It has been two years almost since we left last time. There is a lot of stubborn delay in taking off to travel! Like a Donkey, however, with a carrot in front and the strike of a stick behind (me anyhow), we are moving! With enthusiasm headed within the week to Merida, Mexico, and vicinity, driving steady El Burrow 2002 Jeep with only162,000 miles on it already should be good another 100,000.
“Serenely let us move to distant places
And let no sentiments of home detain us.
The Cosmic Spirit seeks not to restrain us
But lifts us stage by stage to wider spaces.”
Next stop India, leaving late December 2015, to Dharamsala, Gobindsaden and other places as yet unknown. We are now planning. Onto the next dimension internal and external geography!!
SOMETHING MORE THAN A NAME MARCH 2014
Any break of heart is mended quick; a necessity to those who wish to live. Just ask me about this department!!
Driving home now ise steeling oneself rather than looking forward with dreams. We drive now after a local again very good local mechanic for far less than the dealer would cost (they know their stuff on the Mexicanentry roads where auto repair is advertized a hundred times) checks El Burro’s transmission fluid and plugs a leak, we leave Morelia through Sinaloa, go through Province of Nayarit, on into Sonora province. Route Fifteen up the Pacific Coast. Beaches again. We stay West of Tepic in San Blas a hotel, where they take care of an injured pelican who shares the open inside lobby. Pelicans having trouble here and in US. It is on our trip the least expensive lodging, 200 pesos but clean and good. A few old Mexicans seem to have retired in rooms here. Here we buy pure cane brown sugar full of vitamins I think very hard if possible at all to get in US. It’s a lovely town with lagoons, fishing and farm country all around. For a while we pursue the seacoast North . Here Burro again gets oil changed. In Mexico most gas stations are full service and the attendant checks all fluids, like break, transmission, oil, and the tires too. Pretty important thing as roads don’t have gas stations for quite a distance sometimes.
Everyone historical just bout has to be a revolutionary and here in San Blas iconic representations of Insurgente Mercado appear. This San Blas appears to be a popular Mexican beach vacation spot. It is an interesting place, the Square El Zocalo quite like in past years for strolling …
There is a lovely very old stone church in the center of Town. It does not look to have been opened to ring the bells recently but out front is a plaque which reads:
Los Campana de San Blas
“But to me a dreamer of dreams
To whom what is and what seems
are often one and the same
The bells of San Blas to me
have strange wild melody
And are something more than a name”
Henry W. Longfellow
Par mi, un sonador de ensueno
Para quien cuanto es y cuanto le asameja
A denudo son ”uno y lo mismo”
Paa mi las companas de san blas
poseen una extrana y salvaja melodia
y son algo mas que un numbre
The quote from Mainer is a surprise. An enlightenment poet of the 19th Century, who also experienced if I recall right the brutality of the American Civil War, Henry W, a fellow Mainer evidently traveled here in the 1870s and also felt the magic.
We introduce Burro to Nuvi (GPS) who only works in the U.S. and they seem still to get along. We travel up the Pacific rimmed by the Sierra Madre but it is easy driving this trip, no snake trails up and down and around like a roller coaster.
Many trucks of soldiers heading South. It seems strange to see all these young guys with automatic rifles slung over their shoulders in the back of trucks in their army greens. Most when spoken with have sweet smiles.
We stop now at the most expensive hotel on our trip. Usually it is just blind luck where we stop. Amazing how if trust or reckless trust is given, how life seems to produce maybe small but still wonders…. In Hermosilla, El Kino, which cost $650 pesos a night for two, but is most beautiful with old iron work, Tiffany lamp, and bears a plaque saying it is part of Mexico’s patrimony, has 410 rooms, a bar and seems a kind of fitting present to us ourselves after staying in many small mas economico hotels, averaging 350 pesos a night, two of which had a cockroach or so join us, but most of which were clean and pleasant. El Kino has been here since 1863 and boasts much history. It has a soul of its own and real style.
