Guerrero and Michoacán
Mexico was an addition to our itinerary, we were going to go to the US mainland, but after it was Trumped on we couldn’t stomach the stench.
We left Kona, flew to Mexico City, hired a car and 18 hours later we drove into a little hilltop town called Taxco. Without much of a plan, we just thought we would head down to the Pacific coast.
Taxco is famous for its old silver mines and with white VW bettle taxis littering the streets (its too steep to walk), it’s an interesting, bustling place and a good town to adjust to Mexican life.
We had a few fun days hunting for Jewelery, becoming reacquainted with Margaritas and Freda learnt about her namesake. She now seems very taken with Frida Kahlo, whose image is everywhere we go, although there’s not much resemblance…our Freda needs to work on the brows!
After a lovely few days we left Taxco and drove down to the coast, heading for a place called Pie de la Cuesta. It’s a long drive, so we had to stop somewhere and this seemed like the best option. Just far enough away from the drug wars happening in Acapulco. We have come to realise, that while traveling in Mexico it’s not a good idea to read too much about the amount of crime that happens here, especially not from any American source. If you read the American DotGov websites, they advise against all but essential travel in most areas in Mexico. After reading such material, we found out that the two states we are travelling around at the moment have the worst level of drug violence in the country, super! We’ve taken it with a healthy, but wary, pinch of salt and I’ve only had a few sleepless nights after hearing what sounded like gunfire!
So, after pooing our pants driving through Acapulco, we made it to Pie de la Cuesta. It was ok, beautiful long sweeping beach, massive waves, and a nice hotel, made for a pleasant stay.
But, behind the scenes, the surrounding area felt very run drown, a little dodgy and unwelcoming. We got back on the road and headed up the coast to a little fishing village called Barra de Potosi. Unsure what to expect, we stumbled on a real gem. We booked 2 nights and ended up staying for 9, we eased into village life.
We stayed in a really intesting B&B in the village, our room was open, no windows or walls, an “insidey outsidey garden” room as Freda called it.
Freda played with the local children and visited the local children’s library.
We spent most days on the beach building sand castles, while Mitch relaxed!
I’m now old enough to be comfortable saying I enjoyed a spot of bird watching! Pelicans, Frigate birds, Boobies, and Herons all fished right on the shore line and Vultures cleaned up the left overs, it was quite a sight.
We did find time in our busy schedule to round off the days with a well deserved Margarita.
We even managed to fit in a few extra activities.
Hiring a kayak on the lagoon one day was great, although Freda just wanted to jump out and swim so we didn’t get far.
Maybe just as well as we had a double kayak…..Mitch and I struggled to work as a team, basically he told me I had no rhythm and was rubbish, charming! I jumped in and swam with Freda instead, much more fun.
Our other adventure was hiring a boat, with our fellow guests Laine and Patty, an American couple, disguising themselves as Canadians. They had sold up and were taking a trip all the way down to Patagonia and back in a very well equipped car, mucho respecto. Laine was a bit of a fisher and caught a good sized Tuna, filleted it with what he called his 12″ bona and cooked us up a treat! Thanks Laine.
All of this was a life lesson to Freda as she had to watch it being bled over the side of the boat. At dinner earlier she said to me, whilst chewing on a chicken leg, “mummy is this chicken actually a dead animal, or not?” So I think something may have clicked. We went looking for Whales but failed, we did see two beautiful large Rays and an abundance of sea birds.
We also did some reef snorkelling, so overall a good trip.
So, Barra de Potosi was great, we met some lovely people and really felt at home there. It was very hard to pull ourselves away, but I think all this travelling has given us itchy feet, so after 9 nights we were keen to get back on the road.
By this time, after our 9 days of lazing about, we had just about planned our new route and decided to drive up through the state of Michoacán. The drive took us up though the mountains, where we stayed over at a town called Uruapan, known for its amazing botanical garden. Here they have made a series of very impressive waterfalls, all diverted from the river that flows through the town.
