now known as Moroleon and were prohibited by locals. Neither city has forgotten.

In 1918, Uriangato was attacked by bandits under the leadership of J. Inés Chávez García.  The town rallied and drove the bad guys away. Venustiano Carranza himself sent his congratulations to the town officials. The Aniversario de la Heroica Defensa de Uriangato (anniversary of the Heroic Defense of Uriangato) is commemorated on June 24.

1918 was also the year that the Spanish Influenza hit Uriangato. During the months of October and November of that year, 25 to 30 bodies were buried daily with an estimated total death toll of 1500 residents.

The town tradition of the Globos de Cantoya (hot air balloons) began in 1928 as part of the festivities honoring San Miguel the Archangel during La Octava Noche.  I have not gone to see this particular aspect of the San Miguel tradition, not being a big fan of balloons and all, but the sawdust artistry of the tapetes (carpets) is really amazing. This is a relatively new tradition begun in 2009. The other major aspect of these celebration days are the candiles (bonfires). Nearly every household has a burning ocote fire in front of their home lit to guide San Miguel through the town. It’s an eerie experience. (See also Fogatas, tapetes, and San Miguel Arcangel ) The Fiesta de San Miguel Arcángel runs from September 19 to October 6 culminating in a procession over the tapetes with the image of San Miguel the archangel to and from La Iglesia de San Miguel Arcángel.

You can find something for everyone–zombie, Guadalupe and pot shirts for sale here.

The first rebozo (shawl) textile factories in Uriangato were opened in the 1960s leading to the eventual creation of 4 km of street vendor stalls that continues on into Moroleon.  I find the whole shopping experience overwhelming.  I mean really, 4 kilometers of clothing? However, this is a big draw for people from other areas who buy quantities of clothing and then resell it in their own stores.

During the Christmas season, which is observed from December 16 to December 30, Los Enanitos Toreros (midget bullfighters) never fail to make an appearance.  Not something you are likely to see in Moroleon.

So if you like shopping, pageantry and midget bullfighters, you won’t want to miss stopping by Uriangato.

 

  

 

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Playing Tourist–Puruándiro, Michoacan

Even though we sold the sheep before we made it to Puruándiro de Calderón, it is a town worth mentioning.  In the indigenous language purépecha, the area was called Purhuandirhu which means lugar donde hierve el agua (place of water where the water boils) referring to the hot springs found in the area. The area has an abundance of natural water. The streams Cofradía, Tablón, Jazmín, Laguna, Conono, Colorado, Cazahuate and el Angulo flow into the area. The watering holes Tablón, Cofradía and Agua Tibia are found there. And of course, both cold and hot springs round out the waterways of the area.

While the hot springs are worth a visit, it’s advisable NOT to go during Semana Santa. Not only are the crowds impossible, but there seemed to be armed guards at the entrance way to the hot springs this year. We drove past and right at the Michoacan/Guanajuato border the police set up a checkpoint looking for fuzzy sheep to fleece umm… I mean providing a safe and secure roadway for holiday goers.

With hot spring healing waters, it’s no surprise that the patron saint of Puruándiro is El Señor de la Salud (Christ the Healer) whose feast day is celebrated May 25 with processions, sawdust and flower carpets, fireworks and a traditional dance (with a bit of Roman twist post-conquest) called La Danza del paloteo.

However, how He became the patron saint is not what you expect.  In 1918, bandits tried to attack the town. The townsfolk pleaded that El Señor de la Salud save the town and offered up an enchorizado (a length of firecrackers) to get the good Lord’s attention.  The bandits thought the firecrackers were bullets and decided to not attack the town after all. Or so the story goes.

With so much water, crops and livestock are plentiful.  Thus, one of Puruándiro‘s other primary draws is the buying, selling, feeding and inseminating of animals.

Other attractions include the motocross track, some neat conical buildings used for storing seed, a lienzo charro (rodeo), several hoochie-mama nightclubs and one nigth club.

As you can see, there’s something for nearly everyone (well maybe not) here in Puruandiro!

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Playing Tourist –Huandacareo, Michoacán

We live just a little too far for most people to head to the beach during the annual Semana Santa vacation period. However, we do live close enough to several lakes which have spawned a number of balnearios (pools literally public bathing areas) to console the would-be beach bum. By far, the most visited are in Huandacareo, Michoacán.

Huandacareo is on the northwest side of Lake Cuitzeo. (See Playing Tourist–Cuitzeo) Its name translates roughly as “area of discourse and was given it the area when Cazonci, a Purépecha leader, passed through the area after a victory and was honored by the locales with discourses full of praise.

There is an archaeological site that dates back to 1200 CE. called La Nopalera.  It was a ceremonial site where justice was served and criminals were punished. It was still in use at the time of the Spanish conquest. As you can see from the billboard, it’s also used for Holy Week celebrations, in this case, a concert on Palm Sunday.

But of course, the balnearios are the town’s main revenue-generating attraction. We’ve gone on several occasions. I don’t ever take my camera in, so the best I could do was some pictures from the outside.

There are hotels you can stay at or you can bring or rent a tent and camp out.

The market area has everything you could possibly need to go swimming.

You can get the most amazing gorditas here, not too spicy, not too bland.

Do not enter with dogs, gas tanks, guns, speakers, or intoxicated

I have to say that it is the most expensive and least fun to go during Semana Santa. Prices shoot up from 40 pesos admission to 100 pesos per person. There are so many people crammed in the pools that you are likely to get kicked in the face. And although you aren’t allowed to enter inebriated, there’s nothing in the rules that say you can’t get drunk while you are in the pool. There are just to many people.

But if you can go during the off-season, it is really a nice place to visit.

 

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