Thursday, May 23, 2019

A Visit To The Copper Museum

We've been pretty busy between doing things here around the ranch as well as going to the gym and going places.  This afternoon we are headed to Pátzcuaro for a meet and greet they have every two weeks or once a month, not sure.  A group of ex-pats so we will see how it is.  Can't refuse an invite or a drive through the countryside.

Yesterday we went into town to visit the foundries and the copper museum.  The museum isn't very large but it tells the story of copper production and artisan crafts here in the region.  When the Spaniards came in the 1600s the native Purépecha people fled.  Vasco De Quiroga entered the picture and encouraged the native people to return and begin work making "cazos" or large caldron-style pots.  The mines are located about 10 miles from here in a town called Opopeo.   Of course, Christianity was dangled in front of them via work, food, and goods.  Santa Clara became the most important copper smelting area in "New Spain" making church bells and copper ready for coin making.   Today, I would say that not all that is gold glitters.  There seems to be a monopoly on the business and most of the shops all sell the same wares.  I wouldn't doubt it if some of it comes from other places.  This is just my speculation.

In the center courtyard of the museum is this palapa which houses a traditional smelter.   There is a schedule, mostly during tourist season and vacation periods where the workers come and produce pieces to show tourists how it is done.

I snapped a picture of a typical tourist on my way out.

It wasn't the most exciting or informative museum we have visited but it was interesting enough to enter at no charge.

This is one of several foundries in town.  We were given a flyer in the plaza to visit a foundry, not the one in the picture, so off we went.  We were met by a couple who said we could watch the workers and if we took pictures and asked questions we should tip them.   They then offered a tour for 1500 pesos.  I asked how long it was and he said 35 minutes.   Sorry, for that price it would have to include a ride down into a copper mine with lunch and a bottle of wine included.  

We watched this guy working for a few minutes.  He saw us come in and never said a word to us.   But, it was interesting and looks like hard work.

In the main plaza is the famous kiosk with the copper roof.   There is a lot of red dust right now because the weather has hot and dry.  The rains are expected to start in the next week or two but I see forecasts that aren't coming true.

Apart from the small shops, that are quite nice by the way and fun to look at, there are some stands on the streets.   Some appear to be owned and operated by local people who aren't in the big business but I could be wrong there as it is another way to lure tourists into buying.  Some of the items are really quite nice and I especially like the rustic furniture with the hammered copper tops, wash basins, and kitchen sinks.   

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Getting Over My Altitude Sickness

Now the routine is setting in and it will be time this week to get out and do some sightseeing.   I hadn't said anything but I was really feeling ill with the change in altitude.   It doesn't always happen but when it does I feel like I am in a fog of some kind all day.  I have my new blood pressure cuff with me and my pressure was up to 140 over 88.  It has settled now to 111 over 80.   

This is one of many pics you'll see in the coming weeks.  The scenery is beautiful!  This is the road we take every day to the gym.  It's about 15 minutes or less and the drive is always nice.

I took this picture of the gym off of Google.  I didn't want to take pics while people are there, especially on our second day.   They are still a bit shy about talking to us as we are foráneos.  Plus, they are worried I don't speak Spanish although we speak Spanish in public almost all the time.  Good workout, good equipment, a small gym but adequate for our needs.

These guys just graze in the sun all day.  They go out at 9:30 in the morning and come back in the afternoon at 5:00 to be fed.  Gentle horses, well-trained and behaved.  I need to get back out this week but the sun is so brutal at this altitude.   We are doing brisk walking also every afternoon before happy hour.  

This is a van I spotted a couple of days before we left.  Perfect for a class B.  It is the extended version and has the high top.  I doubt it will be around when we get back home but the price seems to be good for the year.  We'd want to have it gone over before even thinking about buying it.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

On Our Own Now

This is Charlie.  He's a lap dog and he is with me all the time now.

