Friday, July 14, 2006

Patzcuaro Museum (Museo)

The Patzcuaro Museum is just a block up from Plaza Chica on the corner. Very interesting Indian Crafts (Purhépecha) from around the lake You can't take pictures inside but can in the courtyard. The required tour guides are great if you show an interest - give them a tip. I think the tour was only 30-40 pesos.

Well in the courtyard

An example of Purhépecha house construction

Pre-history ruins behind the museum

Table and chairs

Looking at the entrance and ticket table

Garden in the courtyard

Monday, February 13, 2006

Lake Zirahuen - Michoacan

Lake Zirahuen in Michoacan Mexico, is an enchanting lake just 20 kilometers from the city of Patzcuaro along the highway toward Uruapan. You can also access the lake from Santa Clara del Cobre over a cobblestone road. The name Zirahuen means "Place of Smoke", maybe from the mountain mist over the lake.

The clear blue water of the lake, one of the cleanest in Mexico, makes this a real visual pleasure. There is still very little development on the shores of this beautiful lake. A few resorts and very small towns line the north shore and the town of Zirahuen is on the south. You'll see wooden "trojes"(Purepecha-style cabin) in town and along the way.

From the dock in downtown Zirahuen you can take one of two boats on an around the lake tour. On the cruise the local highschool kids will sing a few songs and another youngster will tell everyone the history of the lake (in Spanish). There is a snack bar on the boat for a few things and soft drinks and beer.

The back road to Lake Zirahuen from Santa Clara del Cobre

First view of the lake - maybe reason for "Place of Smoke" name

Tour ferries on the downtown dock

Some of the unpopulated shoreline

Downtown Zirahuen after a rain

A bunch more Zirahuen Pictures

Tzintzuntzan and the Arts and Crafts Market

The arts and crafts market in the center of town is the main attraction in Tzintzuntzan (seen-soon-sahn) but there is also the very interesting grounds of the monastery and the ruins on the hill behind called Yacatas (Yácatas).

The construction of the large Franciscan monastery of Santa Ana began in 1526. They saved a great deal of time and labor by tearing down much of the Purépecha temples. After 100 years as a monastery it was converted to a school until 1964. Now it's open to public at no charge. The olive trees on the grounds are said to be the oldest in North America.

Arts and crafts in the Tzintzuntzan market

More stuff - looks like Christmas

Church right behind the market

Yacatas Ruins

More Tzintzuntzan Pictures

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Santa Clara del Cobre

Santa Clara del Cobre, a small village outside of Patzcuaro, has been a mecca of copper smithing for centuries. It is the home of the Purepecha Indians who have been working with copper since pre-Colombian times. Over the centuries, the Purepecha and their descendents have supported their families through the fabrication of copper vessels.

Sue (a student at CELEP) and I went up to Santa Clara del Cobre for a few hours before continuing on to the back road to Zirahuen. Right off the Plaza looking uphill on your left is the Museum and up that street there are some of the best shops. There are numerous factories (fabricas) around town ... and the one I took fotos of is 3-4 blocks back towards Patzcuaro.

One of the Copper Shops up from the main Plaza

Sue is looking thru the Copper Museum

Inside one of the nicest Copper Shops in town

Taking a pot out of the fire

The 'Fire and Water' with acids is to create a glaze like surface

Friday, January 13, 2006

Patzcuaro Michoacan

Patzcuaro is the ex-capital of Michoacan and before that was Tzintzuntzan, a small town nearby dating to the Purhépecha empire in the 1300's. The museum in Patzcuaro is finding ruins in it's back yard that predates history and they are believed to be earlier than the history of Tzintzuntzan. The Purhépecha were the only (one of) the indigenous tribes that were not conquered by the Aztecs. Then came the Spanish and the area was lucky to have the catholic bishop Vasco de Quiroga (town named after) who promoted the local culture and helped the villages around the lake develop crafts. The Museum has examples of the types of crafts from various villages.

