We tagged along with our friend, who has been living in Mexico at least part time for over 14 years, and a friend of hers who has been living in Patzcuaro for 10 years. Funny thing is that both of them, like us, came here from Oregon.
We hopped on a collectivo/combi for the ride and then hopped off to walk the remaining 1/4 mile to the fair. About halfway there, a friendly guy in a little pickup truck stopped to ask the 4 of us if we wanted a ride. He was a familiar person (originally from Israel) to our expat friend and we accepted and all (rather non-gracefully) hopped up over the tailgate and settled in on the wheel hubs for the bumpy ride over lots of topes.
The fair, itself, was perhaps the most strange and interesting event we’ve been to since entering Mexico. It reminded us a lot of the Saturday Market in Portland, but Mexican-style. There was world music, singing and dancing and also the familiar Mexican versions of the same. There was storytelling and lots of vendors selling everything from food cooked to order, elotes, gorditas, tamales, tostadas and tacos to alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, fresh produce, organic meat, artisanal cheeses, spices, clothing, jewelry and other handmade, handcrafted goods.
It was a peppered with a lot of new-age sorts of items, crystals and stones, smudge, incenses, amulets, and tarot readings. And we were told that along with the vegan (and non-vegan) baked goods and chocolates there were cannabis-infused goods available too. We’ve noticed that it seems that such products are rather openly sold and advertised on the local Facebook groups, too. It’s not quite legal but possession is not prosecuted so enterprising Mexicans are always eager to fill a void for any need…cannabis edibles, in this case. We were told there is even a brand of cannabis-infused mescal that is commonly sold at grocery stores in town, too.
We passed on any cannabis products but were happy to purchase some items that we had not had for a while and had not been able to easily find in Mexico. There were LOTS of big, fat, luscious, local macadamia nuts! I had to scoop up a few packages of those, salted, sugared and also with lime/chili flavor. Same for some fresh Japanese-style Gamasio seasoning, artisanal parmigiana cheese and several packages of local, organic, grassfed ground beef (most of the ground beef in stores has soy and pork in it…so we’d been on the lookout).
We settled in with some lunch and drinks (organic ginger ale, Oaxacan style tamales with chicken & mole sauce, blue corn gorditas also with chicken and mole, tostadas with nopalitos), found seats in the shade at long tables filled with people speaking Spanish and English, and ate, listened to music and chatted. It was a bit surreal for us to see such an interesting mix of expats since Patzcuaro has very few expats compared to known enclaves like Lake Chapala, San Miguel de Allende & Puerto Vallarta. But they were all here! Seems THESE folks settled here for the same reason we are here, to be in a place not yet gentrified. And they seem not to want to change it, make it “more gringo” or keep to themselves in their gated enclaves, but rather to be a part of the whole community. We found it to be quite an unique vibe and even a bit surreal at times.
And these folks, Mexican and gringo, seemed to all know each other and were here to socialize just as much as for the fair. We felt a little bit like outsiders but everyone was certainly friendly and welcoming and it made us look forward to settling, at least for part of the year, in some chosen town where in the future we will also grow to feel at home.
The actual mulle (a small dock, really) was in a rural yet lovely setting. There were views of the hill on the island of Urandén, with homes scattered around it (I don’t think any bridge goes there…the locals use mostly small canoes to get back and forth) visible in the near distance. The grounds were well-shaded by trees, a big palapa and canopies pitched for the fair. Around the other side of the fair grounds were large, emerald green cornfields and distant volcanic hills. There were a lot of darting dragonflies, groups of young children, laughing and playing, and a small pack of about 4 or 5 dogs roaming freely and rolling in the grass.
After 3 or 4 hours clouds started forming and the distant sound of rolling thunder announced the coming of the typical summer afternoon showers. Once the thunder starts you never know if 1) It’s really going to bring rain 2) If it rains, when it will start, so we packed up and headed back, our backpacks and canvas bags, laden with special treats for future meals. When we reached the main road it was only about 5 minutes before the first collectivo showed up; alas, it was completely full, and so was the second one. We waited a few more minutes and were picked up by a mostly empty combi for the 10 minute ride back into town. (Cost each way for the ride was 14 pesos per person…perhaps 75 cents U.S. )
Once back at the park, we hosted our friends for drinks and a chat for perhaps an hour before the rains DID come in earnest. It’s dry underneath our RV awning but they both needed to make their way back home so said “adios” and rushed off to try to beat the heaviest part of the downpour. We retreated inside to dodge peak hour for mosquitos, heat up some dinner, check email and chill out after what turned out to be a pretty fun day!