Tag Archives: Pueblo Magico

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–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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Playing Tourist–Cuitzeo, Michoacan

We’ve been to Morelia on several occasions. We’ve gone to the National Migration Institute, only to be told we had to go to San Miguel de Allende for my legalization process. It’s another state you see, although only 45 minutes away. We’ve also gone to Morelia to have my son’s birth certificate and my marriage certificate translated by an official perito traductor, who unfortunately died before we had all our documentation officialized. We did find another perito traductor in San Miguel de Allende later on though, and now we have one right here in Moroleon for all our legal issues.

So Morelia isn’t a new destination for us, but we normally have some official business to take care of and as a result, don’t take the time to play tourist. The other week we had the day off and decided to go just because. Although Morelia yet another city on the UNESCO World Heritage Site, my intentions were not so lofty.  I had the vague notion of finding a Wal-mart or maybe even a sporting goods store to buy some arrows for my son’s bow. It was so much effort just to get it that it was terribly disappointing that it came with only 2 arrows, one which hit a stone and cracked and the other which flew into the great beyond on the very first day.

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That little cement barrier is all that separates you from the lake!

We always take the libre (free) road rather than the cuota (toll) road not just because it saves us a few pesos. It’s a pleasant drive, although I imagine it could be a bit hair-raising during inclement weather. But the sun was shining today.  One time, I was gazing out the window while driving through the lake and BAM–all of sudden a water snake took down a duck.  Just one more occasion that I find myself live on the discovery channel!

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Cuitzeo, Michoacan

We drove through the picturesque town of Cuitzeo, also known as Cuitzeo Porvenir, where all the business and houses are painted red and white. Just outside the town, we stopped at a roadside restaurant Las Jacarandas for a morning buffet breakfast. We enjoyed our meals (I had a yummy fish something or other) and relaxed a bit while Marc Antonio Solis’s greatest hits played on the giant flatscreen TV.

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Las Jacarandas roadside restaurant

Then off again. We arrived in Morelia only to discover that our usual route was closed because of the parade. We were about 5 minutes from Wal-mart when we were deviated. We spent the next 2 hours driving around Morelia. I kept insisting we weren’t lost, but I could not convince my husband. He started pulling on his goatee and transformed into Donald Duck. Never say that men don’t ask for directions. He pulled off the road every 10 minutes or so to confirm that we were on the right track.

We were never lost, just not on the road that we had intended to arrive at. We did finally pass a Wal-mart, but my husband had his face pressed up against the windshield at this point, and I decided that it would be better for all concerned if we just went home. I wonder how we became so inept at city driving! I have driven through New York City and Washington DC during rush hour. How is it a little detour threw us for a loop? I think it might have to do with our overall confidence. So many things can and do happen while on the road in Mexico that the unexpected really takes it out of us. It was a disappointing trip, to say the least. The next day off isn’t for awhile yet–maybe we’ll be able to work up the guts to try a new adventure.

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Cuitzeo, Michoacan

I did convince my husband to stop in Cuitzeo on the trip back, though. There were several ladies selling hand-woven baskets in the town center, and I wanted to get a better look.  Fiber crafts are the most common local handicraft.  Baskets, floor mats, and hats were displayed for my admiring gaze, all made from reeds from Lake Cuitzeo.

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Daisies outside the church en el centro of Cuitzeo.

We bought some churros and fruit covered in powdered chile and walked around a bit before heading out again.  So honestly, our tourist day was spent in Cuitzeo rather than Morelia.  The name of the town comes from the Purepecha word “cuiseo” which means place of water containers. As the town is right next to Lake Cuitzeo, the second largest freshwater lake in Mexico, freshwater fish dishes are local specialties.  Cuitzeo has even been named as one of Mexico’s Pueblos Magicos which is a program designed by the Secretary of Tourism to promote tourism in non-traditional touristy areas.

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Santa María Magdalena monastery was built in 1550.

The Santa Magdalena monastery is the historical highlight of the town.  We didn’t make an effort to tour it, as you’ve seen one monastery, you’ve seen them all.  However, I was impressed with the church door in the town center.

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It’s now on my list of things to do to visit more of Mexico’s Pueblos Magicos.  I think it will be better for my husband’s nerves too!

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