Thursday, February 8, 2018

January 2018 Patzcuaro Highlights

View of Lake Patzcuaro from above Erongaricuaro

I've been busy, time has flown by and I'm way behind on blog posts - so I'll just post some highlights from last month.

On January 3rd I led an exploratory hike for the Friends of Cerro Blanco group through the forest of Mal Pais.  Many members had expressed a desire to check it out, and we finally got there.

View from a country lane on the way to Mal Pais
In the forest, on a ridge parallel with the trail I usually take, is a natural tower of volcanic rock that I've seen and photographed numerous times.  On this particular hike, though, Jergen looked at it and said "Look at the face on it".  Sure enough, in the right light, you can see a face that I now call La Llorona - the weeping woman.  Can you see it?

La Llorona
On the 5th I took a beautiful long hike with Patzcuaro and Morelia friends - 12 miles with 2,680 ft.of elevation gain:

We walked up out of the edge of Morelia and into nice open country, heading for that peak El Quinceo, in the background

The final ascent to the peak of El Quinceo was quite steep - but afforded gorgeous views.
My friend Jodi Seaver, whom I first met at massage therapy school back in 1989, came for a visit from January 10th to the 18th and I enjoyed sharing this special place with her.  We went to the market, climbed El Estribo,  walked down to the waterfront, ate out at some great restaurants, hiked around the area and listened to some wonderful live music:

My dear friend Jodi
From the dock on Lake Patzcuaro, a view of a tour boat and its destination, the island of Janitzio.
White pelicans on the lake
On the way to a fine 5-course dinner at Santo Huacal on the 14th, Jodi talked me into climbing up into a niche above a fountain:

I finally found my niche!
 On the 15th we hiked out to the petroglyphs:

On the way, we passed a field of grain with mountains in the background.
A petroglyph I hadn't noticed on previous trips. I see a resemblance to the Venus of Willendorf - do you?
On the 16th, Jodi and I did the loop hike through Mal Pais:

Jodi on the lane leading towards Mal Pais

Vermilion flycatcher in a meadow we passed.
Afterwards we enjoyed lunch at Campestre Aleman, the German restaurant in Arócutin. Jodi had trout and I had roast rabbit.

The next day we took a combi to Tzintzuntzan  to visit the pre-Hispanic pyramids as well as the Franciscan convent founded in the 16th century:

View from Tzintzuntzan, above Lake Patzcuaro.
Jodi in front of an olive tree planted in the 16th century by Bishop Quiroga, on the grounds of the convent.
Woman working on her embroidery in the doorway of the church

View out a window of the convent
View out a door of the convent

The indigenous Purépecha ruins sit on a huge courtyard held up by retaining walls, giving them a commanding view of the lake and its surroundings. On my first visit a few years ago, the museum wasn't open - so I was delighted that we could explore it this time.

The main ruins at Tzintzuntzan consist of a line of five yakatas - rectangular pyramids with circular bump-outs on the back - atop a raised platform.
I was impressed with the artifacts in the museum - including the wind instrument in the foreground.

Back in Patzcuaro that afternoon, just another caballero was crossing the street:

Jodi left on the 18th - totally enchanted with Patzcuaro and the area.

This hasn't been a great year for bromeliad blossoms here, but on a hike on the 22nd I saw a couple trees that were loaded with them. Most of them were already gone by and turning brown, but at least one was still in its glory:

A nice benefit of living in Patzcuaro this winter is that I can walk out the door and go for a stroll through town in the evening:

Fountain with a statue of Bishop Quiroga on the Plaza Grande
The convent across the street from my place - with the basilica's tower above.

On the 24th I started out to walk around the base of El Estribo, but then I spotted a way to get to a bridge across the Uruapan toll road that I hadn't yet been able to access - so off I went to explore where that lane would lead me:

The dirt lane I started out on had some very basic housing along it - but with colorful clothing on the line.
The new lane I explored was at times lined with tall bushes with yellow flowers.

The lane led to a huge avocado grove that we had hiked through previously.   It went around the plantation, rather than through it, and joined the lane we had used on previous hikes.

As I crossed the bridge over the Uruapan toll road, I saw a good example of the Mexican Third Lane: Here, if there’s a 2-lane road with breakdown lanes, it’s easy to pass someone. You pull out into the middle of the road, creating a “third lane”, and the vehicle you’re passing pulls over into the breakdown lane, as does any vehicle that’s approaching from the other direction. It seems to work quite well:

On the 25th I went to my dentist, Liliana Salto Maldonado, in Erongaricuaro and had my teeth cleaned - for about $14.00. She recommended I get my 30-year-old bridge replaced next year. That would set me back about $300.00. I'll have to give it some thought......

