Mission Failed

Today’s mission was to take an excursion to the nearby colonia of Paracho, a city famous around the world for the guitars that they make here in Michoacan. I had been putting aside my pesos and was planning to pick up a nice flamenco guitar from one of six or seven well known luthiers in the city. An extravagant birthday present for myself. Jose Carlos, my driver, came by mid morning and we turned north up into the mountains to get to Paracho. But it was all for naught. Before we could reach Paracho, a bunch of masked insurgents had blockaded the road with stolen trucks and weren’t letting any vehicles pass. They angrily flagged me stop photographing. They were trying to get something from the government by closing the highway, I’m not sure what. There was nothing to do but abort the mission.

Jose knew of another area famous for its artisans and wood workers near Lake Patzcuaro. He presented me with a reasonable fare and offered to hang around in Quiroga and drive me back. What the hell. I wasn’t going to go back to the RV and mope around the hotel parking lot for the rest of the day, so we were off. We passed back through Uruapan and started climbing in altitude into the pine forests of Michoacan. We drove through small communities of indigenous peoples who make their living harvesting their pines and building furniture and wood crafts. They have done a stellar job of reforesting their hillsides and creating a self sustaining culture in the mountain villages.

We stopped at the docks in Patzcuaro where the boats ferry passengers across to Jinitzia, the island with the giant statue of Morelos dominating the skyline. We wandered the fish stands and artisan stalls before continuing through the avocado country into Quiroga.

How do you prefer your little fishes? Fried………..

Or dried?

The Island

You can climb up into his hand for a view

This entire area of Michoacan is famous for their savory recipes for making carnitas. When we pulled into town, an entire plaza in the center is dedicated to cooking them up in different ways. We got a half kilo in a brown wrapper and squeezed onto a table in the busy square to eat our tender treats.

We spent an hour or two roaming around the artisan markets. Lots of junky souvenir type guitars. There were two real guitar stores but their guitars were all made by luthiers in Paracho. I didn’t recognize any of the makers. I played a few that I liked. One was made with eye of the bird wood. Beautifully spotted white wood with tiny knots. It sounded good but I just wasn’t sold. I didn’t want to buy something just to buy something. In the end, it was just an expensive taxi ride to tour the rural regions surrounding Uruapan and that was good enough for me. I made a new friend in Jose and I can find that special guitar somewhere down the road. Maybe at Carlsbad Village Music?

Jose dropped me off at Pie de la Sierra and I organized things getting ready for another driving day tomorrow. Texas is just a few short days away. Cali was glad to see me. She had a little extra pep in her step this evening. That’s always a happy sign.