Day 206-211 Getting to know you

My Neighborhood

La Pueblita

March 6-11

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Although the campground, El Rancho La Mesa, is further from El Centro (the center of Patzcuaro) than my last ‘home,’ I enjoyed my walk into town more.  I had the choice of either taking a Combi (minibus) or walking and I frequently choose the later.  The route wound it’s way through the vecindario called La Pueblita and it took a good 30 minutes to complete.  Over the course of a month this leisurely walk gave me the opportunity to become familiar with a few of my neighbors. I always enjoyed the enthusiastic ‘buenos dias’ or ‘buenas tardes’ exchange with the adults and had the added treat of talking with the school kids as they walked with me up the long steep cobblestone street.


There is great pride taken in improving and maintaining this neighborhood.

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The streets are clean and decorated with pots of flowers but with small herds of cattle, wood-laden ponies and donkeys and well fed dogs it’s advisable to watch your step.

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El Mercado

Back in the ‘States’ I hated going to the grocery store and frequently let my refrigerator go bare just to avoid the chore of shopping.
marcado One of my joys here in Patzcuaro is the daily visit to the Mercado.  Much of this joy comes from all the social exchanges, buying the freshest of produce and knowing that I’m supporting the local growers who offer small amounts of home grown fruits, herbs and vegetables or fresh lake caught fish.

It’s also a treat to see the early morning bustle or feel the buzz of enthusiasm when a new crop comes in.  One day there might be bushels of corn heaped onto the ground and the next day an explosion of color from potted geraniums.

The Mercado is located in the center of Patzcuaro and the main source of fruits and vegetables but other foods come from specialty shops or street carts found in the outlying neighborhoods. Each food type has its own vendor and eventually you figure out whose prices are the best, who carries the freshest produce and more importantly who carries the most flavorful Chorizo.  I’ve become addicted to Chorizo and it might be an exaggeration to claim that I’ve tasted every Carnicero’s product in Patzcuaro, but I’ve tried a lot.  Everyone has their own recipe and my favorite comes from the Carnicero next to the Basilica.  It’s sweet and hot with just enough fat to get your mouth-watering.

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The Carnicero in La Pueblita. Not the best Choriso but the best signage.

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Abarrotes are basically your everyday corner store. Good for a quick walk down the block if you’ve run out of beer.


 My favorite Legume

the faba

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 I knew that beans were one of the staples of Mexico but I had no idea how many types exist.  Unlike many of my friends, beans have never been a favorite food of mine (except green beans which don’t really count).  Well,  I’m happy to report that I’ve changed my ways and I now enjoy incorporating these tasty tidbits into daily cuisine.

My favorites are fresh from their pods.

Day 187- 192 Patzcauro…. Wendy Wahman…. this one’s for you

PATZCUARO

Feb 10- 15 

Patzcuaro

 

The State of Michoacán
Click the map for information about this state

No.  The butterflies didn’t kidnap me.  I’ve been hunkered down in a large town named Patzcauro.

Feb 10- Feb 18

The plan was that Blake and I part ways after the butterfly preserve.  Blake had plans to drive back to Teacapan (and eventually back to Alberta, Canada) by way of a town named Patzcuaro while I was supposed to drive up and around Mexico City and south to Oaxaca.  Plans be damed…..something was telling me that it wasn’t time and since I’ve learned to forgo logic and listen to my irrational inner voice, I decided to retrace my tracks and return Eastward.

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First camp in Patzcuaro

Our first camping spot was a quite oasis just on the out skirts of town and a perfect distance for taking a bus or a long walk to the Central Plaza. The RV spot was a grassy spot behind the owners home and over looking his son’s property. officeI was lucky enough to park with a view of what was going on next door. What was happening? adobe4The making of adobe bricks. We arrived during a short spell of rain so I wasn’t privy to the process until a few days later when I saw them working the horse to mix the clay with pine needles and forming the bricks.

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Horse is used to mix the mud and pine needles. The man in white is giving the needles loft before adding to the mix.

 

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Muddy legs after a long day of work

 

Patzcuaro has maintained it’s colonial feel (and look) due to the use of adobe walls and tile roofs. There is wood involved too, for the doorways, doors, structure and beams of the buildings but this is becoming difficult with the diminishing local forests. Some infrastructure is now made with cement and overlaid by adobe to keep up the historical architectural feel of the town.

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Combi: Cheap local transport. Very few people drive in this town. People from the out lying neighborhoods rely on the frequent and efficient vehicles for everything from getting to the open air market in town to transporting children to schools. 

Despite the very reasonable price for staying at the camp site (10 dollars a day) and internet access, I decided to move after a few days. My ‘neighbors,’ a couple from Oregon were decidedly anxious about having dogs around. I thought that I’d done a decent job at keeping the Perras from wandering off my “property” and I’d only let them run on the far hill but, unfortunately, I was confronted by the husband who told me to,”Get your god-damn dogs on leashes.” Ironically this was just after his wife told me that my dogs were the most well behaved she’d ever seen. Since I’m not one for confrontation and I’m certainly not in Mexico to fight with Americans about my dogs I start a search for a new residence.

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Patzcuaro is the original capital of Michoacán but after the Spanish invaded Mexico the capital was moved to Merida.  Today Patzcuaro remains the center of trade for the many pueblos around Lake Patzcuaro.

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Click here to learn more about this lake

I knew that I would be staying at least another 2 weeks for Spanish classes so I looked into the possibilities of renting a house in town. Despite the efforts of both my Spanish instructor and myself after three days of hunting I couldn’t find a place that could accommodate both the dogs and my monstrous home. Actually, the size of the camper was more of a problem than the dogs. I finally accepted the fact that I’d have to pay twice the rent (a whole 20.00 per day) and move to a spot further outside of town called El Rancho La Mesa. I wasn’t thrilled with the move and when I was greeted by a convoy of ten Leviathans-of-the-RV-World I was a little depressed and frustrated. Gone was my peace and quiet and easy access to my class. I was now 500 feet higher and 2 miles away from the main plaza . Poor pitiful me.

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I mean really! Who’s going to complain about a view like this? Read more about this interesting island…. accessible from Patzcuaro for a $2.00 boat ride.

I do try to look for solutions if I find myself mulling in self-pity so I decided it was time to buy a bike and make my commute a little easier.   The gods must have been pleased with my decision and the more adult like behavior because the next day the caravan left and I was left alone on a breath-taking plateau above the city and with an entire ranch for the Perras to explore.

So we settled in for the next week….. 2 weeks…. 3 weeks…..

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Aluminum frame with life time guarantee equipped with all Shimano parts and 24 gears…. price tag? 6300.00 pesos (or $432.00 us) It’s a beaut
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The bell on this bike requires special attention………

I don’t know why I brought this bell with me…. except that I had a feeling that I’d want a bike at some point.  This magical bell was bought in China by my mother 35 years ago.  She gave it to me for christmas almost that many years ago and its had it’s home on all my bikes.  I’ve owned three bikes in my life.  My first white 10 speed that I gave to my brother Kelly when I moved to college.  The second bike was one that my other brother, Robin, hand build for me after my first visit to Washington state.  It was that trip the changed my destiny and I think it was the gift of that bike that sealed my determination to move to Washington state….  A move that subsequently afforded me with many twists and turns and ups and downs and ultimately finds me here in Patzcuaro.