Tuesday, August 02, 2011

some of my favorite things

Today was a rest day for me.  But I did get out to see a bit of Pátzcuaro -- and found some things quirky enough to pique my interest.

Pátzcuaro’s grand plaza is surrounded by what were once the mansions of the colonial elite.  They (the mansions, not the elite) are now shops, restaurants, hotels, and government offices.  But the structures still retain the grandeur of the grandees.

To keep it that way, the authorities have slapped up a painted notice -- “No anunciar.”  That is it at the top of this post.  In The States, it would read “Post no bills.”

The reason is obvious.  We have all seen telephone poles that look as if the only thing holding them together are the posters and staples stuck on them.

But I am not going for the obvious irony here.  Posting a notice of no posting is not the type of target that usually attracts my interest.

What made me laugh was the other side of the pillar.  Another notice.  Obviously posted there with some authority.

Maybe “No anunciar” applies only to notices posted on the other side of the pillar.

When I was here in February, I wrote a series of posts on the O’Gorman mural in the town library.  I stopped by to take another look, and was surprised to see two small panels I had not seen before.

And I now know why when I look back on my earlier photographs of the mural.  I could not see them in February because they were behind book cases then.

But I know no more than that.  I asked the woman at the desk and tried to follow her explanation.  But my Spanish was not up to the task.

This was O’Gorman’s first mural.  I thought the other panels might have been his own drafts before adding them to the mural.  But the style seems different.  I am going to ask around.

Then there are the surprises.  Colonial homes often have plain exteriors hiding exquisite interiors -- or what were once exquisite interiors.

While walking around the grand plaza, I found myself in need.  And a red and white sign on one of the old mansions was just what I needed. ”Sanitarios publicos.

When I walked through the gate, I discovered what once must have been a stunning courtyard.  It is still lovely.  But, in its day, the fountain and the arches would have provided a refuge from the outside world.

Both in Melaque and San Miguel, I have appreciated the sense of privacy that gardens and walls can provide.  I suspect I will now find it very difficult to live anywhere without those conveniences.

But speaking of convenience, that was where I was headed when I started this story.  After seeing the courtyard, I wondered what the bathrooms would be like.

After paying my 3 pesos, I headed through another archway and walked out into this.  What looked like a large field.  In the middle of town.  Those are the bathrooms in the back.  Women in front.  Men behind.

The surprise, to me, was the field.  I have no idea what it was.  But I am having breakfast with a group of local men.  Maybe they will have an answer.

And that is one thing I love about Pátzcuaro.  There are enough questions to keep my writer instincts on guard. 


Marc Olson said...

I also have stumbled upon grass-grown, magestic but little-used courtyards like this one (maybe it was this one) in Patzcuaro. I love the earthiness and organic feel of the whole place...adobe mud walls with strands of straw sticking out dissolving in the rain, mossy old clay roof tiles, and sometimes interior floors of old buildings that were not even leveled, but still follow the original contours of the hillsides. What a wonderful environment, and a huge change from places like SMA.

Kim G said...

The satellite dish in the courtyard does somewhat detract from ye olde Mexican charme.

But then I'm sure its presence enlivens the interior. At least to some people.


Kim G
Boston, MA
Where satellite dishes are the bane of many a charming old Boston house too.

jennifer rose said...

We half-expect that you'll break out into tunes from the Sound of Music any moment now.

Don Cuevas said...

Steve, I've never peed in that place. I just go into La Surtidora and use the free rest room toward the back. The Bibioteca also has baños at the back.
Oh, sometimes I'm away from such free sanitarios and have to pay my dues. At one time, I thought of writing a short guide to the public baños of Pátzcuaro, but that idea had several pitfalls.

By the way, you have provided no facility for men in that photo.

"After paying my 3 pesos, I headed through another archway and walked out into this.  What looked like a large field.  In the middle of town.  Those are the bathrooms in the back.  Women in front.  Women behind."

Saludos, Don Cuevas

PeeEss: how was your breakfast with the local men?

Don Cuevas said...

There's also the free toilets in Fonda Mamá Lupe, although getting in and out of the Men's Room requires some agility.

Saludos, Don Cuevas

Felipe Zapata said...

I don't believe the toilets at La Surtidora (the nicest in town), Mama Lupe's or even the library are "free toilets." I think they are for customers (or employees in the library's case) and not for any Tom, Dick and Henriette with an urge. That's what the pay johns are for.

Felipe Zapata said...

Where is the public john? I got no idea.

Steve Cotton said...

Like you, I love the bucolic feel of Pátzcuaro.  And that green smell permeates the town.

Steve Cotton said...

I am glad you noticed the dish.  I was going to try a shot without it.  But it just seemed to belong in modern Pátzcuaro.  After all, the town is not completely frozen in time.

Steve Cotton said...

In this post-postmodern world it is difficult to determine if lawyerly observation may carry just a tad of sarcastic irony.

Steve Cotton said...

I will fix my mistake.  But I did give a male option.  There is a whole field.

Steve Cotton said...

Toward the hill on the same side of the street as your sister-in-law's establishment.  And much nicer than the field would indicate.

Felipe Zapata said...

Ah, the Palacio de Huitzimengari! I've been in there a million times. Just did not recognize it from the angle of your shot. Even took a peek once out into that area where the johns are.

Steve Cotton said...

Bingo.  I would have taken more photographs, but I was receiving some rather odd looks as it was with my camera in the toilets.