It is a treasured story remembered from childhood graders about the Purepecha farmer who was ploughing his field on the afternoon of February 20th 1943, only to have to beat a hasty retreat from the smoking steam and sparks that shook the earth beneath his feet, as the volcano emerged.
A year later the volcano had risen 410m and buried the two Purepecha villages of San Salvador Paricutin and San Juan Parangaricutiro. The only trace of these villages today is the tower of the church set amidst a 20km solidified black lava field. Clambering precariously over the lumpy black boulders away from the tower, it is possible to reach the altar of the church still very well preserved amongst the lava.
It is even more fascinating when you manage to find a local who not only remembers the eruption of the volcano and speaks of the day from living memory, but also clutches an old, plastic bag of tattered, fading photographs of the villages and the church before they were engulfed and swallowed up forever.
This makes a wonderful day trip out from Uruapan, via the turn-back-the-clock village of Angahuan with its medieval wooden houses, cobbled streets and beautiful church. The site of the buried village and church tower is a very pleasant 90 minute walk from Angahuan, along a winding trail that wends its way through cool, pine forests and the lava field itself. Uruapan is a town in the state of Michoacan, six and a half hours by bus North-West of Mexico City.