At one stop, a soldier sees we have an extra tarp in back of El Burro (our luggage is on top of El Burro tied together with straps and another tarp) and asks he if can have it. We are not using it. These young guys and some women soldiers too are stuck standing in the sun. We say yes. They are very grateful. We feel good about it.
We take one side trip now to a small town Los Masas, in the mountains East of Route 15, which remains nameless because surely when discovered will become the next San Miguel D’Allende – a lovely place but one which we skipped this trip as it is so popular. Here in Los Masa the entire town is streets lined with small brightly colored traditional adobe structures, nestled in tall mountains. We have great tortillas and head back West to Route 15, following a bus we later notice has no passengers and which ends up on a mountain winding road, again. We do not see the driver who we hope is not the grim reaper and stop and ever so carefully turn around on the dirt road overlooking too great a valley. Happily a taxi cab comes up and the driver merrily as if we were not on a mountain’s edge leads us back to where we went off course.
We pass many gricultural coopertives for which Mexico was well known some years back. It appears they have a good deal of quite expensive farm machinery. The fields stretch with growing lemons, avocados, corn, soybeans, sorghum. We think and are pretty sure that the agricultural revolution has squeezed out most of the small farmers and that the big machinery has come with a price; grow Monsanto or equivalent seedless produce – so the coops are dependent on Monsanto for new seeds each year. It does appear that in our sleep we have allowed agricultural giants to have ruined natural and organic agriculture. We city folk never gave it a thought …. Chernoshevsky wrote in pre revolutionary Russia “Shto Delat?” What is to Be done?
We cross the border but before that there is no open office to accept back proof we are taking our car over the border and to prove we did not sell it in Mexico. Coming in cost us $300 deposit, taking across the car required us to make a $300 deposit, supposedly returnable on our return of the car to the US. Noone there to return anything!! I hear this happens to others. The only ripoff we really experience is this at the hands of the Mexican Government. American Custom Officer is not very pleasant, telling us to get out of car, then that he said stay in the car, then getting us out, at which point Esposa notes to him, he treats us worse than we were treated in two months in Mexico, or three, and he softens up. Admits it is shocking that we US shot two Mexican youths crossing the fence last week evidently for throwing rocks or smuggling marijuana which never existed???
They take some vegetables but nothing else from us. We find we have nothing but pesos on crossing. Nowhere to change them except at a bank where we have a card. Fortunately we make it to Tucson where there is a Bank of America. Important to have a bank account these days. How much longer will cash mean anything in this world?
Making a sidetrip to California to see grand children, we foolishly allow the car keys to get locked in the car in a small California town where we stop for gas. We are fast joined by two or three hispanic kids and a black kid who do their best with a hanger to get it through the window and down to the lock. Also a young woman with a nerve disorder comes up and takes me a short way to a mechanic station. By the time I get back, a courtly and patriarchal black gentleman by name of Emmett has come over and opened the window quickly with a slightly more sturdy device than hanger. Girl with nerve issue says he must have been a car thiefn last life. He laughs almost as if out of control and says must have been indeed. He drove truck most of his life so evidently knows his stuff. He advises not to give the other folk anything because they live down behind the gas station which also is near a casino down the street. They can go to work but don’t want to. He laughs as if tickled pink. His appearance on the scene could not be more like the appearance of a TV but real Angel … says he watched us thirty minutes from across the road and just could not help coming over. It is a little easier to like my fellow countrymen after making his acquaintance.
From California we head West and reach the Navajo Nation in Arizona and Utah, meeting the next day in Mexican Hat a friend of Jim with whom we had spent good days in Patzcuaro, a 96 years old man, and his family. They live in Mecidine Hat (sic) the Navaho Nation, almost on the border of Utah and Arizona, their farm with chickens and sheep on vast plains, walled by the striking and unequalled drama of the great red mesas.
