After leaving the Guitars-R-Us-Town, we followed the Dennings on their hunt for the perfect (free) parking spot/place to camp for the night. We found a quiet road that led us behind what looked like a gravel/rock pit. We thought it would be fun to camp right there next to all of the dirt/rock piles, but quickly decided that could lead to very messy children (no showers=bad idea). We found another smaller road that led beyond the piles to a more wooded section.  It was beautiful, peaceful and awesome!  Later, after exploring, one of the adults found a huge cliff drop-off at the end of the road. We kept the kids away from there…

We parked behind the Dennings on the little road, and Jared and I set up our new tent from that we picked up this summer in the states for only $120 with free shipping. Not bad for a 10 person, 3 room tent.  This tent turned out to be HUGE!!  Laughably MASSIVE!  We could practically park our van in this. I would be embarrassed to put this up in a normal campsite (or extremely proud…depending on if I could find a campsite that was big enough to fit it!).

 The Dennings simply put up their rooftop tent that is mounted on the back of their pickup. Their kids sleep in the covered truck bed, and stay nice and toasty, even when it gets cool at night.  We knew it would be chilly, but we underestimated these mountains.

It was a COLD night. Greg and Rachel were cold sleeping in their rooftop tent.

How do you think we handled the cold in our massive tent?

Um…we froze our tooshes off. The girls each woke up crying throughout the night, and we kept waking up to try to push them back into their sleeping bags (why do kids always wiggle out?!). Even Ethan couldn’t stay warm in his mini travel tent (which usually gets really warm, because we cover it with a sheet and layer him in blankets). After hours of fighting it, we finally gave in and let everyone try to come fit on our queen size air mattress we were sleeping on (I know, we were “roughing it”).  Our kids are kickers and movers…so, in short, it was a miserable night. One of the worst, to date, even!

In the morning, we heard the hum of machinery driving up the path behind us, and I jumped out the tent, worried that both our car and the Denning’s truck were blocking a road necessary for the gravel business down the hill from us.  My suspicions were correct. The view outside of the tent showed this tractor driver finding a way around us, waving good morning to us, and making a run to the cliff to dump some dirt.  I looked at our tent, and realized it was covered in frost. Rise and shine!

 Perhaps a gravel  pit is not a good place to park, after all?
Next we drove into Angahuan (a native Purepecha village), in preparation to make the short hike to the base of Volcan Paricutin, which we visited back in 2008. We were excited to return, because it has definitely ranked as one of the most amazing trips we’ve enjoyed in Mexico!  If you read the post back in 2008, you’ll see that the roads were all torn up, and cars were a very rare sight in town (horses definitely ruled the roads). In the past 3 years, things had changed. We didn’t see as many horses, and there were definitely cars in town.
The town plaza was bustling with the Purepecha women selling flowers for Day of the Dead, and making their food purchases for the day. It was finally the long-anticipated “Day of the Dead“!!!
We crossed paths with the well-known door carving that depicts the story of the volcano. I love the top right square that basically says that it wasn’t possible to stop the volcano from coming up, so it was best to run!
We all purchased some “Dia de Muertos” bread for our short hike to the volcano!
We wanted our kids to “rough it” and walk the easy 1 hour trail. However, Maiya made it a total of 10 feet before declaring she was too tired to walk. Oh well…we hired a horse, and the kids all enjoyed taking a turn!
Our horse guide was interesting to talk to. Luckily, he spoke Spanish, but his native language is Purepecha. He said very few people in the village speak Spanish, although it is taught in the schools. However, most kids finish attending school by the age of 11 or 12, he said, because they typically get married at that age. WOW. I cannot even imagine.
At the end of our walk through the woods to the base of the volcanic rock, we ran across the shacks where groups were eating some tacos made with fresh hand-made tortillas.
We watched the ladies grind the green dough on their stone bowl and pestle, then pat them into rounds, and put them on the burner. They lifted the hot tortillas off the burners with their bare hands. Ouch!  The Purepecha women wear pleated, short blouses, which only accentuates their stoutness.

