…de la meseta tarasca un viaje que comparto con todos ustedes
escrito por Eric Marchand

Fuimos el domingo 22 de julio 2012 al 7mo Festival Internacional de Globos de Cantoya, y la verdad fue todo un descubrimiento. Salimos de Patzcuaro a las 10 de la mañana y llegamos a las 11:15, en el trayecto disfrutamos de los bellos paisajes de la meseta tarasca. Cuando llegamos a Paracho nos informaron que los vuelos de globos de Cantoya partían desde el patio de la Casa de la Cultura en pleno centro.

Nos quedamos impresionados por el tamaño, las formas y los coloridos de los globos, algunos en forma de estrella, de esfera, de montgolfier, de guitarra, otros como gotas, etc., parecían OVNIS que despegaban silenciosos y majestuosos rumbo al cielo inmenso. Hay globos de todas las medidas, los pequeños miden 1 metro de ancho, los hay de 2 o 3 metros pero vimos unos gigantes que podían medir 5 o 6 metros de alto!! Estas estructuras construidas con papel multicolor pueden llevar horas de trabajo en equipo. De hecho para tener una idea de su fabricación nos metimos en un taller de fabricación en el cual hicimos nuestro primer globo de Cantoya!

Una emoción indescriptible se asocia al ver un globo despegar, es un acto mágico, gratuito, un regalo a la belleza efímera ya que tarde o temprano en pleno vuelo se les acabara el calor y bajaran, o una corriente de aire los sacudirá y la llama del mechero encenderá el globo que se consumirá en segundos. El invitado especial este año era Brasil que presento modelos muy estables que se perdían en el azul del cielo, esquivando los vientos y jugándose de las corrientes de altura. Realmente es toda una experiencia asistir a esta presentación, además pudimos presenciar el baile de unos gigantes tradicionales, las Mojigangas; así como danzantes de Veracruz con sus penachos de color.

Regresamos a Patzcuaro a final de la tarde y en nuestro camino nos detuvimos a visitar el extraordinario templo de Santa Maria Huiramangaro del siglo XVI que se encuentra en la comunidad del mismo nombre a altura del cruce con la carretera Patzcuaro – Uruapan viniendo de Pichataro. En la gran tradición michoacana de los artesones con sus techos historiados esta iglesia es maravillosa, mágica, los colores pasteles de los frescos, la madera antigua, la arquitectura en la luz tenue y el ambiente me se hizo viajar en el pasado, un espacio donde el tiempo se detuvo, un testimonio artístico de gran calidad, tenia la impresión de haberme transportado en un templo de la India. Fue un día magnifico en la meseta P’urepecha, les recomendó ir a descubrir esta región y sus tradiciones ancestrales.



A trip to see “Globos de Cantoya” in a Festival in Paracho,
on 23 and 24 of July 2011,  
by Georgia

Well, five women (3 gringas and 2 Mexicanas) and a 10-yr old angelita (Mexicana) made the trip to Paracho for the Festival Nacional de Globos de Cantoya.  The following is a rather lengthy trip report.   Skip it if you’re not interested or save it for future reference.

We left Lake Patzcuaro at 9:30 AM Saturday taking the back roads from Eronga to San Isidro, and then to the Paracho area.

I mention this route so others on this list know that taking back roads is okay and to give you options about things to do/places to see in conjunction with next year’s festival…..or for that matter this coming week’s Festival of Guitars.

As we arrived at the entrance to Paracho, we decided to visit some of the nearby villages.  Our first stop was Ahuiran famous for handmade rebozos.  After visiting a shop on the main street before the plaza (with two wooden figures on the second floor advertizing rebozos for sale), my neighbor Cristina  mentioned that she was familiar with a local family.  We drove to the house of Rosa Silva Pascual, Calle Maramoros #310, where we were met with hugs and showned a number of finely made silk and cotton rebozos at a better price than the first shop.  You might be curious about prices.  I bought a beautiful silk/cotton one that was normally priced at $1500.

