Road trip! This is what my Covid dreams are about these days in Patzcuaro.
My first years exploring Mexico were spent following leads and whims that took me all over the Republic from Chihuahua to Chiapas. That was the early 1990s. In those days, as winter rolled around, I would pack up my little camping truck, pup tent, road map (Guia Roja) and my fluffy little dog companion Leah and off we would go south of the border.
Believe me I was scared as I started out each year, but within a day or two as the rhythm of the road set in I would feel comfortable and safe.
I am, to this day, guided by a quote of Georgia O’Keefe, who famously said: “I’ve been absolutely terrified every moment of my life – and I’ve never let it keep me from doing a single thing I wanted to do.”
In my second winter of being a vagabond, I stumbled upon Patzcuaro and Michoacan and fell completely in love with this place. It was like being bewitched. I had to come back and see what was here that had put me under such a spell. I was literally enchanted. In my third year, I rented a tiny place here and based my future explorations out of Patzcuaro.
Who knew that Patzcuaro would become my “forever home!”
It is easy to be fascinated here in the Colonial Highlands of Mexico. The climate is cool 11 months out of the year. The month of May can be a little hot, reaching into the high 80s F. Yet, because we are at 7,000 feet elevation, the nights are always cool. In Mexico, the year is divided into the winter dry season and the summer rainy season. Winter temps in Patzcuaro typically go up to the 70s in the daytime and down into the 40s at night.
In the 1990s, there were few foreigners here. A small group of arty bohemian types who would become my circle. Some days I spent hours exploring the Mercado. Once a week I organized a tour guide and we all chipped in. Our guide, Miguel Angel, drove us around to the small pueblos of the Purhepecha indigenous people. We found artists and crafts. We learned some history, both ancient and contemporary. And we had some great discussions. I managed to stay busy, teach myself to do some artwork and enjoy my slow times.
As a hostess in my hotel I still encourage folks to take tours. There is nothing that can enhance your experience more than an enthusiastic and well-informed, educated guide. Seeing all there is to see with someone who knows where to take you and tailors the day to your interests is eminently worth it. I often say I could easily keep people busy for two weeks at least!
What I personally find great about traveling is that each day is a gift. Each day is new and potentially surprising and pleasing. One wakes up without responsibilities or an agenda (at least this is my style of travel). For me, when I am in travel mode the question each day is: “What do you feel like doing today?” Some days I want to do nothing at all and other days are for exploring or creating. I LOVE travel sketching and in fact teach it to beginners, but that is another topic for another time.
After all these years, I have put my Hotel Casa Encantada on the market for sale. Owning and operating it has been a wonderful experience for me because I love meeting people and my enthusiasm for Patzcuaro makes it easy to help others enjoy their time here. If you know of anyone looking for a beautiful B & B by lovely Lake Patzcuaro, please let me know.
For me, I will stay in Patzcuaro and take road trips elsewhere from time to time.
This time of Covid is a challenge to us all, such sadness for the loss of life and hardships. I find it has also been a time of transformation. Many of us have re-evaluated our priorities. I wish best outcomes for us all. It will be behind us one day soon.
Meanwhile, I am following my Covid dreams today and getting reacquainted with the Mexico I love.