So, what is it like living in a colonial town in Mexico? It’s a question often asked by people who are doing online research about relocating here. To find out, your writer moved to Pátzcuaro for a month and will be posting regular articles to share the experiences and insights with you.
Pátzcuaro is a rural town exhibiting a mixture of colonial and indigenous architectural styles, situated at some 7,200 feet above sea level in the forested mountains west of Mexico City. It’s a town in the state of Michoacán, known as the ‘land of lakes and forests’; rich in history, art, culture, and blessed with outstanding natural beauty and a temperate climate.
It’s a very pleasant four-hour road journey from the capital’s western bus terminal to the colonial city of Morelia and, from there, a forty minute cab ride to the center of Pátzcuaro. The cab ride from Morelia’s bus station is priced at around US$20. Driving a private car to Pátzcuaro is quicker – the 205-mile journey from Mexico City may be completed in less than four hours. If you’re flying here, Morelia has an international airport with connections from various cities across Mexico as well as flight hub cities in the USA. As quaint and as rural as Pátzcuaro certainly is, it’s quite well connected and accessible.
Casual observation of this mountain town might mislead you into thinking that the location is an ultra-provincial backwater with not much doing. However, delve under the surface and Pátzcuaro comes alive in a good many ways – which will be revealed in the lines published here over the next weeks.
Pátzcuaro has an ample supply of comfortable hotels which are ideal for shorter visits, although for this longer stay, your writer is renting Casa Espejo, a beautifully-restored and decorated colonial home just two main blocks from the Plaza Grande (Main Square) and featuring every modern facility and comfort you would find in a house in any big city. The property is owned by an American couple and is let as a fully-serviced vacation rental for periods ranging from a week to a month or more.
It’s December, and so the weather in Pátzcuaro is ranging from near-freezing overnight to 25C (80F) in the day. Both the cold and the heat are “dry”, so the cold doesn’t eat into your bones and the heat is not exhausting. Days are characterized by crystal-clear azure-blue skies. The rainy season (May-September) is well-past, and so you can expect dry and bright weather on most days this time of year. Even during the rainy season, the days are warm and the afternoon thunderstorms provide welcome refreshment to the heat as well as a mesmerizing display of nature’s forces.
The Pacific ocean is just a three-hour drive south west from here, and a luxury bus line connects the destinations with frequent runs daily. The resort-town of Ixtapa and the picturesque colonial town (once a fishing village) of Zihuatanejo offer an easily-accesible weekend break by the waves. That said, inland Michoacán is not short of water: some of the world’s highest lakes are located here and Lake Pátzcuaro and its artisan villages – on the doorstep – is one of the most frequently-visited lakes in Mexico.
The Monarch Butterflies have recently arrived, after migrating from the northern reaches of Canada, to winter in Mexico between November and March. They arrive in the mountains of Michoacán and their presence here offers a unique nature experience for visitors.
December is also an important month for festivities in Pátzcuaro and environs. The town’s Patron Saint — La Virgen de la Salud — is celebrated on December 8th with a local fair and processions; Christmas and New Year are major events here – if you want to see Pátzcuaro in these times you absolutely must book ahead to secure your accommodation.
This serialized blog article will cover all of the town’s events during the month ahead as well as bring you local knowledge about the location and relate real-life stories about some foreign residents who have already made the move to Pátzcuaro and call this town their home, full or part-time.
Continued: A Month in Patzcuaro – Bearings
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