Monday, November 09, 2009

I Can See Clearly Now….

I have the old song by Johnny Nash stuck in my head right now. Just returning from volunteering at an eye clinic I wanted to take a quick moment to tell you about it before I go flop on the couch. The group VOSH is here working with a number of organizations to provide eye exams and glasses for many people here in Patzcuaro who may not otherwise be able to afford it.

eye exam

The Eye Exam!

I can not tell you how incredible it is to watch a person’s face light up when they can see clearly for the first time in years, and in some cases decades. One gentleman last had a pair of glasses in 1989. But I have to tell you we have a bit of a shortage of people to help translate. If you can help and are in the area please do. You do not need to be fluent. The vast majority is saying things like “ is your problem seeing near of far” or “which is better, this or this”


Boxes Of Glasses, Just Waiting!

We are short of volunteers!

If you can help here is the information! You can contact Deb at or her cell phone is 045 (434) 100 1149

In November, Ciudades Hermanas Sister Cities de Patzcuaro, A.C. along with DIF Patzcuaro will be hosting a group of volunteer optomitrists from Ohio - VOSH (Volunteer Optometric Services to Humanity). The Santa Clara clinic is hosted by the Paz Family of el Arte de Victoria (Patz) and El Porton of Sta. Clara

VOSH will provide eye care clinics to low income members of the community - includes exams and eyeglasses - in several locations within the municipality of Patzcuaro and Sta. Clara. The cost for the exam/eyeglasses is $20 pesos per person/family although no one will be denied because of inability to pay.
November 9th and 10th at the Maria Teresa Salon de Fiestas - to the side of the main bus terminal in Patzcuaro - on the libremiento. 8 a.m. til 5.30 p.m.

November 11th - Sta. Clara 9 - 5.30
November 12th - Tzurumutaro - former TEC location near the plaza 8 - 5.30
November 13th - Cuanajo 9 - 1.30
They require 10 bi-lingual volunteers at each clinic. Your spanish need not be perfect as there are some simple phrases that need to be known. It will not involve a lot of techinical terms ... ´what do you see´, ´how do the glasses feel´, ´could you please read the chart´, etc. There will also be someone there who can assist you should you need it.
Please contact me as soon as possible to sign up. There are shifts of 8 to 1 p.m. - 1 p.m. to 5.30 or all day.
Thank you! saludos. Deborah

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Patzcuaro Day of the Dead Candy Market

We are well into the coldest and wettest October that we have had in Patzcuaro in the 3 years we have been here. It feels more like the Octobers I remember in the Pacific Northwest when I was a kid.  The tourists have hit town and the hotels are near capacity.


The Candy Sellers under Portal Hidalgo, Plaza Grande

We are reaching the end of the preparations for day of the dead. The candy sellers have arrived with table upon table covered in candy skulls and miniatures of favored food items, drinks and other things that will be laid out on altars in memory of family members now passed on.



Warning Solid Sugar!

In the background the tents are up around Plaza Grande as the artisans are preparing to move in.  If you haven’t had a chance to see them before,. now is the time. If you would like a sneak preview here is the post I did a couple of years ago on the artisans.
Or, even better, come on down and see for yourself, the artists could sure use your support.


Hmmm, What do I want? It all looks sooooo good.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Marilyn Monroe Visits Patzcuaro

As you can probably tell from the things that I post, I love the arts and crafts of the Lake Patzcuaro area. It is a bit of an Easter egg hunt, never knowing where you will find the next prize. Still, it did come as a bit of a shock to me, while visiting my next door neighbor, to see that Marilyn Monroe was in the house!

marilyn blog

Marilyn Muerta En Vida, Viva En Muerte.

Monica was originally from Colima, and moved to Patzcuaro with her charming husband Carlos after living in Mexico City for a number of years. Recently she has been taking some painting classes and the talent that is emerging is unmistakable.

The exhibit she is in is entitled “ La Muerte Viva” , which is a part of the Day of the Dead celebrations here in Patzcuaro. Monica chose an atypical subject for her painting, to illustrate that for death, there are no borders. The work is entitled “ Marilyn Muerta en Vida, Viva En Muerte” which translates roughly as “Marilyn, Dead in life, alive in death” to contrast her battle with depression in life, and the life her image has taken on in death, as a symbol of beauty and glamour.

