Some years ago, my dad decided to relocate from Mexico City to Pachuca, Hidalgo – a much smaller city about 90 kilometers north of the city – search of a quieter lifestyle. The first time I visited him in his new home, my kids and Joe were traveling with (Joe tagged along to ask my dad for his blessing and propose to me). We visited a water park, zip-lined across the Basaltic Prisms of Santa Maria Regla, and shopped for handmade toys in the town of Huasca – one of Mexico’s incredible Magical Towns.
However, this time around I went to Pachuca – or cucumber, as my daughter called it 8 years ago – to spend time with my dad, find artesanias, and learn more about the British influence that Pachuca is known for.
THANKS, DAD…REALLY 🙂
As a child, what happens at home tends to define what “normal” means; so I grew up feeling extremely proud of my American baseball knowledge (from players names to teams’ anthems, and such), loved reading my pre-hispanic legends books on a Saturday afternoon, twirled around to El Jarabe Tapatio with as much excitement as with Swan Lake, thought of baklava as my favorite kind of pan dulce, and knew the lyrics to all the songs in both: The Beatles’ Magical Mystery Tour album and Timbiriche’s VII album. Who wouldn’t?
The thing is that I soon learned that my classmates didn’t know baseball players and I didn’t know soccer players, I didn’t understand why Computer Skills class was just for boys ( according to my school’s nuns while my dad would teach me how to use a computer at home), and relatives found shocking that dad would allow me to go camping with the Girl Scouts just like my brother did with Boy Scouts. That wasn’t normal, my dad wasn’t normal, and I am grateful for that…because that is what made our first father-daughter weekend so special.
ARTSENIAS/ MEXICAN FOLK ART
Dad knows I am always in search of handmade, local, Mexican folk gifts and art, so our first stop in Pachuca was Hidarte: a local store where indigenous artisans bring their items for sale at consignment, get paid fair prices, and can dedicate the time they would otherwise spend trying to sell on the streets to their families, well-being and supplemental income endeavors.
Hidarte features a significant assortment of items including Otomi embroidery, handwoven baskets, organic soaps and shampoos, jewelry, and wood carvings. The natural light that comes into the store highlights the beauty of uniqueness of each work of art making it difficult to choose one item over another…this is when I wish I was a millionaire, I would buy everything. But while that happens, I will share with you My Wish List so you are inspired to make yours 🙂
After a successful shopping trip to Hidarte, dad and I headed to Pachuca’s zocalo/downtown; I had never been there and I was taken by its uniqueness, for while its cuisine, architecture, mining industry and towering clock are a legacy of Cornish settlers, their essence is loud and proud Mexican.
Pachuca has been a mining town since shortly after the Spaniards arrival. However, after the war of independence, it was immigrants from Cornwall, UK, that managed and worked the mines through the “Company of Gentlement Adventurers in the Mines of Real del Monte.” With them, they brought Cornish pasties which with time and Mexican ingredients became Pachuca’s “pastes,” flaky pastries filled with mole, potatoes with chorizo, cajeta, and even arroz con leche, which you can find in every restaurant surrounding the plaza. They’re first sold by Cornish immigrants who sought to develop a source of income outside of mining and adapted their fillings so they would please the palate of Mexicans and Cornish alike.
Another representation of Cornish influence is visible in the architecture of the zocalo’s buildings, with their Neoclassical style columns, ceilings and frames, which accompanied by colorful walls, represent the blend of cultures to create the identity of Pachuca, as shown in this pictures.
Last but not least, it was Cornish immigrants who brought football (soccer) to Pachuca, a sport that is now as representative of Mexican identity as Teotihuacan’s Pyramids, mole, resourcefulness, colorful stucco houses, and pan dulce!
Hope you get a chance to visit this wonderful town soon 🙂