Uruapan, Michoacan, is a short three hour trip from Zihuatanejo and in addition to being a great place to visit in itself, the surrounding villages offer a wide variety of fascinating daytrips. Many visitors have come to Uruapan and using it as a base, have hired a bi-lingual taxi driver to take in the local sights and shuttle them between villages. An economical option if you don’t want to drive, as compared to tariffs in Canada and the U.S., taxi fares are much lower here.

A little history
Vasco de Quiroga (1470-78 – March 14, 1565) was the first bishop of Michoacán, Mexico, and one of the judges (oidores) in the second Audiencia that governed New Spain from January 10, 1531 to April 16, 1535. He employed a strategy of gathering together indigenous populations into congregated Hospital-towns called Republicas de Indios, organized after principles derived from Thomas More’s Utopia. The purpose of this policy was to make the dispersed indigenous populations easier to control and instruct in Christian values and lifestyles. Because of his reputation as a protector of the Indians, Vasco de Quiroga is venerated as a saint in some communities in Michoacan to this day. As bishop, he transferred the seat of the bishopric from Tzintzuntzán to Pátzcuaro. In Pátzcuaro he founded the cathedral and the Seminary of San Nicolas. He worked to gather the Indians in large towns near Lake Pátzcuaro; in the center of Purépecha territory. Using Thomas More’s Utopia as a model, the Indians were to be taught religion, crafts and the fundamentals of self-government. Each town was to become the center of an industry. Each person worked six hours a day and contributed on an equal basis to the common welfare. Bishop Quiroga’s efforts were very successful, and he was said to be greatly beloved by the members of his flock. He was known to them as Tata Vasco (Father Vasco).

Paracho de Verduzco (often called merely Paracho) is a small city located in Michoacán, Mexico. It is an easy drive from Uruapan and has a population of about 16,000. It is famous for the production of world class guitars and other musical instruments. The town is full of music shops that sell handmade stringed instruments. Some instruments that can be found in Paracho are: 10-string mandolins, armadillo-backed guitars (concheros) and mandolins, and acoustic bass guitars, as well as regular classical guitars. Many of the stores and workshops allow visitors to watch the guitar-making process directly. A national music festival is held in Paracho once a year, usually the second week of August. Maestros such as John Williams teach master classes during the festival week.

Parícutin (or Volcán de Parícutin, also accented Paricutín) is a dormant scoria-cone volcano located in the Mexican state of Michoacán, near the city of Uruapan. The volcano surged suddenly from the cornfield of a local farmer, in 1943. This eruption presented the first occasion for modern science to document the full life cycle of an eruption of this type. During the 9-year life span of Parícutin, scientists sketched and mapped it, took samples as well as thousands of photographs of this volcano. By 1952, the volcano left a 424 meter high cone and significantly damaged a 233 km2 area with the ejection of stone, ash and lava. Although the area still remains highly active volcanically, Parícutin itself is quiet and has become a tourist attraction, with people climbing the volcano itself and visiting the hardened-lava covered ruins of the San Juan Parangaricutiro Church. Parícutin is one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World as assigned by CNN. Small rustic cabins and a restaurant are located along with a look out. Many tourists rent horses and ride to the runs of the church.

Lake Zirahuen
Zirahuen is a pristine lake in the Colonial Highlands of Michoacan, with crystal clear, blue water and surrounded by hills, covered with pine and oak trees. Activities range from staring in awe at the lake, to mountain climbing, swimming, walking, kayaking, hiking, bicycling and horseback riding. The lake has been called “Mexico’s Walden Pond.” It is a deep ”endorheic” lake with a muddy bottom. Surrounded by tall pine trees the pristine lake has cabins for rent on all sides. Among them are Zirahuen Forest Resort with 25 cabins and a restaurant. Perched on a hill is Hotel Tarinjandi Resort