Here you’ll find travel reports about Michoacán. Discover travel destinations in Mexico of travelers writing a travel blog on FindPenguins.

7 travelers at this place:

  • Day128

    We didn’t think that we would be back to a village on the lake so soon, but we had a lovely opportunity to go back to Tzintzuntzan with a Canadian couple from Kingston who we had met several weeks ago and who spend winters here. We decided that we would meet at the combi stop in the Plaza Chica at 11 a.m. and head to Tzintzuntzan for lunch. We had heard about a new restaurant that opened up there at the base of the pyramids and planned on trying it out.

    20 minutes later ...It was too early for lunch when we got to the town, so we took a short walk to the first Franciscan church and convent in Michoacán, built in the 16th century - the Ex-Convento de San Francisco.

    This religious/monastery complex has been undergoing extensive renovations since 2003. When these buildings were built, they were partially constructed from the quarried rocks that came from the nearby Purepecha temples and platforms that were demolished by the conquering Spanish.

    There are four buildings on the grounds:

    1. The Templo de Nuestra Senora de la Salud which contains the Santo Entero, a much revered wax image of Christ displayed in a glass casket. It is believed (by Mexican folklore) that the arms and legs of this statue are growing. One end of the coffin has an extension added for the feet, with the toes reaching the glass end.

    2. The Church de San Francisco that was built exclusively for the monks. At the front of the church, we did not see a big cross or any statues. But there was a painting. El Señor del Rescate: Tzintzuntzan's venerated Lord of Rescue. The original 16th Century painting, which was believed to have been painted by the Renaissance artist Tiziano Vecellio, disappeared or burned in a church fire in 1944. It's said that the paint colors of the copy of the painting, are taking on the deep burnished tones of the original painting.

    From the 16th to the late 19th Century, St. Francis of Assisi (the patron of the Franciscan order) was celebrated as the patron saint of Tzintzuntzan. Late in the 1800's, the church sacristan found an old painting of Jesus hidden away in storage. The town was under siege by a measles epidemic, and the sacristan begged permission to make a vow: if prayers to this image of Jesus put a stop to the epidemic, the sacristan himself would throw a town party, a huge party, in gratitude for the granted favor. That party is today's Fiesta del Señor del Rescate, which still going strong after more than 100 years.

    3. The cloister area, which is attached to the San Francisco church, was built in the 1700’s and has been made into a museum that we could wander freely through. It was a fascinating place. The kitchen and dining areas were beautifully restored. The interior featured faded frescoes/murals from long ago, and openwork wooden Moorish panels. The frescoes were painted to offer visual illustration of some tenets of the Roman Catholic Church to the indigenous people who could neither read nor write in their own language or the Spanish of the conquistadores.

    4. And there are two outside capillas/chapels. We noticed that amongst the rocks forming the walls of many of the buildings are petroglyphs that were taken while dismantling the old pyramids. In one outside area, there was a 2 meter deep baptismal pool area. It was really deep! I guess the monks needed a big pool to baptize all the adult indigenous that they needed to baptize.

    The buildings were quite fascinating but what we especially liked about the complex were the grounds themselves. There are tall, antique cherub-decorated street lamps, an original stone cross from the 16th century, and a walled atrium filled with giant, gnarly olive trees. Some of these trees date back to the 1500's. All that is left of most of them are their wrinkled trunks, but new growth is abundant. It is said that Bishop Quiroga planted 33 olive trees– symbolizing the number of years Jesus walked amongst his people. They have never had fruit.

    In an enclosed area, workshops had been set up for students to learn how to renovate old buildings. The students that went to these workshops later worked on the renovations of this complex.

    In one of the workshops, Chris and Jean met a well-respected potter who gave them a little tour of his workshop. They loved it. Jean bought a little ceramic egg cup. We all went into another storage area that had a huge machine in it. We were all trying to guess what it was but we were all wrong. A lady told us that it was a machine used to mix the materials needed for making pottery.

    We started to get hungry so we walked 1.5 km to the base of the pyramids, where a new restaurant has opened up called Yacatas. What a modern and lovely place that turned out to be.
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  • Day129

    The four of us walked up the hill from the old church complex through a market selling pottery and all sorts of objects made from reeds. We were headed towards a new restaurant, Las Yacatas, named after the semi-circular pyramids that looked over the town.

    The restaurant was in a beautiful modern building with many Purépecha details, including a 2 story high mural. We thoroughly enjoyed the authentic and tasty food, and were in awe of the ultra clean and modern washrooms. What a lovely place in this small town!

