Mexico
Pátzcuaro

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

4 travelers at this place:

  • Day100

    Church bells rang all day. Nonstop. Ding, ding, dong. All day.

    Today is Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. Church bells started to ring early in the morning reminding the faithful that it is time to go to church for mass where the priest would draw the sign of the cross in ashes on their forehead. This is a sign of repentance and is meant to remind people of their mortality. Here, many people left the ash crosses on their foreheads all day as a sign of humility.

    It is also El Dia de Amor y Amistad, the day of love and friendship. A few days ago, little kiosks were set up and vendors were selling tiny bags of candies, chocolates and red items for Valentines Day. The bakeries were busy selling cakes decorated with white icing and strawberries. Flower vendors had lovely bouquets of red and white carnations or roses.

    In the evening, we walked to the same Plaza Grande that had hosted the Carnival activities and it had transformed into a romantic oasis. Balloon vendors, romantic music played through the park’s speakers and a giant balloon heart for photos had been set up so friends and families could feel loved.

    At one end of the park, a stage was set up and chairs put out for anyone who wanted to hear a local crooner, Martin Paz, play and sing romantic Mexican songs. He was followed by a mariachi band. But while the band was setting up, the city gave away gift after gift for Valentine’s day. First, every woman got a small flower bouquet. Then numerous cakes, and chocolates and gift certificates were given to people who had birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, etc. in February. It took at least 45 minutes to give away all the gifts!

    Once again, we had a lovely evening in Patzcuaro.
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  • Day101

    Friday Night List of Activities

    February 16 in Mexico

    We look forward to Fridays in Patzcuaro, for more reasons than it just being the start of the weekend. Yesterday was another great Friday. A day to celebrate Chris’ birthday!

    On Fridays, a special pottery market, a tianguis, is set up in a pretty plaza in front of the San Francisco church. Indigenous people gather here to show and sell their pottery. The pottery (utensils, pots, vases, dishes and coffee mugs) is made using many of the same techniques that were introduced by Vasco de Quiroga 500 years ago. Each community around the lake has its own distinctive pottery style, which means that there is a large variety in design and decoration. At this market, plants and other local crafts are also sold.

    Also, in the late morning, there is a small organic market in the Posada Yolihuani hotel. They have delicious homemade bread, Italian products, cheeses, supplements, organic produce, ready made lasagna, crepes filled with vegetables, and oaxacan tamales. Going to this little Good Health Market has become part of our weekly routine.

    Last night was a Friday night to remember. Although, almost every night this week was a night to remember.

    I made a list of the events that we wanted to go to and there were five! All in one evening! We are proud to say that we made it to three of the five and had a wonderful evening.

    At 6 p.m., there was a piano concert at the ex-Jesuit College that cost 100 pesos ($6.78 Cdn) each. Jerry Engelbach, a retired jazz pianist from New York City played a benefit concert called Jazz loves the Movies (jazz impressions of film music) to make money for the 8th Patzcuaro Festival of the Piano which will be held in April. When we entered, we were given a list of 16 movies from the 1930’s (Wizard of Oz) and onwards. At the end of each piece of music, Jerry would have us guess what movie the piece was from. There were a lot of movie buffs who knew all the music. A wonderful hour in support of the coming Piano Festival that is trying to introduce children and adults in the area to a wider spectrum of music. The announcer said that there is more music out there than just ranchero music.

    During the show, a news flash came on Chris’ phone saying that there had been a 7.2 magnitude earthquake centred in Oaxaca but felt in Mexico City. Patzcuaro is not in an earthquake zone so of course we didn’t feel anything.

    Around the corner from the college is a popular gringo restaurant called Lupita’s. The second floor of this building, houses the well-stocked English book library that we have gone to weekly since we found out about it. We have enjoyed picking up some great books from this little self-serve library that runs on the honour system.

    At 7 p.m., Lupita’s hosted a Art Exposition of Lanny Garland’s lovely mixed media work using found or recycled materials. He graciously spent time with us explaining how he created his art pieces and where he found his materials. I saw a lot of potential for making rather unique puppets using his wonderful ideas. Musicians Denise and Wayne Gilbertson, Acoustic Pilgrims, provided background music for the show,and the restaurant did great business serving their renowned margaritas.

