“Tata Vasco” didn’t conquer with arms, but with his heart.
He melded the ideas of the outsider and the locals, and they became his vision of Utopia. Today, the visitor-traveler can sense the magnitude of a rich cultural tradition: the marriage of two worlds.
Don Vasco proposed a revolutionary social concept based on the ideals of humanitarianism – justice and dignity.
The Utopia imagined by Thomas More brings together the elements of work, community, responsibility, and Christian values. Moro had no doubt that his social model would flourish in Michoacán, enriched and empowered by deeply-embedded ancestral legacies.
Far from being lost in the dusty journals of the era, the extraordinary history of this great man is still being written. His work lives on, and is reflected today in the organization of the Purépecha communities, the religious attitudes, the music, the art, and the traditional trades.
Along the route, it is essential to keep Don Vasco in mind in order to grasp the experience in its proper context.
The villages and cities that you visit were planned as communities. The fine artisanship you see is the social model personified. The institutions you visit – chapels, convents, etc. – are just part of Don Vasco’s legacy, and the food of which you partake is a fusion of two cultures. The celebrations that you witness, like Night of the Dead, are the result of two cultures and two very different spiritualities coming together. You will also hear songs of the Purépechas – declared a Heritage of Humanity – which incorporates classic Latin harmonies, and old-world instruments.
Arts and Trades
The Purépecha villages continue their centuries-old traditions of woodworking, clay, metal, and textiles.
Thanks to Don Vasco, chores were turned into professions, whose techniques were refined and perfected in shops. Don Vasco’s grand vision was that each community specialize in one form of artisanship or trade, thereby avoiding duplication of effort. Commerce and exchange grew, and with it flourished the new world Don Vasco dreamed of.
Vasco de Quiroga diffused his ideal of developing arts and trades in each of 30 indigenous villages in the “Tarascan Tableland.” Here are just a few of the more prominent villages:
Paracho: Guitars and other stringed instruments, and furniture
Santa Clara del Cobre: Copperware
Erongarícuaro and Jarácuaro: Straw hats and fishing nets
San Felipe: Wrought iron
Nurío, Capácuaro, and Arzana:Wool fabrics
Teremendo: Leather good and shoes
Capula, Piñícuaro, and Guango: Pottery (Capula: also tilework)
Pátzcuaro: Oil paintings and mosaics of bird feathers, and painted furniture
Quiroga: Flat-bottomed boats
Oponguio and Ytátiro: Metalwork and mortars
Islands of Lake Pátzcuaro: Fishing nets
Very often a store’s “factory” is right on the premises, and it is typically accessible to the public.
We mustn’t forget another trade, declared by UNESCO (November 2010) an Intangible Heritage of Humanity: traditional mexican cuisine.
A jorney of diversity, authenticity, and palate-pleasers. From their homes adorned with huge boughs of flowers, the Purépecha cooks have kept alive their favorite dishes of the past; in fact, the Purépecha men are used to calling their women “tzitziquies” – Purépecha for “flowers.” Surrounded by earthenware bowls, jars, and various cooking vessels, they prepare the fires for pork and corn, cactus, sweetcorn, and every variety of condiments and side dishes. The menu follows the rhythm of the seasons. (Wet season=Mexican greens, spring=squash flowers – “daughters of the son,” etc.) Beside the seasonal specialties, we find the regional cheeses, sweets, soups, vegetables, meats (barbacóa – mmmm!), and white fish. In the mountains regions near lakes, we find forty varieties of edible mushrooms. And of course, there are always frijoles and chiles accompanying an infinite number of dishes, like enchiladas, pozole, quesadillas, taquitos, uchepos, tamales, etc. Fruits and juices of the season are often added to water to create delicious, refreshing, and imaginative beverages.
Maps Route Don Vasco
Route Don Vasco
Route Don Vasco
Morelia & Lake Region
Route Don Vasco
Purepecha's Plateu Region