The destination for the day was the town of Patzquaro, Michoacan. Not far from Santa Clara de Cobre but we, of course took the long way around. Literally, we wanted to make the trip around Lake Patzquaro to see the famous artisans around the lake. We stopped at a few places but mostly just enjoyed the nice two lane route with scenic views as we made our way to Patzquaro. We arrived early enough to explore the town a little but were getting restless and spent some more time planning our next adventure.
We did have time to see a boxing ring that was setup in the main square, we stayed for a few matches that were pretty interesting. It was mostly kids with big gloves and padded headgear so nobody seemed to get very hurt.
Otherwise, another nice colonial town with cobblestone streets.
We saw a number of these signs along the roads.
Uno y uno literally translates into One And One. The meaning seems to be one by one and is in intersections so I think it means basically – take your turn. Anyhow, it seems like good manners, one by one and we will all be fine.
We decided on an early morning departure so we could ride 274 miles to our destination of Taxco in the neighboring state of Guerrero. Normally in the US 274 would be a pretty easy day but we knew this wouldn’t be the case. It was recommended that we ride MEX 15 from Patzcuaro to Toluca, sometimes called “ruta de la adrenalina,” or adrenaline route. Cool! It is also known as “ruta de mil cumbres,’ or route of a thousand summits. Ha, either way we were going.
We weren’t disappointed. The whole day we rode the tight turning two lane over what really seemed like a thousand summits. Our general elevation was between 7,000 feet and 9,000 feet as we summited and descended on the the narrow roads.
Again, I have to thank our friends Art and Carol for recommending this route. There was very little traffic and the road was in excellent condition with very nicely banked turns which made it easy to just keep a steady 3rd gear speed for miles at a time around the corners.
If you ever go there and see this sign look for our sticker under the “a” in Michoacán.
It had been a solid 8 hour day of riding when we arrived in the mountain town of Taxco. We were tired and glad when we found the hotel relatively easily in the crowded historic city.
Taxco is a town in the state of Guerrero, southwest of Mexico City, famed for its silver jewelry production and Spanish colonial architecture. Deby has been looking for some certain silver jewelry and we thought a stop at the source of the Mexican production would be worthwhile. We had been warned that the city hangs on the side of a mountain at an elevation of 5,700 feet. We were warned about riding into the center of the city because of the really steep and narrow roads. Hmmm. We have been roughly following routes recommended in a book called Motorcycle Journeys Through Southern Mexico by Neal Davis. The book is about 20 years old so it’s interesting to see what has changed since it’s writing. The book highly recommended visiting Taxco and recommended an historic hotel that is on the upper edge of town and easier to get to by motorcycle. I was glad to find them online and booked a room. What happened next we didn’t expect.
Our room was modest but had a balcony with a table and chairs and this spectacular view of the city. You can just pick out on the upper right a huge statue of Jesus overlooking the city. That would be part of our adventure…
Zooming out shows more of the city that is known for silver mines and silversmithing.
According to Wikipedia: “Silversmithing was reinvigorated in Taxco by American William Spratling, who moved to the town in the 1920s, creating silver design workshops and exported items, mostly to the United States. With its fame for silversmithing, tourism became a major economic force in Taxco.”
I have an app on my phone for Atlas Obscura https://www.atlasobscura.com/ which I like to check for unusual or interesting things nearby. I opened the app while in the hotel room and read about a hidden silver mine that was discovered only a few years before under a hotel….. guess which one? The one we were at! Below is the description: Click HERE for the link.
IN 2013, THE BASEMENT BAR of the emblematic Hotel Posada de la Misión was remodeled so the floor could be lowered a few centimeters. During the course of the otherwise routine work, a deep hole in the ground opened, revealing a long-forgotten mine.
Mining engineers were called to explore the site, and they concluded the mine had likely been worked in relatively recent history, perhaps during the years when Mexico was the Viceroyalty of New Spain. It wasn’t until the Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia (National Institute of Anthropology and History) became involved that it was discovered the mine was pre-Hispanic. It’s likely the indigenous Chontal people hid it to prevent the Spanish from plundering its riches.
Today, anyone can visit the mine via a guided tour. The tour begins in the room where the hotel bar once was. The guides are able to point out the veins of silver and gold that still streak the underground space. Many of the tunnels haven’t yet been explored, but those that have been fitted for touristic purposes are so spacious, visitors can even rappel down some of them.
It didn’t take long for us to arrange a tour to explore the mine! Down the steep stairs next to the reception area….
It was amazing that this was here and interesting that since the tour book we’ve been following was written 20 years earlier that this wasn’t mentioned.
Our personal guide was highly entertaining and knowledgeable. It turned out he works for the local search and rescue operation, teaches repelling, and was on the team who first explored the mine when it was discovered. He asked to borrow my phone and by using a flashlight took this shadow picture of us.
Ok, that was cool but there is more! Taxco is an interesting place for a few other reasons. Mosaic designs are everywhere. One of the main roads has a mosaic going down the middle so you know what road you are on by the pattern. More than a few times when lost walking around the town we would look for the “leaf” pattern that lead back to the hotel.
The other crazy thing is that Volkswagen cars and vans are everywhere! Almost all the taxis are VWs and many of the colectivos (small busses that are ubiquitous in Mexican towns) were VW busses.
Ok, we just had to go for a ride in one of those classic machines. We met some people in Patzcuro who recommended taking a taxi up to the Cristo Rey statue and then walking down. I didn’t know what an experience it was….
Ok, come on in! The front seats are removed so passengers can easily climb in the back.
You would guess that would limit the passengers to just two…. nope, not in Mexico. I counted 5 people in one taxi struggling up the hill. Here we are ready for the trip.
The driver uses a rope to close the door after the passengers get in.
The next thing is crazy.. I couldn’t believe the streets we were going up. Steep would be a huge understatement. I finally just hit the video record button on my phone. It’s kind of bumpy on the cobblestone roads and as usual video never shows the steepness. Hope you enjoy.
Wow. The driver wanted 50 pesos for the trip (about $2.50), I gave him 100, for the best $5.00 ride I’ve had in a long time. When we got to the top the view was stunning.
We hung out for a while and took a few pictures before heading down.
Our driver waited for us but seemed to think we were crazy when we said we wanted to walk back. The walk started out not too steep.
It gave me a chance to get a picture of some road construction.
They built a ramp of dirt so the cars could make the turn.
We decided to take a “short cut” down some stairs.
Check out this driveway!
Then more stairs, we were getting a really good workout.
Yes, we finally made it and even had time to explore the town as the sun set. Deby found a small silver jewelry store and met the artist/jeweler/owner of the shop. Soon she was friends with him and his family. Needless to say she now has a couple of really nice pieces to remember our stay in Taxco.
One last picture as the sun set.
So another amazing Mexico city. Still, we were anxious to get in more riding so we plotted a route through more remote mountains back towards the ocean. Up next: mountain roads and men with guns.
Thanks for following.
Donn and Deby