Monarchs of Michoacan with Denver Botanic Gardens – Day 4

Guest blogger: Sarada Krishnan, Director of Horticulture at Denver Botanic Gardens

Mexican Journal: Day 4 – Patzcuaro

After viewing the Monarch butterflies at Sierra Chincua, our next stop is the town of Patzcuaro. Located 53 km southwest of Morelia, Patzcuaro was an important ceremonial center of the native Purepechas people before the pre-Hispanic period. The town center consists of streets paved in cobblestones and is anchored by a magnificent church, bounded by buildings constructed with adobe and tile.

Poinsettia in bloom but without leaves on Yunuen Island, Mexico.

After breakfast, we head out to Lake Patzcuaro. We board a boat to the nearby island of Yunuen, where we are greeted by local children who hand out flowers to the ‘turistas’. We spend an hour touring the island taking in the local culture and trying to identify the local flora and fauna. The birders within the group had a great day identifying many colorful birds. Among the plants were a species of Oenothera, poppy (similar to Argemone) and a beautiful specimen of the poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima) in full bloom sans any leaves.

Our next stop is Janitzio Island, with its monumental statue of José Maria Morelos, a leader of Mexican independence, at the top of the hill. The inclined streets are lined with handicraft stores and restaurants. We climb the steep hillside and at the top is the huge statue of Morelos made of stone bricks. Within the statue are paintings by Ramon Alba de la Canal and other great Mexican muralists that recreate the life of Morelos. Numerous steps take you to the spiral staircase at the top which is the arm of the statue from which is a narrow viewing window that gives a spectacular view of the lake, the nearby islands and the surrounding mountains.

Janitzio Island, Mexico

Post-lunch we visit the town of Santa Clara which is known for its copper workmanship. We visit a copper artisan’s workshop where we are demonstrated the whole process of creating copperware. Of course, this leads to a shopping spree for copper artwork…more things to carry back home!

Copper artisans at work in Santa Clara, Mexico.