If you would like to see Monica’s work, as part of an exhibition with almost a hundred paintings. If the other paintings are anywhere near as good, the show will be truly impressive.
Here are the details.

5ta. Exposicion “Colectiva De Pendones De Dia De Muertos”
October 30, 20:00 on display till November 30th.
”La Muerte Viva”
The ex-Jesuit college, Patzcuaro
Top Floor, Free admission.

The Jesuit college is located one block up the hill from Plaza Grande. Check it out, I think you will be glad you did.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Lizards Crashing the Troncones Beach Party

Last month we headed out to the beach at Troncones (just west of Zihua/Ixtapa) for a bit of a beach party.  It is about a 2.5 hour drive from Patzcuaro to the beach there.

Ahhhhh, now we are at the beach. Nice chilly beverage in my hand, meeting friendly new people, looking out at the ocean.  Sitting across from me is a gentleman who goes by the handle “Hunter and is a bit of a herpophile. Is that really a word? Probably not, but I have decided it is.  A herpophile is a person who is into snakes and reptiles. Boy did he pick the right party to come to.

Lyre Snake

Lyre Snake AKA Just Another Party Animal!

What’s that? A little commotion in pool palapa, seems a snake has joined the party. Hey, Hunter, check out the snake! Our new visitor is called a Lyre snake (pronounced liar) which of course prompts some timeshare salesmen jokes. I was going to say lawyer jokes but I know a couple of lawyers who read this blog and don't want to have to deal with injunctions!

After the social niceties are over, the snake goes into a bag, for transport into the jungle later, where he is less likely to get decapitated by someone who may object to having a snake come visit their home.

Back to the party. Lots of good nibblies, including some homemade smoked salmon by a lady from Alaska.



Now wait, what is that I see on the beach? Awww, a turtle laying eggs! Off I trot with the camera again. Seems that when they are laying they are running on pure instinct. People and cameras don't bother them, just “NO FLASH”.



A Non Easter Egg Hunt

By the time I got to her, the eggs are all lain and she had just finished filling in the hole, and was working on patting down the sand. As we are watching her finishing up, I see the charming hostess of the party coming with a Tupperware container and a big spoon! Oh no, I hope she isn't thinking turtle omelets! No, it seems that if left the local dogs will turn it into a buffet very quickly.  



Note The Green Beer Can

We all start digging to rescue the eggs and take them to a hatchery a couple of hundred meters down the beach. Oddly, after digging for some time we still had found no eggs.  Please note the green beer can in the picture above. 


Pay Dirt!

When we eventually found the eggs they were about a foot and a half below the can.   So after we all had a good laugh at that, the harvesting started.


tub of eggs

97 Eggs Recovered By Us!

The eggs themselves were still warm and were very much like ping pong balls. We loaded up a total of 97 eggs! Off to the nursery we go.

As an added bonus, there were two other turtles doing the exact same thing between where we were and the turtle nursery. That afternoon just over 300 eggs were added to the nursery!


Mission Complete - For Mom!

As we returned after the visit to the nursery, the dogs were already at the hole looking for any missed eggs. 

A party at the beach and a good deed done, what more could you ask for an afternoon? Could someone pass that pitcher of margaritas please?



Monday, October 12, 2009

On the road to Tupataro


Wild Flowers of Patzcuaro

A Frenzy of Colour!

Turning off the highway from Morelia to Patzcuaro, at the road to Tupataro I was assaulted by a frenzy of vivid colors that demanded to be photographed. Last month I gave you a wildflower preview, but now they are in full swing!


On the road to Tupataro

Velvet Skies

Out comes the tripod and camera. I took a tranquil escape from by errands, and spent some quiet time enjoying the view and snapping the shutter. It truly is a breath of fresh air, for the eyes as well as the lungs! Can you wonder why this is my favorite time of  year?

If you aren't familiar with Tupataro, it is the village with hand painted ceiling I posted about a while ago.  You can see that post here.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

The Magic Sky-Talking Box

With the house for sale I have had a number of people asking about my internet setup here. Now that day of the dead approaching, the number of people who come to visit Patzcuaro takes a big jump. So it seemed like a significant number of the people we have talked to about the house have chosen then to come and look at it. So I thought I would post it here for all to read.

