Thursday, May 30, 2019

Ario de Rosales - Day Trip

This turned out to be a memorable day trip to the town of Ario de Rosales, just 40 minutes from the ranch.  

The best part about this time we are spending in Michoacan is the roads.  Excellent pavement, well designed and most of all, driving through the forests.  It's always cool, shady and most of all, relaxing.  My blood pressure has remained at 111/69.  Amazing what retirement will do for you especially when you aren't at home wondering what will break next.

As I said, the road to Ario is 40 minutes and I can't drive fast, the roads are curvy.  We passed many small ejidos that appear to be indigenous or mostly so and have a unique roof design.  I'll have to get a picture of that this next week. 

One of the most historical events to come out of the Mexican Independence was the establishment of a Tribunal Justice Court.  The court was designated by Morelos y Pavon (that's just one person) while he was on his epic journey of independence throughout Mexico.  The court was established in 1815.  You may think, big deal what did that do for the people?  In the first five months of 1815 because of this new tribunal court, a mother filed a lawsuit against the town.  Her daughter was a worker there doing cleaning and had not received payment for a very long time.  The court made a decision and the woman received her back pay plus a salary.

In another case, a woman filed a lawsuit against a relative, who after the death of her husband, had issues with the land ownership documents.  Not only did the relative or brother-in-law attempt to keep her from maintaining ownership he also abused her both physically and verbally.  Again, the court ruled in her favor and the land documents were put in her name.   

The documents were signed in this very room.

Most of the building and the wood structures are original including some of the tile roofs.  The room in the picture up above tilts heavily to one side but it was decided to correct that it would ruin the original structure.  This was also a house and the last person to live there was a woman named Clara who had no children.  In 1985, before her death, she signed over the property to the city and the money from the sale was donated to the church in front.

After so much information and walking, a soul needs a little nourishment.  This is a small fondita around the corner from the church that came highly recommended by the curator of the museum and also a transito.  

This is just for starters, chips and sauce don't seem to be a starter in these parts but it came with those delicious yellow corn tortillas.  

Two meals, drinks, and the above panela cheese came to a total of $6.85.  That was lunch and dinner for us yesterday.

This is one of the nicer plazas we have seen so far.  Has some hint of La Parroquia in San Miguel.  de Allende.

While we were visiting the church, there was an ordination of a new priest.  The archbishop came, photographers and people from all around.  You can see the newly ordained priest in the center-left.

Always ready for a photo op!

Yesterday morning after the gym, we purchased these avocados for a mere $.12 a piece.  Delicious, aren't they?  Why yes, they are!!!

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Lake Zirahuen

The legend of Lake Zirahuen and how it came to be:

Many years ago, when the Spanish invaded Mexican lands, a captain with his troops came to the land of Michoacán. He was going to meet with the Purépecha emperor who was called Tangaxoan, who had a beautiful daughter who had been named Erendira.

The young princess Erendira was very beautiful, and at the same time, the captain fell in love with her. One day, the Spanish captain kidnapped the princess and hid her in a green valley surrounded by many mountains. Erendira was very sad and suffered a lot.

Now the valley has a lake named Zirahuen. Since then, the people who live near the lake, say that the princess swims some nights in the beautiful lake and that at wise men sell water to men who are evil and make them good.

I haven't posted since we have been so busy.  The weather here is beautiful.  The days are overcast with light sprinkles and afternoon showers.  We manage to go for a walk though and return just about 300 meters from the front gate when the rain begins.   The rain is good for hanging out and reading.  Unfortunately, most of the land around these parts is privately owned and not conducive to hiking.   However, the walks are on paved roads that wind through the pines so that is good enough for me.  I guess I do have an accent.  When we go for a walk and pass cows, I always moo and they give me the strangest looks.

Looking at the map there are many small towns within a 30 to 40-minute drive.  Sunday we chose Zirahuen.   Zirahuen, from what I have read has a large lake and invites many tourists throughout the year.   Well, for this area, many are a lot.  The lake is quite large but there are only a few small restaurants clustered together and they have a nice sized ferry style boat to take people for rides.  

I will say one thing about this lake.  It is one of the cleanest I have ever seen.  Although you may find litter in the small town, you don't find it along the banks of the lake or in the water.  At a brunch spot, I asked for the bathroom.  They aren't allowed to have drainage near the water so you have to go about a block and a half to find a public restroom.  

It's actually quite a small community and the people are very nice.  We arrived in the morning just as mass was over in the local church.  

I wouldn't call this one a day trip but it was a nice drive and a beautiful view of the lake and surrounding area.   Today, we took a trip to Ario de Rosales and I will post about that next.

The workers started planting corn today.  He brought his two horses, hooked them up and began to sow seed.  Last week, they plowed the fields to prepare them.  Funny, we forgot about the planting today and on the way back from the gym I saw a guy riding a horse with one in tow.  It was him.  

We will be flying to Boise, Idaho the last weekend of July for my brother Steve's memorial service.  Tickets are not cheap and I have checked from Monterrey, McAllen, San Antonio, Harlingen and more even flying to major cities and then beyond.  

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Gringo Meet and Greet Pátzcuaro

Lots of activities going on.  We finished the week going to the gym, being there at 7:30 when they open in the morning.   It's the same 10 people who come and the average age is 25 but they don't mistreat us.  In fact, there are two oscillating fans on the wall and yesterday it was a bit hot.  I was using the dumbbells when a girl came up and asked if I could turn them on.  I told her I had no idea how to turn them on and she said, "just climb up there and turn the switch in the back".  I had to climb up on the rack of dumbbells to do it.   I got down and she said, "can you turn on the other one too?".  I told her, "sure I'm only 100 years old".   She didn't get it.  

Thursday night we went to a gringo meet and greet.  I'm not too fond of those things as it's all gringos.  Although Marti did say Mexicans go too, Toñio chimed in with, "maybe one or two".  Off we went to Restaurante Lupita up the street from the main plaza.   The charge is 125 pesos and it includes two drinks and lots of really good hors d'oeuvres so it was well worth the price.  Salmon, empanadas de mole, blue cheese with dill, sopes de chicharon and frijoles, the list goes on and they didn't stop.  So that was dinner as well.

The crowd isn't very big.  It is estimated that 250 gringos live in Pátzcuaro and I really don't know how true that is.   Very nice people who walked right up to us and introduced themselves and asked who we were and where we were from.   It turned out to be a good time with some excellent jazz music to boot. Lots of networking going on but I had a feeling it is the same crowd every month.  We'll go back in June. We exchanged some details with others who were interested in Mexico travel as well as rving.   Driving home in the dark isn't my thing in any country, too many bright lights but we made it safe and sound.

There are some wonderful markets in Pátzcuaro as well.  Huge markets that really don't match the size of the town but I guess people come from all over.  In one plaza, where they sell mostly pottery and clayware,   we heard most of the people speaking in their language of P'urhépecha and in their native dress.  Very interesting and you wonder like anyone else in any country what they are saying and if they are talking about you.

Food is everywhere and I'm not sure where we get the idea that people live in extreme poverty in Mexico.  People, mostly indigenous were buying up the place.   Well, I won't go there but we are on a slow downhill slide with our new president and unfortunately, you are not receiving all the news in English regarding the destruction of our universal healthcare system.  But, as you can see, I was very willing to try food along our route.

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.