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The Multi-Layered History of Acequias in the West

Acequias arrived with the legendary (or infamous, depending on one’s perspective) expeditions to New Mexico and Colorado led by the best-known conquistadors: Francisco Vásquez de Coronado, Juan de Oñate, and Diego de Vargas—all native-born Spaniards. Less commonly known is the fact that these conquistadors who brought acequias to the southwestern U.S. region were most often…

A Visit to La Esquina, Mexico’s Folk Art Toy Museum

“La Esquina” Museo del Juguete Popular Mexicano, a terracotta-colored colonial house on a corner of San Miguel de Allende, is the only museum in Mexico dedicated to the country’s folk art toys. Angélica Tijerina started the collection 50 years ago, when her parents began bringing home dolls and toys from their travels all over Mexico.…

Can Pátzcuaro and Surrounding Colonial Crafts Towns Survive Modern Mexico?

In the 1500s, a Spanish bishop turned a collection of pueblos around the Mexican town of Patzcuaro into a center for craftsmanship. The people here are still making and marketing their wares in much the same way they did hundreds of years ago. Now they have to overcome tourists’ fears about drug traffickers, real or not.

Story by LAURA FRASER
Photography by JANET JARMAN

Pátzcuaro’s Casa de la Real Aduana: the Ultimate Craft Hotel

There are many lovely places to stay in Pátzcuaro, but the Casa de la Real Aduana, just off the square, is special. The 16th-century colonial tax collector house has only five guest rooms, each exquisitely decorated with the finest examples of Michoacan crafts  — textiles, pottery, metalwork, masks, and furniture. Every corner of the hotel,…

An Artisanal Tour of Michoacán — with 18 Towns Devoted to Ancient Crafts

It’s difficult, if not impossible, to find the indigenous artists outside of Pátzcuaro without a guide. We went with Jaime Hernández Balderas, from animecha tours, animechatours@yahoo.com. He is a native of Pátzcuaro, knowledgeable about the history and crafts, and speaks excellent English. Expect to pay about 2000 pesos a day for a guide ($120). Local…

Mezcal’s Dance with Extinction

Our burly white pickup truck is rolling down the highway about 10 miles east of Oaxaca, Mexico, when the ominous dilemma that will define the future of mezcal rises into view. To my left, sitting beside me on the pickup’s bench seat, are Cuauhtémoc Lopez, a mezcal maker who is carrying on his family’s traditional…

Story and photography by GRACE RUBENSTEIN

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