Our internet is provided by a friendly young fellow by the name of Bolivar.
His website is right here>
I remember asking about when it we first got here. Bolivar patiently explained the system to me in his very fluent English, sadly I was listening in gibberish so I ended up with an explanation that goes something like this.

magic box

The Magic Sky-Talking Box or MSTB!

My computer sits on my desk. From the back of the computer is a wire that goes up to a box on the roof that is connected to a small antenna. My computer, through this cable, talks to the box on the roof. We will call this the “magic sky-talking box” or MSTB. The MSTB is pointed at a tower on a neighboring mountain. This tower also has an MSTB, and that is connected to our internet service provider. These two boxes talk to each other rather effortlessly through something called “fixed wireless” which is just a $20 peso word for “Magic”.

The cost for all this magic is just $400 peso per month, plus taxes of course.

The speed that these two boxes talk to each other is measured in something called KBPS. For our setup here we have 1024 KBPS, I am not sure but I think that it stands for
Keeping Bewitched Photons Streamlined”.

1024 KBPS seems to do us just fine! We of course use it for all our internet, but we also use it for our phone service. I use a Vonage system that I brought down with us from Canada, with all my calls being routed through the antenna on the roof.

scoots pot

Scooter AKA Scoots The Cat

Coming back down from the roof top patio after taking a picture of the antenna, I noticed Scoots sitting in pot on the second floor terraza. She looked so cute I had to grab a quick shot. You may remember her from when we rescued her last year in the following blog posting.

You will be glad to know she is doing very well and eats like a horse. Obviously we did not find a home for her. We came here with no cats, and now have 3. Funny how that happens!

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Good Morning! Dawn at the Top of the World

I hope you all had a good morning. As I do quite often, I woke up before dawn.
Old habits die hard, and I have usually been an early riser. So I thought I would share what I see as the sun rises over Lake Patzcuaro and Estribo as viewed from my terrace.

Good Morning

Estrebo Poking Out Of The Mist

The mountain you see in the middle is Estribo. I understand it is an old volcano. To the right of it is the lake, and once the mist burns off you can see the island of Janitzio with the statue on top.
The banner you see with the title at the top of the blog, that picture was taken from atop Estribo.

I would love to be able to wax poetical and weave a tapestry of words to capture the mood that settles on you as you watch the sun come up and splash over the panorama. but truthfully, it leaves me speechless.

So, what vista greeted you this morning?

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Just Pass Las Cuevas – A Wildflower Preview


The Wildflowers Are Coming!

Yes I am among the living. But have sadly had a laptop meltdown. After some trials and tribulations I have recovered the hard drive and all the data on it. But it was a bit hairy there for a while! So, I have a lot of posts to catch up on so keep your eyes peeled!

While you are waiting here is a picture I meant to post last year. I thought it would be good timing as we are just coming up on the wildflower season here.

This shot was taken just past Las Cuevas. A great spot for wildflowers! More soon!

We also have something new on the blog. Just look at the top right and you will see Followers by Google Friends. So if you use Google or Yahoo, or a number of other online services you can signon as a friend.

Thursday, July 30, 2009


When I was a kid, we had a set of children's encyclopedias. Very colorful, well illustrated.
Volume 12 of Golden Book Encyclopedia covered “Paricutin to Quicksand”. I can even remember an illustration of the farmer working in the field with the volcano beginning to poke out of the ground behind him. It was active from 1943-1952.
cone Volcano

Paricutin Volcano Cinder Cone

Little did I realize that decades later (next century actually!) I would be living just down the road from the volcano. So needless to say, this is a “must do” day trip!
After driving a little over 100 kilometers west from Patzcuaro we approach the village of Angahuan. This is our starting point for our trip to the lava fields. There waiting at the first topé (a speed bump, okay a speed bump on steroids!) will be a man waiting for visitors. Off to the side of the road you will see a few others and some horses. Consider this person your travel agent/salesman . He will rent you a horse and send a young guide with you. As I was wanting to visit the church in the village first, I continued on past the topé into the village. Not wanting to miss an opportunity, the intrepid “travel agent” hops onto his steed and chases us into town. While photographing the church, we come to terms and the ride is arranged. Be sure to have sturdy footwear on, and make sure you take some water.