    After eating, we followed the hill up to the entry of the park where we watched a short film and then went for a peaceful and shady stroll around the site. The views from the park were awesome - the town, the lake, the mountains and old volcanoes. I was looking for petroglyphs, and I found lots.

    Tzintzuntzan, located on the northeast shore of Lake Pátzcuaro, was once the capital of the Purépecha Empire and the site where the Purépecha people dominated from the 12th to the 15th century. The Purépecha Empire was a civilization just as powerful – and fascinating – as the Aztec Empire.

    When the Spaniards arrived in the 1520s, the city of Tzintzuntzan had a bustling population between 25,000 and 30,000 people. Now, all that is left is the ceremonial centre of this pre-Hispanic capital city – an area that contains a large plaza; buildings known to house nobility and priests; and five yácatas (semi-circular pyramids) that face over the lake area, each with altars devoted to Purépecha gods.

    Where we were standing was actually on a large artificial platform, 450m by 250m, excavated into the side of the Yahuarato hill overlooking Lake Pátzcuaro. The yácata pyramids and other structures rest on this large, flat platform. One of our photos is an aerial photo, that I found and used, that shows the platform and the pyramids. Pretty awesome.

    In the indigenous language, Tzintzuntzan, means “the place of the hummingbirds.” While it is true that during the time of the Purepecha Empire that these tiny birds were driven to extinction due to the desirability of their iridescent feathers for use in clothing and jewelry, it is also true that they and dozens of other species of birds can be found in Tzintzuntzan. Plants that attract hummingbirds have been planted on the archaeological site to encourage them to nest there. It would be a great place to go birding.

    We went into a small onsite museum to look at some of the artifacts that had been found on the site while it was being excavated - pottery/ceramics, obsidian artifacts, a stone coyote, metal bells and an axe head.

    Another wonderful day in Quiroga’s Utopia...

    Note - I just found out that in town the best places to view birds is at the Ojo de Agua and the small public embarcadero. The archaeological site with its pine-oak grove is also an excellent birding spot.
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  • Day130

    We got this email from our Kingston friends, Jean and Steve:

    “We are interested in going to UKAZ on Sunday to eat. It may be disappointing, but we had a good meal there a year ago right on the shore with a breeze off the lake. Aw well there may be boat transportation to la Pakanda which is very primitive, but easy walking around the perimeter and views of the lakeshore all around.

    We’re thinking 12 noon on Sunday in the plaza chica. Interested?”

    We responded,

    “We are in. See you at the rendezvous spot, Plaza Chica at 12 on Sunday.”

    Another great day in a new spot on Lake Patzcuaro! We caught a combi at 12 and got to the docks in Ucaz at 12:30. Only 1/2 hour away and so different from other places we have seen around the lake. The seafood lunch that we ate on the shore of the lake was excellent and inexpensive with good service with a smile. Chris’ full trout and my buttered shrimp dish were excellent. Herons, egrets and White faced ibises flew around us and provided us with a nice little show. It was a really lovely place for lunch.

    After eating, we walked a short distance to the docks. Fishermen were drying out their nets while little children quietly walked up to us selling a variety of candies from little baskets. We boarded a small boat that quickly whisked us over to Isla Pacanda.
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  • Day131

    Pacanda Island

    March 18 in Mexico

    Isla de Pacanda is by far the largest island in Lake Patzcuaro, but it has only about 400 residents, while the much smaller but much more famous Janitzio, that we visited with our Mexican friends, has approximately 2,000.

    Pacanda is much flatter than Janitzio, with its billion-and-one stairs, so a walk around the island is very easy. The only up-hill challenge is a brief ascent from the dock. From then on, it’s as flat as a tortilla.

    For quite awhile, we didn’t see a person. Then when we reached the middle of the island we saw some cattle and then a couple of men. It was a little eerie at first. We put it down to being siesta time, maybe ... the fun of living here is that often we can’t explain why things are the way that they are.

    We walked by a little store and saw another person. We bought a few candies, then continued on past a fairly active basketball court. The church, which is the largest building by far, had old monks’ cells that Steve said could be rented out if we wanted to stay there for a night or two...

    On we continued to the cemetery which overlooks the lake. This is where they celebrate the all-night, Day of the Dead on the island. A family was there when we were there, putting gladiolus in water containers around one gravesite. There were several markers on some of the graves but they were mostly from 2010 and onwards.

