Saturday, October 23, 2010

A New Beginning

In anticipation of sharing our experiences this winter in Patzcuaro, Michoacan, Mexico, I am resurrecting this blog--"Tercer Edad." I intend to post frequently, with photos and maps, so our friends can keep track of what we're doing during our 5-month winter getaway. Some getaway--Patzcuaro is the same altitude as Salida, although farther south, but still chilly during the December-January period. Our rental house has 3 fireplaces, and the rental agent has ordered a load of oak firewood, so I assume we will be able to stay warm.

Mexican houses make no provision for passive solar heat--although neither do houses in Salida, now that I think about it--so the houses are usually cool during the "winter." On the other hand, the climate starting in February is sublime. By mid-May it's getting hot until the rains begin in June. The summer in Patzcuaro is cool and rainy, and the entire landscape turns green. Many people prefer the summer with the rain and the explosion of flowers. I hope someday to experience that. The same thing happens on the beach, but the temps and humidity are much higher. People who live year-round on the beach tell us that each summer brings a decision--can I stand it one more time? Very much like the folks in Alaska in November, when the days are getting short--can I stand it one more time?

We chose Patzcuaro for several reasons. First, we like the town. We've been there 3 times, and each time we've enjoyed it more. Finally we decided to spend time there to really experience and understand it. There's a modest ex-pat community--probably 400-500--in a total population of about 80,000, so our presence isn't affecting the local community as much as it does in San Miguel de Allende, where the ex-pats are about 10% of the population. It has a rich indigenous heritage, and the surrounding villages are focused on crafts and artisanal products. Vasco de Quiroga came from Spain with the intent to reproduce Thomas More's Utopia, and by encouraging the villages around the lake to specialize in their traditional crafts, we are the the recipients of his enlightened ideas. The main plaza (Plaza Grande) is named for him, and the Purepecha (the local indigenous) called him "Tata," grandfather. Plaza Gertrudis Bocanegra, or Plaza Chica (Small Plaza), is named for a heroine of the Independence who died by firing squad for her assistance to the rebels--she warned Hidalgo and the others when they were about to be captured. She is commemorated all over Mexico.

Second, there is a large printmaking studio in the ex-collegio jesuita building about 3 blocks from our rental house. I will be spending time there learning a new lithography technique that isn't as toxic as convential litho--which wouldn't be hard. There is a major movement toward non-toxic printmaking, and this litho technique is very promising. I am bringing studio supplies as my contribution in exchange for being able to work in this well-equipped, government-sponsored print studio. In Mexico there is much support for the arts, in both large and small venues.

As for preparations, right now I am trying to figure out what we need vs. what we can take. Our truck, a Ford Ranger, is black, and that seems to be a magnet color for the bad guys who hijack vehicles. On the other hand, it's a 10-year-old Ranger, not a high-end truck, and it doesn't have the 4-door style that they seem to like. Mark says we should put big pink flower decals all over it--what macho bad guy would want a truck like that? I also suggested we could quickly spray paint it pink. That could be fun!

The other choice is our 1991 Subarau Legacy, with 247,000 miles on it and no airbags. It has much less storage area, but it also is a pleasure to drive and very comfortable. It all will come down to how much stuff we have to take. I will need my art supplies and the materials I'm contributing to the studio, some paper, my kitchen gear, clothes--I'll just have to see how big the pile is when the time comes to leave. Stay tuned.