Angahuan’s church

Here is my recommendation about hiring a horse. If it is rainy season, you REALY want to have a horse, otherwise you will be hiking through mud and muck (including organic contributions from the horses) until you get to the lava field. If it is not rainy season, rent a horse anyway. You can save your energy for climbing around at your destination, you will be especially glad on the trip back. Plus you get to contribute to the local economy. The pesos you leave will make a bigger impact to them than they will to you!
horse tiff

Me And My Horse

While you can take the day and ride up to the top of the cinder cone, my destination is the San Juan Parangaricutiro village church in the lava field. The entire village was destroyed by the lava, with only the church showing through to indicate the village was there. After about 45 minutes (depending on where in town you start) on horseback we approach the “base camp” a variety of little huts that dispense food, drinks (keep hydrated!) and the odd souvenir (mostly old photos).
church tower

San Juan Parangaricutiro’s Church

Hiking up from the concession area, you approach the church. The spire rising out of the lava like a hand from the grave in one of those old late night horror movies. The view in the photo above shows the church from about a the level of the second floor. It makes sense that as the church was the tallest building around that parts of it would survive the disaster. What is really unusual is what you find at the other end of the church, at the altar.
Altar pano

The Miraculous Altar

It seems that the lava, a wall of molten rock 20-30 feet high, approached the altar and decided to stop. Leaving the altar untouched while continuing on to destroy the rest of the town. For the devout, this was a powerful endorsement of their faith. Now, to this day, the faithful make pilgrimages to this altar to pray and commune.

Miraculous Mementos

From these pilgrimages there are left behind flowers, crosses, rosaries, and countless personal mementos. Pictures and items of the people they have come there to pray for, or perhaps tokens of those whose prayers were answered. It is important to remember, that for many , this is much more that an interesting tourist site, but a sacred expression of their faith.

Hmmmmm, Quesadillas!

After tiring of climbing around the site, a brief sojourn at the base camp is in order. A cold beer, and a few quesadillas really hit the spot, with hand made blue corn tortillas made from scratch. Yummm!
Then off to find the young fellow minding our horses for the ride back. All in all, a memorable afternoon.

Have you visited Paricutin? I would love to hear what you thought.
Leave your impressions in the comments, Thanks!

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Getting Organic at the Biker Bar

The Mercado at Patzcuaro is a magical place. People, colors, as many fruits and vegetables that you don’t know the name of , as there are that you recognize. But this week there is something new. A small co-op of producers have put together a number of things that are hard, if not impossible to find, elsewhere.Sign

Hidden Behind This Facade is Buen Provecho Mercado

Right now this new venture is open every Friday from 11-4, but they hope they will have enough demand to open more. The adventure starts with trying to find them. I will give some detailed directions for those of you in the area, looking to find it. If you are at the glorieta in front of the new Bodega Aurrera store, you head towards El Centro on Lazero Cardenas. On the right hand side, as you head into town, you will find a half of a motorcycle sticking out of the wall, and a big sign that says “Mr. Gray”, this is your destination.

Yes, you are looking for an ex biker bar. Inside you will find them . Don't forget to check out the Swiss baker there!

Veggies b

A selection of some of our booty! Arhgggg

We bought leeks, turnips, tomatoes, a variety of exotic salad greens, funky fruits and a 6 grain bread.
They also had fresh duck, and eggs and a few other things I didn’t even get to. That large yellow grapefruit sized thing is a lemon, an actual lemon. I have 3 or 4 lemon trees here on the grounds, but have yet to have a harvest. This year we do have some baby lemons growing so I am hopeful. Until then, I think these will do quite nicely.

Pithaya B

Dragon Fruit

Something rather unique there was a call a pitaya, or dragonfruit, which is a cactus fruit. Dramatic enough on the outside, its flamboyant purple interior almost makes it surreal. Light and tasty, the flavor is not as overpowering as the color, thankfully. I think we will have to go back next Friday to see what else we can find.

