(Written ten years ago during our first visit to Patzcuaro, one which Gundi called our best holiday ever. Ten years later, we are just returned from our second visit - a full month this time - probably an even more rewarding stay! This pueblo magico has lost none of its charm and has barely changed in the intervening decade. How many places around the world can make this claim?)
A magical hour in a magical place. Early Sunday evening, in the Plaza Vasco de Quiroga, Patzcuaro,
Michoacan, Mexico, the . Americas
The lights along the six portales of the palisaded rectangle are all of a diffused yellow, as if a thousand candles have just been lit. The six centuries-old leafy ash trees are fluttering in the light breeze, the birds are all atwitter in the high branches, and dark is newly descended. The central circular pool in the park, guarded by Don Vasco, is placid and mirrors the lighted scene above, while coy young lovers tangle, forming a ring around its rim. Whole families are out de paseo, dressed in their Sunday best, reveling in the fresh early Spring air. Toy ponies transport wide-eyed toddlers in a lap of the pathways; exuberant little girls with flowing black hair, red and pink dresses, long white socks, and shiny black shoes skip, scooter and bicycle by, and a tiny year and a half-old boy hoots with delight as he plays peek-a-boo around the massive girth of a limed-white tree trunk. His mother happily passes him over to a complete stranger so that she can share in the joy and wonder of being that innocent age. Cars trundle in slow-motion over the cobble-stoned streets, some emanating a deep boom-box bass beat. The atmosphere is gentle, sweet, beguiling as natives and visitors mingle, embracing the warmth of sharing this time together, at leisure and in peace.
Restaurants serve food, bars purvey drinks, artists show their landscape paintings, artisans display their crafts, vendors peddle clothing and toys, ice creams and pastries. Most is locally produced. In the adjacent mercado, they are just shutting up shop for the day. The array of colorful fresh produce is staggering – papayas, mangoes, guayabas, pineapples, melons, bananas, coconuts, strawberries, blackberries, apples, oranges, limes, lemons, tomatoes, avocadoes, potatoes, onions, herbs of all kinds, cauliflowers, cabbages, beans, corn, beets, carrots, meats, fish, you name it…. At the food stands, mamas and papas and their niños huddle around hot pots of steaming stews; tortillas are warmed as a base for sauces and fillings. Smells and sounds pepper the air, and colour suffuses the scene.