Around the World... One Journey at a Time. Around the World... One Journey at a Time.

Mexico: Day 17

by Kathy 19. May 2009 14:15
<< Day 16: Pátzcuaro; Santa Fe de la LagunaDay 18: Traveling to Mexico City and Home >>


Pátzcuaro; TzinTzunTzan


The morning began with another fabulous breakfast prepared by Eva and Christina.

The surrounding grounds were full of fruit and nuts trees, and Eva had encouraged the children to explore and collect some of the nuts. Christina suggested that the children crack the nuts using big sticks. After breakfast, Genevieve and Sebastian showed me their nut-cracking technique; it had taken them a while to finess the stick pounding so that they didn’t end up with pulverized nut meat.

We then drove north, along the east side of the Lake Pátzcuaro, to reach the archaeological site of TzinTzunTzan. The word “TzinTzunTzan” means “place of the hummingbirds” in the Purépecha language. The Purépecha people were never conquered by the Aztecs and had their own separate civilization at the time of the Spanish invasion in the early 1500’s. The temples and palaces at TzinTzunTzan had been used as the center of power for the Purépecha political and religious leaders.

From our car, we could see the TzinTzunTzan ruins on the hill.

Below the ruins is a town of the same name, which has many road-side shops that sell large statues and pillars:

The archaeological site was easy to find.

Other than a group of school children on a fieldtrip, we were the only visitors for most of the morning. The small museum and visitor’s center contained a diorama showing how the ruins had once looked:

There was an area with low walls that archaeologists believe was once a series of palaces.

The large round structures are called “Yácatas” and served as both sanctuaries of the gods and tombs for some of the leaders. The Yácatas were made with unmortared stone, and the faces were once covered with large blocks of red, volcanic rock.

From the row of Yácatas, we had a commanding view of the TzinTzunTzan town, as well as Lake Pátzcuaro in the distance.

The area in front of the Yácatas was very long.

Climbing onto the Yácatas was not allowed. We walked all of the way around the circular structures, searching for various symbols that were carved into the stone.

We also searched for lizards, which were camouflaged to perfectly match their surroundings:

Some of the stones in the surrounding storage areas had circular carvings:

The town of TzinTzunTzan had a park on the outskirts, so we stopped to have some fun. Here is Ben at the entrance:

Genevieve found an old merry-go-round with one remaining animal:

The day was hot, but we all caught a breeze on swings:

Much of the playground equipment was broken and rusted, and we were surprised to learn that the park was created only 11 years ago.

I wanted to get a closer view of the island of Janitzio, so we wound down a small paved road that led toward the water. Visitors can catch a boat to the island, and we had considered that as an option. However, our time was limited, and the boat trip would have taken most of a day; so we decided to do other activities instead. (We had also heard from a few of the locals that the island was very “touristy” and that you could “die” if you ate the fish on the island.)

We shared the road with quite a few cows.

The road unfortunately never got close to the water. Eventually, it started winding away from the water, and we arrived at the small town of Cucuchucho. We wandered through the small streets, and found much to admire.

I really loved the beautiful and varied earth tones of these building walls:

We drove a bit further and finally got a view of Janitzio, far off in the distance (the island on the left):

A close-up of Janitzio:

The smaller island looked lovely:

Children were walking home from school along the road. We saw Disney’s broad reach with this girl’s Snow White backpack:

We made one last attempt to get a closer view of Janitzio by entering the small town of Ihuatzio, which had a statue of a coyote in the middle of a small plaza. (We later learned that the word “Ihuatzio” means “Place of the Coyotes” in the Pátzcuaro language.)

Ihuatzio had a lovely church and small narrow streets, which we shared with burros and people:

We reached a point where the road was blocked completely by this delivery truck.

We reversed our way back up the street, and then tried another small street that eventually dead-ended into some brush. We didn’t find a view of the island, but we did enjoy our short visit to this quaint town.

