Weekend Site Seeing

Parks and archeology

Saturday, January 18

After breakfast, we took a Ruta out to the Glorieta "Diosa del agua" and then a suburban bus from there to Comala. Walked around town, enjoyed the beautiful plaza. Took some photos including the Volcan de Fuego, very visible from many points in Comala. Tried to sit in the Portalas and drink ponche, but at noon they were not ready for us yet. Walked out toward Noguera, and sat by the leafy side of the road and drank a little ponche (Ciruela y pasa) we had bought in a local shop. Walked back into town, and had ponche (Granada) and botanas at one of the Fundadores on the plaza. What a feast. They sell you a drink, and include a selection of botanas. Then different ones with the second drink, etc. The drinks can be a coke, a beer, a ponche (the local alcoholic fruit punch, especially the "Granada" -- pomegranate), or anything else. Seems much like the old way tapas worked in Spain. Took more pictures around the plaza. Caught a bus back to Colima, and got off again at the Diosa del Agua glorieta.

After the adventure of discovering the Insurgentes apartment was already taken, we went back to Maria's and took a siesta. Then we ate a snack, got dressed, and took a taxi to the Museo de Artes Populares, located in the Institute of Fine Arts, which is part of the University of Colima. It is located on 27 Septiembre, and the first taxi driver said it was somewhere far away. We confused him by asking for the Museum -- everyone knows the place as the Instituto Universitario de Bellas Artes (IUBA). The second driver took us right there, and it isn't far. We visited the museum ($10pesos each) and enjoyed seeing, among other things, the giant mojigangos (15 foot high puppet contraptions that people get into to march in a parade) that are used in the Fiesta de Alvarez. We're looking forward to seeing this in a couple of weeks. Wandering about the grounds, we observed a person practicing piano in a ground floor room -- 7pm Saturday night. Isabel had said this is the most likely place for me to find a piano to practice, and she turned out to be right. Then we walked downtown, finding huge crowds on the main shopping street. Every taxi was occupied, so we finally caught bus #17 to get home.

Sunday, January 21

We met Maria's sister, who had stayed here overnight. Then we waited 30 minutes at the bus stop (Sunday mornings are pretty slow) to finally get a bus to La Campana, the archeological site that is right in town. We toured there for 45 minutes, then walked next door to Comercial Mexicana shopping center, where we could catch a taxi to the Museo de las Culturas del Occidente. We persuaded the guard to turn on the lights so we could tour the museum, although he said he didn't know how. Another very nice museum, where we arrived well within the published hours it is open, and found it deserted and only open on demand. Saw some superb artifacts from the famous "Tumbas de tiro" (shaft tombs) from 200 AD to 800 AD.

After a snack, we took a taxi to Jardin Libertad for the regular Sunday Serenata by the state band. We got there an hour early, and walked around the surrounding blocks, including some we had not seen before. Lois bought a ceramic dog in the Jardin Torres Quintero, where tianguis (vendor stalls) have been set up just for this week. She bought a very nice ceramic seated xoloizquintli (that's the pre-hispanic dog so revered and important in the Colima culture in classic times) from a Colima woman whose son had made it. We got her card. We discovered that in addition to the Serenata, there was a program in the Jardin Libertad at 8pm featuring performances by 6 local Rondalla groups. We of course grabbed good seats in the folding chairs set up for the concert, and thoroughly enjoyed it. Rondallas are an art form we encountered last year in Zacatecas. Each group consists of from 12 to 40 or 50 musicians, with almost all of them playing guitars. There is always one acoustic bass player among them. Sometimes they have a few other instrumentalists as well -- one group here had 4 saxes and a trumpet (although the trumpet was played by the same musician who also played both alto and tenor sax -- not to mention that he was the featured soprano guitar soloist in the preceding group: clearly the star instrumentalist of the entire evening). Only one of the groups had any women members, although they had at least 10 women including several soloists -- the tradition is very much male. The essence of the form is ultra-romantic songs declaring how desperately the young man is in love with the young woman -- who frequently has unwisely rejected him, leading to pleas for her return, begging of her pardon, etc. A necessary element is a group leader, who introduces the songs with romantic poetic language, and usually interjects a similar commentary -- spoken, not sung -- well, … actually declaimed, not sung -- during parts of the song itself. Some of the groups were not great. And some of the leaders were very disappointing. But several singers (lots of soloists) were very very good. And the guitar-sax-trumpet guy is a real talent. The leader of the first group (with the women members) was very good. We skipped the last 2 songs, which were to be sung by all 6 groups together. Even so, we had a very hard time grabbing a taxi. It was past 10pm when we set out for home, and the buses had long since gone to sleep.

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