Category Archives: Tourist Sites in Mexico

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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Playing Tourist–Los Amoles, Guanajuato

To start off the 2018 A to Z Challenge, I’d like to tell you about a little town called Los Amoles.  Its full name is Cerro de Los Amoles (Hill of Los Amoles–I haven’t been able to find out what Amoles means though) and it is part of the municipality of Moroleon, just like La Yacata.  However, Los Amoles is 2361 meters above sea level and that makes a world of difference.

Los Amoles is at the center of that snow-topped mountain.

We’ve been to Los Amoles on several occasions.  We’ve hiked up the mountain to pick capulines (chokeberries) which only grow in that area.  We’ve been caught in hail storms and flash floods while driving over the mountain. My husband and son drove the motorcycle through a lagoon on a quest for wild horses said to roam free in the area.  And my American sister-in-law fell and knocked out a tooth while picnicking in these parts. Good times!

More recently, the powers that be decided to create an eco-park in Los Amoles.  I thought it would be something interesting to see, so we went. The actual road to the park isn’t well marked.  There’s only 1 sign pointing the way. You need to drive past the church, the local drinking spot, and the plaza de toros (bull ring) even to get to that sign.  But we found it!

It seems the entrance is yet unfinished.  The gate is a wired stick contraption. One of the workers said it was to keep the free roaming chickens, pigs, horses, cows and other animals from destroying the area.  

As you can see, it was actually very nice!  There are solar lights, individual cookout areas, wooden playsets for the kids and some saplings that one day will grow into trees providing the animals don’t eat them first.

 
According to this article, the eco-park will also have some zip lines, cabins you can rent to stay in, and some biking trails but that hasn’t materialized yet. Maybe there will be more signs up to direct visitors once those attractions are up and running?

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Playing Tourist–Paracho de Verduzco, Michoacan

So round about the time my son was finishing his secondary education (See Secondary Graduation) his guitar broke.  Talk about disappointed.  Of course, I pointed out that we did buy it second hand (See Music Lessons) and it lasted nearly 2 years as he slowly mastered its use and care.

Since my parents sent a little money for his graduation, we earmarked it for a new guitar and off we went in search of one.  We went to every single pawn shop in Moroleon twice.  We even looked at the new ones at Fabricas de Francia after swearing I’d never set foot in there again.  I contacted all the musically inclined people I knew in town and even some who weren’t.  Nothing satisfactory appeared.

Since I had such luck searching online for my piano (See Piano Shopping), I thought I’d give that route a go. Lo and behold, my search got a hit on Facebook and I contacted guitarras Amezcua to set up an appointment to see guitars.  I googled directions to Paracho de Verduzco, Michoacan and my next day off, we set off on our latest adventure.

Google maps gave me three routes and I chose the one that seemed the most interesting rather than the route that took us through Morelia.  What a drive!  We were enthralled with the scenic views, forested areas and little towns we drove through.  It took us a bit longer than we anticipated, but the trip there was disaster free.

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We drove past this HUGE guitar monument as we entered the town.  Guitars hung from store windows and wooden shacks to the left and to the right.  I said to my son that if we couldn’t find a guitar in this town then we wouldn’t find a guitar anywhere. After all, 40% of the local economy is based on the manufacturing of guitars and other stringed instruments.  There are 15 guitar talleres (factories) which produce about 5,000 guitars every week.

The town itself is very small, with a population of 357 residents, and was undergoing street renovations while we were there which limited our explorations.  In addition to guitars, every little shop was crammed full of all sorts of handcrafted wooden items.  

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We delightfully purchased the items in the picture above at a fraction of what they cost in Moroleon.

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We found the taller of Sr. Amezcua, but it was closed.  As he said he might be in a meeting at his daughter’s school and to call or send a message when we arrived, we did. He said he’d be there in five minutes, so we waited.

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His shop was small, but the guitars were beautiful.  In the glass cases, there were autographed photographs of famous cantantes (singers) from the 50s and 60s with their Amezcua guitar.  My son asked for a studio guitar and Sr. Amezcua put one in his hands immediately.  

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As soon as he strummed the strings, he was smitten. I encouraged him to try a few guitars to make sure that he wanted that one.  So he tried out a flamenco guitar.  He liked that one as well and it was less expensive, however, the rich tones of the studio guitar had stolen his heart.

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My husband negotiated a bit and we walked out of the shop with the guitar and a soft guitar case for $3,200 pesos.  Later, my son had an appraisal done on the guitar and it would have easily cost $15,000 pesos or more in a store.  Needless to say, he’s quite happy with his new guitar.

Those scenic views we so enjoyed on the trip there turned into nerve-wracking hairpin curves in the dark.  We ran into a military checkpoint.  The young officer asked where we were coming from and where we were going, then waved us on.  Or at least my husband and I thought he waved us on.  My son said that the officer actually told us to pull over to the side for a full inspection.  Oops!

Then, we missed our turnoff and ended up driving through Morelia, but once we are in Morelia, we can find our way home pretty well.  So, overall a good adventure!

Interested in learning more about the lovely little town of Paracho, I did some internet research and found that for 2 years now, the town has been trying to break the Guinness world record for most guitarists at one gathering.  This year the gathering had nearly 3,000 participants.

It was no surprise that Paracho is the home of the Feria Nacional de la Guitarra (National Guitar Festival) which occurs in the beginning of August every year.  This just might be something we make sure to attend next year!

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