Yacata pyramids, Colorful Graves & Stone Carvings

Trip Start Jul 04, 2010
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Trip End May 10, 2011


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Where I stayed
Fiesta Purepeche

Flag of Mexico  , Michoacán,
Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Patzcuaro (2256m/7401ft) to Quiroga (2176m/7139ft)
26 km/15mi
Alt. gain 179

We woke early and decided it was time to say goodbye to Patzcuaro. We planned our route along the east side of the lake to Quiroga 26 km/15 miles away. We picked this way so we could stop in the stone carver town of Tzintzuntzan, or maybe because it is a fun town to pronounce.

Our room was at the top a a 30 foot flight of stairs. It was a chore to haul our bikes up. But this morning, we would bounce the bikes down. The brake wasn't quite enough to hold the bikes weight back, so Michelle held onto the back while Dave steered. This would be about the toughest part of the day.

We rolled the mile and a half to the bottom of the hill where the pretty good restaurant is located. But this day, it was packed out with tourists. It looked like a really long wait. But we were able to order two tortas at the front and get them to go within 10 minutes. They were yummy but we had to forgo the fresh squeezed juice….From here, the road is just small ups and downs as it bends around the lake. We had one small and one long climb just before dropping down into Tzintzuntzan. We knew it was Tzintzuntzan by the giant stone carvings lining both sides of the road for about a quarter mile……

Tzintzuntzan dates to 1000 AD and was the capital of the Purépecha (or Tarasco) Empire when the Spanish arrived in the 1520s. It was second only to the Aztec Empire in terms of geographical size. Just off the main road behind the stone carving area, and just above the burial grounds, is an archaeological site of "yacata" pyramids of the Tarasco. Disease and death followed the Spanish arrival and Tzintzuntzan was allowed to decay. Today, it is estimated the population is less than a 10th of what it was in 1500.

Then we spotted the grave yards crowded with people. This was the last day of the 3 day holiday and the one where many families spend much time at the graves putting on the final decorative touches and remembering the departed. We walked around and tried not to be too intrusive in this family event. Two of the graves had bands playing while the kids played and other family members socialized. It left us with a feeling that this is a very positive way to honor and remember the deceased.

As we left Tzintzuntzan, we pulled out the detailed instructions to our warmshower host near Quiroga. It was only at this time we realized that his place is on the west side of the lake and we were on the east. And quite away out of Quiroga. So we checked into a Quiroga hotel (Hotel Fiesta Purepecha) and made a call to Jorge and told him about our big mistake and we would not be going his way. He was gracious about it. We were able to park our bikes in the locked parking garage and we felt secure enough about it to leave most of our panniers on the bikes and only took to our room what we needed.

In Quiroga, we found the market and got in line at a busy Pozole stand. As we sat and enjoyed, the lady began packing up. She was soon sold out. We had gotten there just in time!
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