Hacienda de Nogueras

A "must see" when you visit Manzanillo

By Susan Dearing

The Hacienda de Nogueras is incredible museum, an ex-hacienda acquired and maintained by the University of Colima. It started out as a sugar mill  that produced cane alcohol in the 17th century, and the old chimney still stands, withstanding numerous seismic disasters that hit the state of Colima throughout the years.

It was originally built by Spaniard Juan de Noguera. It changed hands several times, but was ultimately purchased and remodeled by Alejandro Rangel Hidalgo, who was born in Colima and lived here with his wife. It is now a center for regional studies: archaeology, history, architecture and aesthetics.

Christmas throughout time displayed in hand-painted cardsRangel Hidalgo, who died in 1998, was a painter, collector of antiquities, a designer, and graphic illustrator. The first room in the hacienda shows part of the Christmas card collection that made its tour around the world with UNICEF. Some cards show Spain under Philipe II, Italy, in the time of the Renaissance, French Gothic, Mexican Colonial, Victorian England, Germany, Pilgrims in America, Norway, and Russia.

Gourids were used for storage, and all bottle were hand-blownPurified water the old wayAnother room houses a replica of a rural kitchen with its accessories and implements. A "metate," for grinding corn; a "zarzo," which hangs from the ceiling to keep the animals away from the food; some artifacts that were brought in from Colonial times, such as water filters, irons, blown glass bottles, storage containers, tools, and coffee grinders.

Meticulously made by handRangel was the founder and director of the School of Furniture and Crafts, and another room features several hand-inlaid pieces. In addition to carpentry, the school also taught painting and iron work. Furniture, like the pieces in this room were in every Mexican embassy, and the president's house, "Los Pinos." This room also contains some of Rangel's earliest paintings. Many of Rangel's paintings portray the fusion of the Mexican and Spanish cultures: The Catholic religion with a dark skinned virgin, and angels with feathers about their heads.

Young boy and dogsCouples 2,000 years ago worked togetherIn yet another large room, with the lighting specially designed to enhance the effect, are prehispanic  pottery pieces dating from 500 years B.C. to 600 A.D. The pieces belong to periods of time known as "Ortices," and "Comala," and near the state capital of Colima, are towns bearing the same names as these important times in history. There are numerous display cases, where you'll see different qualities of sculpture, showing the grades of skill of various artisans.

The fine work indicates that people with deformities were treated with respect and compassion All of these pieces were found in "shaft tombs," and were funerary offerings. (A shaft is dug up to 8 meters deep. There can be one or more rooms dug off the main shaft at 90 degree angles. Entire families, and sometimes servants, dogs and other animals were buried within the tombs, along with the pottery, plates, and various utensils and tools.)

Dogs were in every householdNinety-five percent of the figures are hollow. They have a hole to allow the hot air in the oven to flow in and out to improve the drying process. The "Colima Dog," a distant relative of the Mexican Hairless, and the Chihuahua, may have been a pet, or it may have been fattened up to become a meal (or both).

Exquisite pieces found in 1,400-year-old tombsThe indigenous Indians practiced basket-making, weaving, metallurgy, and were outstanding pottery makers. This incredible artistic legacy affords some knowledge of their social organization through clay figures of warriors, priests, artists, animals, vegetables, and all aspects of daily life. The sculptures portray the Indians in various activities, such as working, farming, cooking, making music, playing, or fighting.

Creative artisans lived long agoThe Nogueras Museum adjoins an old Catholic church, where services are still held. There's a gift shop and a restaurant next door. The caretakers and guides ask for a small donation of 25 pesos per person to enter. You will be given an introduction to the museum that is written in English so you can understand the exhibits.

To locate the museum, take the road north to Comala. Upon reaching the river, take the road to the right (there's a botanero on the corner), and you'll pass a number of large estates, and travel about 2 km. (The street is called Calle Degollado.) It will curve around, but you'll eventually get to the hacienda. Recently, a new road to Nogueras veers off to the right, but it is more scenic to take the old road.

Hours are: Tuesday through Friday, from 10 a.m. till 2 p.m. and 5:30 till 7:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Closed Mondays.

For more information on the state of Colima, check out the 150-page tourist guidebook by Susan Dearing, entitled, "Manzanillo and the state of Colima, Facts, Tips and Day Trips."

For a tour that includes the Nogueras Museum, go to www.manzanilloadventures.com and click on "Volcano Tours."