Visiting Patzcuaro felt a little bit like camping at a farm! The place we chose to stay had a wide variety of farm animals roaming free on the large property. The location was beautiful, on a grassy hill above the city. We had sweeping lake views and big shady trees around us. But each day included some sort of humorous interaction between our dogs and the farm animals.
In addition to being a beautiful city for walking around, Patzcuaro is on a lake. And in the center of that lake Isla Janitzeo rises out like a hill on a flat, watery plain . At the top of the hill is a huge statue of Morelos. The statue has stairs inside that allow you to climb up to the top of the raised fist and look out across the water.
Before we even got parked and settled in at camp, Mango went to investigate the sheep. The ewe and her lamb were nearby. Mango watched curiously as the lamb – not much larger than her – wandered around with the farm puppies. (the lamb is black and white, the ewe is tan and brown, the puppies are black)
Walking around the old section of town was fun. We wandered through a crowded, humid street market. The vendors were selling everything from vegetables to puppies. We also looked at the regional handcrafts in the “House of Eleven Patios” (which only has 7). We checked out the really old church and had lunch at a delicious restaurant. Then we located the museum and spent an hour wandering through the displays. This museum also had a mask display (we have seen a lot of mask collections in Mexico)
One of the most interesting features of the museum was the floor in the old section of the building. I found myself fascinated by the design and the materials used to make the beautiful patterns. But as I looked more closely I realized that the unique pattern was made with bones. My curiosity made me ask, and I was told they are the spinal bones of cows. These bones are laid in different directions between the stones and polished to a shine. Very unique.
Back at camp, the dogs had more fun with farm animals. In the morning we awoke to the sound of turkeys outside the window of the camper. I kept the dogs inside for this visit, but their curious faces couldn’t resist hanging out the window to watch the ugly birds work their way around our camper.
The view of the island from our campsite – unbeatable. We spent some time just sitting in our chairs, looking out across Paztcuaro and Isla Janitzeo and watching farm life around us.
Travling to the island was a fun day-long adventure. We took a taxi from the campsite to the embarcadero. There we boarded a ferry which would take us to the island. The ferry was a long, narrow boat with an old Ford Mustang steering wheel. It was such an odd place to see a piece of a classic American automobile!
The ride to the island was hot and still. But watching the folks who were headed over, provided entertainment. It was early, so the vendors had not boarded the ferry yet. On the ride back we had an ice cream vendor and a Norteño group pounding out their modified polka music! All this fun for just $20 pesos.
The island docks are packed full of ferry boats. Children swim along the pilings and in between the waiting boats. The shoreline is packed full of stalls selling food, trinkets, clothing and nonsense that tourists buy when they come to the island. But everyone is headed up to that statue. There are no autos on the island, so walking up the callejons between the stalls forces one to look at all the STUFF for sale! When we arrived at the base of the statue we found a lovely park with a gazebo and benches. While we were sitting for a rest, the gazebo came to life and the dancing began!
The noise you hear in the video is the sound of their sandals. There are two loose pieces of wood on the bottom of their sandals which slap the ground like castanets when they move their feet. In this photo you can see the piece under the toe area and the other piece under the heel area. It made my feet hurt, just watching them slap their feet against that hard concrete floor! After the dancing ended, we entered the base of the statue and walked up the stairway toward the fist. Morelos was a hero during the war of independence as Mexico was trying to split from Spain. The walls inside the statue feature beautiful murals that tell the story of his role in the war.
The stairway becomes more and more narrow as it climbs to the top of the raised fist. In the fist you can look out across the area. The space at the top is very small and has room for only about two people – so being Mexico, we were crammed in there with 5 strangers and we all tried to catch a glimpse of the view. Here is a photo of my section of the 360′ views! (HAHAHAHAH or should I say JAJAJAJAJAJA) In the lower left corner you can see the place where the boats drop off. They are anchored to the dock and waiting to take us back to the embarcadero in Patzcuaro. We rode the ferry back, ate ice cream and tapped our toes to the pounding music on our ferry boat.
Back at camp, Mango had another run with the lamb. I think she is confused about what species the little fellow is. She played with him like he was a dog. And he tried to play back with her. But whenever the ewe turned her direction, Mango ran away nervously. It was a fun interaction to watch.
As the sun was setting on our final night at the farm in Patzcuaro we looked out over the lake and sighed. This old, Mexican town had been a lot of fun. The weather was perfect, the prices were cheap and the people were friendly. Thank you to the friends that suggested this stop, I am glad we did not overlook Patzcuaro and Isla Janitzeo. Next we head to Lago Zirahuen for some inland paddleboarding!