The Start of Our Cyling Morelia to Patzcuaro
Sunday, January 11 Wecnesday, January 14
We cycled out of Morelia around 10 a.m. on Sunday, bound for
Quiroga. Manuel, one of the desk people at Hostel Allende, arranged
to store our bike boxes in an unused room until we return. The
ride was fairly unpleasant many kilometers in the industrial
outskirts of Morelia, lots of traffic throughout, and smoggy air.
The ride also involved a good deal of climbing, though it wasn't
steep. We gained about 1500 feet before a long descent to Quiroga.
Barbara had a bad time with it, almost certainly because she isn't
breathing well with her cold.
Right: Somewhere outside Morelia
we stopped at a gas station rest room, and a nice man in the parking
lot had this antique wheelchair, powered by hand cranks. He offered
to let Barbara try it. We hope this isn't a sign of things to
On the way to Quiroga we stopped for a while in Capula,
noted for pottery, and the little town was jammed with people at the Sunday
Cycling into Capula
Capula market, noted for pottery
||We reached Quiroga
a little before 3 p.m. Quiroga turned out to be MUCH bigger and much
busier than we'd dreamed. The main streets were jammed with people
cruising the innumerable shops and sidewalk stands. The plaza was
packed, and the sidewalks were impassable where people were crowded
around stands selling roast pork that looked really good.
|Musicians accompanied child dancers
in the little park next to hour hotel in Quiroga. These costumes,
and this dance, are known all over this part of Mexico. As we understand
it, the children represent the Three Kings on their way home from
visiting the Baby Jesus.
Monday, January 12, we aimed to set out fairly early
from Quiroga, headed toward Patzcuaro, going the long way along the western
shore of the lake, and possibly stopping at Erongacuaro, if there were
a good place to stay. (We didn't stop there.)
Along the shore of Lake Patzcuaro, between Quiroga
Our strongest impression so far has been the friendliness
and graciousness of the Mexican people we have met. We've already lost
count of the number of folks who stopped to talk with us and wish us well.
We're also impressed by the vitality of community life here. So much goes
on in the plazas and parks, so many activities that bring people out of
their homes and into connection with one another.
The ride from Quiroga to Patzcuaro
was certainly nicer than that from Morelia to Quiroga. There was
less traffic, and after a while there were views of the lake, which
sprawls through mountain valleys, with low peaks all around. It
wasn't ideal, however. There has been a strange haze in the air.
We don't think it's pollution because we're up high, nearly 7,000
feet much of the time, and quite far from major centers of industry.
Whatever it is, colors are muted, the lake looks brownish rather
than blue, and distant views are faded at best. Also, I am having
trouble getting used to the litter but I have done so before
and probably will again.
Church in San Jeronimo Purenchecuaro, one of the many small indian
towns that line the shores of Lago Patzcuaro.
In Patzcuaro we lucked out with wonderful accommodation.
The Hotel de los Angeles, which we simply picked out from Lonely
Planet, is a low-budget treasure. It's on a very narrow, winding,
cobbled street. As we walked along, we wondered if this could possibly
the the right address. The entrance, when we found it, apeared to
be little more than a hole in the wall.
Below, left to right: The entrance to Hotel de
los Angeles; in the entryway, a hint that there may be pleasant
surprises in store; part of the inner patio.
Inside Hotel de los Angeles, there were beautiful enclosed gardens,
and every room had a small patio. The rooms were clean and carpeted,
with cable TV (and we admit with some embarrassment to having watched
a couple of movies in the evening.) The staff seemed great. The
only thing that was a little sad was that we seemed to be the only
guests. This may say volumes about the impact of the economic downturn
on tourism here, because this place is such a bargain (at about
$23 U.S. per night) and Lonely Planet says such good things about
it, that it should have been packed.
Left: the patio outside our room
We didn't feel in a rush to leave Patzcuaro, especially
because Barbara's cold seems to be hanging on, and I seem forever on the
edge of coming down with it too. And Patzcuaro is a particularly delightful
town, with a pretty plaza and some very old buildings. On our first full
day, we wandered around the town, visiting La Casa de las Once Patios,
a crafts extravaganza in an old convent, that we've seen before.
Right: In La Casa de las Once Patios
Below, Plaza Grande in Patzcuaro
We also cycled and then walked up a hill called El Escribo, a major
undertaking. The climb began with steep, cobbled streets that eventually
became too rough for cycling. That was followed by half an hour
or more of uphill walking to a gazebo with spectacular views of
the city, countryside, and lake below. Of course they would have
been even more spectacular were the air not so hazy. From the gazebo
there was a giant stairway climbing into the distance. We went up,
of course, 416 steps to the very top of the hill. Actually the views
from the top were no better than from the gazebo, though in a couple
different directions. The steps were like Mount Everest, we climbed
them just because they were there.
Left: Resting part way up the steps at El Escribo.
We climbed them because they were there.
Below: View from El Escribo, only partially spoiled
by the haze
On Wednesday, our second full day based in Patzcuaro,
we went for an all-day ride. We headed first for Santa Clara del Cobre,
a fair-sized town noted for copper crafts. We'd been there before, but
this time we visited the copper museum, and also a place that sold remarkable
furniture made entirely of copper a complete dining room set; a
copper bed and other bedroom furniture; sinks, tubs and much of
it was handsome.
From Santa Clara we rode the brick and cobble road to
Lago Zirahuen, a smaller, cleaner lake than Patzcuaro. I'd had fantasies
about stopping there for a while, perhaps even swimming, but we didn't
have that much time, and it wasn't obvious how one might access the lake
for swimming. There was a bigger community at Zirahuen than we remembered
from passing through a few years ago. From there we headed back to Patzcuaro,
arriving there before 5 p.m. It was a 60 kilometer loop, not that long,
but with plenty of moderate hills and altitudes approaching 8,000 feet,
it was a fair challenge, especially for Barb, who still has her cold.
When we unloaded the bikes back in Patzcuaro, Barbara
realized that her good Keen sandals were gone. They'd been under the bungees
on her seat-back bag, and we're fairly sure they bounced out on the rough
road from Santa Clara to Zirahuen. Shame. She'll try to find something
Above: the cobbled road from Santa Clara
del Cobre to
Lago Zirahuen whre Barbara's great sandals were lost.
Right: Entering Santa Clara
del Cobre. If it can be made of
copper, they'll try it here.
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