29 July 2015


We go to San Juan de Ocotan fairly often and we'd seen the street art pictured below of Santiago.  We had no idea what the siginifiance was (like so much of what we see even though we ask questions all the time), but it finally makes sense now.

Also, people don't just dress like Tastoanes, there are also plenty of Spanish out there to help Santiago.  And everyone place chooses a Santiago- he's always on a horse.

28 July 2015

Tastoanes Masks

There are a lot of different styles of masks that can be worn by Tastoanes. The mask maker in San Juan de Ocotan said that traditional masks are made with a leather base that have wooden pieces attached to them.  The nose piece is long with a circle at the end with a star on it and there's an mouth piece with a tongue sticking out.  Each half is painted a different color.

But there are lots of other styles too.  We saw Chicago Bulls masks, unicorns, all sorts of wild animals, and so much more.  And in Nextipac they were completely different again.

27 July 2015


I had written down somewhere that we should go to Tonala on July 25 to see the Dance of the Tastoanes.  I have a lot of things written down that we haven't had time to go to and I didn't really know much about this one. When it turned out that we'd be in Guadalajara on the 25th I started reading more about it to see if we wanted to go.  And yes, we wanted to go, although we didn't go to Tonala.

The Dance of the Tastoanes is a centuries-old dance that started in Spain, but it's a lot more than a Spanish import here in western Mexico. That link explains it better than I ever could, although the author hasn't been to Jocotan or San Juan de Ocotan since he refers to them as towns or villages.  They used to be but now they're part of the Guadalajara metro area right and most people drive by them without ever going into them.  But they're very close to us and we know lots of people in both neighborhoods so I was delighted to discover this and it consumed most of the weekend. I highly recommend seeing this if you're in Guadalajara in late July or early September.

First, some logistics.   There are several towns/suburbs that do this dance.  Most do it on July 25-27 for Santiago's feast day, but Jocotan and Santa Ana do it on around September 7-9 (and in Jocotan, they plan it on August 15 which is also Dia de Atole and everyone gets atole that day).  We skipped Tonala because we've been there before and it's not my favorite drive but we did go to San Juan de Ocotan twice, Nextipac, and Ixcatan.

Each place has its own style of masks and clothing.  I'd read than Nextipac was the best place to go but when we arrived at around noon on the 25th we learned that they don't use the older leather and wood masks (more on that later), but instead use flexible leather or plastic masks that we've seen in a lot of different rituals and dances.  They were just beginning the mass before the dance so we didn't stay there long and went back to San Juan de Ocotan where we'd been earlier that morning.  That's the place I recommend going if you just pick one place if you're interested in the masks.

We also went to Ixcatan on Sunday afternoon.  Their masks were again a little different, and so was the clothing.  I'd been wanting to visit Ixcatan since the location looked interesting and I wasn't at all disappointed.

My husband went to Jocotan and then Ocotan on Saturday evening to find people who make these masks and talk to them.  He was also able to learn a little more about the entire event, like who provides the food for the entire town for three days.  More on that later too.

We have a lot of photos!

24 July 2015


We were in Cuitzeo on Monday, just north of Morelia.  It's a truly lovely little town.  They were getting ready for one of their big fiestas of the year for Mary Magdalene.  We didn't stay long since the monastery was closed and I hope we can go back another time to explore it.

23 July 2015

6 Weeks Left

We have 6 weeks left in Mexico and I have a much longer list of things I'd like to do before we leave than is possible, since you'd need to live in Mexico for much longer than two years to do all the things, but I feel like we've done pretty well.  Here's what I hope is actually possible, not what I wish I could do.

In Guadalajara:

Casa de las Artesanias
Museo de Artes Populares
Regional Museum
La Luz del Mundo
Tastoanes in Tonala on Saturday
Wander downtown

Near Guadalajara:

Palacio de Ocomo
Ixtlan del Rio
Plazuelas and Mesa de Acuitzio


Acambaro (and Chupicuaro?)
La Piedad
Guzman area?
Tepic or Manzanillo?
GDL people

21 July 2015

Morelia, Again

Morelia's historic centro has been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1951 which is one of the things that makes it really worth visiting. It was nice to not have the Oxxos so in your face.

20 July 2015

Horno Los Ortiz

I was poking around online while I was waiting for my husband to finish a meeting and found this bakery in Morelia that sounded like we couldn't miss it.  It would be best to go here around the Day of the Dead or at Christmas because they make some amazing breads, but at least we could see some of the Christmas breads they make.

This was a lovely bakery and we got an apple wrapped in puff pastry which was amazing, a strawberry criossant for the little one because he loves those, a tuna pastry that I loved, and a guangoche which is filled with cheese and apples and shaped like the bag it's named after, complete with twine to tie it off at the top.

I was very pleased, but I'll need to get more photos of the bread for sale when we go back because that clearly wasn't my husband's goal.  He did get some of the fun little breads they had for sale, like the crocodile, but the light wasn't really good there so we'll have to try again on that too.

19 July 2015

18 July 2015

Morelia Food

We didn't have a lot of time in Morelia and sometimes we didn't have a choice in what we ate, but we did try to eat as many new things as possible.

Gaspachos.  This has only the loosest connection to gazpacho.  In Morelia, it's more like glorified fruit cocktail with diced fruit mixed with orange juice and topped with cheese, chile, onions, and/or crema.  Mine had mango, jicama, and pineapple.  My husband tried one with watermelon and other things but I had quit listening because it obviously didn't have mango.  I liked it, and I'd eat it again in Morelia, but I probably won't feel the need to make it at home unless I want to make something unique.

Tortas de mole. This was a little like a US sloppy joe with shredded meat instead of ground meat.  We had it with pickled red onions.  There were lots of these around town and it's clearly a lot more popular in Morelia than in Guadalajara.

Enchiladas placeras.  We learned a long time ago that enchiladas are really common in Mexico but that they don't necessarily look much like US enchiladas. We went to a little stand nearish the cathedral for these.  They don't have much, if any, filling but there is a lot to put on them.  The tortillas are fried and dipped in a tomato-chile sauce.  Then they're filled, if necessary, and rolled.  They come with lettuce and cooked potatoes and carrots to go on top. Ours were also served with two chicken legs.  And there is always crema and various salsas to go on them.  I liked them.

Nieve de pasta.  There were plenty of nieves de garrafa around that we're used to seeing in Guadlajara, but they also had nieve de pasta which is a specialty of Patzcuaro.  Think of it as dulce de leche ice cream.

17 July 2015


We did a really quick Morelia trip after going to Chapala this past weekend.  It was nowhere near long enough, but we're planning on going back soon.

I loved this city so much.  Vallarta and the Pacific Coast seem to be the most popular places for expats to go from Guadalajara, and it's nice there, but I think it's much better to go east to Guanajuato or Mexico City or Morelia.  They're so much more interesting and the weather is always better.

We drove in on Sunday morning when the main road in front of the Cathedral was closed for biking so we walked along with everyone else.  We went back the next day for a bit before we needed to leave.

16 July 2015

Backstrap Weaving

I'd heard for a long time that there was a woman selling her own weaving in Chapala but I'd never found her.  But we finally did on Saturday.  She's from Oaxaca and a lot of what she sells is her own work.  Some things are not (and you'll know by the difference in price).  I do recommend getting one of her hand-woven items.

She is near the new Maria Isabel restaurant (where you can get good molcajete) where the old Posada used to be at the pier, go east along the dirt road/parking for a bit.  You'll see her work hanging to your left after the outdoor seating for the restaurant ends.