Next was Nurio, famous for its restored church.  A multiple wedding in the church and festival outside kept us from touring other than the recently restored capilla or chapel.  We cruised to Cochucho, where there was another festival.  We stopped to see the church but didn’t want to shop for pots, so we headed to Patambam with a brief bypass at Ocumicho.

In Patambam, we visited two pottery shops.  We bought several pieces from Martin who makes those dishes with area’s scenery at much more reasonable prices than sold in the fancy hotel at the exit from the national park in Uruapan.

Patambam and the next village San Jose de Garcia are famous for the pineapple-pine cone pottery pieces in green and/or gold.  These weren’t on our shopping list, so we headed to Tangancicuaro to find a restaurant.  Note:  there was no restaurant in Patambam and we only saw a Pemex with a sign for hamburgers, tortas and the like.  Unfortunately, we couldn’t find a restaurant open in Tangancicuaro.  It was about 4:30 PM by this time and in a HEAVY downpour.

From there we headed toward Carapan but stopped in Chilchota where there was a festiva,l and I said a Mexican festival without food would be like a fish out of water.  Sure enough, there was a long row of stands offering all sorts of hot and freshly made dishes.  Thanks to a previous tip from the Warshauers, I realized that the stand behind us was full of bottles of Cosecha Purhepecha salsas, and several bottles came home with us.

Finally we made our way to Paracho, checked into the hotel and went to the main plaza to see the hot air balloons.  We were amazed and thrilled by large and small creations, especially as the day passed into the night.

Dinner was had across from the square in an indoor food market.  Pozole, tortas, and tacos al pastor were appreciated.

We looked for a recommended breakfast place run by “Piojo” who cooked for several years in San Francisco, Calif.  Wouldn’t you know it, he is closed on Sundays and even though we ran into him in front of his restaurant, we couldn’t talk him into cooking for us.   His loncheria is located two blocks behind and one block south of the plaza (directions given with your back to the church.  It’s on a Carranza street).

We then watched balloons being made and a few balloons head into the atmosphere and bought several embroidered items at stalls in the main square, went to Zacapu for ice cream made by the Luna family (once again a swarm of people in line to buy bolas en conos o canastas caseras), then to Santa Fe de la Laguna to visit and buy some pottery items from Nicolas Fabian Fermin/Maria del Rosario before three in the group heading back to Morelia from Quiroga by bus and the rest of us drove back to Arocutin.

I am not going to count the number of villages we visited.  You can jot them down.  Better yet, head out to to the middle of Michoacan and report back to the rest of us about your aventura!




A Trip to See the Monarch Butterflies

by Ed and Fran, Tuxpan, Veracruz

The following notes are based on our experiences during our our 3 night/2 day trip to Angangueo on January 31st and Feb 1st, 2011..

Tourism in general

It could be a good time to visit the area. Tourism is way down and we saw very few people at the reserves when we were there (a Monday and Tuesday). Locals say this is the third year in a row that tourism has been off. 3 years ago it was the swine flu scare. Last year it was the flood in Angangueo. This year it seems to be fear of narco violence in the state. Whatever, it worked out well for us, but not so well for people who earn their living based on tourist traffic.


If we hadn’t known about the floods from the previous year, I would have been hard pressed to guess that it had happened. There has been a huge amount of repair work and reconstruction already done. The town is in great shape. Yeah, if you are told where to look you can see where the major area of damage was.

Lots of construction work still going on (largely involved in rechanneling the arroyo that goes through town), but the town looks great. You can definitely forget about flood damage being a reason for not staying in Angangueo.


This is going to vary a lot week to week. For us, the night temps were around the low 40’s. We had 2 perfectly cloudless days and by late afternoon it had warmed up to maybe the high 60’s in town.

