On my last trip to Michoacán, I went on a very special hiking trip outside of the town of El Salitre.
I went with my uncle and one of his regular field hands, El Pajarero, who served as our guide. There in the background, you can see the Cerro de San Pancho, the beast that was to be tackled.
After crossing The Road and cutting through some people's plots of agave and fig, we met the meandering rocky path up what I called "the small hill".
For almost 2 hours we climbed, stopping once for a short rest. Although it was the dry season, there were still many exotic flora to be seen. One such plant we saw many of was the pitayo cactus.
I've been trying to identify thus fruit bearing cactus and have narrowed it down to the genus Stenocereus. I need to get a closer look at the blooms to get a proper ID, but they are so high. They are usually covered in wasps, bees, birds, and I imagine bats, too, at night. The fruits, pitayas, not to be confused pitahayas, are very tasty and look kind of like fuzzy versions of tunas, the fruits of the nopal. The flowers are supposed to be good for people who have diabetes, too.
What I'd never thought we'd see up there are some of my favorite plants, air plants, known by the locals as gallitos or 'little roosters'.
Some were very large, almost the size of my pineapple plant.
There was also dry lichen everywhere, on stones, tree trunks, fallen branches. It must be a sight to behold during the rainy season.
El Pajarero is very knowledgeable when it comes to el campo. He knows which plants are good to eat and how to find/harvest them. Here he is harvesting some mountain yams, very popular.
Finally, we reached our holy destination, La Virgencita.
It's not clear how old the image is. It was either painted there or appeared there centuries ago, even before the Cristeros. It is on the face of a cliff,
which is slightly inset so the rain does not hit it.
In the month of December, groups make excursions to the site and some people even spend the night.
Along the rock face are small cubby holes where one could take refuge and where bats do as well. In some parts, you could even smell the ammonia-rich guano.
After a break, we descended again, which I found more difficult than the ascent, contrary to the rest of my party. The entire experience was beautiful really, and I would do it again.