Michoacán – the soul of Mexico
The state of Michoacán is an uncommon place. From the sugar cane fields of Los Reyes, the avocados, coffee, and macadamia nuts of Uruapan, the melon fields of Apatzingán, the rice fields of Lombardia and Nueva Italia, the pears of Ucareo, the pescado blanco of Patzcuaro, to the ruggedly pristine Pacific coast, the endless pine-crested peaks of Mil Cumbres, the mines and butterflies of Angangueo and the former mining town of Tlalpujahua.
Michoacán is as varied a state as you’ll find anywhere in Mexico. Michoacán is craft-central for all kinds of handicrafts and ground zero for Noche de Muertos. The guitars of Paracho, the lace of Aranza, the deshilado of San Felipe de los Herreros, the masks of Tocuaro, the devils of Ocumicho, and the pottery of Capula… And don’t miss the Meseta Purépecha, the archeological wonders of Tingambato, Tzintzuntzan and Ihuatzio or the copper workers of Santa Clara de Cobre. Morelia, the most Spanish of all Mexican cities, warrants a book all its own.
This is the state which produced one of Mexico’s most revered leaders – Lázaro Cárdenas. This is the state which has sent off the second-highest number of its own to work across foreign borders. This is the state in which the oldest university in the American continent was founded back in 1540.
Michoacán is craft and industry. Michoacán is history and leadership. Michoacán is a kaleidoscope of natural beauty. Michoacán is art and music, and Michoacán is education. Michoacán is the guardian of tradition, and the face of tomorrow. This is the state whose pride knows no bounds, and this is the state everyone loves.
I wrote that a dozen years ago, dashing it off in a few minutes one evening. Felipe Calderon, Morelia’s own, had yet to become president. Narcos were around even then, but they weren’t the center of our universe. Maestras and normalistas overtook the streets, but they were a much quieter bunch back in the day. There was no cuota to the Pacific shores. Altozano was barely a twinkle in its fathers’ eyes. And still, Michoacán remains the best damn state in the Republic. Every time since, when my plane lands at MLM, when I cross over the Michoacán state line, I know I’m home.
Walking up my street, I realize that I’ve walked that adoquin over four decades of my life.
Some 26 years ago, I sat on a rock in my newly-acquired yard, feeling as lost as Dorothy in Oz. And now I wouldn’t live anyplace else.