Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Ah, Patzcuaro, un pueblo magico! Visit to Michoacan - Part 3

The original name for Patzcuaro (PAHTZ-kwah-roh) is "Tzacapu-ansucutinpatzcuaro" that is translated as "door to heaven." Situated at 7200 feet elevation and home to about 80,000 people, this is the cultural and artitstic center of the area. We would have happily stayed in Patzcuaro for several nights. but only had one night devoted to this beautiful little city on our tour itinerary. One of our high priorities is to return and get a better feel for the city.

A multitude of churches, plazas and shrines make this a truly great historical destination.
Patzcuaro is famous for its sidewalk cafes and great restaurants. Small and large marketplaces line the plazas and ancient side streets. Woven tablecloths, trays, carved and finely painted furniture, and gold laminated handwork are among the treasures to be found in this colonial setting. Patzcuaro hosts one of the most active Day of the Dead observances in Mexico, and is perhaps the best place to find "Catrinas" - the wonderful skeleton figures that I love to include in my paintings.

The day we arrived in Patzcuaro was a market day: there were many more items for sale than I can possibly mention, and we purchased some huge hand-woven colorful baskets, a hand-carved mask, a sheepskin, some jewelry and assorted children's toys.

But I thought our readers might be most interested in the display of medicinal herbs, which are found in our local weekly market as well. Some of them are probably very effective. Valerian/valeriana, for example is a great natural sleep-inducer. But it smells terrible.

We also found these pretty little...uh...uh...does anybody know what they are?

They are papas rojas - that's right, red potatoes. If we hadn't been traveling, I would have bought some to bring home and cook. They must be a local product; I've never seen them here. We did buy some woven straw cat toys from the beautiful native woman in the picture below. She and I were sharing a little joke about mi esposo guapo (my handsome husband) ...

Before we left the market, we encountered a lively parade, raising funds for the victims of the earthquake in Haiti:

Then it was into the shops, looking for Catrinas. I bought the small one in the lower center, proudly holding her blue dancing dress for everyone to see.

There were other beautifully hand-crafted items:

We also took the opportunity to visit one of the most extensive mask museums in Mexico, right here in Patzcuaro...

And they also had TOYS!We ended our day in the hotel courtyard, having a great cup of coffee with friends Marcia and Noble. The next stop was Uruapan (ooh- rue-AH-pahn). Many treasures and pleasures there./ To be continued....

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