A schoolmate and I took the bus and found very little calling out to be visited (like most of the area). A few little shops along the main street with pottery and circular pyramids that were closed in the late afternoon. A few blocks off the main street while having a beer at a local "abarrotes" we gazed at these complex walls across the street. After the beer we tried the old wooden doors and found the grounds of an old church compound. Two really beautiful churches, well kept inside, very simple ... and on the grounds ... the oldest olive trees in the Americas. Really a trip in time.

San Pedro, Huecorio, Santa Clara de Cobre
Well a famous friend came over from Morelia and we spent the afternoon in a few small towns on the lake and then up to Santa Clara to see the copper crafts ... yes it was Jennifer and we had a great time. The first two are along the lake and we visited a wood carving shop and a straw "hat maker" ... who was probably only shaping them in his gas fired mold. Had a great dinner at a German owned restaurant and then headed to the other side of Patzcuaro to Santa Clara to see the copper craftsmen at work. We finished off the day with coffee on the Plaza Grande in Patzcuaro watching the town go by.

On a quiet Sunday I wanted to take the boat trip to the islands on Lago de Patzcuaro even after hearing what a tourist trap it was. Most people said just take the boat ride but don't get off. (btw - two boat services - one is tourist, other is working class). ..... So I grabbed a taxi to the lake but he immediately suggested going to Zirahuen (Lago Azul). Great suggestion and great way to spend an afternoon (sunny preferably). Town of the same name has a funky waterfront with restaurants and gift shops and tour boats that circle the lake for 35 pesos. The larger of two boats has what looked to be highschool aged musicians playing classical/typical Mexican favorites and a bar with table service. After the tour of the lake the boat stops at a restaurant and at that point you can walk into town, take another boat ... or just eat and finish the short trip. We got rained out/on .. with lightening and hail.

San Francisco Uricho
A tour with the school - visited a mask carver and got an extensive philosophical/historical lecture/story about the deeper side of Purhépecha religion/life. The speaker/tourguide has written for numerous travel books (this one included)(only know his first name to be Francisco). Tocuaro is famous for it's masks and the "mascara" festival where people act out while hiding behind the mask. For some reason the young men choose to beat the crap out of each other with this mask as an excuse to let it all out.In San Francisco Uricho we visited a Purhépecha home where three generations lived. These people had no money to speak of, the woman made tortillas and sold them in the Patzcuaro market (or traded them for other things to sell). The local Mexicans fixed the price for tortillas at 10 for a peso ... so with the help of our guide and teachers at our school she had a few gringos that would pay a peso for 3 tortillas. I hate to say "sad to see this" but it's real discrimination by both the Mexicans and the government against the indigenous (no government funding at all).

Second school trip on the lake road near Tzintzuntzan. A small community that has an originally government funded project to continue the knowledge and practice of indigenous medicine and medical practice. The site is a combination of garden (herbs) and small hospital with a man and his mother acting as the "curanderos". Her specialty is helping pregnant women with natural birth and he is closest to a chiropractor (spinal alignment) along with herbs and good heathy advice you'd hear anywhere. I asked him what he could do for GW but he thought - very little.

Uruapan and Paracho
I also hopped a bus to Uruapan and Paracho but should have focused on Uruapan. Unless your are a guitar freak, theres little to see or do or see in Paracho. Uruapan on the other hand is a busy large town with an interesting Museum, plaza, PARQUE NACIONAL EDUARDO RUIZ, water fall from the natural spring in the park ... and a converted cotton weaving factory that is now an exibit (only heard of this one).The second week the whole school (8 people) went to the Monarchs on the last weekend the santuary was open. Also a worth while visit.In Patzcuaro there are many little things to see; library, museum, market, plazas ... and just general history. Very relaxed and a place to consider if you want to get away from large towns and the tourist beaches. The school I attended is the only one in town (CELEP) and a great bunch of people.
Related Posts with Thumbnails
Patzcuaro is the ex-capital of Michoacan and before that was Tzintzuntzan, a small town nearby dating to the Purhépecha empire in the 1300's. The museum in Patzcuaro is finding ruins in it's back yard that predates history and they are believed to be earlier than the history of Tzintzuntzan. The Purhépecha were one of the indigenous tribes that were not conquered by the Aztecs

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