View on Mt. Kilimanjaro, Tanzania last February.
Where are Kevin and Ruth now? Ottawa, Canada.

Where are Kevin and Ruth going next? Reuniting with Max in Germany on October 1st.

Thursday, January 9, 2020

A little too close for comfort

Our mini bus arrived just before our planned 8:30am departure and we were soon on our way to the town of Angahuan (pop 4,000?) located 31 kms (19 miles) away.

We arrived at the mirador overlooking the volcano and lava field just before 9:30am after a very slow drive through the town itself.

This was my 4th visit to the buried church, and Ruth's 3rd. We came the first time almost exactly 8 years ago in January of 2012.

The Paricutin Volcano.

The volcano is considered extinct, however it is still "hot" and you can see steam coming up.

The volcano began in 1943 and erupted regularly for 9 years. During that time, the slow moving lava took over two villages.

In the distance is the church buried in lava.

Zoomed in on the volcano.

From the visitors center area, it is a 2.5 km (1.5 mile) walk mostly downhill to the buried church.

Exploring the buried church.

Roger standing in the upper opening.

The alter.

This old fellow walks down to the church every day.

He was interesting to talk to. He says he was 29 years old when the volcano erupted, but the math doesn't quite work out. At one point, he told me that he is 110 years old now, but then another time he said that he is 92. Either way, the fact that he does that hike every day is kind of amazing. He says he just wants to keep the memories of that day alive and he enjoys telling stories of that time to the tourists.

The church was originally built in 1618.

This photo shows the church in 1943 before the lava took over.

One of the reasons for visiting is the delicious quesadillas made here.

Ready for lunch!

Now that's a quesadilla!
I had two!

Socorro, making blue corn tortillas by hand.

Socorro remembered us from our other visits and had a big smile when she saw us. We ate here the first time 8 years ago...

Jan 10, 2012.

Walking back up to the visitors center, we were all spread out and I was by myself when I heard what I thought might be gunshots. Perhaps 7 or 8 of them. But, there are always noise making fireworks and "la bombas" going off in Mexico, so I didn't think anything of it.

We all got back to the minibus and got in to head up to the town of Paracho.

A few minutes later, nearing the center of Angahuan there was some kind of commotion going on. We were stopped at this point, and the driver spoke to someone on the street who told us to turn around and go another way. He said there were "problems". The driver asked about going to Paracho, but was told there were problems there and on the highway back to Uruapan.

We made our way out a side street, and when we got back to the main highway we saw police vehicles headed in on the main route.

The driver said it was best to go back to the hotel/RV Park. As we made our way back, we saw many police and military vehicles headed towards Angahuan. Perhaps a dozen or more.

Reading news reports later in the afternoon, it seems a regular police patrol vehicle was fired upon. The first reports said that two policemen were killed, but later reports said that one policeman was injured and one of the bad guys was killed. Apparently some of the townsfolk had apprehended some of the bad guys and handed them over. I'm guessing that was the commotion we had come upon near the center of town.

Here is the report, all in Spanish of course...

So, we never made it to Paracho yesterday but we are planning to try again today.

We are fully aware of the problems in Mexico, and especially in this area. But, we also believe that tourists are not the target. The problems are between the bad guys, themselves, and the police and military. Yes, there is the possibility that sometimes you could be too close to the action, as is what happened yesterday. But we continue to believe that smart travelers have little chance of becoming a victim. And while yesterday was no problem for us, it was a little too close for comfort. Hopefully that's the last of that.

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And in Canada...


  1. Well thank you Kevin and Ruth for the excellent pictures and commentary of this episode..... a buried church and such good looking food!.. and a few exciting moments which hopefully will not occur again. TY

    1. It was our pleasure Bob, we are glad that you enjoyed the post.

      It is definitely one of our most interesting places to visit and of course the food there is absolutely delicious. :-)

  2. That buried church is a magnificent lesson in the power of nature - something we have not seen yet in our travels down there - loved the pics - and yes, we've been following some of the recent killings east of you and think that people in motorhomes are not usually mistaken for drug dealers and are quite safe. Continue sharing your adventures!

    1. It most certainly is. Nature is definitely an amazing thing. I think this buried church is a pretty rare thing, I don't know if there is another one similar anywhere else in the world.

