Thursday, July 30, 2009


When I was a kid, we had a set of children's encyclopedias. Very colorful, well illustrated.
Volume 12 of Golden Book Encyclopedia covered “Paricutin to Quicksand”. I can even remember an illustration of the farmer working in the field with the volcano beginning to poke out of the ground behind him. It was active from 1943-1952.
cone Volcano

Paricutin Volcano Cinder Cone

Little did I realize that decades later (next century actually!) I would be living just down the road from the volcano. So needless to say, this is a “must do” day trip!
After driving a little over 100 kilometers west from Patzcuaro we approach the village of Angahuan. This is our starting point for our trip to the lava fields. There waiting at the first topé (a speed bump, okay a speed bump on steroids!) will be a man waiting for visitors. Off to the side of the road you will see a few others and some horses. Consider this person your travel agent/salesman . He will rent you a horse and send a young guide with you. As I was wanting to visit the church in the village first, I continued on past the topé into the village. Not wanting to miss an opportunity, the intrepid “travel agent” hops onto his steed and chases us into town. While photographing the church, we come to terms and the ride is arranged. Be sure to have sturdy footwear on, and make sure you take some water.

Angahuan’s church

Here is my recommendation about hiring a horse. If it is rainy season, you REALY want to have a horse, otherwise you will be hiking through mud and muck (including organic contributions from the horses) until you get to the lava field. If it is not rainy season, rent a horse anyway. You can save your energy for climbing around at your destination, you will be especially glad on the trip back. Plus you get to contribute to the local economy. The pesos you leave will make a bigger impact to them than they will to you!
horse tiff

Me And My Horse

While you can take the day and ride up to the top of the cinder cone, my destination is the San Juan Parangaricutiro village church in the lava field. The entire village was destroyed by the lava, with only the church showing through to indicate the village was there. After about 45 minutes (depending on where in town you start) on horseback we approach the “base camp” a variety of little huts that dispense food, drinks (keep hydrated!) and the odd souvenir (mostly old photos).
church tower

San Juan Parangaricutiro’s Church

Hiking up from the concession area, you approach the church. The spire rising out of the lava like a hand from the grave in one of those old late night horror movies. The view in the photo above shows the church from about a the level of the second floor. It makes sense that as the church was the tallest building around that parts of it would survive the disaster. What is really unusual is what you find at the other end of the church, at the altar.
Altar pano

The Miraculous Altar

It seems that the lava, a wall of molten rock 20-30 feet high, approached the altar and decided to stop. Leaving the altar untouched while continuing on to destroy the rest of the town. For the devout, this was a powerful endorsement of their faith. Now, to this day, the faithful make pilgrimages to this altar to pray and commune.

Miraculous Mementos

From these pilgrimages there are left behind flowers, crosses, rosaries, and countless personal mementos. Pictures and items of the people they have come there to pray for, or perhaps tokens of those whose prayers were answered. It is important to remember, that for many , this is much more that an interesting tourist site, but a sacred expression of their faith.

Hmmmmm, Quesadillas!

After tiring of climbing around the site, a brief sojourn at the base camp is in order. A cold beer, and a few quesadillas really hit the spot, with hand made blue corn tortillas made from scratch. Yummm!
Then off to find the young fellow minding our horses for the ride back. All in all, a memorable afternoon.

Have you visited Paricutin? I would love to hear what you thought.
Leave your impressions in the comments, Thanks!

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Getting Organic at the Biker Bar

The Mercado at Patzcuaro is a magical place. People, colors, as many fruits and vegetables that you don’t know the name of , as there are that you recognize. But this week there is something new. A small co-op of producers have put together a number of things that are hard, if not impossible to find, elsewhere.Sign

Hidden Behind This Facade is Buen Provecho Mercado

Right now this new venture is open every Friday from 11-4, but they hope they will have enough demand to open more. The adventure starts with trying to find them. I will give some detailed directions for those of you in the area, looking to find it. If you are at the glorieta in front of the new Bodega Aurrera store, you head towards El Centro on Lazero Cardenas. On the right hand side, as you head into town, you will find a half of a motorcycle sticking out of the wall, and a big sign that says “Mr. Gray”, this is your destination.

Yes, you are looking for an ex biker bar. Inside you will find them . Don't forget to check out the Swiss baker there!

Veggies b

A selection of some of our booty! Arhgggg

We bought leeks, turnips, tomatoes, a variety of exotic salad greens, funky fruits and a 6 grain bread.
They also had fresh duck, and eggs and a few other things I didn’t even get to. That large yellow grapefruit sized thing is a lemon, an actual lemon. I have 3 or 4 lemon trees here on the grounds, but have yet to have a harvest. This year we do have some baby lemons growing so I am hopeful. Until then, I think these will do quite nicely.

Pithaya B

Dragon Fruit

Something rather unique there was a call a pitaya, or dragonfruit, which is a cactus fruit. Dramatic enough on the outside, its flamboyant purple interior almost makes it surreal. Light and tasty, the flavor is not as overpowering as the color, thankfully. I think we will have to go back next Friday to see what else we can find.

Confession time, I think I spent more time on the pictures for this post than the writing. I really like how the picture below came out. I have included it even though it isn’t from Buen Provecho. If you come across these peppers, beware they are VERY hot. These were found at Patzcuaro’s regular market

Hot Pepper

Do You Know the Name of These Peppers?

Wanna buy wide B


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