The town of Patzcuaro can take you back 300 years to the Spanish colonial era. If it were horses instead of automobiles chugging down the narrow cobble streets you would think that you were in New Spain in the 17th Century. Cars do clog the streets, however, and too many according to some local people who find the afternoon rush hour annoying. Combis, the shared taxis, make up a good portion of those cars and they go everywhere; they are a good resource, however, for the budget traveler.
|Patzcuaro Hotel Casa del Refugio |
After dinner I hunted for a cab driver who might give me a private tour in the morning. I met an amiable driver who could pick me up at my hotel at ten in the morning. He would charge 150 pesos per hour. He did not speak English but I looked at this as a chance to practice Spanish, which one must do continually to make any headway towards fluency.
|Patzcuaro and the Ruin of Tzintzuntzan near lake Patzcuaro|
The following day I caught a combi out to lake Patzcuaro and the ruin of Tzintzuntzan. This involved a combi to a stop called station and then a small bus to the town of Tzintzuntzan.
The name Tarascan is actually a misnomer tacked onto the local Perepecha speakers by the Spanish colonists. Researchers believe that the Tarascan may have immigrated from South America due to similarities in pottery styles and in the language spoken by the Tarascans. The local Perepecha is similar to a Quechua language of South America. The ceramic and metal work of the Tarascans was unique in Mexico and the area today is still noted for the fine ceramic work of the local artisans.
The ruins also demonstrate a link to distant areas. They are unique structures in Mesoamerica, round on the side that faces the lake and rectangular on the opposite side where a stairway leads to the top of the platforms. There are no other buildings like them in Mexico and researchers believe that Tzintzuntzan had been a ritual center of the Tarascan people during the post classic apex of their reign in West Central Mexico.
The Tarascans, I learned, flourished from 1100 AD to 1530AD and had resisted an Aztec invasion in the 1400s. They remained free while most other cultures in Mexico became tribute-paying subjects of Aztec rule.
I walked the access road back from the ruins and took a set of steps to an artisan street where carvers worked with wood. Further on I came to a park where I asked a female police officer where I could get a taxi back to Patzcuaro.
"You don't want a taxi," she said, "You want a collectivo, It will save you money."
She then signaled a collectivo to stop and I was soon on my way back to Patzcuaro center.
Next, Bus to Moralia