      We honestly feel very safe and this incident was pretty isolated. Things like this happen in Canada and the USA, in fact there was a shooting in our home town of Ottawa the same day that killed one person and sent three others to hospital. We will continue to travel and explore this beautiful country. :-)

  3. The church history is very interesting. Glad all are safe and back at camp. Safe travels.

    1. Yes, it is very interesting and we keep learning new things about the church and the eruption. We never realized that the church was built in 1618 and had been in service for so long. I guess we just figured that it hadn't been finished because they were still building the second steeple but I guess that was just an after though a few hundred years later.

      We were all happy to be back at the campground safe and sound as well but it didn't stop us from going back out yesterday and doing some more exploring. :-)

  4. I still feel far safer in Mexico than the USA and bad parts of cities in Canada. At least you know what you are generally getting there. I did hear of that person from the USA getting shot when his family was driving home in the dark in the State of Sinaloa. What the hell were they doing driving in the dark? Any sane person knows no driving after dark in Mexico, especially down highways that are known to be controlled by gangs. Anyway, glad it was a ways off. Shit can literally happen in your own back yard any day - and look at how many trips you take to Mexico and the time you stay there. This is the first time I've seen you post anything like that other than the time your backpacks were absconded. Overall Mexico can be a safe country.

    1. We totally agree with you. Many of the shootings in Canada and the USA are random and you never know where you maybe at the time with these mass shootings. As you said here the majority of the shootings are between cartels and the military and police forces not the average person.

      We had read about that shooting as well in the news. As you said, I can't figure out why they were driving at night, not that that should be a reason to kill or shoot at people but it is a general rule down here in Mexico, at least for tourists.

      Yep, we feel quite safe here in Mexico but we are always cautious with our travels, just as we are when we travel to any country including Canada and the US.

  5. I was trying to figure out what to have for dinner, when I read your blog! So I made quesadillas with finely chopped (by cleaver) prime rib beef, sauce from Xmas stew, black beans, cheese (from Ireland, sorry!) and olives. No blue corn tortillas, I had to use the plain old corn tortillas, burrito size! Yum! Thank you for the great idea. Bring back some of those blue corn tortillas to the states!

    1. It sounds like you made some delicious quesadillas!

      We will let Jim know to put some in his freezer, mind you they are best fresh so maybe you need to come down and join us. :-)

  6. I've read about that church some years ago, probably a NG magazine...
    A more silly question, I found my wife and my YAHTZEE score cards...My scores ranged from 174 to 233 and her's 191 to 310..Are these close to your's or should I not stand a chance playing whenever we meet up?
    Take Care,

    1. Yep, it would be a good bet that you read or saw it in a National Geographic magazine or on one of their shows on TV. It is quite amazing to see. Maybe next time we visit we will make our way to the volcano itself, we haven't done that yet but we have been wanting to for quite some time now.

      Yes, those scores are similar to ours. We figure the average score is around 250. :-)

  7. I wonder who keeps up the Altar at the church. Faith is so important to so many. Glad you dodged that bullet (literally), you really haven't had many issues in Mexico which is why I feel comfortable going down there. You could get hit by a stray bullet in Toronto, Chicago... just about anywhere these days. Lots of corruption and crime no matter where you go. Great photos and your food looked awesome, I would have had two as well!

    1. I would expect that members of the community keep the altar up, it certainly looked very pretty for the Christmas season.

      It is true that what we came across that day could happen anywhere in the world, and we won't let something like that affect our trip. Our next day was back to our normal exploring.

      Those tacos were delicious and huge, I really should have only ordered one as I had to give part of my second one to Roger whose never seems to get full. ;-)

  8. Reminiscing on last year’s trip.... that was certainly the first ever “trek” for me especially the walk back to the visitor centre. I thought I’d pass out before I reached it. The quesadillas and the church were equally memorable. A little excitement sure adds to the flavour of the journey! Thank God you were out of harm’s way. Safe travels.

    1. Yep, that was definitely a hard hike for you and I remember how hard the hike back up was for you but you did it! :-)

      The quesadillas were so delicious. Roy hiked down just for the quesadillas because he remember how good they were, he did cheat however and took a horse back up.

    2. Hahaha.... Riding the horse to and from the meeting point was Paul’s highlight on that trip! I really thought I wasn’t going to make it back up on that hike. I can’t say enough about how I appreciated your taking the time to wait and keep encouraging me... and Barry who walked right beside me lending support whenever I needed a push up!

    3. You are welcome, I knew that you could do it! :-)


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