On our drive back to Pátzcuaro, I was drawn to this old wall with its mixture of brick, stone, cement and metal.

We also passed this man with a small child riding in front of him on his sport bike. I was too late to snap a photo of them riding together, but I caught part of the dismount:

We ate at a restaurant next to the Plaza Grande in Pátzcuaro. The meal and service were forgettable, but the view of the zócalo was great. Here is Sebastian (his future’s so bright, he has to wear shades):

Lunch was redeemed by the scrumptious, freshly made ice cream from this nevaría vender:

We had parked our car along the side of the zócalo, which was about a 15 minute walk from our inn. The streets leading directly to our hotel were blocked during the daytime by the colorful market booths, so the drive back would have to involve a circuitous route. Genevieve and Sebastian wanted to have a “race” to see who could get to the hotel the fastest—Genevieve and I would be walking, and Sebastian and Ben would be driving the car.

Genevieve was very excited. We walked very fast, but stopped a few times to take photos along the way. The church at the end of this street was too pretty to pass up:

And the market was just amazing, with the vibrant colors, energy, and abundance of every item one could possibly need:

Genevieve and I were the first ones to arrive at the hotel, but only by a few minutes. Ben and Sebastian would have arrived first, but they had to creep their way down a very long, pot-hole ridden street.

After a brief rest, we were all ready to set out again for a long walk through a part of town we had not yet explored. Here are Ben and the children in front of the “casa grande” at Casa Werma.

We turned down a nearby street:

We passed this man and his loaded burro:

The walls were captivating with their visual display of history:

We found the beautiful pink church that Genevieve and I had seen in the far distance during our walk home from lunch; however, the sunlight was at the wrong angle to capture a good photo (and reading the manual regarding how to change the camera settings in bright sunlight has been on my “to do” list for several years now).

We wandered more slowly through the market, happily gawking at everything.

The small streets, with their white and red buildings, were just beautiful.

We came across the man with the burro again, trying to vie with cars for his space in the street:

We craned our necks to ogle at the dry grass that had sprouted around the bell tower openings.

And, as always, I loved looking at the old doors:

We found a small cemetery and took a quick peek around at all of the gravestones:

This street had homes that looked very contemporary:

We finally found the outer walls of Casa Werma and followed them around to the entrance:

For dinner tonight, we returned to the wonderful restaurant at which we had enjoyed our first meal in town, La Compañia. When walking through the market this afternoon, we had seen piles and piles of tiny dried fish. On the menu tonight, I noticed an appetizer of fried “pescaditos” (tiny fish), so I ordered a plate for us all to share. Here are Sebastian and Genevieve getting ready to try their first tiny fish.

I thought that the fish were very tasty, especially with the accompanying fresh salsa and guacamole. Genevieve liked them too. Sebastian, however, only ate one, saying that he just couldn’t “get over the eyeball.”

After dinner, we enjoyed the country music, Mexican style, of this small roaming band (complete with lots of “yee haw’s”):

This was our last night in Mexico, so we wandered around the two lively plazas for a bit longer, and then headed back to the hotel, content from our full day.


<< Day 16: Pátzcuaro; Santa Fe de la Laguna | Day 18: Traveling to Mexico City and Home >>

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Map of Our Journeys

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Our travel map

Places We’ve Been, w/Quick Links

   Bumthang Valley
   Gom Kora
   Paro Valley
   Punakha Dzong
   Sangdrup Jongkhar
   Wangdi Phrodrang

   Janko Marca
   La Paz
   Laguna Colorada
   Laguna Verde
   Salar de Coipasa
   Salar de Uyuni
   San Pablo
   Santa Rosa
   Sud Lipez
   World’s Most Dangerous Road

   Banff National Park
   Battle Hill Nat'l Hist. Site
   Boya Lake Prov. Park, BC
   Burns Lake Bike Park
   Canyon Sainte-Anne
   Dawson Creek
   Eastern Townships
   Fort Nelson
   Jasper National Park
   Kluane Lake, YK
   'Ksan Historical Village
   Lake Louise
   Liard Hot Springs
   Niagara Falls
   Quebec City
   Thousand Islands
   Vancouver Island
   Watson Lake

