By Martha Escutia.
Special to Lupitanews.com | Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month 2016. #HHM2016.
(Travel) – The smell of “Tierra Mojada” (wet earth) immediately punched through my nostrils!! It had been decades since I had last smelled that wonderful smell, reminiscent of my family’s ranch in Mexico.
Then, I heard the thunder and saw the electrical storm dancing in the sky.
All this was so alien to me, living in California all my life — dry weather, pollution, freeways, no rain much less storms. I had forgotten these smells and sounds. And to be surrounded by such green mountains brought such joy to me!
I was in Patzcuaro, Michoacan, a Pueblo Mágico of Mexico, located in the central highlands. The indigenous people of Michoacan are the Purepecha and they were and still are a peaceful people and great artisans. Their work in textiles, wood and copper is renowned. And The cloister nuns from the capital city of Morelia bequeathed their famous candy known as “ate” which is a solid block of jelly made of so many fruits, some of which I had never heard of!
Michoacan was ruled by a bishop. The most famous was Vasco de Quiroga, affectionately known as Tata Vasco for his benevolent treatment of the indigenous communities. But, like a good Catholic, Tata Vasco made sure that Patzcuaro had many churches.
Michoacan has a great variety of native dances, the most famous “La Danza de Los Viejitos” which is really a satire because it is danced by little boys.
But the one thing that truly surprised me was the “nieve de pasta” (pasta ice cream, though it’s not pasta like Italian pasta but rather a candy paste.) I was obsessed with this ice cream– one day I had it for breakfast, lunch and dinner! I couldn’t figure out the ingredients and the people who sold it held on to that secret under penalty of death!! But nieve de pasta is only sold in Patzcuaro, under the portales, out of a pop up stand. Not even local restaurants or supermarkets carry it.
So every day, I made my way to the Plaza Grande, ordered one scoop of nieve de pasta and another scoop of nieve de tequila (no translation needed), grab my seat in the park, smell the Tierra Mojada, hear the thunder, see the electricity flying across the sky…..no 5 star hotels for me or Michelin rated restaurants.
At that moment, I had everything I needed. I was happy.
About the Writer:
Martha Escutia is a former, beloved California Senator –her work contributed to the advancement of immigrant rights and social justice; she currently is a Vice President, Government Affairs at the University of Southern California.
More importantly, she is a proud Mexican American, and one who knows and cherishes her Hispanic Heritage.
(All photos by Martha Escutia.)
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