We spent two nights and one full day in Uruapan, after which we woke up semi-early (8am), spent our usual 2 hrs getting ready & re-packing our backpacks, and skipped town. The final destination was Chapala, but in between we had a couple of pueblos to pass through, so we had to make a night-stop in between. So far, the cheapest way to get anywhere has become hitchhiking, and that doesn’t exactly speed things up. To get out of Uruapan, though, we shared a taxi with two other strangers, payed a much smaller fee, and landed ourselves in Paracho.
Paracho is a pueblo famous for its guitars, I don’t know the specifics of HOW they do it (I doubt they’d tell anyone outside of apprenticeship) but the wood they get from the surrounding forests and each artisan’s techniques produce unique sounding guitars, which make people from around the world visit Paracho just to get one. So as a string instrument loving person, my companion just HAD to visit Paracho in search of a jarana.
Beyond the guitars and guitar themed everything, there isn’t much to Paracho. It’s a small pueblo, with its spanish and indigenous speaking inhabitants, a big beautiful church in the center, small family owned businesses, and very delicious bread (we actually had some for breakfast). However, it’s awesome to walk around a pueblo where its specialty product is the same, there’s the the bigger shops with hundreds of guitars hanging from the ceiling, the smaller ones that make a limited supply of instruments, the shop in which the owner is making a guitar as you walk in, the one with pictures of its workshop, etc.
We asked around for a jarana, but one friendly shop owner told us to go to Veracruz for that, because even though they make various string instruments, Paracho is better at making guitars. So after somewhat of a lecture on guitars, we thanked the man and made our way to the next town.
On the outskirts of Paracho we stood with a sign for ‘Zamora’ and, after 20 minutes, a man who was making deliveries from pueblo to pueblo gave us a ride on the back of his truck. The road was up, down, and around hills, so it was a awesome; imagine being on a medium thrill roller-coaster, nature being the surrounding theme. Our ride wasn’t going to Zamora, but he left us a third of the way at a crossroads. We stood there for about 5 minutes and got a ride to Zamora with a guy who was delivering dry-cleaned sheets and heading back to base.
Zamora is a small city with all the wonders any regular city has to offer. Here, however, there’s a very gothic cathedral that seems slightly out of place (to your left you have shoe shops, torta shops and a cafe, and to your right you have european gothicness), but impressive none the less. We had no couchsurfing host respond to our request here, so we made due by finding a cheap hotel (motels don’t exist in Mexico by name, only in concept), and stayed the night. One night only.
One curious thing we did notice about Zamora is that most people are on motorcycles. You know how there are pueblos (or some cities) where 90% of its habitants move via bicycle? Here it’s motorcycles. You had a variety of riders ranging from different sized couples, to four people families, the kids bring sandwiched between the parents.
I like town hopping (I could leave the backpack, though, damn heavy thing), there’s a particular pleasure you get from being free enough to move around without having a time and space to get back to. Even though most people are surprised that it’s just the two of us that are traveling (being girls and being young-ish), I feel very proud when they show their shock at the idea . I think we’ve successfully surpassed most limitations that our Mexican society can impose on us as young female women. I’m not saying they all limit us, like any other country, there is a variety of ways people raise their children, but there is a limited amount of people who think our behavior is natural and not crazy at all. So I am happy to be able to freely and limitlessly travel my country, meet new people and show them how they CAN dream big.
P.S. Zamora has a great $12 peso espresso in Cafe Jurhio, look for it!