    Wayne & Denise have an eclectic collection of rather unusual instruments that they kindly showed us. Wayne was happy to talk about them and even gave us to try out. They played the oud, harmonium, hurdy gurdy, mijwiz, zurna, sruti box, as well as a Native American flute, ney flute, riqq, tar, tabla beledi and zills. What a collection! They performed music from Egypt, Spain, Turkey and Greece as well as some original pieces. Apparently they have been travelling for 27 years, collecting their exotic instruments and learning to play music from the countries they visited.

    At 8:30 p.m., (it was still early), we walked around another corner and we able to watch the tail end of another concert at a cultural centre called La Jacaranda. The group performing there was a percussion ensemble called Versus 8, from Morelia. They were so good. What a fantastic end to our evening and it wasn’t even 9:30 p.m. yet.

    I should tell you that the whole night cost us a grand total of ... $20 Cdn., and that included a beer and a donation. Now that’s a cheap date!

    P.S. I mentioned that we went to 3/5 events. Well, the two other free events were a public dance in the San Francisco square and a guitar concert in a little restaurant very close to our house.
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  • Day276

    Standheizung

    November 25, 2017 in Mexico

    Stunden- wenn nicht tagelang hatten wir recherchiert, dann schickt uns der Himmel diese zwei. Stefan und Yasmin (planr.org) sind auch mit einem Toyota Land Cruiser unterwegs Richtung Südamerika und fahren eines Morgens auf unseren Campingplatz. Wir hatten seit langem Probleme mit unserer Standheizung, aber der Hersteller hatte jede Hilfe verweigert, in Mexiko gibt es keine Servicepartner, und auch sonst hatten uns unsere Recherchen nicht wirklich weiter gebracht.
    Stefan ist handwerklich sehr geschickt und kommt gleich zur Sache: „Gehen wir doch den einfachen Weg“, meint er, baut kurzerhand die Standheizung aus und zerlegt sie komplett. „Kein Wunder“, sagt Stefan, als er die Brennkammer öffnet. Sie ist komplett verrußt. Stefan reinigt sie sorgfältig, und schnell ist alles wieder zusammengebaut, montiert und getestet. Endlich! Wir müssen nicht mehr frieren!
    Frieren in Mexiko? Richtig. Wir befinden uns in tropischen Breiten, und am Tag ist es auch im Spätherbst sonnig und warm. Aber nachts fallen die Temperaturen schnell in den niedrigen einstelligen Bereich, und da ist es dann nicht mehr wirklich gemütlich in unserem offenen Camper ...
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  • 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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  • Day71

    Wednesday Hike near Cuanajo

    January 17 in Mexico

    The group that Chris is hiking with, went to a high meadow near Cuanajo, a town known for its colourful wooden carvings and furniture.

    The hike was about 4.25 miles long, starting at 7,742 ft with an elevation gain of 904 ft. It took about 2 1/2 hours.

    Here’s what Chris said,

    “There were nine of us and two dogs. We took 2 cars and after 15 minutes, we parked beside the road and we were off. At our maximum height, the trail opened up to an open meadow. Someone had constructed a leanto shelter, probably a sheep herder to avoid the elements when necessary.

    The single line descent was especially pleasant. We observed many different coloured flowers.

    Thanks to Morris for both driving us and leading the hike. Appreciated...”
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  • Day74

    Iliana and her family felt that since they were in Patzcuaro, their visit to Michoacan wouldn’t be complete without a trip to the island of Janitzio in the middle of Lake Patzcuaro.

    On Sunday morning, after a quick breakfast of Mexican scrambled eggs (eggs, chorizo, onion, tomato and jalapeño) at our house, we drove 4 km to the main dock in Patzcuaro and took a colourful wooden boat across to the island.

    The trip took abut 20 minutes. The waterlilies (lirios) have become a bit of a nuisance and they totally block the entrance to the docks. The birds like them though. Egrets and herons walk on the plants searching for food.

    As we entered the lake from the docking area, we could see the island that we were heading for. Actually, what really catches one’s attention is the 40 metre stone statue on the top of the island of Jose Maria Morelos, with fist raised.

