When I was in Patzcuaro I ordered this soup, Sopa Tarascal, every day. According to the waiters, it’s a Michoacán classic, especially in Patzcuaro. The soup’s base is pureed tomatoes, Guajillo chiles and Flor de Mayo beans.

Today is Flag Day in Mexico. Cue a patriotic celebration, focused around the Plaza Principal, with parades and civic events . I was up as the rooster crowed, dressed quickly and grabbed my camera before heading down to the Centro Histórico.

FLAG DAY 2018 in SMA

As my glorious time in San Miguel comes to an end, a beautifully sunny day and comfortable park bench offered me the solitude to reflect on this month-long journey. If I had aspired to a deep dive into this country’s culture, that wish has been granted.

Just Married: Lauren & Joe

Of course, with any trip to a foreign destination, there’s been bumps and bruises. Those bruises still haven’t healed since my two early on face plants. Regrettably, I probably shouldn’t have ordered that pork belly sandwich! My cash cards don’t work. Memo: Talk to bank. I don’t speak Spanish. French doesn’t work! That’s truly a drawback but police are ubiquitous and very helpful.

There is a school just below the O’Leary’s hacienda. Each morning I love listening to the kids’ happy screams and laughter.

It’s been a safe trip. The only fear I’ve experienced was inadvertently jumping into water deeper than me. Remember? I can’t swim. I panicked before Blanca got me to a safe space.

At first Blanca and Cavanaugh shepherded me to important sites and helped orient me to SMA. I still am graciously included in all their social events. But thereafter I’ve managed to stumble about this city’s very complicated 64-block historic area myself or to meet friends. Thanks, Google.

The Magnificent Monarch

As before, photos best capture the past ten days.


It won’t surprise you that the highlight of my trip has been going to the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve, a 200-square mile protected area and winter home to more than 60 million monarch butterflies. I joined a group of 13 Canadians for the arduous 11-hour trip to El Rosario Preserve. For the monarchs, it’s a 2,500-3,000 mile migration flight from Canada/US to the preserve. For us it was an 8-hour vehicle roundtrip, a 40-minute horse ride up the mountains and another mile-long hike. To see those beautiful creatures? A magic moment.

The third leg of the trip, hiking up the mountain to the butterflies with my Canadian friend, Kathy.


From February 14-18 I attended and enjoyed San Miguel’s annual writers conference.

Waiting to hear the incomparable Sandra Cisneros…..Jane, Marcella, Rick and Blanca

I had never heard of Poet Rita Dove but, after her keynote presentation, I will never forget her.


Owner/Curator of the Mask Museum, Bill LeVasseur

After arriving in SMA I received an email from Aspenite Wendy Weaver who has been our travel agent for 30 years and is an experienced traveler. She urged me not to miss visiting SMA’s mask museum located, incidentally, one block from O’Leary’s hacienda.

Although no photos were allowed to be taken in the museum, I found this image on the Web.

Owner/curator Bill LeVasseur and his wife, Heidi, have spent more than 25 years acquiring an extraordinary collection of over 600 Mexican ceremonial masks. Besides being knowledgeable himself while taking you through the collection, there are also texts, photos, and videos highlighting more than 40 different dance ceremonies.


Cavanaugh, who speaks Spanish, volunteers three days a week as an ambulance driver for the Red Cross. When in Aspen, he is a Mountain Rescue volunteer.


Blanca and Cavanaugh have gathered together an amazing and growing collection of Mexican handcrafts and folk art created with various materials for utilitarian and decorative purposes. We took a 4-day road trip through the central Mexican state of Michoacán in search of new acquisitions. The trip was remarkable in so many ways.

We stopped at the warehouse of a folkart dealer in Patzcuaro. The walls were all lined with masks.

In the back of a Capula pottery shop these artists were at work.

The Ex-Convento de San Francisco, a religious/monastery complex in Tzintzuntzan. It’s buildings date back to the 1500’s and 1600’s The city was founded in 1450.


I hope this beautiful but forlorn lady will forgive me this bright smile. San Miguel de Allende is a place to be happy/


  1. says

    Safe travels home! Thanks for sharing your amazing experience with us all. I love the monarchs, too—they remind me of our backyard in Ames!!! cxoxo

  2. says

    Great “Review” of a wonderful experience Mary!!
    Loved all of colorful photos—-and especially the thousands of beautiful Monarch Butterflies!!

    Safe travel back to the US—

    Mary Ann

  3. Nancy Miller says

    Mary, what a great post! I have loved hearing about your experiences, esp enjoyed the photos of your trip to the folk art area. Beautiful, bright pottery. My Manchester friend, Rachel, would say it looks like a happy place. Safe travels home!

  4. Nancy says

    Wow .. that was a fast month ! Very interesting and I, too, loved your photos of the monarch butterflies! Thank you, Mary, for sharing with us !

  5. Jan Sarpa says

    That was one very active month my dear. Think I am exhausted reading about it all!(Ha!) Truthfully, Loved the Monarchs and the folk art trip. Beautiful and very interesting! I get you on that pork belly sandwich though.

  6. Donna Grauer says

    You are an amazing traveler Mary. When I think of my trips to Mexico it was mostly about the beach and margaritas. Your energy , curiosity and enthusiasm should be bottled and shared.
    See you soon in RFV

  7. Charlotte McLain says

    Mary, your travel log has been wonderful! If you can promise me there are shoes to keep me upright on cobblestones, a visit to that lovely old city seems in order. The monarch butterfly photos reminded me of our Getty Museum experience. The museum grounds serve as a resting spot for those creatures on their way to Mexico and we happened to arrive the same day the butterflies arrived. It was truly a magical experience to see the bushes come alive with thousands of them!
    We look forward to your return stop over in the valley. Be safe in your journey home.

  8. says

    Oh Mary, I have SO enjoyed your posts from SMA ! Thank you for allowing me a trip to gorgeous central Mexico and it’s food, friends, festivals, nature and architecture….all from the comforts of PA while it is rainy and dreary outside. The sunshine and bright colors were much needed. Still mesmerized by those butterfly photos -had no idea and have never seen anything like it. Can’t imagine what it was like to experience that one in person (if I would have survived the hike…). Craving pork belly sandwiches and definitely doing additional research on that religious celebration, thanks for sharing it all !!

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