Meanwhile, here are a couple of photos from Eronga:

The Erongaricuaro Church
40 years ago I would have been standing in the lake to take a photo here, at the edge of the Eronga. Now this canal extends about a kilometer to connect this spot to Lake Patzcuaro since the lake level has gone down.
Cool clouds in this view toward Patzcuaro from the canal.
On the 26th the Morelia friends came here and Patzcuro friends and I led them on a hike to two of my favorite places: the petroglyphs near Uricho and the loop through Mal Pais.  We started in the fog and ended in the sun. The rain waited until we were driving home from lunch at Doña Mary's in Eronga. Fun hike - but I didn't 'take many photos.

Cattle and egrets seen on the way to the petroglyphs
On the 27th I joined the local hiking group for nice 2.5 hour hike up through the forest and some meadows off the road to Cuanajo:

Hikers heading up, up, up,,,,,,, not a bad view.
I'm always delighted to find a great deal at the Patzcuaro market, especially when it involves one of my  favorite fruits:

Mercado buy of the day: 10 small mangoes for about 80 cents. And they’re ripe!
On the 30th, I took a hike with friends in the pueblo of Ihuatzio, between stone walls, through open meadows and pine forest and past Purépecha pyramids:

Friends Meg, Nicola and Henriette at the start of the hike

Mexican fritillary along the trail
We passed by the yakatas above the village of Ihuatzio - once the center of the pre-Hispanic Purépecha kingdom.
And to finish off the month, here are a few of the flowers I enjoyed in January:

A gentian, I believe.


Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Through the Holidays: December 19, 2017 to Jan 1, 2018

Green-eyed White butterfly on a poinsettia in the garden.
As the winter solstice approached, it was nice to walk out the door and enjoy the beauty of flowers blooming in the courtyard:

Bird of Paradise
On December 20th,  for the group exploratory hike, we checked out a route on Cerro Blanco (White Hill), which I can see from my loft window:

View of Lake Patzcuaro from the lookout on the north side of Cerro Blanco
The island of Janitzio rising out of the fog .
Across the bay in Ihuatzio are pre-hispanic pyramids.  Ihuatzio was once the seat of power for the  indigenous Purépecha kingdom.

That night I strolled around the Plaza Grande, enjoying the night-time perspectives:

The tree covered in woven mats
Masked figure
Lights on Calle Portugal, above the plaza
On the 21st I took a six-hour solo stroll to celebrate the solstice, walking from Eronga up to the pueblo of La Zarzamora, across the plateau and back down by another country lane:

Interesting 3D decoration on a house near the beginning of my walk
Lake view from La Zarzamora
House with a view in La Zarzamora
Solstice Selfie:- enjoying the sun and the wild marigolds
Fields up on the plateau
Haying time
 It was a beautiful sunny day and lots of butterflies were flitting about - occasionally landing long enough for me to get a photo:

Juno silverspot
Cloudless sulphur
On the 22nd, Bruce, Basel, Henriette and I hiked from Eronga up to the railroad tracks and walked along them on the other side of the lake to San Andres. We stopped there at Restaurante Los Pinos, a great new filipino restaurante, where we enjoyed cervezas y comida before taking a combi back to Eronga. It was an all-day outing, with a hike of about 13 miles:

Nice views from the railroad
Approaching the small volcano whose side slipped down some years ago
The abandoned San Andres train station, a couple kilometers above the town.
View as we walked down the dirt road to San Andres to catch a combi back to Eronga.

To keep the color quotient up, here are some wildflowers seen on recent hikes:

Tubular red beauties
A type of tickseed, I believe....
....and another.

Once again I was in Patzcuaro for Christmas - and enjoying being far from the craziness of the holiday while enjoying a bit of the local seasonal culture.

Ceramic folk nativity scene here at El Refugio
 On Christmas day I took a nice sunny hike through the forest in Mal Pais, and then enjoyed Christmas dinner out on the terrace overlooking the little pond at Campestre Aleman, the German restaurant in Arócutin. I ordered my favorite Campestre meal: macadamia-encrusted trout with a glass of white wine. I had thought the restaurant might be crowded with Christmas diners - but I had the place to myself (I was early).

Donkey along the way - perhaps wondering where Mary went.
Peeling bark of a madrona tree in the forest
Many trees in Mal Pais are crowded with orchid plants. I hope to someday be here for peak orchid blooming time in the autumn.
The orchids I had seen previously this year on a walk  through Mal Pais were all gone by. But I climbed a steep hill covered in volcanic rocks, where I had seen orchids in previous years - and found these beauties!
Man riding a seahorse at the edge of Mal Pais (It's actually an old tree trunk).

On the 26th I started out to explore my neighborhood in Patzcuaro, but then I spotted a dirt road that I thought would take me to Tzurumutaro, where I had been seeking an alternate route to get to the Camino Real restaurant. So off I went to explore....

