Sunday, December 21, 2008

Chanukah 4th Night – Patzcuaro & Janitzio Island

We put on jeans for the 1st time in months. It was fun to wake up to chilly temperatures. Our next surprise was a large hotel breakfast buffet that had so many appealing Mexican dishes. I had Café de Olla for 1st time – traditional Mexican Coffee with cinnamon sticks and brown sugar that I liked very much.

Little Fried Fish Snack
We went to Lake Patzcuaro docks to find a ride to Janitzio Island. Youngest Son begged for this small fried fish snack with limes. Husband and kids really liked it. It was everywhere today – obviously popular! See picture below to see how it is cooked. I have to say there were snack vendors everywhere with all kinds of foods.

Janitzio Island, Pescado Blanco & Potent Peppers
We boarded the boat and I was thrilled when Janitzio Island came into view. It was an entire community built up the side of the island with the Statue of Morelos topping it off. Local fishermen were in their boats with distinctive hats and nets to catch the pescado blanco (notice them in the pictures below.) Pescado blanco is a small, almost transparent whitefish that is local favorite – we had it for lunch. While eating lunch, poor Youngest Son picked up what he thought was an orange bell pepper ring – UH NO! His mouth was on fire from the potent pepper. We tried it and it was very, very hot. Youngest Son managed not to cry but he was quite uncomfortable for awhile.

Statue of Morelos
There were many, many steps to the top with steep incline with locals selling their wares all along the way. It was worth the climb. The Statue of Morelos was impressive and we climbed to the top of his hand for an amazing view. Boys loved sliding up and down the statue base and playing on a small playground.

Los Viejitos (the little old men)
We thoroughly enjoyed a colorful native dance, the Los Viejitos (the little old men), which originated in this area. It was an amusing and entertaining performance with lots of humor and wit. Boys liked it so much we watched it twice!
Shopping & Banos
I am not a big shopper in general but did acquire some items for me. Husband and the boys provided many opinions as I selected two shirts for $270 pesos. I also got a shawl for $85 pesos. Oldest Son handled the money transaction for me in Spanish. Happy Chanukah to me …

The other common but new experience for us was the $3 pesos for every time we went to the banos (bathroom.) and providing us with the neatly folded toilet paper. Next time, we will have lots of coinage – getting change can be a problem.

Janitzio Island was so much fun. I had not expected an extraordinary day of local culture, cuisine and beauty. While clearly a tourist destination, we were the only gringos we saw the entire time we were there - lots of Mexican families. As Oldest Son said today as we climbed the many steps “Mommy, it's Mexico, it’s an adventure!”

Our day is ending back in the hotel. Oldest Son is still running a fever up and down. And I still have internet!

Oldest Son lit the Hanukkiah on our balcony. We read from The Eight Nights of Hanukah by Judy Nayer which Oldest Son received as a gift on his 1st Chanukah. It has an excerpt for each day and we have read it for 8 years, every year for each of the 8 days -the comfort of traditions no matter where we are in the world.

Silver Shoe Mystery? And I will sign off with this - This silver shoe was hanging in the top of our return boat. Youngest Son asked why? Why indeed?


Bob Mrotek said...

A couple of comments. Did you notice that the statue of Morelos has a fist raised in the manner of the communist salute? It was designed in the 1930's during the administration of Lazaro Cardenas. He funded the arts and gave the left lening artists a pretty free hand to keep them quiet and out of his way. The silver shoe on the boat looks like a "milagro" which is a charm related to a favor received through the intercession of a saint and the picture looks like the Virgin of San Juan de los Lagos. If you ask a local who speaks English they will fill you in :)

YayaOrchid said...

Thank you for sharing about your travels in that area. It seems fascinating to me. The hubby and I are always intrigued by how easily 'gringos' navigate the Mexican countryside. We're on a US border city, terrified somewhat of what might lie beyond said border. You hear such awful stories. And then I read stories such as yours and it seems so safe and so 'normal', like in the old days, when going into Mexico was fun. Oh well, now I'm rattling on.....

PuertoVallartaGirl said...

Wonderful pictures

American Mommy in Mexico said...

BM - While we new a bit of the history - not that part. Very, very interesting. THANK YOU for telling me about the shoe - I will tell kids now!

YO - We purposely traveled into the interior far away from border. Our initial plan was Copper Canyon but US Advisory not to travel in Chihuahua, Mexico prompted a route change. We avoid travel at night and know navigating will be tough but other than that it is Normal Family Road Trip - sorta ...

PV - Thanks! Lots of fun images to capture