    I had read that there is a small lagoon near the top of the island. It has been suggested that it was at the top of a volcano long ago, and that is why it is higher than Lake Patzcuaro itself. We walked a bit and were able to find it. We were told that about 4 or 5 years ago, the little lake was full of water but when we saw it, there was very little and cattle used the area as a place to get a drink of water. Not the greatest pond, but there were lots of birds there!

    On we walked by cute little houses with lovely gardens and a cow or two and some chickens. We wondered about the sanitation system here. Steve mentioned that there had been a project to build latrines with dry toilets and we saw several of these environmentally friendly outhouses.

    After about an hour and a half, we walked back towards the dock. On the day down, we passed two very little girls who were struggling to push a wheelbarrow with their little black puppy up the steep hill. He was called Negrito, Blackie and was a very happy little guy with white paws and a white tip on his tail. Very sweet. We continued down to the hill where a boat was waiting to take us back to Ucaz.

    Then to the waiting combi to take us back to Patzcuaro.

    Another memorable day trip on the lake...
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  • Day132

    Benito Juarez Day Holiday

    March 19 in Mexico

    Today is a public holiday in Mexico as it commemorates the birthday of Benito Juarez, the only indigenous president of Mexico from January 19, 1858 to July 18, 1872. Juarez is famous for his anti-clerical views and for fighting hard to remove the prejudices against the indigenous people of Mexico, a problem which plagued the country in the 19th century.

    He introduced reforms that would give the indigenous a better education and health care and improve their living conditions. He worked hard to modernize Mexico’s economy despite a very bad political environment.

    The people of Mexico consider Juarez a national hero and the most loved among the country’s presidents.

    When we were in the state of Oaxaca several years ago, we visited the place where he lived.

    The 20 peso bill features his face on it. As a security measure, the bill contains a famous Benito Juarez quote written in microscopic letters that can only be read through a magnifying glass:

    “May the people and the government respect the rights of all. Between individuals, as between nations, peace means respect for the rights of others.”

    Perhaps, his bravest efforts apart from his incredible resistance against foreign rule were his anti-clerical acts which effectively limited the powers and influence of the Roman Catholic Church in Mexico stating that the church power hindered national development and the improvement of lives of the poor.

    Because of his important contributions, his birthday, March 21, was dedicated as a national celebration.

    During the holiday, speeches are given and the big cohetes (booming fireworks) are heard all day from early in the morning until late at night.
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  • Day130

    Busy weekend in the market. Look at all the colour! I wish I could magically share the wonderful tastes, smells, sounds, and things to touch. We are certainly going to miss all these when we go home.

  • Day60

    On Three Kings Day, Epiphany, Mexicans buy a large, round or oval-shaped cake filled with sweetened dried fruit. This Kings Cake symbolizes a crown. It is usually eaten with a hot chocolate drink. A small white figurine representing Baby Jesus is hidden inside the cake, symbolizing the hiding of Jesus from Herod. Whoever gets the slice with the figurine has to host a party with tamales on February 2nd or “Día de la Candelaria”.

    This tradition came to Mexico from Spain at the time of the early years of the viceroys (1535).

    We bought a very small cake but it had a baby inside!
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  • Day85

    Paricutin Field Trip

    January 31 in Mexico

    When I was 7 years old, my father, after reading incredible stories about Mexico in National Geographic and Life magazines, packed up our car and took my mom, my 4 year old brother, my aunt and me on a 3 week whirlwind trip to see Mexico. One of the places we visited was the volcano, Paricutin. Almost 40 years later, Chris and I and our Patzcuaro friend Jeremy, visited it again. Now 18 years later, we had an opportunity to go on a little trip to visit this wonder of the natural world, once more.

    A local chef, Tim McGrath, organized a little trip for 17 of us (including our friends Sherry and Jeremy) to see Paricutin, by travelling to the nearby town of Angahuan that survived the eruption. This location is known as the “Balcony of the Paricutin” and from its location on top of a mountain both the extinct volcano and its surrounding black lava fields can be seen along with the ruins of the church of San Juan. Locals thought that a miracle had happened - everything was destroyed except for the church. Chris, Jeremy and I took horses and rode to this church many years ago. I still remember us standing below the bell tower of the church and walking on the remains of the church walls, surrounded by black lava. The altar was decorated with leaves and flowers.

    Tim’s tour also included experiencing a traditional purepecha dinner prepared by an award winning cook called Juana Bravo Lázaro and then a visit to see how beautiful Michoacan rebozos, shawls, are woven on a backstrap loom.

    Some facts about Paricutin which is about a 1 1/2 drive away from Patzcuaro.