A wirey and small at this age wizened man, he wears a US Navy baseball hat, was decorated and served in the Pacific with other Navajo Indians, famous for having been Code Talkers on the combat radio which the enemy could not understand. We discussed at some length a question he could not get an answer to, namely how the Hopi (which related to the 1848 and 1868 treaties, about which I know nothing), got so much land from the US, whereas the Navajos, who had always been allies of the US, got so little. His daughter explained some of the rich and varied creation stories of the Navaho. Advised by a doctor he would be dead in three days if he tried Peyote, he recounts how since then he has eaten peyote regularly and healed himself and others with this ancient medicine for many Northern tribes and for the Huichol Apache in particular. He recounts how he told the doctor he was no doctor, I am the doctor. He had much to say including how peyote is given from the earth to help man to communicate with God and nature. His whole family in fact lived and lives on peyote as a regular food which is OK with the law if you are one quarter Indian or married to an indigenous person. It does not appear to have hurt him, his daughter or any other family member, one of whom teaches at school and is getting her PHD, another younger one who is top of her class, or for that matter anyone else. Of course, the United States Government makes it a felony for a non-indian to use or possess and the brilliant Supreme Court Justice Scalia, despite its use ritually for thousands of years by Native Americans, does not consider their use of Peyote a natural right.
At the motel in Medicine Hat (sic), when I said we were going to see this well known old man, the owner had said, “ Oh yes we know him well. He was driving into the mountains up to two years ago when he eventually could not drive safely anymore, hunting I don’t know what …
“Happy Landing!” the old Peyote Roadman said as we parted, and moved on across the Great Plains toward Maine…
Almost unbelievably when we pulled over by chance for the night at a motel in Julesberg Nebraska, a town we never heard of before, on checking in, the Motel Manager mentioned to us that he too had traveled in Mexico that winter and stopped in Patzcuaro where he net one “Arturo?” with whom he discussedthe nature of painting and sketching …” We shared a few glasses from our bottle of Mezcal with him and his wife, who was from Michoacan.
And we proceed in a straight line across the great plains. Almost two dimensional …
My heart is broken to be leaving this place. Two weddings with singing and horse drawn carriages. All these people welcoming one to be near and saying Allo. I missed final painting lesson with Arturo after yesterday’s lesson, just don’t want to say goodby. His painting and sketching is like adding oxygen to the blood. Jim stopped by, a tough guy outdoes me in this sphere. I missed Beto of the Mexcaralia, El Carajo But he remains holding the monocular out to the sea of humanity and life. Now we head North of the Border where we may see my daughter(s) and some grandchildren possibly and we hope to meet Seth Bigfoot an ordinary man of impeccable reputation and Navajo wiseman much my senior which not so many can claim, friend of Jim.
Sun is warm, nights are cool.
World and universe too big
Time so short
Got in Patzcuaro – hand tailored shirts for men. Great and great price! All cotton and beautiful rich color! At twelve patios. Wonderful folks off Lerin Calle.
Bought water colors in Morellia. You can get what you want there. Or here at Mercado or Food coops.
Important to know: Fresh purified water is available everywhere.
Headed off to Utah soon to meet 90 plus year old Roadman.
Through great new friend.
Patzcuaro is a fantastic place to make friends.
Miles to go before we sleep. (Frost)
Two new phrases: Chalingo. Persons who move to Mexico City from places like Puebla Kind of like persons from New Yorker City are New Yorkers in the USA, or perhaps Parisiens. There is another phrase Capitlano which is I think people who have come from Mexico City for generations. Our neighbor Enrique who runs Posada Mandela here for fourteen years is a Chalingo because he came from Mexico City. Our friend who owns the Mezcalaria is a Capitalino because for generations they came from Mexico.
