Sunday, January 26, 2014

Day Trips from Roca Azul

We took a couple of day trips from Roca Azul that we hadn't done before and we thought they were well worth sharing. We have included maps, pictures and details for any who might be interested in doing the same. We continue to love visiting artisans in their shops, watching the creative process, and marveling at their skills and crafts.


An interesting and fun day trip from Roca Azul circles around Lago Cajititlan (Lake Cah hee TEET lahn) with visits to hand made Molcajetes and a renowned potter. Above is a map showing the route.
Number [2] is  - Juan Perez Molcajetes across the street from GPS  20.41045 -103.36416 .       Number [3] is Martin Ibarra Pottery near GPS  20.40385 -103.31428 across from the church cemetery.

Our first stop was to see Juan Perez  so that Ken and Kris could custom order a molcajete that they will pick up in a few weeks. Molcajetes are among the world's oldest cooking tools and date back several thousand years. When used to grind spices or mix salsas and guacamole they are referred to as the Mexican mortar and pestle. They can also be used as a cooking tool. They can be heated to a high temperature over an open fire or hot coals. The food is often served in the molcajete where it will retain the heat. Kris and Ken ordered a molcajete with a flat bottom so that they can place it directly on the grill and then pick it up by the decorative head, which won't get hot.

Juan Perez is using hand tools to sculpt this molcajete.

Many types of molcajetes can be found but those made from a single block are volcanic basalt are the only true molcajetes. Juan Perez told of his grandfather going up into the nearby mountains with his burro to bring back the proper rock. He sculpted many other things from the stone, including chairs and sinks which can be seen in the picture below.

Our friend Madeline is shown with her new dove and a proud Juan Perez.

Another of Juan Perez's works of art.

More information about molcajetes can be found at There are other shops in the area we went to, but we think Juan Perez may be the only artisan using strictly hand tools. If he's not in his shop one of his neighbors will find him. More information about Juan Perez can be found at

Our next stop on the loop was in San Juan Evangelista at the shop of Martin Ibarra Morales, a well known and renowned potter. Who knew there were so many beautiful works of art behind such an unimposing doorway.

His shop is located in San Juan Evangelista, across from a the church. Contact information - near GPS  20.40385 -103.31428 across from the church cemetery. Studio Sixto Ibarra, Arte en Barro Brunico Juarez #119,  San Juan Evangelista, Jalisco. Phone 01 333 753 0017, cell 331 118 7577, email or

Martin showed us around and demonstrated how he works with the clay, paints it and fires it. As he was talking to us he made a whistle in the form of a bird.

Martin has some really unusual pieces and a unique painting technique. After painting the clay it is rubbed with special instruments made of hard metal, such as one fashioned from a valve stem from a car engine, to bring out the color and metallic sheen.

He has some of the most beautiful virgin statues I've seen anywhere. One example..

Many of his works are modeled after artifacts. There were a variety of them on a nearby table. I couldn't resist buying the exquisite virgin, La Virgine del Los Lagos, Jalisco - the virgin of the lakes in Jalisco.

I can't do justice to Martin's history and talent in such a short space. It's a fascinating story and well worth the time to read at 


Another day trip took us about 6.5  miles from Roca Azul. to the town of San Cristobal Zapotitlan which has a women's cooperative that sells items made from corn husks and baskets woven from reeds that are brought in from Patzcuaro. Thirty artists, all from San Cristobal have been selling at this cooperative for 13 years.
The cooperativa is called  Taller De Artesanias De Palma y Hojas De Maiz. It's located COLON #15 and the phone number is 387 763 2167. Directions - There is a small green sign on the highway for San Cristobal Zapotitlan. Take that road toward the lake. It's paved, follow it about a mile until you reach the big soccer field on the right. Turn left at the next street - Porfirio Diaz - then turn right on Colon, the second street.

I particularly love the corn husk dolls - these dresses are dyed corn husks.

I also purchased some of the colorful flowers made from corn husks - also dyed and shaped.

All fun stuff and certainly not expensive. There were also a variety of baskets and other items made from reeds.

More information about the women's cooperativa can be found at the following links which are excerpts from blogs about the area. This is how we found out about the cooperativa and how to get there.


  1. Corn husk dolls in such vivid colors is amazing!

  2. Could you show me what a molcajete looks like? Love the craftsmen with the basalt stone and the potter...very cool to see...

    1. If you click on the link to the wikipedia article about molcajetes you'll see a picture. There are also some stacked on the floor in the pic I took of Juan Perez and Madeline holding her dove

  3. As always, enjoying your commentaries and travels vicariously. Continue to have fun!!!