Confession time, I think I spent more time on the pictures for this post than the writing. I really like how the picture below came out. I have included it even though it isn’t from Buen Provecho. If you come across these peppers, beware they are VERY hot. These were found at Patzcuaro’s regular market

Hot Pepper

Do You Know the Name of These Peppers?

Wanna buy wide B

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Day of the Dead Market 2007 Video

In 2007 I did a post on the day of the dead market here in Patzcuaro.
It was a sort of photo tour of the market and talked about the crafts from the different areas.

If you like you can have a look at it here.
Patzcuaro Day of the Dead Market - 2007

It has actually been one of my most viewed postings.
At the same time I did a sort of slideshow/movie and posted it to youtube, but the quality didnt realy seem to be there, after the upload it just seemed a blocky and jumpy.

Well, I came across the file while cleaning up my hard drive the other day. After changing the format, so it would compress better, I tried uploading it again, and this time, it looks clean and crisp.

So, finally here it is! If your bandwidth is a little slow, you may need to pause to let the video load in a bit.

So enjoy, and hopefully you will be so impressed you will come visit and support these amazing crafts people, and you wont have to wait till day of the dead!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Cuitzeo, Another Pueblo Magico

We headed out to the other side of Lago Cuitzeo, north of Morelia. What's there? Well, what we were going to see were 2 things. First the ruins at Huandacareo and then, the village of Cuitzeo.

But on arrival to Huandacareo, we find the ruins closed. Closed, hmmm, perhaps for renovations. What we did find were Balnearios. It seems like the village is water park central. Here is an aerial view of what appears to be pool central, and I get the impression that there are a couple more in the area. We wandered around one, and it even had a swim up bar!

View Larger Map Wanna Go For A Dip?
So, after a peek at the water parks we head towards Cuitzeo. It is a Pueblo Magico, like here in Patzcuaro. A couple of other Pueblo Magicos you may have seen on my blog are Tlalpujahua and Bernal.
We were familiar with Cuitzeo from before the Salamanca cuota was put in. It used to route you through the village, but the face of Cuitzeo that you saw, was rather plain and uninteresting. It’s VERY clean, very very clean, without 100 wires overhead meeting up in junctions that resemble birds nests. Almost a “Stepford Wives” version of a Mexican village.
Cuitzeo street

Too Clean?

As we continue into the center of town we find the personality and the charm that it has been shy in showing to the outside world. Peeking into a crowded cafe, we realize it is time for a little something to eat. After picking up a tasty combination of fruit, yogurt and granola, we wonder over to the plaza principal to eat and to watch.
The plaza is where she lets her hair down! Our shy little wall flower becomes the prom queen. A charming bandstand set in the midst of hand hewn stone and vibrant greenery. Light and laughter dance here where it won’t be wasted on those who think that Cuitzeo is only a speed bump on the road from A to B.
Who knew? I guess it is like very many Mexican homes, what you see behind closed doors can be very different than the view on the street.
cuitzeo plaza

Benches Waiting Patiently For Couples To Come Courting.

After our snack break we continue on to the main attraction today, the Ex Convent of Saint Mary Magdalene. After 4 years of work, the convent had recently been restored to what it once was. Photo ops await!
church umbrella

Built 1550, Restored, Last Thursday.

Entering the edifice you wander through ancient corridors. In many places you will see what seems to be carvings in the stone above the arches and on distant walls. Cuitzeo Corridor

Centuries of Atmosphere Soak These Stones

As you approach you realize that they are all painted on. Murals are sprinkled throughout the convent, and in some rooms, you are hard pressed to find a surface not covered with scenes or painted accents.wall painting
As you wander through the rooms, you come across a strange dichotomy, museum exhibits, in a building from 1550, lit by halogen lights on electronic timers triggered by ultrasonic motion detectors. While the rooms have all been restored, exhibits have yet to be put in many of them, giving you glimpses of doorways through doorways with the light growing as you approach the courtyard.
Cuitzeo Doorways

Looking Back Almost 500 Years

When I say all the rooms have been restored, I mean all, even the ancient bathrooms. They are basically a row of outhouses on the second floor, I always thought the most important thing about an outhouse was that they are outside, hence the name. Sadly these are not out, they are in. I would not want to live on the first floor.
Yes I took a picture. No , I am not going to post it. You know what an outhouse looks like.
As we approach the end of our tour, a young gentleman beckons us with a medieval looking key. An ancient door opens onto a timeworn pipe organ, then as we enter we realize he has taken us into the balcony that overlooks the main church. cuitzeo church

Here is Where a Picture IS Worth a Thousand Words.

