Mexico city and memories of 2017

We are back again in Mexico for the fourth winter in a row. I am not tired of it, there is so much to see that I could come back year after year and never see it all.
This time I left my big old back pack at home and bought a sturdy suitcase on wheels, hoping it will be easier to carry around. We will see.
Today, we went to the Museo de Antropologia in Mexico city. It is one of the greatest museums in the world and I always enjoy visiting it. There is a lot to absorb, too much for one visit so we try to go every year.

Last year on our last day in Mexico, we participated to a kind of protest for peace, “Besos publicos”, more kisses, less wars. A group was filming couples of all ages, kissing for one minute when a camera was moving around in a circle. The final product was 500 kisses posted on their website : www.besospublicos.com. After the filming was done and we were applauded, we had an interview about how we met and how long we were together. We had to tell the story of myself, driving my big Ford LTD station wagon with sunflowers painted all over; you could not miss it; picking up that hitchhiker on the side of the road. 20 years later, I still drive him around.

Walking in Pátzcuaro
This year we are going to explore other parts of Mexico and we are not going to Pátzcuaro. Last year I got lazy and did not finish writing about our trip. Since it is still vivid in my memory I am going to do it. One of the easiest hikes in the area is the Estribo. It is the steep hill in town with an amazing panoramic view on the lake and the island Janitzio. If you want a good workout close by and don’t have much more than 1 or 2 hours, it is just the perfect place to go.

We went for a long exhausting walk with a Mexican man familiar with the woods. We met a few people at 7am close to the Plaza Grande, some Mexicans, some tourists like us and we were going from Pátzcuaro to Santa Clara del Cobre. We did not know the walk would take us 8 hours through the mountains and the woods for more than 30 km. It was beautiful until we arrived in a more rural area with cows and horses, and trucks. The ground was a thick powdery yellowish dust that penetrates everywhere and find its way inside your lungs, your eyes, your ears. My husband and I were walking behind everybody and we were suffering from inhaling the cloud dispersed by the feet of our companions. I was gagging even with a tissue on my nose and mouth. When we had a chance, we passed them and ran in the front far enough the dust disturbed by our feet would not bother them. We walked as fast as we could for the last 5 km. We arrived exhausted and filthy in that beautiful small town Santa Clara del Cobre, very picturesque with beautiful copper shops and amazing vases, pots, bath tubs, sinks and jewelery real pieces of art and so inexpensive. We always buy a few small treasures there for us and as gifts for family. It is good for the heart and it helps the economy.

Then we had a well deserved meal and a beer, and went back to Pátzcuaro by colectivo. But we still had to walk up steep hills a few more kilometres to go back home with sore muscles, amazed we could still put one foot in front of the other. I am a very good hiker and I am glad I did it and I found that one was strenuous enough for me but it did not stop us to going hiking again two days later on the Paricutín volcano.

Uruapan
Uruapan is under rated, the centre is quite nice. We arrive about lunch time and we wanted to visit the San Pedro Antigua Fábrica, an old textile factory, but unfortunately it was closed at that time and we already had visited the beautiful national park: Barranca del Cupatitzio, the year before. We decided to go to the waterfalls, la Cascada de la Tzaráracua. It was quite far out of the city, 5 kms South from the outskirt of Uruapan, but it was worthwhile. When we ready to go back to Uruapan there was no bus and the taxis were all gone. We started walking back on the wild winding high speed road, wondering if we would ever get a taxi. There was no where safe for them to stop. At a little shop on the side of the road, we met two young Mexican men drinking big bottles of Pacifico beer with a flashy new car. They offered to drive us back to Uruapan. A bit concern about the drinking I asked them how many they drunk and if they were sober enough to drive. They laughed and we took the offer. I was a bit nervous but they were very decent, drove carefully and returned us to the centre of Uruapan refusing any money.

Parícutin
That was a memorable experience. We took a bus from Uruapan early morning for the village of Angahuan where we hired a guide. Of course, he proposed us to go by horse but we are not fans of horse riding. We went on foot and he went riding taking our backpacks. He was a nice guide and he explained to us what happened in the 1940’s. Not many people in the village speak Spanish. It is not their mother-tongue, they speak Purépecha. The Purépechas or Tarascans are a group of indigenous people. Environmental protection is a big part of their culture for a very long time. It was so heartwarming that very young children came to us and proudly communicate in Spanish they learn at school. We started our hike with a distant view of the half buried church of the village Parícutin. The fields of lava stretched for kilometres, like a masonry work that went wrong. It was jagged, lacerating basalt and if you fell on it, it would skin you with no pity. It is a strange and fascinating landscape. Unfortunately we did not have the time to climb to the crater of the volcano which is not dormant but gently active. The hike would have take us more than 8 hours even by horse, the horses stop at the lava fields. The slope of the volcano is like volcanic jagged sand where you climb up two steps and slide one back. One of our friends, Cynthia at Casa de la Rosa in Caleta de Campos, drove up to the crater with her jeep. That woman has guts that’s for sure.

Parícutin is one of the youngest volcano. It was born on February 20th 1943 in the cornfield of an unfortunate farmer named Dionisio Pulido. Around 4 pm, he discovered a foul smoking little cone in the middle of his cornfield; I read the story in France as a child; 24 hours later, the volcano was 50 meters high and later it gobbled up three villages but stop at the altar of Parícutin large church. It was a miracle for the villagers. The rivers of lava were thick and slow enough, people had the time to evacuate, no body was killed but they lost everything. Dionisio
Pulido put a sign before leaving “This volcano is owned and operated by Dionisio
Pulido”. The volcano was active for 9 years before calming down, but who knows when it will erupt again.

At the end of the trip, while waiting for the bus for Uruapan, a taxi driver offered us a deal we could not resist but I can tell you it was a hell of a drive. We arrived safely in Pátzcuaro.