Tag Archives: playing tourist

Playing Tourist — An SOTB Bloggers Compilation

Do I have a treat for you! Last year, the ladies in the SOTB Bloggers group worked together to complete the A to Z Blogging Challenge. We picked the topic of traveling in Mexico.  We gathered our travel posts together and are proud to present Playing Tourist for your reading pleasure.

You’ll be able to enjoy our travel adventures in 45 places across Mexico, including everywhere from the most obscure little towns to the bustling metropolis of Mexico City.

The best part is that you can download Playing Tourist FREE in honor of Virtual Vacation Day! You did know that March 30 was Virtual Vacation Day right? Well, if you haven’t planned ahead, consider this little book your passport to your Virtual Vacation in Mexico.

An original compilation from SOTBBloggers

 

 

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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–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–Guadalajara Zoo

This year, the elementary school I work at, had its class trip to the Guadalajara Zoo.  Never one to miss an adventure, I signed us up. Overall, it was a nice experience and one I would reccomend for tourists visiting Mexico.

Despite the agonizingly long bus trip to and from Guadalajara, the class trip to the zoo went pretty well.  The animals seemed well cared for.  There were even babies in evidence, showing adequate food and living conditions.  

The aquarium was small but nice.  The penguin exhibit seemed a bit lacking in penguin stimulation opportunities.  A snow slide or two would have been nice.  Maybe a dancing penguin.  Nope.  Nothing like that happened here.

No happy feet here.

No happy feet here.

There were two shows available, birds and reptiles.  Both were short and entertaining even though there was some snake kissing going on.

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The sky zoo was out of commission, but my son said that was just as well.  They seemed a bit rusty and unreliable to him.

The “train” ride wasn’t really worth it.  It went entirely too fast and the same route can be covered on foot.  These animals were in smaller enclosures, not in an open area like the safari.

The Safari Masai Mara was much better than BioParque. Our guide almost seemed authentic with his brightly colored robes on and dashes of Swahili in his scripted presentation. The animals had both shade and adequate water. They didn’t seem listless and hungry.

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The giraffes were mighty friendly. Also more ecologically sound was the fact that our guide gave us handfuls of food to feed the giraffes rather than a cup, reducing our ecological footprint (again, unlike BioParque).

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The Rancho Veterinario was pretty lame. There were a handful of small animals behind glass, Shetland ponies, mini-donkeys, a Clydesdale, a cow and a hairy pig. La Yacata has more variety. Although there was a short discussion about what it means to take care of animals, the animals were not interested in interacting with the students and the students seemed abnormally horrified at all the pooping going on. This part can be skipped completely.

The food was typical fast food, greasy and overpriced. You are allowed to bring your own food into the park, so that is what I would recommend.  Souvenirs are 3 times what you can get at a regular store, but better quality than most.  We bought a little Masai drum to add to the Jaguar whistle and Carved Skull from Teotihuacan.

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One bit of the trip that made my heart soar was the fact that so many of the kids referenced something we had discussed in English class when seeing the animals.  In fourth grade, we just finished discussing extinct and endangered species.  When we passed the mountain goat section, a fourth grader shouted out that the Pyrenean Ibex was extinct.   In fifth grade, we are discussing forms of communication. We watched the video about Koko and gorilla sign language.  That topic came up as we passed the gorilla enclosure.  In third grade, we just finished discussing animal abilities with can and can’t.  Of course, the students already knew that the giraffe can clean its ears with its tongue and that penguins can’t fly.  Even my lackluster student in sixth pointed out that a certain bridge would be perfect for bungee jumping (extreme sports being our current theme).  Validation as a teacher!

However, as I mentioned, that LOOOOONG trip there and back prevents it from being a repeated activity, at least for us.

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