    Morelos was a Roman Catholic priest and revolutionary leader in the War of Independence, 1811. In his first 9 months as leader, he won 22 victories. But then after a series of defeats he was captured by the Spanish royalist military, tried by the Inquisition, defrocked as a cleric, and executed by civil authorities for treason in 1815. Morelos is a national hero in Mexico and is considered a very successful military leader despite the fact that he had never been in the military. The city of Morelia and the state of Morelos is named after him.

    The lake itself is fairly big, 50 km long and 33 km wide with several small islands. Janitizio is the largest island and home to an indigenous community that has conserved the authenticity of its Purepecha traditions. During the Day of the Dead celebrations, October 31 to November 2, the locals combine pagan rituals with religious ceremonies and it is a sight to behold. Chris and I were fortunate to experience this amazing celebration of joy and sadness in 1999.

    As we approached the island, the local fishermen put on a show to welcome tourists. They performed a demonstration of how their forefathers used to fish in wooden canoes using ‘butterfly’ nets. On the back of the 50 peso bill there is a drawing of these fishermen.

    We landed on the island and there, high above us was the statue. To get to the summit, we had to make quite a trek, up several steep, uneven stairs. It was worth it though. The views from the top were wonderful.

    Even though Chris and I were game to enter the stone statue and go up the spiralling internal staircase, we decided to save it for another time as Oscar’s mom wouldn’t have been able to handle the stairs, especially after the climb to the top of the hill. We did go inside though and were able to see the wonderful murals painted on the inside walls, showing scenes from the Mexican Revolution.

    The base of the Morelos statue is surrounded by a lovely plaza with drink stands, places to relax in the shade, a kids’ playground and a 360 degree panoramic view of the lake. We ate corn on the cob with mayonnaise, white crumbly cheese and salsa, had a cold beer and tried a sweet, thick pancake-like dessert.

    Then, we headed back down again, took the boat back to Patzcuaro, had a quick chicken soup dinner and Iliana, Oscar and his mom got in the car and drove the 4 hours back to Mexico City. They had had a wonderful time in this neck of the woods and we were thrilled that we had a chance to once again meet our Mexican ‘daughter’ after so many years.

    And ... we were really proud of ourselves. As Oscar and Iso know hardly any Spanish, Chris and I were put in the position where we had to listen and chat in Spanish for 2 days straight. We did it! Yay!

    But boy were we tired ...
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  • Day77

    A Heart-Pumping Climb

    January 23 in Mexico

    El Estribo Grande - the Big Stirrup.

    A week ago, our friend, Sherry, took me up in her car to a mirador 3.5 km west of Pátzcuaro. She felt that both Chris and I would love to hike to this spot and to see the wonderful views that it offered of Pátzcuaro, Lake Pátzcuaro, the island of Janitzio and the surrounding countryside. She was right.

    On Tuesday morning, we set out at 9 a.m. and walked to the base of El Estribo Grande, an extinct volcano.
    The road that we took was pretty dusty. It hasn’t rained here since October.

    Shorty after, we came to the steep cobblestone road lined with cypress trees that the city recently renovated. It took us right up to the mirador which is about 2,175 m above sea level. As you can imagine, we were huffing and puffing as we walked up. We did meet a few of Pátzcuaro’s more robust residents who were running or biking up this road.

    But it was all worth it in the end when we reached the viewing pavilion. The views were awesome. We just sat on a wall and took in the amazing scenery.

    Behind us was a set of stairs that led up to the true summit. We just had to walk up the 423
    stairs to the top. No railings and uneven stairs but it was a ‘high’ when we reached the top.

    Looking down the stairs was somewhat daunting. What goes up must come down...hmmm. The air was pretty thin up there and our hearts were beating pretty fast. Chris did stop to take our heart rates. (25 over 15 sec.)

    We do have a nifty app, Gaia, that showed our route and it showed that there was another way down on a trail that went around the volcanoes crater. We found the trail and followed it down. It was wonderful. At times, it was a dirt trail and at other times it was roughly-hewn stairs but all in all, quite enjoyable.

    At the bottom of the trail, the stairs ended abruptly about 2 meters above a dirt road. We had to do a little scrambling but then were able to walk to the cobblestone road we had come up on, which took us to the bottom of the volcano.

    We walked home, but stopped at Sherry’s place to rehydrate with a cold beer. I think that we walked close to 10 km. and would highly recommend this hike.
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You might also know this place by the following names:

Pátzcuaro, Patzcuaro

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