Yesterday a parade happened, as every day, before our door. They were moving a Saint i guess, a blessing in which little boys dressed in bleached white traditional Tarascon costumes carrying the pots and pans and the little girls in Rebozas and Camitas, little blouses, flowered and embroidered, were carrying stalks of green bananas, a band and great big heads on famous tall puppets, children playing brass horns and drummers, … very beautiful and totally impromptu and unexpected at 10:00 AM awakened by laughing children smiling walking loose grouped in street, first and second graders dressed like their grandparents to the teeth, little straw hats …
Next day in Santa Clara, moving a saint that had been travelling around from Town to Town from day to day … They were singing a wonderful kind of saint’s day lament while these loud rockets and firecrackers were being set off in the middle of the street that could blow your head off. Of course, the devil dressed up in his loud outfit was going along. He stopped in the icecream parlor where he was offered some beautiful colored eggs. The old man came out from the back and was most upset at the devil jumping up and down like he would take the eggs. The devil I guess tormented the locaal shop keepers. And the local police too were in uniform part of the parade.
There is festival or celebration unexpectedly usually any day and every day of the week. Something is going on every day of the week (including AA meetings at the unexpected places like huts on the beach) .
So local news: after a shoot out they killed El Mas Locco assumed dead for three years before now. The bottom line is the local news says well we never had the proof. And we still don’t have a picture but they love bloody photos here, like bodies laid out after the train crash, but no picture yet of dead El Mass Loco.
Many gringos heading into Mexico… DONT COME TO PATZCUARO – SEALED LIPS FROM NOW ON
From Puerto Angel to Patzcuaro – February 26 to March 2, 2014 – Exposure to other Cultures Traveling makes you smarter…
Avoiding the pretty perilous routes snaking up, down and around any more mountains and a trip up the Pacific Coast via Puerto Escondido and Zihuataneo and then back to Patzcuaro as originally planned, we decided to take a flat land route on way back from Puerto Angel to Patzcuaro via the Isthmus of Mexico across to the Atlantic and then back in a sort of triangle, following the new Cortos or toll roads. A wag could say that there is not much need for shakedowns or bribes by police now, the tolls are expensive enough to take all your money. Actually the new roads are a major investment by Mexico and an impressive road way all around the country, shortening trips often by half the time and distance they would have taken on the local roads before.
After nearly three weeks at the Beach, this five day excursion was of necessity somewhat limited in each place. Just before we left, we had the car fixed up in the teaming industrial town of Potchuka, of which Puerto Angel is really a part, where we met another fellow from British Columbia who comes for six months of the year down to St Augustinio just North of Puerto Angel, where again the beaches are long and beautiful. We discussed the Fukishima nuclear disaster and meltdown in Japan and the anticipated impact of the release of so much radioactive water and debris on the world and West Coast of Canada and America, not to speak of Mexico, and how little public recognition the crisis seems to have been given. He advises that from his experience over the years traveling here, there are dangers in some areas but if you don’t pick up hitch hikers, stop as a Good Samaritan if waved down, and turn around if a tree is laid across the road, there is not much trouble you could get into. He expressed no fear and gave the above alerts a common sense cautious behavior. He is very happy here and has never had a problem.
Also the papers are now full of the capture of “El Chapo,” or “Shorty”, an alleged main drug Cartel leader in Mazatlan,where we were inspecting the beach a few days ago, apparently a favorite resort for Cartel leaders, which is just up the road from St Augustinio, and Puerto Angel, after the combined US and Mexico law enforcement forces had captured his Lieutenants in the North, including “Number 19,” his alleged exterminator. Whether this capture will produce a war of succession is unknown but we figure the next capture must be “El Biggy.” Probably not a good joke. We are thankfully far distant from these serious and risky matters.
So El Burro got her oil changed and the air filter glued back on (with some translation help from the Canadian) and off we go backtracking to Salina Cruz and across the Isthmus to Juchitan where we stop. There is a lot to see here but we mainly saw a procession I think to do with First Communion, and a little girl all dressed up in white, a band and everyone, including colorfully dressed women in the Tehuan style, marching across town near the Market. Tuc Tucs prevail over any public transportation system.
Driving on one notices all the sugar cane fields and trucks full of sugar cane on the road. The connection between Coca Cola, everywhere here, in Mexico, and Mexico becomes more obvious.
