Tag Archives: Michoacán

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–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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Playing Tourist–Patzcuaro, Michoacan

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Ex-monastery of San Agustin in Pátzcuaro, Michoacán, Mexico

Patzcuaro, Michoacan is yet another Pueblo Mágico within easy driving distance from La Yacata, so there was nothing to be done but go. Its original name was Tzacapu-Hamúcutin-Pásquaro which roughly translates as Donde están las piedras (los dioses) a la entrada de donde se hace la negrura (where the stones of the gods are at the entrance to where they make the blackness) which sounds ominous. A better English translation would be ‘The entrance to the gates/entrance of Paradise’ or some such idea. The indigenous of the area held the belief that lakes were portals to the otherworld, so it comes as no surprise that there is a lake just outside of Patzcuaro proper.

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Fountain in the center of Patzcuaro, Michoacan in honor of Bishop Vasco de Quiroga.

The Purépechas founded the town sometime before 1300 mostly as a religious center. The Spanish arrived in 1522, and the town remained a religious center with a very small population until about 1539 when the bishop Vasco de Quiroga dedicated himself to the repopulation and revitalization of the area. He was well received by the native people, even earning the nickname Tata Vasco.

In 1776, the indigenous of the area staged a revolution which was put down in 1777. In 1886, the railroad Morelia-Pátzcuaro was finished, and in 1899, Patzcuaro had its first electric lights. That amazes me since La Yacata is still waiting for electricity in 2016!

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Since then, it has been a popular tourist area, known for its pottery and basketry. It really is a beautiful little town, done up in the red and white style, with cobblestone streets, much like Cuitzeo.

Our underlying reason for visiting Patzcuaro was my quest for a foot-pedaled sewing machine. Someone told me that these could be found there. So there we went. The road was clearly marked, unlike our trip to the Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary and we were able to take the libre (free) road the entire way.

There happened to be a tianguis (flea market) in the centro (downtown), but there wasn’t much of interest for us. Most vendors were hawking new toys and boxes of cookies for Los Santos Reyes. We did enjoy some gorditas de nata and fresas con crema (strawberries with whip cream).

Around la plaza, we noticed that there were a number of American-styled coffee houses instead of the more typical taco stands. It really smelled heavenly but was pricey, so we opted not to buy any. In line with the town’s tourist popularity, there were quite a number of gringos (white English speaking people) enjoying their cups of joe, playing chess or reading. The stores were chocked full of delightful artesenia (arts and crafts) but at prices that were not accessible to the average Mexican or to us, for that matter.

cam04112.jpgWandering around town, we came across the Basílica de Nuestra Señora de la Salud, built on a Purépecha/Tarasco pyramid platform. Notice the sign by the fence warns against tieing up your horses or leaning against it. I didn’t see much in the way of horses for that to be a current problem. There, outside the Basilica, vendors were selling prayer cards, rosaries, statues and peyote/marijuana cream for arthritis. Nuestra Señora de la Salud seems to be the same virgin found in Soledad, so I expect pilgrimages are made here as well to petition her curative powers. Tata Vasco’s remains are also housed within the Basilica.

We finally found the Singer Sewing store, and they had a foot-pedaled machine on display. However, the elderly owner would not sell it to me because she said it was a piece of crap, China made rather than hecho in Mexico (made in Mexico). My son pointed out that was just as well since if we did buy the machine, how would we get it in Myrtle (the VW bug) and back home? Good point.

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We stopped at a yonke (junk yard) and picked up some pieces for the revitalization of Myrtle and had a late lunch at Las Jacarandas just outside of Cuitzeo. An excellent day trip if rather uneventful.

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