The hotel where we stayed in Patzcuaro was called the Mansion Iturbe. I had stayed there before with my mother. It’s right on the Plaza Vasco de Quiroga, and is very nice. Included in the price was a free cocktail and snack between 6 and 7PM and a breakfast of your choice each morning of your stay. The only complaint that I might have is that they advertised free wireless internet, and it didn’t work most of the time.
On Saturday, we woke up at about 9:30 and went downstairs to claim our breakfasts. I ordered chilaquiles Purepechas, which is cooked with eggs and doesn’t have any meat. I asked for some crema to temper the heat. It came with beans and mango juice and an interesting assortment of breads. Wheat had the “hot cakes” which did not come with maple syrup or any of the typical American accoutrements, so he had jam on them. After such a substantial breakfast, we went back to the room. Wheat took a rest while I went shopping.
I made the round of shops on the Plaza V.de.Q., then went looking for the Casa de las Once Patios. This is a former convent that houses workshops and tiendas where people from around Michoacan sell their wares. I made a mental note of several shops I wanted to re-visit to buy things. I was particularly interested in the bordados – embroidered scenes depicting such events as the Noche de Muertos, La Vida del Rancho, La Boda, etc. I also planned on buying a LOT of things at a shop that is off the road to the 11 Patios. I have been there before and bought gifts on former trips.
On my way back to get Wheat, I was accosted for the third time by a persistent little lady who sells copal wood carvings. I had stopped by the night before to admire her wares (she was stationed on the sidewalk across from a hotel). She makes carvings of the Virgin of Guadalupe, as well as other virgins (the triangular virgin, for example – usually called the Virgin de San Juan), santos, and angels. She showed my husband and me her certification from the State of Michoacan, and quoted a price of 80 pesos per Virgin, most of which were about a foot high and nailed to a stand. She also had larger pieces, including some very nicely painted ones which were more expensive.
When I pasted her this time, I thought that I would go ahead and buy two Virgins of Guadalupe. Then, I realized I only had about 118 pesos in cash. I told her that I could only take one for the moment, but I would return to buy another later. She wouldn’t let me go, and finally gave them to me for what I had in cash. That was a little more than $5 each. I should have bought more!!! Darn!
Wheat and I returned to the Once Patios, and I warned him that almost all of the shops I went into had “no tocar photos o videos” signs posted, which was disappointing. Still, he managed to chat up a guitar maker from Paracho, and we got some video of my choosing and buying the embroideries, which were made by a cooperative of women near Tzintzuntzan. I addition to the themes I mentioned earlier, I also bought a Tree of Life bordado.
I didn’t go way out of control in my spending – I don’t think. I had spent some time the night before thinking about what money I was going to spend on travel, classes, accomodations, and hotels for the next couple of weeks. So my purchases seemed meager so far. I REALLY wanted a shawl that was for sail at the bordado shop. There was one in cream and one in black, and they were embroidered with hundreds of tiny designs from one end to the other. It was set up on a regular grid pattern, so they were lined up perfectly, buy each image was a different one. I thought that the woman had said that it was for sale for 1500 pesos (less than $150), but when Wheat offered to buy it for me as an early birthday present, I found out that it was actually 2000 pesos, and that was too much.
I also purchased two retablos, two ex-votos, and one carved and painted Virgin of Guadalupe from the store where I had bought so many gifts the last two times I visited Patzcuaro. The themes of the ex-votos were alcoholism and divorce (both averted, thanks to St. Anthony and the Virgin of Guadalupe). I bought a retablo of the Nino de Atocha and I think one of another Virgin.
That evening, we went down to the Plaza to film La Danza de los Viejitos. There were two groups that were taking turns. I tried to get one of the little boys to talk to us on tape, but he was only 6 and we hit a conversational dead end. Unfortunately, the old San Franciscan church that was turned into a library dedicated to Gertrudis Bocanegra was closed due to a political rally. I wanted to get pictures of the mural by Juan O’Gorman. Darned politicians!
After our happy hour, we went to an internet cafe, where I did some extra research on places to eat. We ended up choosing El Primer Piso – we couldn’t find it at first, but realized finally that it was in the same courtyard as El Kiosko, where I had bought things the night before. I passed by that night and bought another version of a Loteria game – an older one I had seen on a website. The restaurant was upstairs, and I realized when I got there that Mom and I had eaten there 7 years before on our trip to Patzcuaro. We ordered actual salads, and I had my third bowl of Sopa Tarasca of the weekend. This one had beans -which I prefer.
I will write more about Sunday in Patzcuaro, Part 3. But I will report the paleta of the day as being arroz (rice pudding – no raisins). It was very good!