As we turn to leave, we see Mary Magdalene, the Ex Convents namesake, immortalized in stained glass.
Saint Mary

Monday, June 08, 2009

Come To Patzcuaro, Buy My House!

Wanna buy wide B

Wanna Buy My House?

Yes, I am a glutton for punishment! After finally getting all the finishing touches done, and the landscaping completed we are putting it up for sale. For those of you who have built a home in Mexico you know how challenging it can be, how everything takes WAY longer than expected and how important it is to stay on top of things.

You really have to stay on top of things, double and triple check everything, and still Murphy's Law, will do its best to intervene! I remember one time we went to Texas for a week during construction, when we came back, the garage foundation had been put in. Wow, fast work, but….. it had been put in the middle of the back yard garden!! Hmmm, plus there was a wall in the house where a big picture window was suppose to be. You see, we like it bright, bright and fresh.

So, now we that have had some time to relax, I think we might be getting cabin fever. So let’s do this again! Hmmm, maybe this time we will do a fixer-upper. That should make it even more of a challenge, because you never know what you might find behind that wall, or under that floor. I guess we are the sort of people that always have to have a project or 4 to keep us busy.

tub time 600

So, if you, or someone you know is interested in buying a house, send them this blog posting or give them the URL to my house website, I made it easy to remember! Now, I think I will go have a soak in the Jacuzzi with a book while I still have it!

PS, the book I am starting is “God and Mr. Gomez”, written by LA Times columnist about his adventures of building a home in Mexico.

PPS, A special thanks to Steve at same life -- new location for telling his readers about my house here in Patzcuaro! Thanks Steve!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Yacatas and a Walk in Tzintzuntzan



About 17 kilometres from here, as the crow flies, is the village of Tzintzunzan. Overlooking the village are the ruins referred to as Las Yacatas.


museo b


As you enter and pay your fee, you are in a tiny museum, with a variety of items. The petroglyphs particularly caught my eye. I remember my grandmother showing native Indian petroglyphs in the Fraser Canyon of the Pacific northwest when I was a kid. I always wondered about the person who carved the images into the stone. That wonder stays with me today.


cleaning b

Hurry Up,  Company’s Coming!

When you get a chance to wander around the ruins, also keep an eye peeled for more petroglyphs, they are salted throughout the ruins.  While we were there, they were doing some cleaning on the front of the ruins, and some additional restoration in the back. Nice to see that things are coming along.


third treeb


The view from the end of the ruins towards the lake I found quite striking! I can only imagine what it was originally like. When the Spaniards came, they tore down many of these structures to build churches in the area.


tzin B

      The Mercado

Leaving the ruins, we go for a stroll to the Mercado, full of bright coloured pottery and an explosion of reed and straw woven items. It looks like Christmas all year round here.

Tzin market b

Christmas Year Round?

We proceed into the Olive Atrium on the grounds of the former monastery of St. Francis. These trees are well over 400 years old.  We are heading for the far right corner.olive trees B

450 Year Old Olive Trees!

Tzin Church B

Templo de la Soledad

As we near the corner, we stop to have a quick peak into the Templo de la Soledad, as we are approaching our final destination.


Capilla B

Capilla Albierta

Just before you get to Templo da la Soledad, there is a gateway. Entering you come into the Capilla Albierta.  The skies have clouded over, just in time to add some drama to the vista.

As you look around, you see 16th century painting on the walls. Ahhh, and there is what we came for. We weren't just wandering aimlessly were we? You knew I was bringing you here for a reason, right? There set in the wall, are a number of stones that seem familiar. Petroglyphs, yes these stones came from the ruins. Recycling is not a new idea here

Petrogliphs Patzcuaro

Petroglyphs Again!

Thanks for taking a walk with me today. Hey, if you are interested in more info on the The Former Monastery of St. Francis of Assisi, check out this great post by Cristina Potters of Mexico Cooks!

El Ex-Convento de San Francisco de Asís,Tzintzuntzan, Michoacán


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