The owners left on Friday and now we are on our own.  So far so good.  The neighbor's house is for sale.  I will post information if anyone is interested.  A very good deal, btw.  We took one of the dogs down to the house for the night.  Since the house is alone the owners thought it would be a good idea.  It is a nice two bedroom, two baths with an additional cottage everything included with a great fireplace.   There is a big wall around the property and we made it so that there was nothing for the dog to climb up on to get out over the wall.  A great evening and off to bed.  Then at 1 a.m., the dogs started barking.  Imagine your first night in the middle of nowhere.   We got up and there he was, the big lug sitting at the front door wagging his tail.   He was able to jump over the wall, run over here to the house and jump the fences.   

Yesterday we went into town early in the morning.  We were on the hunt for a gym.  I need the routine and exercise is always good for you.   There are supposed to be three gyms in the little town.  The two we saw that were close to the plaza just wouldn't work.   Very poor and only a few pieces of equipment.  The third one we found was a deal.  200 pesos a month.  The owner gave us a discount as he is a teacher as well.   So tomorrow, Monday, we go back to the gym.  I'm happy about that.

The town is all about copper and in the past, copper mining.  We will learn the history of the town much of which has to do with Don Vasco from Spain.   We looked in a few shops and of course, there are some great pieces of copper at very good prices.   There is a lot to the copper story but I won't tell it until we are no longer here along with that of the avocado industry.  

The worker left at 2 p.m. and later on in the day we fed the horses and put them up for the night.  The dogs get fed at around 5:30 and then it's time for happy hour.

I grilled some meat for supper and we split a baked potato and a big salad.  It was really good.  We watched a Netflix documentary about menstruation in India and how women have found a way to overcome what they believe is a certain shame.  They now make their own pads whereas before they really didn't exist in India.  It is a very interesting story about women working together and educating men.  Funny, they interviewed grown men as well as high school students who didn't know what it was.  Different culture.

Time goes by when there is somewhat of a schedule so I can imagine that will be happening here.  The last two nights we went to bed early and I am back to getting up by 5:30 without an alarm clock.  

Always a sunset to end the evening.

Friday, May 17, 2019

Horses - I Still Got It!

Okay, so here I am on one of the horses.  I still got it.  It took a bit to get my big behind adjusted on the saddle.  A couple of trips up and down the drive and then we went for a ride.  There are ten acres so there is plenty of room to continue practice.   I want to ride at least two times a week.

Group shot after our initiation and practice.  That's Marti, a wonderful lady.

Some information about the house.  It is on ten acres, has two bedrooms, two baths, porches on both sides to see the sunrise on one and sunset on the other.   The area is surrounded by pine trees and the wonderful new paved road takes you all the way into Santa Clara.  The living room has a fireplace will be using soon as the rains will come in the next weeks.   The three dogs, Megan, Sam and Charlie are all well-trained and loveable.   We are reallly enjoying the poodle, Charlie.  The other two are boxer and pitbull.  The pitbull is a year old and a big baby.  Or thinks he is.

We went into town for some vegetables; tomatoes, potatoes, onions, a bottle of cream and a head of lettuce.  53 pesos.   On the way home, we forgot avocados so we stopped at a small store that was receiving a truckload of avocados.  He insisted we take two large and ripe ones for free.  Ok!  We had to taste something while we were waiting for Juan's laptop to be cleaned and I have my phone in town for a new glass because I dropped it and it is cracked.

We had a farewell dinner last night.  Marti and Toñio leave today.  A great arrechera with a cinnamon, tequila, chile pequin, and garlic.   Along with a baked potato and salad.   Wine, of course, it was a meal fit for a king.  We all seem to get along really well and work in the kitchen together.

We walk down every night to close the gate.  Nice, isn't it?

Thursday, May 16, 2019

First Visit To Pátzcuaro

We are learning our way around the house and the ranch.  Lots of things to keep an eye on but they all work out on their own.   When to feed the pets, take the trash into town, muck the stalls.  No, I'm kidding, we won't be mucking the stalls.  There is a worker that takes care of the horses and the ranch itself.  We are here basically to see that there are no issues, report to the owners, play with the dogs and pay the worker.  We need to keep things neat and orderly and that's not an issue for us.

Yesterday we went to Pátzcuaro to see where the vet is, the supermarket, the bank and ATM and all that kind of thing.  The dogs got their nails trimmed and a bath.  The poodle we can bathe here at home.  He gets a bit dusty.  We like the little town of Santa Clara which is only 8 km away and we will do all our shopping there.  Like I said it is very much like Mazamitla. 

