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Strolling through the Blood Lake in the Real Mexico

By Jesús Aguado

As a sunflower in the middle of the desert emerges near the lake of blood, the former convent of St. Agustin, the most superb building constructed during the 1550s, rises up in its majesty.

The tranquility in this city is a constant. The people move on the streets without hurrying, toward the city hall, which is situated in the heart of Yuriria (from the Purépecha Yuririapúndaro, meaning Blood Lake).

In this city, located in the south of the state of Guanajuato on the border with Michoacán, people happily ride their bicycles. They also push wheelbarrows with all kinds of vegetables for sale and stroll through the market—in a building that formerly sheltered the Congress—or they simply visit the kiosk of the Jardín Hidalgo to listen to the music sponsored by the local administration.

Besides its churches and chapels, the most widely recognized building is that of the former convent of St. Agustin, built in 1551. It was used as a fort by the Spanish to protect themselves from indigenous uprisings after the conquest (1519-1521), according to the book History, Tradition and Legend by Fulgencio Vargas.

One of the hydraulic works marking the “personality” of the city is the artificial lake that covers an 80-square-kilometer area. In the midst of a volcanic area, it was easy to conduct the waters from the Lerma River to the lake in 1548 for survival and agriculture.

In Yuriria it is also fascinating to go to one of the craters and see how small whirls emerge from the islands with white dust and view the many kinds of migrant birds.

The real Mexico is in Yuriria, where it is easy to buy pottery products, as well as small sculptures made from tree roots. Experiencing a roadside market is exciting because visitors can purchase or just observe from under a Mexican poncho, the making of a casserole pot for carnitas, corn on the cob, and candies made with milk or pecans.

To see and believe that there is a real Mexico, you have to live it. A tour will leave from the Biblioteca on Tuesday, February 23, at 9am. Tickets are for sale on Insurgentes 25 (at La Tienda). The price of 1,100 pesos includes transportation, a bilingual guide, and lunch.


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