October 13-14

It’s Saturday and everyone was home for the morning. I went with the family to the SuperMercado to do the week’s shopping.

Then I hopped out of their van – now that’s a story too. Jose spent a couple hours earlier, as he does every weekend, washing and waxing his treasured mini-van that lives under a protective cover beside their house and comes out only on weekends. So, I hopped out of the van at a corner and trotted over to where the bus to Santa Clara happened to be waiting.

Santa Clara is higher than Pátzcuaro…which reminds me that I keep forgetting to talk about the ALTITUDE! Guanajuato is at over 6,000 feet and here in Pátzcuaro we’re at 7,130. That’s high! Denver is only 5,280 feet. I haven’t had a chance to feel the altitude though because I’ve been so busy feeling the screeemingly steeeep routes to everywhere I want to go.

Santa Clara is considerably smaller than Pátzcuaro and has made itself into the copper crafts capitol of Mitchoacan. This was pretty much it, some bigger and smaller products, up- and down-market, more and fewer items, but basically this was it.
Here you can see the similarity in the central historic part of town.
And a view to the mountains.
One of the two historic churches in Santa Clara. The other one was mostly covered by scaffolding.
And on the bus ride home. Mostly she couldn't stop staring at me but then her daddy made those clickclick sounds that no small child can resist.

These busses were of the more stereotypical type where you know it's been on the road for a few generations and you’re fairly sure it's going to make it to see another day.
Now it's Sunday Morning. Wow, Sunday without rifle shots in my left and right ear from the church. What was going on last Sunday anyway?

It seems to me that I can’t say anything in Spanish and I can’t understand most of what goes on but then at home in mi casa they really don’t speak more than a few words of English and yet we tell stories, make plans, ask and answer questions. So I must be able to say something as is evidenced by all the family activities of the weekend in which I participated.

Jose, Luis, Tommy The Dog, and I got off by 10am for a hike up to a National Park in the area. See that mountain in the far distance (faaar distance). We are going to walk from the house here to the top of that mountain And Back.
And we made it! That’s Jose standing on the edge of a cliff for the purpose of bugging his wife.
On the way down. This was one of the smooth parts were I got out the camera. Generally the paving is just big round rocks pushed together which makes for some tough going and that I did not break my leg nor did I even fall makes me feel very lucky.
Katia and Tommy The Dog! Katia is dressed up for a Sunday visit with some cousins and a friend. She's 11 and Luis is 6.
This is a wide-ish shot of the Plaza Grande. It is exactly like the town square of every small-town movie you have ever seen…
…except for the ice cream. I’ve been trying to get a picture that captures the feeling of lust and frenzy that often accompanies these scenes around the ice cream vendors. They line half of one of the huge sides of the plaza and on a Sunday there can be a crowd many deep with anxious patrons jostling to get in their order.
Don’t miss the eyes on the little boy at the bottom of the frame.
This is a traditional dance and I’m sure more than one group participates because on the weekend someone is always performing. The scene in the Plaza Grande is amazingly low key. No one bugs you about anything. Nice!
One of the women at school lives in a rented house with her husband and she invited me to a fiesta at their home Sunday evening. It was really fab to see another place and I’ll tell ya’, at what they are paying for rent, I see why so many gringos come down here to retire.
As a matter of fact even in this tiny town they have a ‘gringo gulch’ and the ladies meet for girls-night-out on Thursdays at Sandra’s restaurant. I’m hoping to stop by for a bit. It’ll be my last night in Mexico.
October 15-16

I took myself on a little tour around one side of the lake which included a couple bus rides and several rides on the colectivos, the vans that run all over the area.

First to the crafts town of Tzintzuntzan. Their claim to fame is straw crafts. Miles of straw.
There are also two famous churches (details forthcoming...)
And the oldest olive trees in the New World.

From Wiki: 'The modern town of Tzintzuntzan is known for the basketry and weaving produced there. The Monastery of Santa Ana is also still standing. It is home to several allegedly miraculous relics and icons and is reputed to have growing on its grounds what were the first olive trees to be planted in America.'
The second of the famous churches (I know they are famous because the lady at the little market where I asked said they were famous...details forthcoming!)
Inside. Both churches by the way were in active use by what seemed to be a very different congregation. I'm just gonna have to look this up when I get home!
Then the market town of Quiroga. I was wandering around streets dense with marketeers, pausing to admire a plaza square full of food vendors when a woman reached into her pot, handed me 'something' which I then ate. Wow, travel.

Next, on to Santa Fe de la Laguna pictured here, which seemed to be a village entirely devoted to native people.
The dress of native people is quite present around here, far more than in Guanajuato - and in real life very much like the fancy dress of the procession for Dia de La Raza.
Here's another grab-shot from the bus window. But it's cows. Who can say no to cows?
October 17

It's my last day at school! So I had to swing by my favorite spot for a morning snack. They'll make anything you want out of whatever they have. These last few days I've been noticing how, yes, I Am speaking a little Spanish. At least whatever I'm saying is producing the intended results.
On the left is the teacher I had one-on-one. She's great. I hear her voice in my head. I hear her say 'Pennnny' in 14 different ways meaning 'what Are you thinking' or 'now you know better' or 'what!' or or.

And on the right is the charming school administrator who I had for one class one day and that was fun too.
I was thinking I've Got to get out on the lake before I go. But what with one thing and another it turned into a pretty late outing to Janitzio, one of the islands in the very big lake.

It's basically a big rock with its entire surface covered by structures and that statue on the top is its tourist attraction.
Oh yeah, you gotta climb...
...and Climb. And when I got to the top within a second there was this bit of blinding lightning, a giant thunder clap and the skies opened and water fell in Buckets thrown by giants at a 45 degree angle to the ground.
I was soaked through and taking shelter in a dry spot, me and the stray dog. I was thinking hmmm, looks like this might just be the end of my fall-free adventure and that on my second to the last day I would either smash my b*tt on these slippery steps, in my flips no less, or I'd take off my so-called shoes, tear out my feet on the rocks and come down with some undiagnosable dread disease...
...when along came My Hero. He took my arm in that perfect stabilization grip and down we went without mishap but to much hilarity, soaked, teetery, and splashing along as we were.

They were from Guadalajara, he here on business and she clearly a new sweetheart coming along for the ride (they were making out like teenagers on the way over!). We chatted off and on throughout the more than one hour journey of getting down the steps, finding the right boat, waiting for the boat to fill up, and then riding back to the mainland. Gracias amigos!
When we finely set off on the boat I went up to take this picture...
...and the woman from the couple came up too and said let me take a picture of you. Then, back at the pier, exHausted and still wet, I took a TAXI home. My first inner-city (punked-out) taxi ride of the trip.
October 18

On my last day I went to the bus station for tickets for tomorrow, went to the bank, stopped off at the library, ate a few of the Dia de Los Muertos specailties, cleaned up my room.

And then around 5pm this group gathered at Cha Cha Cha for the second of what they hope will be a monthly Girl's Night Out. Most of these women live here at least many months of the year and some are full-timers. The turn out could have been as many as 30. As I told them, who would have imagined so many lovely middle aged white women living in little Pátzcuaro?
October 19

My day went like this: taxi-bus-bus-taxi-flight-van. Now it's Home Sweet Home!
Adios México! I can easily recommend 100% the areas I visited in the states of Guanajuato and Michoacán. And let me add - if you've only ever been to border towns and cruise ship ports it's like you've never really been to this country.
HomeMexico and the Caribbean • Mexico • '07 Oct: a Second Week in Pátzcuaro

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