Saturday, January 19, 2013

Hello from Taxco, Pueblo Magico, The City of Silver

When we reached Ixtapa on Christmas Eve, we spent the next three weeks enjoying with family in both Ixtapa and Zihautanejo.  We got back on the road on January 12 and started the last phase of our trip,  driving through Acapulco and then heading north into the mountains of Guerrero.  I've decided to write later about Ixtapa/Zihautanejo, as well as Chilapa and Olinala, as all these towns have their own story.  Instead I'm going to write today in present time, and talk about Taxco, which is where we are currently spending three or four days.

Taxco is called a "Pueblo Magico", and it truly is just that.  The town was established in 1529, and has been an important source of silver mining.  It is known internationally for it's silver jewelry craftsmen, it's picturesque surroundings, and it's abundance of crafts.  It has a population of over 40,000, and sits at an elevation of 5,833 feet.  You will probably notice that just about all of the houses are painted white!
Taxco is comprised of steep, narrow cobblestone streets that are best navigated either by foot, by one of the white cooperative vans, or by one of the city's white volkswagen beetle taxis.
It is filled with steep walkways to nooks and crannies filled with shops selling silver jewelry, many by important international designers, as well as local crafts from the region of Guerrero.
Everywhere you look is a picture.
The town has many churches, but the most prominent is Santa Prisca, built over a period of 8 years in the 1750's.  The exterior is pink sandstone, and the interior is filled with wood carving covered in gold leaf.  It is truly the most unique church I've seen in any of my travels so far.
There happened to be a parade today that appeared while we were walking through the town, in celebration of the church.  What a great surprise!  There were lots of colorful costumes with brightly painted wooden masks.
It was very high energy, with a lot of music and dancing.
These cowboys stopped to do a performance with their whips, in a mock fight.
And there was a tiger, too.
Look who found his way into my picture!
The procession of colorful characters ended up in the church, Santa Prisca.

Now like I said, this church is totally unique.  Here's a picture of the altar, and the same intricate decoration you see on the altar covers sections of all the walls of the church.  Breathtaking!
Here are some close up pictures so you can get an idea of the details of the painted carved figures, surrounded by gold leaf.

 Imagine how labor intensive it was to apply all these sheets of gold leaf.
 One of the local people told me that the church took 8 years to build, but the restoration has been taking over 16 years!

Today I wanted to also share the carved wooden masks that are made in this region, and sold throughout Taxco.  Angels are a common theme, with a style of face that is unique to this area.
Here are some other examples of masks and carved figures.
Devilish figures also frequently appear in the work.
As well as this type of face with a fish tail.
Another type of craft I saw today that is common to the region is a type of very colorful painting on paper.
We had a very full day today exploring Taxco, a city that Eduardo has visited many times, but that is new to me.  I'm so grateful to be here!  We spent some time in the evening visiting some of his craftsmen friends here, and then climbed into our little white VW taxi for a ride back to the hotel.
Tomorrow, I'll share more about the silver business here in Taxco.  Hope you are all well, and thanks for following!

Buenas Noches,


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