On Friday I was a pilgrim.
Not the type with the silly hat and clunky shoes -- with buckles on both. I was the type of pilgrim who sets forth on a quest.
Before I came to Pátzcuaro earlier in the year, I had heard about the Chapel of Humiliated. The oldest church in Pátzcuaro. Built on the spot where the Spanish conquistador Cristóbal de Olid required the Purépecha emperor, Tangaxoan II, to kneel in homage to the Spanish.
You may recall from our little history lesson the other day, Tangaxoan II thought he was simply entering into an alliance with Cortes as his liege lord. Sparing his crown and his people.
Of course, it didn’t quite work out as he thought it would. The Spanish quickly built the chapel and did not name it the Chapel of Good Budget Compromises. They saw Tangaxoan’s kneeling as a humiliation -- and were ready to remind everyone of their spin.
Our humanist hero Don Vasco was not above similar symbolism. He attempted to destroy the Indian religion by building his precious cathedral atop an Indian pyramid, and his priest and Indian school on the foundation of an Indian temple.
But it was the chapel that interested me on Friday. Fellow blogger, Don Cuevas, directed me to a map of the route to the chapel. It appeared to be a bit of a hike, but I needed the exercise.
Like all good pilgrimages. everything was new to me. And I had no idea how close or far my goal was. It turned out to be a mile or two.
When I told Felipe about my walk, he reminded me we drove past the chapel when I was here in February. Not surprisingly, I did not immediately remember.
It would be interesting to see how that dome translates in the interior of the church.
I had one other tourist item I missed earlier in the year -- a Pátzcuaro cemetery. This area is well-known for its celebration of the Day of the Dead and the Night of the Dead -- when families spend time at the graves of relatives.
As I started my pilgrimage in reverse from the chapel, I glanced at a door on my left. And there was one of the town’s main cemeteries.
I have read several books on Mexico where the writer refers to “Mexicans’ obsession with death.” That has not been my experience. Mexicans appear to have a realistic view of death. That it is merely a part of the cycle of life. And that strikes me as healthy.
Of course, that assessment comes from the writer, who as a preschooler, wrote his first two stories with murder as the central themes.
It turns out that the cemetery I saw is closed for the dead celebrations. It is simply too cramped to allow that many people on the property all at the same time.
All in all, I felt like a very successful pilgrimage. In this particular case, the journey was not an end in itself.