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Prozac in the Air
by jennifer j. rose
A short kilometer from Santa Clara de
Cobre, on the way to Ario de Rosales, a bust of a young Lazaro Cardenas nods
toward Zirahuen. “I’m sort of proud of this road, now that’s been
improved,” I remarked to Hank, my travelling companion of the day. He shot
me one of those incredulous “Are You Completely Crazy?” stares. Well, the
road, paved with brick is a definite improvement over the cobblestone that
used to lead the way. I know that the toll I paid fifteen years to that guy
holding a rope across the road made a difference.
The road wends past rolling hills and
neat little farms, punctuated by an imported sign intended for DeAnza Blvd.
for about eight miles until the deep, clear azure lake comes into view, rimmed
by tall pines. Horses swim along the shore, and cattle low.
Unless you’re in the mood to buy
livestock feed or groceries, there’s not much to buy in this town, nor are
there any museums. That’s not
the point of trekking to Zirahuen. The grail is sanity, peace and tranquility,
reigning supreme among what has got to be the most blessed place on earth,
called lugar de humaderas (place of smoke).
According to historian Eduardo Ruiz,
Purepecha Emperor Siguangua ordered a rest house built near the lake, where
according to the legend, the Princess of Zirahuen was transformed into
moonlight by the sacred hummingbird who stole her soul. Her beloved, Cuitzeman,
searched for her endlessly at night until the mother goddess Cuerauperi led
him to the lake, where the Princess rose from the water, dragging him down
here to rest forevermore in the lake’s dark depths. “Another Loch Ness
monster,” chided pal Jeff. Yet another version of the legend has it that no
woman has ever drowned in this lake, but the Princess continues to pull down
men into its reaches.
The lake’s contrasts from deep blue
to jade green hints at yet another yet-debunked fantasy: the lake’s deep
inlets lead to the Pacific Ocean. No one has proved that it doesn’t.
A few blocks from the town’s
desultory and main square, Cabańas Impulsora de Zirahuen, the major
resort complex to date, where its lakeside restaurant serves up freshly caught
pescado blanco (the famed Patzcuaro white fish), five cabins rent for
between 375 and 1225 pesos a night, depending upon the season. This location
leads to a private dock, along which local cooks prepare a variety of dishes
ranging from squash-flower quesadillas to charales. A 15-minute boat trip
leads to a weekend-only restaurant, Troje de Ala, featuring
French-style food and a children’s playground. Four more cabins, equipped
with kitchen facilities, are available across the lake, ranging from the
rustic to grand turismo and renting for between 375 pesos during
weekdays in the low season to 2150 during the high seasons of Semana Santa
(Easter Week), Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), and from December
16 to January 2. A children’s camp operates for several weeks during the
summer for $3600 pesos per week. For reservations, e-mail
Chalet Cerrito Colorado, at Km.
10 on the road between Santa Clara and Zirahuen, offers up accommodations,
which looked, well accommodating, but we just couldn’t get much information
from themĽnor from the night watchman. firstname.lastname@example.org,
or (4) 314-4569.
On the road leading to Patzcuaro is Hotel
Zirahuen, a motel offering up a Jacuzzi in every room, decorated in bright
and clean hues. Rates range from $265 pesos for a standard all the way up to
$1265 pesos for the presidential suite. Av. Vicente Guerreo S/N Esq. Erčndira.
Tel (434) 227-05 and (434) 202-72.
Dugout canoes, no doubt much the same as
those which plied the lake during Vasco de Quiroga’s days and before, traverse
the lake, but jetskis have been espied along the distant shores of Agua Verde.
Tales of development from a Club Med to a 200-room hotel, golf course and
planned resort community rise and ebb, deterred by an anti-development attitude
among the locals, unpersuaded by promises of employment. “Not exactly the most
friendly burg in Mexico” seems to be the rejoinder when Zirahuen’s
mentioned. In a strange way, that
attitude seems just fine with me, because Zirahuen is a state of mind which
doesn’t require embellishment. The lake and exuberant forests hospitably speak
for this piece of paradise.
Fifteen km. away on the route to Uruapan, Patzcuaro seems overdeveloped in comparison to Zirahuen.