We’ve been to Morelia on several occasions. We’ve gone to the National Migration Institute, only to be told we had to go to San Miguel de Allende for my legalization process. It’s another state you see, although only 45 minutes away. We’ve also gone to Morelia to have my son’s birth certificate and my marriage certificate translated by an official perito traductor, who unfortunately died before we had all our documentation officialized. We did find another perito traductor in San Miguel de Allende later on though, and now we have one right here in Moroleon for all our legal issues.
So Morelia isn’t a new destination for us, but we normally have some official business to take care of and as a result, don’t take the time to play tourist. The other week we had the day off and decided to go just because. Although Morelia yet another city on the UNESCO World Heritage Site, my intentions were not so lofty. I had the vague notion of finding a Wal-mart or maybe even a sporting goods store to buy some arrows for my son’s bow. It was so much effort just to get it that it was terribly disappointing that it came with only 2 arrows, one which hit a stone and cracked and the other which flew into the great beyond on the very first day.
That little cement barrier is all that separates you from the lake!
We always take the libre (free) road rather than the cuota (toll) road not just because it saves us a few pesos. It’s a pleasant drive, although I imagine it could be a bit hair-raising during inclement weather. But the sun was shining today. One time, I was gazing out the window while driving through the lake and BAM–all of sudden a water snake took down a duck. Just one more occasion that I find myself live on the discovery channel!
We drove through the picturesque town of Cuitzeo, also known as Cuitzeo Porvenir, where all the business and houses are painted red and white. Just outside the town, we stopped at a roadside restaurant Las Jacarandas for a morning buffet breakfast. We enjoyed our meals (I had a yummy fish something or other) and relaxed a bit while Marc Antonio Solis’s greatest hits played on the giant flatscreen TV.
Las Jacarandas roadside restaurant
Then off again. We arrived in Morelia only to discover that our usual route was closed because of the parade. We were about 5 minutes from Wal-mart when we were deviated. We spent the next 2 hours driving around Morelia. I kept insisting we weren’t lost, but I could not convince my husband. He started pulling on his goatee and transformed into Donald Duck. Never say that men don’t ask for directions. He pulled off the road every 10 minutes or so to confirm that we were on the right track.
We were never lost, just not on the road that we had intended to arrive at. We did finally pass a Wal-mart, but my husband had his face pressed up against the windshield at this point, and I decided that it would be better for all concerned if we just went home. I wonder how we became so inept at city driving! I have driven through New York City and Washington DC during rush hour. How is it a little detour threw us for a loop? I think it might have to do with our overall confidence. So many things can and do happen while on the road in Mexico that the unexpected really takes it out of us. It was a disappointing trip, to say the least. The next day off isn’t for awhile yet–maybe we’ll be able to work up the guts to try a new adventure.
I did convince my husband to stop in Cuitzeo on the trip back, though. There were several ladies selling hand-woven baskets in the town center, and I wanted to get a better look. Fiber crafts are the most common local handicraft. Baskets, floor mats, and hats were displayed for my admiring gaze, all made from reeds from Lake Cuitzeo.
Daisies outside the church en el centro of Cuitzeo.
We bought some churros and fruit covered in powdered chile and walked around a bit before heading out again. So honestly, our tourist day was spent in Cuitzeo rather than Morelia. The name of the town comes from the Purepecha word “cuiseo” which means place of water containers. As the town is right next to Lake Cuitzeo, the second largest freshwater lake in Mexico, freshwater fish dishes are local specialties. Cuitzeo has even been named as one of Mexico’s Pueblos Magicos which is a program designed by the Secretary of Tourism to promote tourism in non-traditional touristy areas.
Santa María Magdalena monastery was built in 1550.
The Santa Magdalena monastery is the historical highlight of the town. We didn’t make an effort to tour it, as you’ve seen one monastery, you’ve seen them all. However, I was impressed with the church door in the town center.
It’s now on my list of things to do to visit more of Mexico’s Pueblos Magicos. I think it will be better for my husband’s nerves too!