The little (pop. 2500) town of Erongarícuaro (Eronga for short) sits at the southwest corner of Lake Pátzcuaro. Eronga is a quaint cheery place, with a pretty town square. Like most Mexican small towns we saw, it was not spoiled by the presence of big-chain fast food, strip malls, or parking lots. Just narrow bumpy streets and family businesses. Eronga has a little bit of most basic needs: abarrotes (tiny quickie marts), vegetable stands, a butcher, a hotel, a tortillera, bakeries (10 cents a roll), a church, and various other little shops (even internet). For some reason, even such a tiny town has countless of these abarrotes. It seems that many households run one out of their home as a side-business. A new Pemex gas station is just outside of town.
Eronga sits on the shore of Lake Pátzcuaro. This lake has been slowly shrinking, and farms have been replacing the former lakebed. At this point the old Eronga dock is actually quite far from the lake shore.
Restaurants in Eronga include a torta (Mexican sandwich) shop (Brian's favorite), a burrito place, a mariscos (seafood) stand, and the Ansinita cafe. Ansinita is the fanciest restaurant in town, and my favorite. The Argentinean proprietor serves up pizza and valiant forays into international cuisine, like Japanese seaweed soup and satay chicken. Inside, a few of my friend Brian's paintings are on display.
Tortas are Mexican fast-food sandwiches which can be found for sale at little restaurants or stands in most Mexican towns. They consist of meat, chorizo, or cold-cuts with cheese, mayo, avocado, and peppers on a crusty elongated roll-type bread.
Spending time with Brian as he builds his home at Rancho Madroño means getting familiar with all kinds of aspects of living in Mexico. There was much exploring and interacting with local businesses. One of Brian's goals is to try making buildings using hay bales, an idea this farmer we found was also enthusiastic about.
One of Brian's Projects is to use his GPS to make an accurate map of Eronga and all its businesses. One day we wandered into the Eronga "suburbs" — a virtually empty group of lined streets just outside of town which were the result of some failed past government project. Mapping this part of town, we came across these wonderfully huge discarded tires which Brian decided would come in handy for something.
The wood cabin with numbers painted on it is a traditional troje big-beam wooden building. These trojes have become collectors items, and this one has been numbered for disassembly in order to be relocated.
Local Mexican cemeteries are not sterile expanses of grass and stone. We visited the Eronga cemetery. Though rather chaotic, it appeared very festive with all the decorations left over from the recent Day of the Dead celebration.