    Height: 1,353 foot (424m) above the valley. 9,186 feet ( 2,800m) above sea level.
    Area: Lava field covers 10 square miles (25 square km).
    Eruption: 1943 to 1952.
    Type of Volcano: A scoria (or cinder) cone.
    Discovered: Farmer Dionisio Pulido saw it emerge out of his cornfield on February 20th ,1943, at around 4 PM.
    Location: Near the destroyed town of Paricutin in the state of Michoacán, Mexico.
    Other: The youngest volcano in the Western Hemisphere.

    The following is part of an interesting article that I found on the internet about the volcano.

    “On February 20, 1943, Dionisio Pulido was working in his cornfield just outside the Tarascan Indian village of Paricutin, Mexico. He and his family had spent the day getting ready for the spring sowing by clearing the field of shrubbery, putting it in piles and burning it. At about four in the afternoon, Pulido left his wife and moved to a different field so that he could set fire to a new pile. When he arrived he noticed something strange: on top of a small hill in the field a huge crack, over six feet wide and 150 feet (47m) long, had appeared in the earth. At first Pulido wasn't concerned, the crack only looked like it was about a foot deep. As he was lighting the pile of branches, however, the sound of thunder rumbled across the field and the ground began to shake. Pulido turned to look back towards the crack and saw that the ground there had swelled up over six feet in height and fine gray ashes were pouring out of the hole. "Immediately more smoke began to rise with a hiss or whistle, loud and continuous; and there was a smell of sulfur," Pulido later told witnesses.

    Pulido became terrified by these events and tried to find his wife and sons, but couldn't. He tried to rescue his team of oxen, but they had disappeared also. Despairing that he would never see any of them again, he jumped on his horse and rode to town. There he was happy to find his family and friends waiting for him. "They were afraid that I was dead and that they would never see me again," said Pulido.

    What had appeared in Pulido's cornfield was a new volcano. The incident at Paricutin would be the first time scientists would be able to observe a volcano from birth through extinction. What they would learn through these events would help them understand the powerful forces deep in the earth that shape the surface of our planet.

    The residents of Paricutin thought they had been hearing the sound of normal thunder in the weeks that preceded the eruption, though they were puzzled by the lack of storm clouds in the sky. What was producing the sound, however, was the movement of magma deep inside the earth. Soon, however, residents also began feeling tremors in the ground, hinting of what was to come.

    After its startling appearance, the volcano grew rapidly. That first evening Celedonio Gutierrez, who witnessed the eruption from the town remembered, "…when night began to fall, we heard noises like the surge of the sea, and red flames of fire rose into the darkened sky, some rising 800 meters or more into the air, that burst like golden marigolds, and a rain like artificial fire fell to the ground."

    The volcano grew by ejecting both lapilli-sized fragments, which range from the diameter of a pea to that of a walnut, along with larger "bomb" fragments. The bombs are often still molten when they are thrown from the volcano and produce bright parabolic streaks in the sky as they fall to the ground. Because they are still soft while flying through the air, the bombs form into a streamlined, aerodynamic shape.

    As the bombs and lapilli build up around the base of the eruption, they form a steep cone shape often referred to as a scoria, or cinder cone. In a little more than 24 hours the cone of the Paricutin volcano had grown to over 165 feet (50m). Within six more days it had doubled that height.

    In March, about a month after the eruption started, William F. Foshag, a curator of minerals at the U.S. National Museum, arrived. Together with his Mexican counterpart, Dr. Jenaro González-Reyna, Foshag would spend the next several years documenting the life cycle of the volcano. Froshag was responsible for gathering many of the samples and photographs from Paricutin that are still used by scientists today while doing volcanic research.

    The sudden appearance of a new volcano caught the attention of the world. Newspaper and magazine reporters rushed to the area. Life Magazine featured a picture of Foshag with the volcano in the background. Pilots of airliners would point out the cone to fascinated passengers as they flew by it. Hollywood even got into the act by shooting a film, Captain from Castile, in the region and using the volcano as a dramatic backdrop.

    While the residents of Paricutin might have been happy about the work they got as extras in the movie, it was hardly compensation for the damage the volcano did. In June of 1943 lava started flowing toward the village which had to be evacuated. A few months later the lava also rolled over the nearby town of San Juan. Eventually all that was left of the settlements was the church towers which rose above a sea of lava. A frozen, rugged sea that by the time it has stopped flowing covered 10 square miles.

