After breakfast we wondered down to the Plaza Grande or central square of Patzcuaro. Everyone was busy decorating the plaza for the upcoming festivities. While Dia de los Muertos was still a day away the children were already in costume for Halloween.
While not a Mexican holiday Halloween has taken off here in Mexico. Much like the commercialization of Christmas in the United States local vendors have introduced Halloween to Mexico.
Quick break for some history.Pátzcuaro was the capital of the Tarasco people from about AD 1325 to 1400. After the death of King Tariácuri, the Tarascan state became a three-part league. Comprising Pátzcuaro, Tzintzuntzan and Ihuatzio, the league repulsed repeated Aztec attacks, which may explain why they welcomed the Spanish, who first arrived in 1522. Bad idea, the Spanish returned in 1529 under Nuño de Guzmán, a vicious conquistador.
Guzmán’s reign against the indigenous people was brutal, even for those times. The colonial government recalled Guzmán to Spain, where he was arrested and locked up for life and dispatched Bishop Vasco de Quiroga, a respected judge and cleric from Mexico City, to clean up his mess. Quiroga was one enlightened dude. When he arrived in 1536, he established village cooperatives based on the humanitarian ideals of Sir Thomas More’s Utopia.
To avoid dependence on Spanish mining lords and landowners, Quiroga successfully encouraged education and agricultural self-sufficiency in the Purépecha villages around Lago de Pátzcuaro, with all villagers contributing equally to the community. He also helped each village develop its own craft specialty – from masks to pottery to guitars and violins. The utopian communities declined after his death in 1565, but the crafts traditions continue to this day.
OK, back to what’s happening now.
As covered above in our brief history lesson Patzcuaro is surrounded by artisan villages. Day 2 found us in Santa Clara del Cobre. Copper is the name of the game and you can find or have anything made here. Local mines are about played out and in the past few years the price of copper has quadrupled so many area have suffered a rash of copper thievery. Its not uncommon for miles of power lines to disappear and be reincarnated into copper sinks and bowls.
Julie picked up a beautiful copper bowl for less than the price of a modest lunch. A couple of quick beers to celebrate our finds then it was back to Patzcuaro for the evening.