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MORELIA, PATZCUARO, URUAPAN!
By Robert Brittingham
Earlier this season we joined 20+ travelers to experience our third trip to Mexico’s beautiful and splendid interior - the state of Michoacán and, initially, the magnificent city of Morelia.
Morelia is considered to be the most noble of all Mexican Colonial towns. The architecture has been kept in the tradition of old Spain. The Cathedral by the main plaza is constructed of pinkish stone and dominates all surrounding buildings with its 200 ft. towers, which took over 200 years to build. Another significant landmark is the massive and yet elegant aqueduct built in 1790 with more than 250 arches. As it should be at the capital city of Michoacán, the handicraft activity is predominant, mainly wood-carvings, pottery, copper, lacquerware, and woven goods.
On the first evening we dined at Los Mirasoles, a nicely renovated, avant-garde space in a 17th century house with an aristocratic aura, decorated with furnishings that evidence the craftsmanship of the area - large granite rocks form the walls, and hanging inverted patio umbrellas trimmed with fine lace.
The next day consisted of visiting the highlights of the city then shopping at Casa de las Artesanias. Evenings we joined at San Migueletos, famous for Mexican cuisine and a whimsical decor replete with Michoacán crafts, antiques, paintings. This is a fun restaurant where every table has a different design and setting. One of the dining rooms called “El Cuarto de las Solteronas “ The Spinster’s Corner” is decorated with 365 distinct statues of St. Anthony set upside down. The belief is that if you stand this saint on his head and pray really hard, you’ll get a husband!
Leaving Morelia the following day on our way to Patzcuaro, we stopped briefly in the village of Tzintzuntzan to visit an ongoing bazaar and then on to Ranchero La Mesa, located on the San Jose Plateau and surrounded by a forest of pine, willow, and oyamel trees (a fir tree sometimes called Sacred Fir due to the use of its cut foliage in religious festivals in Mexico) coupled with a magnificent view of Patzcuaro. The outdoor restaurant-bar served delicious dishes including ostrich, which is raised at the Ranchero.
On the way down from the plateau we stopped in Santa Clara del Cobre to visit a copper factory where we saw a demonstration at the copper foundry of pots/pans/etc. being formed. I noticed the foundry foreman had a sling/cast on his left arm. When I asked how many injuries occur in the foundry he said very few to none during his 15+ years. Asked what happened to his arm, he sheepishly admitted he‘d been trimming a large tree in the courtyard and fell out of the tree.
Finally arriving in Pátzcuaro we checked into the hotel, then toured the tienda being setup in the main square. Pátzcuaro is hidden high in the mountains of Michoacán at 7130 feet of elevation. To the north is Lake Pátzcuaro, one of Mexico’s highest lakes. The butterfly fishermen, who dip their nets into the lake in search of whitefish, have become a trademark of Pátzcuaro.
The Dance of the Viejitos (Old Men), one of the best and most widely known native dances of Mexico, is presented in the Plaza Grande on weekends. The dancers wear wooden masks that depict smiling old men to show that, at least in Mexico, old age is not a time of listless despair, but rather a season to enjoy the fruits of life.
On day five, we departed to Uruapan, a city and municipality in the west-central part of the Mexican state of Michoacán. The town and surroundings are world famous in part because of the great quantity of avocado farming and packaging, exported in large part to the United States and other countries.
Uruapan is one of the oldest cities in Mexico. Its main natural attraction is the Cupatitzio River (dubbed “the river that sings”).
The National Park Eduardo Ruiz is home of “La Rodilla del Diablo,” the source of the river which courses through the city and out to waterfalls on the southern outskirts of the city, and flowing eventually to the Pacific Ocean. Paricutin volcano emerged in the vicinity in 1943, scaring away much of the population.
Our arrival in Tonalá was not in time for shopping so most had dinner and rested in their rooms. We left Tonalá at noon the following day and arrived back in Puerto Vallarta with wonderful memories.