Parque Natural Mexiquillo


Mescal Distillery

We drove up into the mountains behind Valle de Juarez to visit a very old mescal distillery. The owner Don Jesus knows that his father and grandfather distilled mescal on the this site and believes his family has been doing so for over 200 years. Their mescal is totally organic.

Don Jesus and his two sons harvest wild maguey plants in the surrounding mountains.

Leaves of the maguey plant are cut away revealing the heart of the plant called the Pina. A fire is built in the bottom of this pit. When the wood has burn down, the coals are covered with a layer of lava rock. The next layer are cut up pieces of the pinas. The pinas are covered with clean burlap sacks and then the pit is sealed with dirt and allowed to cook for 8-10 days. 

The roasted pinas are sweet like sugar cane. They are moved to this pit where they are crushed. A donkey or mule pulls the stone round and round.

The crushed maguey is placed in these fermentation pits, covered in black plastic and sealed with dirt. The length of fermentation is dependent on the weather.

The stills with fires below

Cool water runs in and out of bowls on top of the stills. 

The cool water causes the mescal to condense and flow into the small pots.

Appetizers and mescal shots were served. I passed on the mescal, but enjoyed the food. You could buy a liter, if you brought you own bottle, for $350 pesos. Kevin said two years ago they only paid $100 pesos.

Lago de Camecuaro

This beautiful national park was a one night stop for us. We were dry camping in a rather unleveled dirt parking lot.

We walked down the hill into this lush green oasis of natural springs surrounded by ancient cypress trees. Crystal clear water flows from several springs surrounding the lake. 19.901203  -102.208016

The cypress's tangled roots spread across the ground


Great Campground

Rancho la Mesa RV Park in Patzcuaro MX has full hook-ups, 30 amp electrical, potable water, and wonderful views of Lake Patzcuaro. 19.502058  -101.594529  Do not blindly punch these coordinates into your GPS. Use these iOverlander directions.
There is also a very nice restaurant on the grounds.

This is a working ranch where sheep, burros, turkeys, chickens roam freely. 

Great view of town and lake from my rig

Some of the very friendly dogs that call the rancho home

End of another great day on the road. Got to love Mexico

Santa Clara del Cobre

The people n this area have been have been working with copper since pre-Hispanic time and the town became a center for copper crafts during the colonial period. Today 82% of the town's population are employed in crafting copper items. 

All of the shops exquisite copper creations are original and we were asked not to photograph them for fear that they would be copied and mass produced.

Local mines no longer supply copper. Today the foundry buys chunks of recycled copper like this.

Raphael (right) and his nephew demonstrate how a piece is worked. You would develop strong arms swinging that heavy hammer all day. Raphael is a third generation master coppersmith who began learning the trade 58 years ago at age 8 pumping the bellows for his father. His two sons and three grandsons are learning the craft.

As in the past, today all work is done by hand with the one concession, an electric blower replaces the manual bellows.

Ruth taking a turn.

A pot heating in the fire.

Raphael hammering a pattern into a bowl that will sell for $3000 pesos.

Kevin takes a turn

Bath tub at a shop across the street. 

Copper adorns many building around town.

Note the beautiful hanging copper planters.


Isla de Janitzio

Isla de Janitzio is the main island of Lake Patzcuaro. The town of Janitzio, which means "where it rains", is located atop the hill.  At the summit is the 131 foot statue of Jose Maria Morelos, great hero of Mexico's independence. Visitors can climb into the wrist of the statue by way of a staircase that spirals ups the inside. along the interior walls, the life of Morelos is depicted in murals painted by ramon Alba de la Canal and other muralists.

 Getting closer

Streets lined with shops and restaurants zig zag up through the town. If you live here, every thing for your home would be carried up these or similar steps. Some 500 plus steps to the top.

The statue appears to be white from a distance, but not so when viewed up close.

Looking up

Murals glorifying Morelos

The view from the wrist. 

More fun than taking the stairs off the platform.



Patzcuaro was founded in 1320 and is today a pueblo Magico well known for it Day of the Dead celebrations. It has retained its colonial charm of cobble stone streets and white adobe buildings with flower incrusted balconies and red tile roofs.

Plaza Vasco de Quiroga

There were horseback rides for the kids.

Kevin found a great little restaurant for lunch. 

Thank you Kevin and Ruth for picking up the lunch tab.

My ribs were delicious. 

After lunch we went to the plaza to watch a local folk dance called "La Danza de los Viejitos" or the Dance of the Little Old Men. The dancers, who are colorfully dressed as old men, wearing bight hats adorned with ribbons, pink smiling masks, and typically campesino clothing, perform this humorous dance. The dancers begin hunched over walking slowly with their canes, then all of sudden they break into vigorous, agile dancing and stomping their wooden sandals.