   Forbidden City
   Great Wall at Mutianyu
   Hong Kong
   Summer Palace
   Terracotta Warriors
   Tiananmen Square
   Yungang Caves

Costa Rica
   Arenal Volcano
   Finca Corsicana
   Hanging Bridges
   Manuel Antonio
   Poas Volcano
   Proyecto Asis
   Sky Trek Zip Lining
   Venado Caves


   Amazon Rainforest
   Chaquiñan Bicycle Trail
   La Mitad del Mundo
   Napo Wildlife Center
   Papallacta Hot Springs
   Proyecto DCR
   Yasuní National Park


   Baja California
   Frida Kahlo Museum
   Hierve el Agua
   Marietas Islands
   Mexico City
   Monte Alban
   Oaxaca City
   Puerto Angel
   Puerto Escondido
   Puerto Vallarta
   San Agustin
   San Martin Tilcajete
   Santa Fe de la Laguna
   Santa María el Tule
   Studio of Jacobo Angeles
   Teotitlán del Valle

   Dead Vlei
   Elondo Village
   Etosha Nat'l Park
   Hippo Pools Camp
   Hoba Meteorite
   Khowarib Camp
   Moose McGregor's Bakery
   Mowani Camp
   Ngepi Camp
   Nkasa Lupala
   n'Kwzi Camp
   River Dance Lodge
   Seisriem Camp
   Treesleeper Camp

   Cañón del Pato
   Cerro de Pasco
   La Oroya
   Machu Picchu
   Nuevo Jaén
   Tingo Maria
   Yungay Memorial


South Africa

   Rock of Gibraltar
   Santillana del Mar

United States National Parks
   Arches National Park, UT
   Badlands National Park, SD
   Bandelier National Monument, NM
   Bryce Canyon National Park, UT
   Cahokia Mounds (UNESCO site), IL
   Carlsbad Caverns National Park, NM
   Canyon de Chelly Nat'l Monument, AZ
   Cape Hatteras National Shoreline, NC
   Capitol Reef National Park, UT
   Civil Rights Memorial, AL
   Death Valley National Park, CA
   Denali National Park, AK
   Devil’s Tower National Monument, WY
   El Morro National Monument, NM
   Ford’s Theater in Washington, D.C.
   Glacier National Park, MT
   Grand Canyon National Park, AZ
   Grand Tetons National Park, WY
   Great Basin National Park, NV
   Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, HI
   Joshua Tree National Park, CA
   Kaloko-Honokohau Nat'l Hist. Park, HI
   Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks, NM
   King's Canyon National Park, CA
   Martin Luther King Jr. Nat'l Hist. Site, GA
   Mesa Verde National Park, CO
   Montezuma's Castle Nat'l Monument, AZ
   Monticello, VA
   Mount Rushmore National Memorial, SD
   Mt. Rainier National Park, WA
   Olympic National Park, WA
   Petrified Wood National Park, AZ
   Pinnacles National Monument, CA
   Pu'uhonua o Honaunau Nat'l Hist Pk, HI
   Pu'ukohola Heiau Nat'l Historic Site, HI
   San Antonio Missions Nat'l Hist. Park, TX
   Tuzigoot National Monument, AZ
   Walnut Canyon National Monument, AZ
   Washington Monument
   White Sands National Monument, NM
   Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, AK
   Wright Brothers National Memorial in NC
   Yellowstone National Park, WY
   Yosemite National Park, CA

