Saturday, January 16, 2016

Uruapan, the city of the Avacados: another Mission of Vasco de Quiroga.

Vasco de Quiroga, the prominent member of the Second Board of Governors or Segunda Audiencia of the Nueva España (as Mexico was known at that time), who using Thomas More's "Utopia" as his inspiration, quelled the rising sedition in the entire territory of what we call today Michoacán, and became a Franciscan Friar, establishing a network of multiuse complexes, called huataperas (in purépecha, the language of the Tarascan Natives): a combination of church-Sunday School-clinic-daycare-and town hall for the local Indian communities, many of which are still in use 450 years afterward. The natives become so fond of this Spaniard that they called him "Tata", or Father, in the purépecha language.
Estela is the gardens of La Mansion de
Cupatitzio Hotel in Uruapan.
After a long walk between Patzcuaro, his head of operations in Michoacán, and Uruapan, he died at an age well into his 90's. This is most fitting, as Uruapan is a place I imagine very similar to what the Garden of Eden must have been like. A beautiful city, center of the zone that produces the most delicious Hass variety of Avocados, with beautiful gardens, with tree full of melodious singing birds.

Uruapan is a peaceful place for resting
Today Uruapan is the center of a thriving agricultural community, renowned worldwide for its avocado producers and packers, as well as prominent exporter of frozen "guacamole" sauce, made from avocados. Nearby town Nueva Italia was once famous for being the most fertile rice-growing area of Mexico. Named "Nueva Italia", because the Cusi family, that immigrated from Italy at the beginning of the 20th century, started organizing rice plantations in this area. Another of his plantations was named "La Lombardia". The Lombardia and Nueva Italia Plantations were the some of the most productive plantations in the world by the 1920's, and they had their own health-care center for their employees and even their own railroad.

Another thing I always try to treat myself to when I come to Uruapan is a delicious cup of hot-chocolate, made by a local process plant, that instead of producing cocoa powder, does it the old way, that is, solid tablets of pure chocolate, without added sugar.

Estela having a delicious fresh-fruit breakfast in
the Gardens of the Mansion de Cupatitzio.
Michoacán has always been a paradise-like area, but with a long history of poverty and social unrest. 
Although Uruapan is a very restful and tranquil place to stay, it has been tarnished in recent years by drug-trafficking mobs, such as La Familia Mexicana and Los Templarios.  After a series of crackdowns by the Mexican Government, it seems that in the last few years it is safer to travel to and from Uruapan, but preferably driving during the daytime on the turnpike connecting Uruapan with Patzcuaro-Morelia-Atlacamulco-Mexico City.

Estela in the Cupatitzio National Park in Uruapan,
 after watching an ensemble performing the
"Baile de los Viejitos" (Dance of the Elderly)
a long standing tradition of the Tarascan Tribes.

Alexander, my son, and Estela, my wife,crossing
of covered wooden bridge across the fountainhead
of the Cupatitzio River, in the Cupatitzio National
Park in Uruapan.

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