The nearby bathroom says it costs $3 pesos, but I couldn’t figure out where I should pay…so I didn’t. After all, it was just a wood bench with a hole in it. Thank goodness I had some tissue on hand!
Fueled up with delicious tacos topped with nopales (cactus) and other typical fare, we walked on the path to the volcano.
As my post in 2008 said:
The Paricutin volcano has a pretty spectacular story. In 1943, a farmer in a nearby town was tending his fields. All of a sudden the earth began to quake and steam, and sparks and hot ash came flying out of the ground! He tried to cover the holes, but realized his effort was futile, and he left the property. The land began to rise, and up came a volcano! In fact, within a year it reached an elevation of 1,300+ feet, and lava had covered two villages in its path! Luckily, it all happened slowly enough that no one was killed, and the villagers were able to evacuate.
Now, the only remains of either of the villages is the top of a ruined Templo San Juan Parangaricutiro (a stone chapel), jutting out of the rock like it has no intentions of ever moving.
I climbed with Maiya to a distant side of the chapel, because I suddenly felt the urge to go to the bathroom again. Squatting precariously over the volcanic rock with Maiya as my lookout, I managed to find a gap in the rocks that would hide my “business”.  I reached for the tissue in my purse, and “Oops! There goes the video camera!”…in the adjacent gap. I assumed there was no chance for a rescue. However, Greg was fairly near and heard my exclamation and anger, and quickly came over to help search for the camera, deep among the rocks, while I embarrassingly tried to hide my stinky “business” from his sight.  With my kind of luck the camera landed right next to it, or in it.  But minutes later…with the help of his son’s long skinny arms, the camera was recovered, poop free. Crisis averted!
Next, Greg decided to do something that I’m learning is fairly typical for him. He decided to push the limits.  He found a way to climb up to the roof of the chapel, and he had one goal in mind: climb the bell tower.
While we all held our breath, he scrambled up the decorative ledges of the chapel like he was straight off of Mission Impossible. Upon getting to the first bell tour window, he discovered there was no longer a floor to the bell tour. We snapped some photos while praying he wouldn’t fall to his death. Meanwhile, his son climbed up to the crazy, but safer, center peak over the archway.  Some people!  😉
Before leaving, we climbed over to the other far end of the chapel (a portion we had skipped in 2008), and discovered an intact alter there. The locals say that it is a miracle that this alter remained untouched, while nearly all of the nearby structure nearby was demolished on this end. They count it as a sacred place.
Next, we packed up, hiked back, and jumped back in our cars…driving through Uruapan without stopping. It is a great place, but it was Day of the Dead, and we HAD to arrive to a special destination by nightfall!!
Instead, we went just south of town, and arrived at Cascada de Tzararacua, which has 557 stairs leading down to magnificent falls about 40 meters high.  I hiked down with Ethan on my back, and Ella running along with our friends.  And I sent Maiya down the hill on a horse, with Jared. Some battles aren’t worth fighting.
I took some great photos of my hot husband who is now glasses-less after his Lasik Surgey in Guadalajara a few months ago!
Ella’s shirt says she is a Tough Cookie.  And I can assure you…she most certainly is!
We almost got a family photo of us all together. At least we are all in the shot, even though Maiya is sulking in the corner. Forget Terrible 2’s!  How about 3’s and 4’s?!! When will this wonderful stage of childhood end?
Not wanting to haul the baby back up the stairs (and knowing that Ella would also start to complain), we opted to pay the small fee to take 2 horses back up the hill. It was totally worth it!
All in all, if you are ever exploring this area of Mexico, you absolutely cannot miss this day trip. Amaaaazing!!

7 Responses to “Camping near Angahuan and hiking to Volcan Paricutin”

  1. Hello!! I stumbled on your blog at work today (it was a slow day) and love it. I typically don’t read about young families such as yourselves because we’re old folks retiring to Lake Chapala, however, you had me at Hello!
    Keep up the great work and I look forward to reading more.

  2. lots of fun adventures! And I’m loving the family photo… that’s my day right there. ::sigh::

  3. Your blog is amazing – YOU are amazing! My family is planning a trip to Paricutin next month (with 5 year old and 21 month old) and wondering how we will fare with the walking and time it takes to get to the cone. You mentioned in your post that it was an hour long hike, but everything else on the web I have seen so far says it’s more like a three hour hike. Have the trails been improved, was it really just one hour? My 5 year old has been studying volcanos and this is a dream come true for him to stand on the top of a real volcano 🙂 Thanks for any advice you can provide. Saludos!! Keep on the trail!

    • Wow–thanks, Emily! I can’t believe you’re going to Paricutin…it is just such a random, small, WONDERFUL jewel of a place! I admit, we have never hiked all the way to the top of the volcano, so I have no idea how long it will take. I believe they take horses all the way up–right? That would be worth it with small kids, in my opinion! It is 1 hour to the BASE of the volcano, where the chapel covered in lava rock is. I imagine it will probably be at least 3 hours up (but I don’t really know). It is really just kind of magical there…like a tiny preserved native village that is slowly changing–so it’s better to see it NOW! I hope you report back to me about how you like it, and what your son thought, standing on the top of the volcano!!!

  4. Thanks for your response, Alisa. We’ll probably just play it by ear and see how everyone is doing physically by the time we make it to the templo buried in lava. I think you’re right about the place being a jewel and ancient place untouched by the passage of time – sure seems like that from everything I’ve seen and I can’t wait to be there! I think the horses can only go so far near the volcano’s cone because the ground gets too full of ash for them to walk. I was thinking of bringing a tent with us from the US to camp out in case we can’t make it all in one day. We’ll see! You are my hero for the way you travel with kids. Amazing tenacity 🙂

    • So…are you almost ready to visit the volcano?! I hope so! Did you know it will soon be the rainy season? Yeah, that might have an effect on your hiking ventures, too…so playing it by ear would be great! To the chapel is no biggie and totally worth the experience, too! It shouldn’t be too cold to camp there that time of year, fortunately (but don’t try November, like us)!! I think traveling with kids is in some ways easier than staying at home with kids. They’re going to have their moments, no matter what. However, when you’re traveling, their curiosity is piqued and they are often more occupied and learning! It’s not without its challenges, home or abroad!


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