United States, Cities and Places
   The Alamo, TX
   Alaska Wildlife Conservation Cntr.
   Alpine Loop in CO
   Anchorage, AK
   Antares Junction, AZ
   Arctic Circle, AK
   Barrel Oak Winery in VA
   Biloxi, MS
   Bottle Tree Farm in CA
   Calico Ghost Town, CA
   Canfield Mountain Trail System, ID
   Cape St. Vincent, NY
   Carson City, NV
   Carter Caves State Park in KY
   Chappie-Shasta OHV Area, CA
   Child's Glacier, AK
   Circle B Chuckwagon Show in SD
   City Museum in MO
   Cody, WY
   Corn Palace in SD
   Crazy Horse Memorial in SD
   Custer State Park, SD
   Dalton Highway, AK
   Dinosaur Tracks in AZ
   Discovery Place in Charlotte, NC
   Dry Falls (Sun Lakes-Dry Falls), WA
   Fairbanks, AK
   Front Royal, VA
   Gallup, NM
   Goffs, CA
   Grand Canyon Caves, AZ
   Grand Canyon Skywalk, AZ
   Grave Digger Monster Truck in NC
   Great Salt Lake, UT
   Hackberry General Store in AZ
   Hannibal, MO
   Hatteras Island, NC
   Hawaii (Big Island)
   Hickison Petroglyphs, NV
   Holbrook, AZ
   Hole in the Rock, UT
   Homer, AK
   Honey Island Swamp Tour in LA
   Hoover Dam, NV
   Hyder, AK
   Jim Gray’s Petrified Wood Co. in AZ
   John’s Peak OHV Area, OR
   Kailua-Kona, HI
   Keepers of the Wild Nature Park in AZ
   Kennecott, AK
   Kennecott Copper Mine in UT
   Kingman, AZ
   Lake Havasu, AZ
   Lake Tahoe, NV
   Las Vegas, NV (winter 2010)
   Little Brown Church in IA
   London Bridge in AZ
   Loneliest Road in America, Hwy. 50, NV
   Los Angeles, CA
   Lost Colony Show on Roanoke Isl., NC
   Lowe’s Speedway in NC
   Mardi Gras World in LA
   Mark Twain Museum in MO
   Meteor Crater, AZ
   Million Dollar Highway, CO
   Minnesota Zoo
   Mitchell, SD
   Moab, UT
   Moab, UT (dirt biking)
   Montgomery, AL
   Montpelier, ID
   Navajo Nation, AZ
   Needles, CA
   Nevada Beach, NV
   Newberry Springs, CA
   New River Gorge, WV
   New Orleans, LA
   Niagara Falls 
   North Pole, AK
   Oatman, AZ
   Old Faithful Geyser in WY
   Omak Stampede, WA
   Painted Desert, AZ
   Park City, UT (summer)
   Plymouth, NC
   Portage Valley, AK
   Portland, OR
   Prospect OHV Trail System, OR
   Resaca, GA
   Riverside State Park, WA
   Rock City in TN
   Rosa Parks Library and Museum in AL
   Roswell, NM
   Russian River, AK
   Salt Lake City, UT
   San Antonio, TX
   San Diego, CA
   San Juan Islands, WA
   San Francisco, CA
   Santa Catalina Island, CA
   Seattle, WA
   Sedona, AZ
   Shoe Tree in CA
   Shoe Tree in NV
   Silverton, CO
   Sonora, TX
   St. Louis, MO
   St. Paul, MN
   Talkeetna, AK
   Telluride, CO
   Route 66
   Twin Knobs Recreation Area in KY
   Virginia Beach, VA
   Washington D.C.
   Wayne Fitzgerrell State Park in IL
   Williamsburg, VA
   Winom Frazier OHV Area, OR
   Winslow, AZ
   Zion National Park, UT

Planning Our Adventures

For us, each journey begins with the initial heart pangs to venture to a certain part of the world. Then the ideas start coming together . . . ahh, the possibilities . . . and the dream evolves gradually into an actual plan. But, oh, the joy of the dream!  Click here to learn more about how we plan and prepare for our journeys.

Where Are We Now?

Click here to discover where we are now, as well as our uncoming travel plans.

Words for the Heart

“. . . and then the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”

Anais Nin