We buy a gallon more of mezcal along the way for ourselves. We have our gallon con worm gusano to deliver to Adellberto Eduardo Ruis Savinon Hermosa Urobina when we get to Patzcuaro. The woman at the stop does not like Esposa (or me) evidently and leaves the cap off in the box in which she gives it to us but by the time we notice later, not much has been lost. … don’t blame the woman at the stop much, stuck off in the middle of nowhere selling booze and a lot of pottery she probably did not make for a not very pleasant seeming husband….
I get more information on how they make Mezcal. The heads of the Maguey cactus plant are cut off at the neck. The “cabeza” and necks minus spine are buried with burning oak or other chosen woods, under dirt, I think dirt, or under stones, for maybe a week, when they are taken out, broken down, and mashed. Water is added, they are put in vats where the pulp is allowed to ferment maybe a week or more, then distilled, that is boiled. As the rising vapor cools, the liquid is captured, and drips down into white oak barrels, where it is allowed to age, and then flavoring like Miele, honey, coconut, or any variety of flavors may be added…. Clearly this liquor is a respectable rival to Scotch Whiskey.
On many of our routes, we pass a number of greenhouses. It seems that greenhouse technology has caught on big time here for evrything from cactus to other vegetables and flowers. We reach the Atlantic Ocean! At one of the police road blocks, the Policia ask some questions. Stephanie says “Do you want our papers; we have El papel with us.” She later realizes and tells me this was a mistake and means not our papers but toilet paper. They flag us through.
We reach Vera Cruz, a giant port and industrial and shipping center. Big cargo ships and harbor and great containers for oil. And under their shadow still a Centra Historico to which we head, finding a local hotel, El Faro, with a very friendly educated guy who was formerly a notary but now owns and manages this place, gives us a room at a very reasonable rate. We search for the square which not so many years ago in the 1990s, approached by a dirt road leading into town basically, finally finding the Portales (arched walls above tables and cafes), around a plaza, where there is an incredible big festival going on, with a young woman who, with a supporting cast of dancers and some dancers on stilts, belts out extremely professionally to a large and enthusiastic crowd. Many in the crowd dance gracefully either Salza, or Rhumba, as the music plays. There is also a strong drum band following the singer and dancers on stage with Cuban music. We are on the Atlantic and the Cuba is nearby.
There is an interesting statue remembering the heroes who fought for independence including against the American invasion of, I think 1847, or 1917, not sure, but we were not friends at that time.
Benito Juarez, the Abraham Lincoln of Mexico, was born here in Vera Cruz (I think) and there are large statutes of him in many squares, including a building named after him which is the Grand Masonic Lodge of the State of Vera Cruz, and whose entrance is on the square next to where I get a hair cut.
Curious I approach the man sweeping out the entrance corridor leading into a large Lodge Hall on one side and a museum full of paintings and historical figures of about Juarez’ time on the other side. Having properly introduced myself, he shows me the Hall where there are very large and splendid paintings of various apparent Masonic symbols. As it turns out he is past Grand Master of the Lodge. We part on the level, if there is such a thing in Mexico, which one older guidebook described as simply topsy turvy. The walker needs constantly to look down to make sure there is not a rise or depression in the sidewalk.
The great Reformist, Benito Juarez, a native Zapotec, later lawyer, and President of Mexico, I read, held the country together over over three years of bloody civil war, after which in 1862 France invaded Mexico, riding barely before advancing French troops in a horse drawn carriage proclaiming resistance, and after victory over the French imposed Emporer Mamillian in May 1867,, kept the peace and saw enacted over resistance significant changes, reconstruction of the Republic, and the rule of law until his death in 1872. It is a history I have not studied but that of a clearly remarkable man, followed by his lesser, Porfirio Diaz, who as a general had had great victories over the French.
We experience for the first time in two months rain. And a strong North Wind I gather typical of this locale, after weeks of unending sun on the Pacific. And have breakfast at the famous La Parochia restaurant, which may mean parochial, in this strongly RC Town. There there is a Spanish dancer, many tables, and great coffee they pour you with milk out of large containers, and a wide assortment of types and people.