    Paricutin was very active in its first year, growing to four-fifths of its final 1,353 foot (424m) height. During the peak of its activity that year, ashes from the volcano drifted as far as 200 miles to the east and fell on Mexico City. With each following year, however, the volcano became less active until, after a final spectacular spasm, it finally went dormant in 1952. By then the damage had been done, however. In addition to the lava fields, there were also 20 square miles of volcanic sand deposited around Paricutin and almost all vegetation had been destroyed within a few miles of the crater. Hundreds of people had been resettled to other locations and had to find new livelihoods.

    Before leaving his home for the final time Pulido put a sign on his land. It read "This volcano is owned and operated by Dionisio Pulido." Paricutin might have taken his cornfield, but the farmer still retained his sense of humor.”

    The first time that I saw Paricutin, I remember the ground being black with no trees on it. The second time, we remember riding the horses on trails through the black lava fields with a few bushes. When we saw it this time, much of the area was covered in green trees and bushes. When volcanic lava and ash break down, it makes the land extremely fertile.
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  • Day59

    We are happy! The house that we rented is a gem.

    It is located in the historical centre and on a very narrow and quiet street. Most houses in the Historic centre are painted the red and white colours that you see in the second photo. At the top of the street is the beautiful Chico Plaza with its library, theatre, stores, hotels and a huge daily fruit, vegetable, meat and clothing market. It buzzes with people strolling through its many little food and small items kiosks. More about that in another footprint.

    We are renting the house through a real estate company called Houses Patzcuaro.

    As you will notice, the inside of the house is painted in very traditional Mexican colours and is very colourful. The furniture is comfortable and we have everything that we need. There is filtered water so there is no need to buy bottles of drinking water and we have a water and dryer in our bedroom with two queen sized beds on the second floor. The patio off the kitchen is lovely with a BBQ and flowers. On top of that, we have a casita (2nd bedroom) with its own bathroom off of the patio. Since it get chilly in the evenings, the house has 3 gas fireplaces to take the chill off.

    The house is just perfect for us.
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  • Day68

    Go for a walk through the town and be totally entertained by all the activities going on. It’s a happening day!

    Our street, as I have mentioned before is a very quiet street. We would never think that anything was going on, one short block away.
    It is only when we put our shoes on and walk to the top of the street that we realize that there is another world out there.

    We ventured out because Chris had a magazine that he wanted to return to the well-organized English book library on the second floor of a restaurant called Lupita’s. Earlier in the week, I had gone with Sherry to that restaurant to meet some expat women who eat lunch there every Tuesday. That’s when I discovered the library. It is great that it is so close to where we live.

    Well, the Plaza Chico had come to life with vans bringing people into town, people eating and children playing and music playing. It was probably only 11 in the morning but most people were dressed up nicely and preparing to go to church. We walked up the street to the old Basilica and could hardly talk as the old bells clanged away calling people to church. These bells clanged,,,they didn’t ring.

    All around the church vendors were set up selling food, clothing, hats, wooden masks and trinkets/souvenirs.

    After returning the magazine, we walked down to the Plaza Grande where it was actually quite peaceful. I think that the mass had started so most people were at church. Quiet music played in the square. Dancers danced the ‘Little Old Men Dance’ of Michoacan, a spoof on the way that the Spaniards danced in the old days. Musicians played their guitars, double bass, and violins quietly.

    We walked up to the butcher’s shop as earlier in the week, he had told us that on Sunday, he would have barbecued beef wrapped in nopal leaves - a speciality in this area. We bought enough for two people and a bit more. He included a salsa and a big bag of broth so that we could make a soup with the leftovers. It cost us in total about $6.00.

    Then we continued on. Church was getting out so the streets were filling up. We went by the market to get more avocadoes, apples, carrots, bananas, mandarins (they are in season), and tomatoes. Nothing is wrapped in plastic and we could pick each fruit or vegetable. Everything is weighed.

    On we went, back to Plaza Chica, to where we live. We noticed that on Sundays, cars get washed, men get their leather shoes and boots polished or colours changed, people shop, and kids play. It is very colourful with balloon and flower vendors, and people making cotton candy. There were at least a hundred vendors selling food and every plastic seat had a person eating. Buckets turned upside down became mini tables. Even though, we have enough food for the next 4 or 5 days, we just had to stop at a stand that sold seafood cocktails, Mexican style. Really, really delicious. We probably paid around $3 each for a really good lunch.

    We crossed the street, stopped in at a kiosk that sold hand-carved and painted masks, and in 2 minutes were back at our quiet house. How can that be?
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You might also know this place by the following names:

Estado de Michoacán de Ocampo, Estado de Michoacan de Ocampo, Michoacán, Mich, Michoacán de Ocampo, Michoacan, ミチョアカン州, 米却肯州

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