We spent this past weekend with Juan Carlos and Cynthia and their three daughters, Alejandra, Juli and Mariana. Juan and Cynthia were our neighbors for the past five years; we lived in the house directly in front of them in the coto privado (gated community) before we moved to where we live now a few miles away in Colonia Mariano Otero. Ally was—and still is—Ceci’s best friend. Juan is originally from Uruapan, in the neighboring state of Michoacán and has for some time been talking to us about going there with them. Nancy and Cynthia have been developing a really good friendship for years. But Juan and I had never found a good opportunity to go much deeper than just neighbors. It was fun to be with them this weekend.
We got up early Saturday morning and made the 3-hour trip to Uruapan. Each year in Uruapan, on the weekend of Domingo de Ramos (Palm Sunday), a huge Tianguis de Artesanias begins and runs through Semana Santa. They say it is the largest such artisan market in all of Latin America. The indigenous people from all the regions of Michoacán bring their handicrafts. There is traditional music and dancing—an opening parade—major celebration! The streets are full of people.
We spent Saturday and Sunday together—seeing the sights, looking at the Artesanias, hanging out and talking, and eating lots of traditional cuisine from the region. It was especially fun to do this with Juan and Cynthia because its their old stomping grounds and they loved showing us around and taking us to their favorite places. And Juan appreciates good food!
One of my favorite things about getting to know any region is trying the typical foods. Juan certainly didn’t let me down on this trip. We ate tacos de carnitas (deep fried pork), enchiladas, gorditas, several flavors and types of atole, corundas (a triangle-shaped tamal that is typical of the region), several pastries and sweets, exotic flavored ice cream (avocado, peanut for example), goat tacos and Tarascan soup. We also drank a few cups of locally grown café. All of this is especially significant when you remember that we were only there for about 30 hours! It was my kind of weekend.
But the thing I really liked about the weekend was the way Juan took us behind the doors on the street to where his family members live. We visited his aunt. We spent several hours on Sunday afternoon with Juan’s sister and her family. With great pride, they showed us several of the local sites and then invited us to their home for Sunday comida—showed us good, Mexican hospitality. They are both educators in the school system in Michoacán—their families have been there for generations. The conversation was easy.
It was lots of fun. I wish we could have gotten to this point in our friendship earlier.
I wonder what—if anything—will happen next with this relationship.