Not much time, so we are now on, after some debate, to Xalasco. Up the Coast, avoiding we hope Posa Rico, think I have the name wrong, but where there are many refineries burning a good deal of oil waste into the air. This upper Eastern Coast is not recommended these days and if there is danger, it is the area alleged for danger.
Speak of danger, the Most Dangerous Places on Earth, is the book left at our place at Calle Lerin in Patzcuaro. Not encouraging for the tourista — but to put it in perspective, this week Putin and Russia have invaded the Ukraine. Now that is a dangerous place as is Chechnya from what I read.
alapa is evidently the birthplace of Santa Anna. The eighty two year old but young seeming man who is the Krystal Hotel and restaurant owner, where we stay, again very reasonably, has photos of Santa Anna, and a copy of a Gaugin painting in the lobby and provides a few nightcaps. He is a lot of fun to talk with. His whole family work at the Hotel or nearby.
Xalapa is notable for its Museum of Anthropology, an eighteen stepped down building with natural light, and examples of older and ongoing archeological findings which I think I gather are from Vera Cruz and Oaxaca States and the Yucutan State, from the early Olmec about 1600 BC up through Mixtec, Toltec and Aztec periods and many others, till the Spanish invasion of the 1500s, all of which only a scholar could describe far better.
Statutes, ceramics and other archeological findings from Tehin, a Mayan city larger and more populous than that highly civilized state of Rome (where they were feeding Christians and others to the lions) and which existed at about the same period as Tehin in time, are impressive, including the reconstructed models of their ritual ball courts, that were atop rectangular pyramidical structures. Heavy stone belts are in the museum, which the players of the ritual ball game, evidently had to wear while playing – and it seems they may have met very untimely ends if their team lost. Let that be a lesson, NFL.
Great round heads of volcanic stone – very large, as in four or five times the height of a person, 12 to 24 feet in diameter, maybe more, of the Olmec, earliest of Mexican indigenous people, about 2000 to 1600 BC, are on display. One can imagine how an enemy or stranger approaching and seeing one of these heads in the jungle might wonder who the hell that was and what about the rest of the body, where was it or he? And beat a hasty retreat.
The Mayan sculptures and ceramics which I saw at the Museum bore many symbols, a number serpentine forms, a number of the Jaguar forms, often combined with human forms for example with serpent fangs, which I gather may have been adopted or influenced the later Toltec and Aztecs, for whom the god Quetzalcoatl, the plumed serpent, was most important according to what I read, and whom indeed the Aztecs may have thought was embodied in some way in Cortes, the Spanish Conqueror in the 1500s, because of his fair skin and coming from the East as Quitzelcoatl was predicted to do, represented. Both Jaguar and Snake were of very apparent central importance and symbolic importance to the lives of these indigenous peoples.
Some studies, I gather rarely available until recently, written between during the 1940s to 1960s by, one Jose Diaz Bolio, a Mexican anthropologist, in a book found at the Museum,, declares the importance of the rattlesnake to Mayan culture. Reading only a small part of the study, I am informed he relates the life of that snake, which has been around unchanged for many millenia, such as its time periods for birth, (always July) and time periods for development of rattles (one a year and seven at maturity), to the early development of the highly sophisticated Mayan calendar and chronological cycles. He notes among other facts the use of certain bones of the snake to relate the horizon anywhere to the location of Venus in the sky (an important star to these peoples). I observe at the museum the flattened skulls of Mayans, which he argues demonstrate the binding of the skull of Mayan youth so the head would grow to look flattened like the snake head.
The Mayans I am informed, whether a result of the reasons ascribed by Bolio or other causes, had developed a highly sophisticated mathematical system and astronomical knowledge, discovering the oscillating or undulating path of the planets, confirmed only recently in Western astronomy, and which I am told is part of oscillation of the solar system within our galaxy.
