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.   

1 comment:

  1. What an interesting tour, I love all the copper crafted pieces.