Monday, March 9, 2009
Uruapan - Paricutin
Greetings from Tired and Sore! We decided to tackle Mexico's 'newest' volcano, Paricutin. It grew out of some farm fields in the 40' and 50's. We took a bus to a little village that is entirely of Purepecha people. They are indigenous people related to the Terascans. The village maintains their traditions and language and very few people speak Spanish (let alone English) and they don't teach Spanish in the local school.
We hired a guide, Jesus, who did speak Spanish and a little English, and horses and headed off to Paricutin. Neither of us are horse riders, so we bumped along at a fairly gentle pace. When we got our first glimpse of the Volcano, we began to wonder if we had signed up for something we couldn't finish. It seemed very far away and very high.
The ride in was eerie. We rode around a great ocean of solidified lava. In places it must have been well over 100 feet deep. We rode around the edge where it just stops suddenly and forms a blacky rocky wall of lifelessness. Even after fifty years since the volcano ceased belching it out, the immediate area is covered in lava and ash and very little grows.
Two villages were buried in the lava and we visited a site where the village church pokes up above the lava.
When we got to the volcano, it was too steep for the horses so we had to scramble up over very loose lava rock. Although it's 'inactive' there were many places where steam was coming up through holes in the ground and bits of ground had been broken by the pressure of the steam. If you put your hand to one of the holes the steam was scalding hot.
We reached the top and walked around the rim. The ash making up the vocano itself was still quite hot to the touch. Fantastic views everywhere and the best way to take in the extent of the lava flow. We were the only ones there and that made it feel special too. With a steep slope into the Crater on one side and a steep slope down the volcano on the other, Pat's fear of heights kicked in and he shuffled more than walked around the rim of the crater.
The climb down was easy and fun. You just took off running down the slope. Although it was steep, The ash was soft and easy to run in.
Then back on to the horses and back to the village. We had delicious blue corn quesadillas filled with cheese and poblano chiles and couple of cokes with Jesus. All up we were gone about 7 1/2 hours with about 5 1/2 in the saddle. Everything hurts. Sit on a wine barrel for a few hours and see how your knees and the inside of your thighs feel.