January 20, 2008

Weekend Travel Skirt 1: Mascota, Talpa y Estancia

My friend Claudia invited me on an adventure this past Saturday. We traveled by bus to Mascota, Talpa de Allende and Estancia. These towns are in the Sierra Madres, east of Puerto Vallarta in the state of Jalisco.

It was such a freezing journey. Note skirt, jacket and jeans!

We started our adventure at 6:30 in the morning, arriving in Mascota around 8:45.
Just in time for breakfast at the Municipal Market, I tasted café de olla. Café de olla is coffee that is made in an olla (ceramic pot) with cinnamon and piloncillo (Mexican brown sugar). Mmmmmmm! Mascota is an old town, established in the 1500's and about 4,000 ft above sea level. The name is derived from an Indian word that means place of deer and snakes. Claudia was a great tour guide...

In the square in Mascota, you can see the steeple of the church that was finished in 1880, but took 100 years to construct.

Mascota is very quaint and clean. People are friendly there too, very helpful.

Another view of the church, which is dedicated to the Virgin de los Dolores (Virgin of Sorrows).

We didn't have much time in town, but next time I would like to visit the cemetery which dates back to the 1600s. There is also a museum that has petroglyphs from the region, but they were closed. However, el museo de pierdras was open...

Francisco is a life-long resident of Mascota and operates el museo de pierdras (Rock Museum). It's full of historic photographs of Mascota, and every surface imaginable in his house is covered in tiny rocks; including a working television and telephone.

In el museo de pierdras.

Does this look familiar?

¡Mil Gracias Francisco!

On the way to Talpa, you can see the town of Mascota on the left.

You can feel something magical in the air once you arrive in Talpa, and I'll never forget the way that the air smells; like sweet guayaba (guava) and incense.

Souvenirs de Talpa de Allende
Many stores sell and make rollos de guyaba (candied guava rolls), like the one I am holding here.

The owners of this shop let us get up close and witness the making of this spectacular sweet treat. They also gave us a taste of rompope. Rompope is a sweet liquor made of eggs and sugar. It reminded me a lot of eggnog, but yolk-ier.

Here, buckets of fresh, peeled guyaba are waiting to be made into candy.

Mixing the candy: this batch has food coloring in it.

Talpa has many artisans that craft huaraches -
Mexican leather sandals.

Other popular souvenirs of Talpa are made of chilte (gum). Arboles de chilte (gum trees) grow in the region. Chilte is edible, but tasteless. Flavor is added to create what is known as chicle (chewing gum).

Raw chilte on the left, tiny gum hats on the right.

Huaraches made of gum. Guess it's not always bad to have gum on the bottom of your shoe?

Talpa de Allende is one of the most important religious sites in Mexico, because of the Virgin Rosario of Talpa. She is said to have healing powers, and many people make the pilgrimage to Talpa seeking answers and miracles to their prayers. She is as small as a doll, encased in a glass box high in the church and dressed in an ornate golden dress.
I'm here! Mira mi!

At Talpa's main church that was built in 1782.

Inside the church: it was packed because of a wedding...

It was beautiful. The church was full of love. Mariachis were playing as we prayed, and the bride wore a skirt! Sorry the picture is blurry.

Leaving Talpa. So beautiful, clean and colorful!

Bye Talpa... on to La Estancia.

The terrain is so colorful, but what impressed me the most was the color of blue that flashed by when we passed agave crops.

La Estancia
At the bullring, where we went to collect arrayan.

Arrayan: a small, very bitter acidic fruit.

At Claudia's grandmother's house, there were so many trees and crops to see.

I saw coffee, banana, papaya, orange, lemon, lime and avocado trees. I'd never seen avocados on a tree before.

So many sights, sounds and smells: fresh cookies, roosters and parrots, just to name a few.

On the way home, the sun was setting behind the Sierra Madres.

This trip was awesome in that it evoked a true sense of what life in Mexico was probably like for my grandparents. It was all new to me, but some how felt very familiar... I can't explain it, but I am eternally thankful for the experiences I had this day.

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