Sierra Chincua

We went to Sierra Chincua on Monday. The road is recently paved and is in perfect condition from Angangueo to Sierra Chincua. New signage makes it easy to find. From the main road into the parking area it’s still a dirt road. Dusty, but in decent shape. We expected that it would be tough to find public transport up to Sierra Chincua, especially in light of the low amount of tourism, and we simply arranged with a taxi to pick us up at the hotel in the morning and wait for us at the reserve until we came back. Worked out well for us. Left the hotel around 09:30 and were at the area at around 10:00. There is a totally new (built last year) infrastructure at the base at Sierra Chincua. They removed all the old shacks that housed the food stalls and shops that sold artesania, and built a new series of buildings to house them. At least in our opinion, they were very well done. The locals that we talked to seemed happy with them too. New bathrooms too. There is all new signage on the trails, part of the same project.

The trail was a tough 2 hour hike for me. Maybe it’s partly the altitude (11,000 ft), partly my age, and partly a lack of conditioning on my part. First hour and a half was a gradual but steady climb up. The trail is in excellent condition along this part, and skirts along the side of the mountain so there are 3 good overlooks to see the valley. It was pretty chilly, and there was a lot of wind. At about the last quarter of the trail, it starts a relatively steep descent towards the butterfly colony. At this time the horse trail (separate until this point) joins the foot trail. So this section is pretty well chewed up and extremely dusty. We had perfect sunny weather. We arrived at the area of the colony (at least the area we were shown) around 12:00. Sun was just starting to warm up the butterflies and there were a few flying around. But within a half hour or so the air was full of butterflies. It was an incredible experience. The regulations posted say that you can only stay in the area of the colony for 30 minutes. I suspect that they may enforce that in periods of high tourism traffic to keep the area from being saturated with people. But with the very light traffic they have now, the guide was in no hurry to get us to move on. I guess we spent almost 2 hours in the general area of the colony. After coming back we ate lunch at one of the little restaurants at the base. Good food, a big plate full, and reasonable cost. I think we paid $45 pesos each plus the soft drinks.

El Rosario

We originally planned the trip to be in Angangueo two days, just in case the first day would turn out cloudy and have little butterfly activity. But the first day turned out perfectly. So we decided to visit El Rosario on the second day. It was another perfect day with bright sun. It would have been fairly easy to get up to El Rosario from Angangueo with public transport, certainly much easier than getting to Sierra Chincua, but we opted to use the same taxi driver as we had going to Sierra Chincua. We went on the road directly from Angangueo to El Rosario. The first 80% was in good shape, although the paving stone surface made for a bit of a bumpy ride. It’s shorter in distance than the road to Sierra Chincua, but the lower speed makes it about the same time, if not a bit longer. The last 20% of the road is a dirt road that needs maintenance, to say the least. We made it in a Nissan Tsuru taxi, although he touched bottom a couple of times. It’s certainly passable. We came back by the road El Rosario – Ocampo – Angangueo. Much longer in time and distance. Also paved with paving stones from El Rosario down to Ocampo, and plenty of speed bumps. But in good condition. El Rosario is slightly lower than Sierra Chincua (or so I’m led to believe) at 10,000 feet, and the hike was much shorter, and much easier for me even though it was all uphill. The hike is all through the woods, so you don’t get the same views of the countryside as you would at Sierra Chincua. Took us about an hour to reach the colony. More people than we encountered the previous day at Sierra Chincua, but still not a lot, and nothing like we had expected. Note that the distance of your hike will vary a bit depending on where the colony is at that time, and could wind up being a bit longer. Again our timing was pretty good. We arrived at the area where we were close to the colony at around 11:00 and there was some activity. But within a half hour the sun started shining on more branches and the butterfly activity had increased significantly. We stayed in the area for maybe 2 hours. Lots of opportunity to take good photos. We had a number of butterflies alight on our heads, arms, and jeans. It was an easy 45 minute walk back down. Again we ate at one of the little restaurants / comedores at the base of the reserve. And again it was good, plentiful, and cheap.

Hope this helps someone. Remember that this was our view of things, your mileage may vary.