Dia de Muertos

Early Tuesday morning Pam and I got a taxi to the Nuevo Vallarta bus station and boarded a bus to Guadalajara. We were the only passengers and had the bus all to ourselves. We changed to another bus in Guadalajara to Morelia and this one was a bit more crowded. The scenery along the way was amazing. There were fences built out of rocks everywhere and they seemed to be very old. We saw lots of churches, volcanos, beautiful foliage and much more. We arrived at the Morelia bus station and got a taxi to Casona Rosa, our home for the next few days. Pam is friends with the owner and had stayed here before. I heard all about it and couldn’t wait to see the place and meet Rose and Maria who run it.
Our first evening was a birthday celebration for Pam’s friend Jenna with a jazz band, snacks, drinks and even a cake. Pamela – the singer in the band – was great and fun. The drummers were father and 15 year old son. The kid has such amazing talent I am sure we will hear from him. What a great evening!
The next day we wandered around Morelia a little bit before our tour of the town of Patzcuaro where indigenous crafts people from surrounding villages sell their wares. On our way we stopped at a weaver for a little shopping and on to watch a master copper artist at work. I even bought one of his small vases. In Patzcauro we toured the main square and shopped in the square where all the vendors were selling their handicrafts. Fun shopping! We sat in a little restaurant and enjoyed a glass of wine before heading back to the hotel.
The next morning, Pam and I moved into a home around the corner from the hotel because it was overbooked. We were the late-comers to the group and were happy to move and happy to have a place to stay. We tried to take a nap knowing that we would be up all night but no sleep was to be had… at least we had a little nap. The entire town was decorated for Dia de Muertos, even our wait staff at the restaurant where we ate were dressed up for it. Rose and Maria had an altar set up for the day and I put a picture of my dad as well as Mike’s dad on it. They were the only pictures I had aboard Mermaid of deceased family members. We borrowed warmer clothes to layer in, boarded our vans and headed for our tours of the cemeteries to watch the locals celebrate the Dia de Muertos. I was amazed at the cemeteries and how much each family decorated the graves of their departed. They all used orange marigolds and lots of candles and each cemetery had different kinds of candles. Many families placed food, toys and artwork on the graves. We even watched a mass being performed at one of the cemeteries. The last stop on our tour was an island in the middle of a lake where we rode boats out to the island and climbed the hill to the cemetery. It was beautiful and surreal.
After a few hours of sleep we toured the town of Morelia a bit more. There is a huge aqueduct built in 1785 and a very famous fountain. The fountain is named Las Tarascas it depicts 3 indigenous women holding up a traditional basket full of regional fruits. The Sanctuary of Our Lady of Guadalupe is an enormous church considered one of the five most beautiful temples in Mexico… it is beautiful! Pam and I also went with Maria to the local open air market to purchase the food for the evening meal. I really don’t like looking at, smelling or touching raw meat, but I didn’t tell the others that and did my best walking through and waiting for Maria to order the meat she needed – until… the butcher threw a large piece of cow on a block and chopped at it with a huge cleaver… raw meat flew through the air and landed on… of course… me! I squealed a bit and shook a bit and had to run off to smell and look at flowers in the next part of the building. I think the local men got quite a laugh at the crazy blond gringo leaving the meat market.
We had planned on having a cooking class. We started chopping (no meat for me) and stirring but the class ended when we all started visiting and drinking. Fortunately Maria and her helpers finished the meal and it was delicious. It was another birthday party for Jenna… this girl knows how to celebrate her birthday!
Our last morning in Morelia we said sad good-byes to friends and headed back to the bus station and after two more buses we were back in Paradise Village. I am very glad that Pam and Paul visited PV and that Pam let me be a part of her wonderful journey inland to see her old and my new friends!
Morelia was amazing! It is in the north central part of the state of Michoacán in central Mexico. Everything costs much less in Morelia than in Puerto Vallarta! Our 30 minute taxi ride from the bus station to the hotel was 40 pesos which is just over $3 US. Food in restaurants is less and the hotels are also less. The city is beautiful and the climate much cooler. In 1991, the city was declared a UNESCO World Heritage and is certainly worth another trip inland. I can’t wait to take Mike up there… he will love it, the hotel and Rose and Maria!
updated 11.19.12

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