I read that archeological findings find the influence of Mayan culture geographically far South and North, and he argues that some or all of the snake culture may later have been or was later incorporated into Toltec, Zapotec, Huaztec and other indigenous cultures of the continent that existed more or less in AD times.
Interestingly, this conclusion or inference, Bolio reports and it is reported, was opposed by the American Anthropological establishment, perhaps as recently as the twentieth century due to prejudices he ascribes among other things to negative views of the snake (which itself may not in fact be the right biblical translation), in the Garden of Eden story.
As I travel and ruminate, it is very difficult for me to see improvement over the present in any culture, past or present, grounded on widespread human sacrifice and the extraction of the heart from living people, infants, enemies, and others chosen for the Priests to give to the Gods, even though this was only one aspect of these very earth based cultures which in volume and causation of death, sickness and degradation of the earth, has been infinitely less devastating than modern Western man, not to speak of the admirable habit of the Roman Catholic Church and some Protestants to burn heretics alive at the stake, and the endearing teaching of Original Sin …
I think many interesting questions are presented to the curious mind by the history of the incorporation of indigenous belief structures, especially associated with human sacrifice, during the period since Cortes and the Spanish invaded Mexico in the early 1500s to the present, into the overlay of the syncretic Roman Catholic belief structures, and priest dominated rituals, added onto but yet premised on the Christian belief and concept of sacrifice.
Whatever conclusion, modern cultures, imperfect as they are, I think have much to be said for.
Some have held that the preservation worldwide of the best in older native belief structures requires an esoteric effort. In the face of modern consumer society, for example ever present Burger King and a Mexico where today a Mexican may be distinguished from a tourist like me, on the street anyhow, by the fact that the Mexican, nearly more often than not, wears a baseball cap and clothes bearing American logos for sports teams etc. maybe that is so.
Notwithstanding the extraordinary Museum, by and large the City of Xalapa, seems large and urbanized. I am not here long enough to guess even that much however.
On to Puebla, capital of the State of Puebla, (as Xalapa was capital of the State of Vera Cruz) which seems to be on the way back to Patzcuaro. Not long ago a village, it is now a giant city in the shadow of not only Volcanoes but of Mexico City, with, after a vast industrial area, a big boulevard worthy of Miami, all sorts of stores with the latest fashions and names of the latest fashion idols, and loud discotecs.
We find a place to stay, the Krystal Hotel if I recall, and next day view the Historico Centro which is large and full of pastel colored buildings, many tiled, for which the City is famous. There seems to be no center really to stop at. I cannot do justice to the Town but I experience it as mainly a big City with all that that entails.
Skirting Mexico City on our way West again, but not wholly skirting the smog and smells of sewer, that float in the Mexico City Valley, under the volcanoes, we diverge North to the pyramids of Tula, large and imposing, topped with statutes made from volcanic rock, apparently representing warriors, each about twelve times a person’s normal height, or so they seem, now majesticaly surveying across the surrounding landscape, including the Tula Oil Refinery, fires from which burn on the horizon. These creatures enough to give fair warning to any aggressor not to come here. There are indeed serpentine lines and representations at the feet of and in other places on these statues. Also long lines of pictutographic stories line the walls.
We arrive back in Patzcuaro to find a festival parade outside our rented home, with a number of men in costume, dressed as females but in very exacerbated and humorous manner, as well as dressed as animals from chickens to ghouls to unnamed and fierce demonic beings, as clowns, brides, even as “El Chapo” and his capturers, and a paper mache and bannered bull who, as the female costumed players make attacks with their rope whips, whirls down the street to the music of a small but very loud band with drums and horns. The next day as we go out, we find in the Cathedral Basilica courtyard a group of elderly) Mexican women (gray haired under bonnets) in traditional flowered dresses, colorful blankets, and some men dressed as a bull, which they furiously attack, in stylized dance.
Just why to me is not clear but Lent is about to begin. IT’S CARNIVAL!!!