Parroquia San Cristóbal
Parroquia de San Cristóbal showing its "gingerbread" steeples. The original, rather humble, adobe church was rebuilt in 1957 into the lovely building you see above overlooking the town plaza. The small city of Mazamitla sits high in the mountains south of Lake Chapala, about 1.5 hours drive from my home in Ajijic. The best way to reach it is to travel west from Ajijic along the Lake through Jocotopec, then turn left on Mexico Highway 15 which runs along the south side of the Lake. After about an hour's drive from Ajijic, you will reach Tuxcueca. Turn right at the main intersection and follow the newly repaved road as it winds up into the Sierra del Tigre Mountains, providing gorgeous panoramic views along the way. About half an hour after turning at Tuxcueca, you will reach Mazamitla, where the road intersects Mexico Highway 110, also called the Colima-Sahuayo Highway. For a map of Mazamitla, click here.
Mazamitla comes from Nahuatl, the language of the Aztecs. It means "the place where arrows to hunt the deer are made." The pine-forested mountains surrounding Mazamitla would have provided both numerous deer and unlimited supplies of wood for arrows. Since those times the forests have provided materials for buildings such as the Parroquia. The doors, windows, balconies with their innumerable spindles, and the wooden corbels supporting the roof overhangs all show the liberal use of wood with a most pleasing effect. The municipality (equivalent to county) has slightly less than 12,000 inhabitants. They engage in farming, logging, commerce and a considerable amount of tourist related activities. At 2200 meters (7217 ft.) in altitude, the average year-round temperatures range from 25.7C (78F) to 7.1C (44F). This cool, dry climate makes Mazamitla a magnet for Mexicans from Guadalajara in the summer months. Many well-to-do Guadalajareños have built cabins and vacation homes in the area around the town.
old Mazamtila custom relating to marriage. A young man seeking a bride must first approach the father of the girl for permission and bring him presents of cigarettes and liquor. If the father refuses, the couple can elope, but they must show repentance by appearing later, wearing black and carrying a cross to the church.
La Posada Alpina
La Plaza Principal
"Aztec calendar" in bronze relief and set it into the flagstone of Plaza Principal. The calendar forms concentric rings, which correspond with Aztec ideas about the nature of time and the universe. The sun god was associated with human sacrifice and the original "calendar" may have been a sacrificial altar. Extending down from Tonatuih's mouth like a tongue is a blade. Aztecs believed that the sun needed blood in order remain strong, and that they were living in the 5th creation of the universe. Arranged around the face are 4 boxes with symbols indicating that the 4 previous creations were destroyed by wind, fire, water, and a jaguar. The circular sculpture is 4 meters (12 ft) across. The original stone calendar is located in the Anthropological Museum in Mexico City and weighs 25 tons.
Luis Barragan Morfin, an "architect and universal man who captures the essence of this land and converts it into art." Mexicans have good reason to be proud of their many skilled architects and artists. Luis Barragan (1902-1988) grew up in Mazamitla and was an expert horseman and great lover of the local landscape. This heavily influenced his work. Other influences included a visit to the Alhambra, a product of the Moorish occupation of Spain and one of the most perfect buildings in the world, and his friendship with French landscape artist Ferdinand Bac.
Scenes from Mazamitla Streets
This concludes Part 1 of my Mazamitla series. In the next posting, I will take you to see the ruins of the colonial-era Hacienda de Contla southwest of Mazamitla and will outline some of the dramatic history of the Sierra del Tigre. I always appreciate comments. If you'd like to leave one, you can either do so in the Comments section below, or email me directly.
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Hasta luego, Jim