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Stories from our Travelers

Shopping in Metepec, Mexico

by Jeanne Tasker

[From Spring 2010] Pot, pot, pot – not part of the infamous Mexican drug trade but a major folk craft for sale to the many tourists ambling the streets of Metepec (but we did see renditions of the cannabis leaf in gold and silver in the ubiquitous jewelry shops). The making of pottery is the traditional artisan activity in Metepec, a small colonial enclave in the suburbs of Toluca.

Toluca is a major industrial city in Mexico; the manufacture of automobiles provides numerous jobs for the residents. Metepec was the original city center with a central plaza and picturesque old churches and convent. Besides these, little is left of the old colonial feel, with warrens of small shops lining the dusty streets. Upscale shops are cheek by jowl with typical souvenir shops.

My friend, Pat, and I flew directly to Toluca from Houston, Texas to make my second, and her first, visit to the Hotel/Spa Ixtapan. The excursion to Metepec, as well as others to ruins and caves, is offered to guests as a diversion from massages, aerobics, yoga, and spa cuisine.

In Metepec restaurants proliferate, featuring traditional Mexican foods, but hamburguesas, pizza, and hot dogs are just as available. The day was warm and sunny so we kept to the shady side of the street whenever possible. Time was short. Those wanting to shop had to hustle and a cold Coca-Cola was about all that could be managed.

I admired the pottery, but, not wanting to face the cost of shipping home beautiful urns, vases, and planters, I planned no purchases. However, a starkly stylized wrought iron crucifix, in a shop filled with intriguing crafts done by a family of talented artisans, drew me in. Rationalizing that it would fit in my suitcase with dirty laundry stuffed around it, I succumbed.

We piled back into the hotel vans and returned in time for the next round of massages, facials, and treatments. As Pat and I describe it, scouring, pounding, slapping, and stretching!

Continental Airlines flies directly to Toluca from Houston, Texas.
To read Jeanne's 2009 story on the Hotel/Spa Ixtapan, see "An Unexpected Spa Retreat in Mexico".

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