While we waited for the dogs to be ready, Marti invited us to breakfast in the main plaza.  La Surtidora has good food, a bit pricey for us.   The restaurant used to be and has been revived to be like a small store.  They specialize now in coffee beans, coffee, wines, marmalades, liquors and the like.  Pretty cool place and we sat out at the sidewalk cafe.

The main plaza sits across the street.  When we were here years ago there was a huge tianguis going on and the plaza was covered in tarps and tents.  Since then, the plaza has received a wonderful remodel.

An interesting story.   The vet was closed when we arrived.  The assistant came and opened the garage-style doors.  A small dog tried to run out and he had a collar, neck bonnet or cone, and a leash.  Get this.  The dog was found in a ditch and brought in as a rescue.   They had to amputate a leg, cure the mange, fractures, amputate toes on another foot and so on.  He has only been here a couple of days and is a real keeper.   Look how he got out of his cage!  He ate right through the bars.   I hated to leave because I was having so much fun playing with him.  He is already running around.  His new owner is happy to have saved him.

We finished the day with a gorgeous sunset.  It looks like we will see many in the coming weeks.  So far, things are really great and Marti and Toñio are fantastic hosts.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Final Destination - Santa Clara del Cobre

Here we are at the ranch outside of Santa Clara del Cobre that is about 40 minutes from Patzcuaro.  You may be wondering how we found this housesitting job.  Paula and Jerry were in Patzcuaro for a few weeks before heading home.  They met Marti and Tonio at a party slash happy hour.   They mentioned they were looking for housesitters for their trip to Canada for the summer.   We exchanged emails, chatted on line a couple of times and, well, here we are

This is the driveway to the house.  There are outbuildings, horse barn, and a cabin that is on the property of 10 acres.  It has great energy, it is very quiet and there is forest all around.

On our trip from San Miguel de Allende, we took about 3.5 hours stopping along the roadside for a short 30 minute nap.  We found a typical roadside tree with a lot of shade.

This is  Lago Quitzao that is before Morelia near the rv park that we have all attempted to get to and only a few have actually found.  Years ago, when we attempted to find it, we ended up being guided by Federales to a water park where we spent a wonderful evening.

You can see that Santa Clara is very similar in architecture to Mazamitla.  Same wooden vigas and roofs, with tile roofs and wooden columns.

This church is a great example of the use of wood.  You see it both in the ceiling as well as the floor.

So we have hit it off with the owners, they are lovely people and have three dogs; Charlie, Megan and Sam.   Tomorrow we meet the horses.   This is a very magical place.  More to come as the days go by.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Destination - Pátzcuaro

Yesterday was definitely a down day.  We had partied pretty hardy on Saturday night.   Sunday we had a light breakfast and came back home to read the paper and lounge around.   Not much to tell in that.

We headed out walking around 6 p.m. and headed to the Parroquia.  Sunday is always a good day to people watch.   Weird thing though, this is off-season so there are very few tourists and the streets are pretty much empty.   In fact, after we finished last night, walking home we realized that at 10:00 p.m. the streets were desolate.   Not a soul in sight.

Being the last night before going on to our house-sitting job, we treated ourselves to a dinner at Pegaso's.   We haven't eaten there in quite a few years and we didn't even know they had a terrace restaurant.   Great!   A few couples, a single gringa, were at the surrounding tables.  The days are warm but the nights, like always, cool off beautifully.

As always, we split a plate and had a glass of wine or a beer.   Very good food, excellent service, and the views are fantastic.  A little too expensive for my blood but we don't do it very often.

On the way home, after dinner, you can see how empty the streets were.

Came home to an episode of Golden Girls and off to bed.   

This morning we take off around noon, our drive is less than three and a half hours.  Before taking off, I want to stop and get some fresh bread from the Canadian bakery to take as a gift along with a couple bottles of wine we selected before leaving home.   A bit nervous about house sitting although it will be fun.  Lots to learn about the ranch, the horses and moving around the area.   We hope to do a lot of day trips.  I have come up with a list of 10 things I think are important to see.

I will tell the story of how the house sitting came about later this week.  Not much to tell but it is part of the story.