Pueblo Viejo is without question one of the most interesting villages I have ever visited in my life and I’ll tell you why. Short and simple is you walk out the front door of someone’s house and you’re in a cute tidy little village but walk out the backdoor of that same house and you’re in the deep rural Mexican countryside. Very strange.
So imagine if you will a big round hill that is maybe 1/2 km. in diameter and 150 meters high. Picture that hill rising like a big green lump out of the valley floor surrounded by nothing but flat agricultural plains. Now imagine two or three hundred homes circling more or less the base of this hill linked by a pleasant village street on the inside diameter and then with the back of the homes poking into countryside with nothing at all to see but crops and grazing animals.
I can’t say how confusing it was after having been driven through the village’s paved and cobbled streets with Arturo who stopped to point out his house with its open front door and then from there to have done a long elliptical drive off paved road through pastures and fields to finally have Arturo park his ’77 Ford pickup at the back of what he said again was his house. I asked, “So you have two houses?”He said no.
I let it go thinking it was but simple miscommunication and walked with him inside. I walked through the long skinny (5 m. X 25 m.) house to discover the front door was in fact the one he’d pointed to on our drive which was right where it should have been, in the middle of the pueblo about a block from the church. It felt so disconcerting, it was like falling through the rabbit hole.
Now imagine from this photo that just beyond Arturo’s classic pickup are his 2.5 acres (1 hectare) of cornfields.
The kitchen in the back is very rural Mexican old school as it is both detached and woodfired.
I wish I could draw this out on a cocktail napkin for you to show you just how bewildering this tiny village is that sits maybe a kilometer off the main road between San Pedro and Pajacuarán. The above photo shows the hill and the village poorly (the western entrance is the better shot that I missed) but it appears quite magical sitting way off the highway like a green fecund mound with houses ringing it like it was all designed by fairies.
[Note: Pajacuarán is 5 hard to pronounced syllables. It sounds something like Pa-Hock-oh-ah-rán. Now say it really fast and get the lilt and the accent on the right syllable and you’ll be understood but you still won’t really get the pronunciation right.]
Side story – The photo of all the people walking into the village will always amuse me because the old gal in the blue dress got off the bus in front of me and then turned around and reached up to take my hand to help me step down from the bus. I smiled not the least bit offended to be helped off the bus. I stood there as she in turn helped the next half a dozen riders get off the bus. I then had a lovely chat with her and all children as we walked together into the pueblo.(And I only fell back long enough to snap that photo.)