Tuesday, August 16, 2011

liking the lake

Santa Fe de La Laguna.

It is one of many little villages that dot the shore of Lake Pátzcuaro.  If you were driving around the lake, it would be easy to miss it.  The highway barely skirts the village,

But I have had it on my to-visit list for two weeks now.  For one reason.  Santa Fe de La Laguna is the site of Don Vasco de Quiroga’s first act of humanism.  The act that distinguished him from the Franciscans and their acts of charity.  A distinction O’Gorman makes quite clear in his library mural.

When the Spanish arrived in the New World, a disease sharing process set in.  The Spanish got syphilis; the Indians got smallpox.  Neither side did very well in the open market of death.  But the Purépecha fared particularly bad.  Ten of thousands died within a year.

But it was not only disease that Don Vasco discovered when he arrived in 1533. The once great Purépecha empire had collapsed.  Enslaved and demoralized, they were starving.

As we have already discussed, Don Vasco was prepared to deal with the underlying problem by creating a new social order for the Purépecha based on Thomas More;s Utopia.  But he was also a practical man.  Sometimes you need to deal with symptoms before you can handle root problems.

And that is exactly what he did.  In a village a bit to the east of Tzintzuntzan, he built a hospital (in the European sense of that word) to provide a community center for the care of the poor.  As part his plan to win the hearts, minds, and souls of the Purépecha.

It is still there.  Along with a church, they still form the heart of Santa Fe.  It now serves as a shrine to the memory of the man who helped preserve the Purépecha -- as an integral part of the Spanish empire.

On the drive out to Santa Fe de La Laguna, I noticed how attached I have become to the lake.  Between the village and Tzintzuntzan, there are a number of houses with property that stretches down to the lake.

During my search for places to live in Mexico, I once looked at some of those houses on line.  They intrigued me.  And my visits to the east end of te lake has revived a lot of that interest.

I drove back on the south shore road -- and realized if I could find a house to rent somewhere on that stretch of road, I would seriously think about spending some time in this part of Mexico.

Especially in the summer.


Mcotton said...

Your fascination with water amazes me, given that you came within a hairs breadth of drowning when you were four.

Jordan said...

Isn't that interesting? Like reverse psychology. Trauma often turns into fascination in later life.  

ANM said...

Another reference to More's Utopia.  Are you about to pull your own attempt at instantiation of the improbable but laudable on the shores of the sacred laguna?


Don Cuevas said...

In going to Santa Fe de La Laguna from Pátzcuaro, one passes the carnitas fleshpots of Quiroga. Unless you know about the bypass. 
(Come to think of it, you could end up with a bypass either route.)
Which route did YOU take, Steve?

Saludos, Don Cuevas

Steve Cotton said...

But we are always attracted by those things we find most dangerous.

Steve Cotton said...

It sounds like one of our conversations.

Steve Cotton said...

Nope.  Thomas was a windbag lawyer.  And I am a wind---.

Shall we talk about the weather?

Steve Cotton said...

I took the little bypass.  If I had seen the carnitas stands, I might have stopped to prepare for the second type.