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Published: January 17th 2011
The main square and Cathedral
Yesterday I left Mexico City to come to Morelia. I left the hostel shortly after breakfast and got the tube (luckily, Observatorio, the stop I needed was only only a few stops away and on the same line as the stop nearest the hostel) to get to the bus station called Poniente. I had the choice of chicken bus for 215 pesos – 6 hours or the luxury bus for 300 pesos – 4 hours. Well... I chickened out of the chicken bus! Mainly because I wasn't in Morelia for very long (leaving early the next morning) and it was nearly 10.30 already. So I paid my 300 pesos and got to Morelia for 2.30. From the bus station there, I wanted to get the bus to the hostel but all I knew was that it was in the historic centre. So at the bus station, I went to ask the authorised taxis lady where I could get the bus to get to the centre. She asked if I meant “un camion” and I said yes. She told me to walk out and that I could catch one there. So I walked out and couldn't see anything. I asked someone else
who was walking by and they pointed at a tiny minibus and said it was going to the centre. So I jumped on it and paid my 6 pesos fare. There were 12 of us squeezed in and I discovered later that day that it was indeed probably the smallest and oldest “collectivo” in Morelia... After that, I had no idea where I was going. The ride took quite a while, probably because he was going all over the place. But in a way it was nice because I got to see a side of the city I wouldn't have seen otherwise. After a while though, I started to wonder if I was even going in the right direction. I asked one of my fellow passengers if we were near the centre and she said yes. Then another few minutes later, when the landscape looked like we might be getting in the historic centre, I spotted by pure chance the name of the street I was staying on. I checked again with one of the other passengers that I was correct, which they confirmed. So I jumped off and walked the rest of the way (about 5 minutes). Now... How
lucky was that? The lesson I learnt from it is, when in doubt ask (lesson which I have applied since!)
The hostel I stayed at was called Hostel Allende and it was really pretty with a sunny courtyard full of plants and trees. I was in a 4 bed dorm with en-suite bathroom (bit of a change from the 10 bed / shared showers in Mexico City). In the end, there were only 2 of us in the room: myself and an English girl who lives in Buenos Aires. We didn't get much of a chance to chat but she gave me her e-mail address so that we can try to catch up when I get to that part of the world. She also reckoned I should avoid Paraguay because it is too dangerous and that I should go to Bolivia via Northern Argentina instead.
In Morelia, I only had a few hours to spare as I was off again the next morning. So I asked the guy from the hostel (he was really helpful – I would recommend that place to anyone) where to go. He gave me a little guide of Michoacan (the Mexican state where Morelia is),
which had a map of the historic centre with the sights, but also info about Patzcuaro, where I was going the following day.
So I set off to see the centre. It was a lovely sunny afternoon, warm enough but not too hot. The city was absolutely beautiful, full of character with it's ancient buildings and full of life with all the locals out shopping (it was a Saturday afternoon) or sitting in the parks soaking up the sun. I absolutely fell in love with it. Unfortunately, I only got the time to walk around the historic centre and see the wonderful architecture, with a quick stop at the sweets and crafts market. I felt it probably had much more to offer from the collectivo ride into town, where I saw brightly coloured buildings and bustling streets. Also, I have to say that compared to Mexico City, the local population was much better turned out, and the only street sellers were in the main square with balloons, rather than on every street corner shouting to sell you something.
As I was on my way back to the hostel for some dinner, I heard this American voice saying “Where are you
from? You don't look Mexican!” I discovered this was Jim, a retired guy from Indiana, who came with his wife to spend winter in Mexico every year. He told me about the city and he clearly was in love with it too. Talking to him, I discovered that every Saturday at 9pm, they close the central square to cars for the lighting up of the cathedral and subsequent party. I guessed that was my evening entertainment sorted then!
So after a quick stop for food at the hostel, I headed back out just in time. The streets were packed with tourists and locals alike, young and old, who had all turned up for the weekly event. The cathedral gets lit up step by step from the top, at the same time as fireworks are exploding. It doesn't last very long but it's very pleasant and the general cheerful atmosphere makes it better than it really should be. After that, some people head off, some stay around and there is a bit more entertainment with street musicians and some stand up guy (I didn't understand much) doing his show.
I stayed out for a while and then headed back for a
The sweets and crafts market
good night sleep, with an early start for an action packed Sunday on the cards.
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