Lovely little chapel down my street a ways

The plaza in Tzurumutaro, with gazebo and church (which is getting a whole new roof).

Doorway of the church, decorated for Christmas
There was a festival going on in Tzurumutaro. A friend had told me it involved men dressed as devils  grabbing guys by the pants with rebar grappling hooks (I saw many guys with torn pants). I didn't really want to take part in that aspect of the festival - I was wearing my only good pair of Jeans - so I didn't hang around too long.

Man in devil mask
I did stay long enough to watch a bit of dancing in a courtyard.  Youths were circling with colorfully decorated poles, and devils were circling ominously in front of them. It seemed like the ordinary-looking guys in between the groups were keeping the devils away from the youths:

On the 27th I went with friends to explore the countryside and interesting churches west of Patzcurao, guided by the knowledgeable Marcia.

Our first stop was in Paracho to have “brunch” in the market. It did not consist of espresso and croissants! The gentleman is chopping and weighing out our birria (mutton) from the steaming pile on the left. Eaten on blue-corn tortillas and seasoned with mole and green salsa, it was delicious!

We visited 4 buildings that are considered the local Sistene Chapels of Mexican church folk art. The church in Pomocuaran was the first we saw:

The Pomocuaran church
Interior of the church
A ceiling panel
I call this statue in the church "Our Lady of the Rodeo".
Our next stop was the pueblo of Nurío.  While we waited for the woman to arrive to open the church for us, we came upon these women, in traditional dress, preparing a meal for the community:

Cutting up potatoes for the soup -and preparing the dough for tortillas
Patting out and cooking tortillas

Henriette, Marcia, Basil and Bruce approaching the Nurío church.
The choir loft
Panels under the choir loft.
The caretaker who unlocked the church for us.
From the church we went through a gate  and visited the little chapel:

Gate and giant Joshua tree at the back of the church
Ceiling panel in the chapel
Saint in his niche.
God in a sunburst over the altar.
Our last stop on the tour was at the lovely little church in Zacán. While we waited for the church to be unlocked, we refreshed ourselves with beer and potato chips in the shade of a huge old hollow tree.

Zacan church interior seen from the choir loft.
Ceiling panel
Portal in the courtyard, with its Arabian-influence window

On December 29th, 8 of us, from Patzcuaro and Morelia, hiked on Pico Azul, looking for a certain mirador (viewpoint) that we have yet to find after several attempts:

Layered ridges at a viewpoint we did find.
Huge katydid on the trail
Pat coming through the cacti

Pueblo view near the end of the hike

On Saturday the 30th I joined the Patzcuaro hiking group for a nice walk from the pueblo of Vitela, through pine forest and open meadows:

A view to the east. The sheaves of dried plants are protecting newly-planted avocado trees.
A view to the north

I've been enjoying frequent concerts at La Jacaranda cultural center in central Patzcuaro.  My decision to live in Patzcuaro rather than in one of the nearby pueblos this winter  was mainly so that I could attend such cultural events.  I've done lots of short recordings at the concerts, but unfortunately my efforts to upload them to this blog site were unsuccessful.

On the 31st, for the last hike of 2017, a group of friends did the hike on Cerro Blanco that we explored on the 20th. We only missed a couple of turns.... but we got back on track. Then afterwards we stopped for lunch at El Fresno - three tacos and a beer for about $2.50.

Design on the gate of the estate at the entrance to the Cerro Blanco reserve.
Basil & Henriette's dog Tennyson checking to see if we're following the others into the pine forest.

No fog around the island of Janitzio this time

For New Years eve, I enjoyed another great concert at La Jacaranda and then was in bed by 10:30 - though I was awakened at midnight by the sound of fireworks going off .  So I went up to my loft window to see a few colorful explosions before going back to bed.

Then to celebrate New Years Day 2018, I took a combi out to the causeway to Jaracuaro to check out the wetland birds,  and then I walked back to Patzcuaro:

The Jaracuro wetlands, looking west from the causeway. The water level is lower this year and more plants have filled in the pools.
The wetlands, looking east. 
  I saw lots of birds in and near the wetlands.  Here are the ones I got the best photos of:

Black-necked Stilts
Egret in flight
Ducks.  I love the water ripple patterns. They remind me of the inside of old book covers.
Egret wading.
Vermilion Flycatcher
From the wetlands I walked back to Patzcuaro via the side of the Eronga road, country lanes and a short stretch of railroad tracks.

Lizard on a tree on the outskirts of Arócutin
Cactus and mountain seen as I walked on the back lane to Tocuaro.
Tree dahlias, as the locals call them (they're not really dahlias), are pretty much done blooming by the time I arrive - but I came upon these last 2 lonely blossoms as walked up the final hill to Patzcuaro.
And that brings us up to date as we begin a new year.  To close the post, here are pics of an assortment of windows I like in Patzcuaro: