I’m in love with Mexico. Mexico and I have had a “thing” going on for almost 20 years. There’s a particular spot that’s close to my heart…in Manzanillo. Alaska Airlines flies there. Our family loves to visit.
But Christy always is in the mood for something new. So, on a lark, we rented a car and drove inland through Guadalajara and got lost. Eventually, we followed the signs to “Mexico” to get back on the toll road. No, really!!
Our all-day journey (one must NOT drive at night) ended in the town of Patzcuaro, near Morelia. The town, the adjacent lake and neighboring villages make up a UNESCO World Heritage Site. With the aid of Google Maps and some luck, we inched our way through the town’s narrow street to find our b-n-b: Casa Werma.
Casa Werma is a walled-off retreat center owned by a Buddhist order of monks. We rented one of the houses on the property—it was glorious. Our hosts cooked a delicious breakfast each morning.
Five hundred years ago, the first Bishop of Michoacan, Vasco de Quiroga, envisioned the region as something of a “Utopia,” as he was a student of Sir Thomas More. In addition to building the first seminary in the Western Hemisphere, he and his fellow Jesuits built schools and hospitals in the region. He organized the indigenous people into villages around the lake which specialized in a particular craft: copper making, mask making, reed weaving, ceramics and a variety of other traditional arts.
The descendants of these artisans still live and work on the shores of the lake.
Late on Christmas Eve, we walked from Casa Werma to the town square and the Cathedral, where we attended a late-night Christmas Eve Mass. Afterwards, there were fireworks and celebrations everywhere and folks were sitting outside of their homes at “posadas.” Family members build a fire on the front porch and offer warm drinks to those who pass by.
Our visit to Patzcuaro offered an important perspective to Mexico’s heritage. The town is on the “Camino Real” which led from Mexico City all the say to modern-day Santa Fe, New Mexico. The Jesuit priests who started the seminary really were the civil administrators—as declared by the King of Spain.
This lovely town with its rich heritage is one reason why I fell in love with Mexico all over again. ¡Feliz Navidad y prospero año nuevo!
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