9 February 2010 This morning there was a group of us from the campground that gathered into a Chevy van and headed into Tzintzuntzan (tseen-tsoon-tsahn) to see and enjoy the Fiesta del Senor del Rescate. This “Fiesta” started last Monday and would continue to Friday with a huge fireworks display,
but today was “Judgment day” for the local artisans who brought their finest works of art to be judged. Most of the day’s celebration took place in front of the two old churches
in and among the beloved olive grove. These old, very old, olive trees were brought to Tzintzuntzan by Vasco de Quiroga and are believed to be the oldest olive trees in the Americans.
The trunks look broken and black but are still producing new branches with fruit each year. Tzintzuntzan, or “Place of the Hummingbirds” in Purepecha, was the Tarascan capital when copper blades helped the Tarascans defeat the invading Aztecs in the late 15th century. Sitting high on a hill overlooking Largo (Lake) Patzcuaro and the now location of Tzintzuntzan, is the archeological site of Las Yacatas.
It’s an impressive group of 5 round, reconstructed temples. This is the remains of the Tarascan Empire. Over all the countries and miles we’ve traveled this is not the most impressive, but with today’s town below and some of the people of it still being direct descendents make it impressive enough. Our drive took us 35 minutes at road speed, but all along the route we saw family after family making a pilgrimage by walking the whole distance. This pilgrimage had been taking place from last Monday and will continue onto Friday, day and night…and we think we’re tough.
Food stands were setup and operating everywhere. Most were setup in the park amongst the olive trees
but there were so many more all along the street entering into town and up and down the streets of Tzintzuntzan.
Blessings were being taken into the Templo de Nuestra Senora de la Salud
from many of the Purepecha people of the area…some food, some wine, and some with large bouquets of flowers. Outside of the church there were gatherings of young people in different dress. Some were dressed as evil and others in gowns of white with gold headdresses. All mixed together in a kind of shuffle dance that went in a large circle for the longest time. Then there was the large group of young that were dressed in their best suits for the boys and white gowns for the girls. They were there for their confirmation and blessings. One display of food products we haven't seen was the honey dipped squash.
Another thing we haven't seen before during "picnics" or fiesta's...a cooking fire built right on the ground of the park...
Overall it was a great fiesta and one that we’re glad we didn’t miss. With all the different good food around us, Louise and I decided to find a “restaurant” and enjoy a lunch away from the masses and give us a chance to sit down for awhile. We went walking up this one street that was covered from wall to wall with vendors offering food to handmade trinkets, hats, and d even Christmas decorations hoping to find just the right place. I just happened to look between two food vendors when I saw a hallway leading to a courtyard and a long table where people were sitting and eating. Taking Louise’s hand, we walked back and asked if they had a place to eat and a place to sit in the shade… Everyone kind of looked at each other and motioned for us to take a chair across the table, which happened to be in the shade. I noticed that we had moved two young men out of their seats, but that didn’t seem to disturb them at all so we moved in. Now no sooner had we been seated than we had a large bowl of Pozole (soup) was set before us…now we hadn’t placed our order yet and we hadn’t seen the menu yet either, but we had this bowl of soup. Now it was about this time that I noticed that no one else was eating, just us and they seemed to be getting a kick out of it…”OK, what is this???” “Are you all family???” We had walked into THEIR HOME and like no one else, had even asked to SIT IN THE SHADE… Once we found out what we had done, it was a good laugh for everyone but they weren’t going to let us go without having a good lunch and in the shade at that. These people here in Mexico are wonderful and we’ll never forget it.