Thursday, February 5, 2009

A Geography Lesson

A friend asked me recently what is my favorite time of year in Michoacán, and I had to say that it's when the mirasoles are in bloom. What a surprise that was. It happens in September when the rains are pretty much over--though now due to climate change the rainy season sometimes lasts into October and even the beginning of November. We were driving in the eastern part of the state, off to experience the hot springs in the Sierra which are called Los Azufres (it means "the sulphurs") and to find the little factory where they make some dishes we wanted to buy, near an old silver mining town called Tlalpujahua. That's a long story, but I'll just say that it was quite an adventure trying to find the place, especially since we had to stop about a dozen times and ask folks for directions. Of course we had to pronounce the name of the town so people would know where we wanted to go...and for some reason we had difficulty with it. Go on, you try it. Now it rolls off my tongue like it's nothing.
Anyway...we drove through the most beautiful countryside, often the only ones around for miles, passing by these gorgeous fields of pinkish purple flowers called mirasoles that I believe we call cosmos. The sky was bright blue, the air warm and was heavenly. And then we saw the girasoles (left) and that's when I fell in love. (*click pix to enlarge)
No, Mexico is not all hot desert. Michoacán has pine forests and rolling green hills (especially during and after the rainy season) similar to what one sees in Tuscany or closer to my home in Napa Valley, California. If you go to Morelia and Patzcuaro in the summer you should not only have an umbrella but a couple of sweaters, and in December and January, you'll want your flannel pajamas. It's about a mile high, that's why. And if you are lucky enough to go to the Michoacán coast to enjoy its 200 miles of virgin beaches, it will look something like the picture below. Perfect temperatures between November and April, but too hot for most of us in the summer months. Really, you don't want to go then. But right now in February? When most of the world is suffering blizzards and freezing is sunny and warm in Maruata, Michoacán (below). For more info on

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