Also famous for its textiles, we visited a very fascinating old textiles factory, which is still in use today. We got talking to the owner who saved it from being knocked down. Amazing story, but I did feel sorry for him as it was such a project and was burning all his cash, but then I suppose it’s lucky that there are people in the world like him, to preserve history and traditions. All the old machines were shipped over from England………they came over and showed the Mexicans how to set up a textiles factory 100s of years ago!
Uruapan has had quite a bit of bad press due to horrendous drug cartel violence in the past few years, so we were a little disconcerted when coming out of a supermarket, we had 5 heavily armed guys looking at our car and taking pictures of it. We had already been stopped at a police road-block earlier that day and were getting a little concerned! I asked if there was a problem, apparently not, and they moved onto the next car. Hard to explain that one to Freda! Mummy, why are those men with big guns looking at our car!? Protecting us from the bad guys my love. I bloody hope so!
Unfortunately, there was a cruddy public swimming pool across the river from where we were staying. So, as Freda had already spied it, we felt obliged to take her. I didn’t know though it would involve risking our lives crossing a rope bridge to get to it!!
We left Urapan, which I was quite glad about, and went up the road to a town called Patzcuaro. When we rocked up at the hotel, I was shown to the smallest, darkest room I’ve ever seen! A little disappointed I fetched Mitch and Freda, and when the lady saw Freda she said the room was too small. I agreed and she found us a new one. We ended up with a beautiful little house at top of the hill, all for 40 quid a night!
That’s enough of just the room, the town is also a little gem. A beautiful colonial town, where time seems to have stood still. Wonderful churches loom over every street, out of our bedroom window, even the public library is an old church and the colonial mansions give way to beautiful inner courtyards.
We ate street food and had dinner each night for less than 4 quid, mustn’t grumble!
Freda is still excelling herself in the foods department, she will eat almost anything. Most of the time we haven’t the slightest idea what we are ordering, but as long as it’s not spicy, she’ll give it go.
We took a boat trip to an island on the lake called Janitzio, probably the most touristy thing we have done for a while. Everyone was selling you something or asking for money, even the fishermen just off the island we’re pretending to fish so they could then get money off you for watching them.
It was fun, but it’s a little sad to see a whole community completely dependent on tourism…..when local fishermen earn more money pretending to fish, something’s gone wrong!
Morelia, the state capital of Michoacan, was our last town before Mexico City. The colonial heart of the city is so well preserved that it was declared a Unesco World Heritage site in 1991.
We spent 2 days just walking around soaking up the history and marvelling in the architectural splendour.
Rich with history, as the Mexican inpendance hero José María Morelos y Pavón was born and lived here, the town was renamed after him. It truly is a wonder of a city, and I think wandering around I have maybe seen just a handful of westerners. Nobody seems to have discovered it yet (or maybe they have all been reading the horror stories from the press)!
We we’re lucky enough to be able to stop on our last leg to Mexico City at the amazing natural phenomenon of the migrating Monarch butterflies. I won’t bore you with the detail, if you are interested take a look at the link. This was perhaps, for me, the most wonderful natural spectacles I have ever witnessed. Thousands of butterflies hanging off the brances of pine trees, when the sun came out they opened up their wings and took to the skies.
We visited two areas of the forest over two days to view the butterflies. Both were well over 3000 meters above sea level. It was pretty tough going, so we decided to hire horses to take us up the sleep accent. Freda loved it.
But, one must also suffer to see such nature, we had to stay in the most grotty of hotels. Luckily I have my faux silk liner, so the worn, 100 year old bobbly sheets didn’t bother me one bit.
If you’ve managed to get this far along the longest blog ever, you’re in for a treat. I’ll share with you Freda’s best comment to date…….when I was buying shoes the other day, Freda saw a shoe with a plastic foot in it and said “How’s somebody going to buy that shoe mummy, it’s already got somebodies foot in it!” maybe you had to be there!
Freda’s finally got round to doing a new vlog, so have a look.