So uruapan - I arrived and headed to the hostel I had booked, let's just say it wasn't the best place I had ever stayed in but it would do! I walked into town to see what they had to offer - again the town was centred around a bustling plaza, not quite a beautiful as some I had previously seen but in sone parts better as it was totally tourist free and alive with locals and street vendors. I found a great little cafe where I ordered an avocado and passion fruit frappe - I saw it in the menu and thought it was worth a try - it was sooo delicious!! I need to know how they make these!! I had a look at my map of town and found that they have a national park just on the outside of the town so I headed in search of that and turned up an hour before closing. It was a beautiful park focussed on a river - wherever you where you could hear the rushing of water over the big boulders and there were waterfalls around every corner. Perfect way to spend the evening!
Up early and off to find me a volcano! I turned up to the bus station and found the next bus was not for half and hour so I went to book my next bus onto Puebla - it was going to be 12 hours and not a night bus - eeeeek! Then a man came up to me jumping up and down doing an impression of a volcano exploding and pointing at a small minibus - slightly confused I walked up to the minibus to find that it would be going to Angahuan (the town at the base of the volcano) in 2 mins and would be there before the coach - so I hopped into the front seat and off we went. The minibus was like a local taxi that people could hail and jump in at any point. So I was joined by a lot of locals on there way to work. Still no sign of any tourists. We stopped at a lay by on a road side and the driver pointed down the road to the left and said 'volcan, Angahuan' ok so that's me.
Out I hopped and was greeted by a lovely local man who asked me if I wanted to see the volcano - he said I could go with him as a guide and either walk 8-10 hrs or ride 6 hrs and walk 1 1/2hrs - option two sounded far more appealing so off we went. Tied to a lamppost on the other side of the road was my stead for the day - a slightly skinny, bay mare with a very wooden cowboy saddle!! Three hours later after a lot of sitting trot and some amazing views, avocado groves (turns out Michohuan is the avocado state- no wonder my frappe was soo delicious!!) and the odd discussion with my guide in Spanish we came across 'base camp'. I.e two men in a hut with a tree to tie the horses up and another hut with a drop toilet - slightly basic!! We dismounted as apparently this bit was too steep for the horses and we must go by foot!
Up and up we went, you had to keep moving at all times as the rocks (scree) beneath your feet were constantly sliding down! Eventually we made it to the summit and could see down into the crater, and then out over the countryside for miles and miles. You could see the lava fields that almost looked like they were still flowing and there were spouts of steam floating up into the sky - very very cool!! We circled the summit and then my guide pointed down a very steep sandy track and off he went! You had to run to keep up with the moving sand and it felt like you were running on the moon on a moving carpet - and don't stop because if you do you realise how steep it is!! Once I reached the base camp I emptied a few tons of volcanic sand from my trainers and hopped back on - ouch!!! And then for two and half more hours of riding (rather quickly as we were being chased by a large thunder storm) to the buried church of the town of San Jose. This was quite a spectacle - the lava had destroyed the whole town of San Jose and flowed in through the doors of the church, knocked down the walls and stopped at the altar. So the church now eerily stands in two parts the two towers either side of the big carved doorway and about 25m away is the back wall and the altar. After a few photos we heard the rumbling of thunder and quickly made our way back to the horses. It was then that I smelt the quesadillas cooking and realised I had not eaten for 8hrs - so me and my guide headed to one of the huts set up outside the church and perched ourselves on the bench and the heavens opened! We ordered quesadillas con carne y queso Oaxaca and they were delicious but blue!! I was a little concerned the blue was mould but my trusty guide informed me it was the type of corn they use in Michohuan (phew!). Back on the horses (in the rain ) for the last thirty minutes back to the town and back to Uruapan and my 'delightful' hotel!
The next morning it was time to pack again and off to the bus station for Puebla.....