February 25, 2004

More on Morelia

I am sitting at an outdoor café drinking a glass of red wine as I write this entry. The café has a stone patio that abuts to a small park. On Sunday artists were showing their art in this little park. The people of the city are not alienated like Americans to these public spaces, no they use and enjoy and make them part of their lives. I am reminded of this huge difference every time I travel, especially in Latin America. The sun is slowly descending and this little plaza is full of life.

Press HERE to see a slideshow from Guadalajara to Patzcuaro.

The Main Plaza, Patzcuaro
School Girls in the Plaza
Library in Patzcuaro

Yesterday, the 23rd of February:
I had only one goal, and that was to expand my knowledge of what nature Morelia was. First, I drove through several of the neighborhoods. I was reminded of the garish nature of advertising signs, the incompleteness of every building with their reinforcement rods plunging skyward, the inability of the people to keep their yards and streets clean and their buildings free of graffiti. Yet under this film, beats the hearts of a vibrant people. On the southern side of the city, I found cleaner and neater neighborhoods, and in the hills above this side of town were beautiful homes of the well-off, often just a stone's throw from the those with much less. I asked about what the better places cost. For a small new home, maybe it costs $35,000 USD and for the more elaborate villas anywhere from $100 to 300 thousand.
In the afternoon I spent quite a bit of time searching for an electronic map of Mexico on CD. I must have visited ten large stores, including bookstores, and could find it in none. It was clear to me that, even in a city of more than 500,000 souls, software is a hard thing to find. That pretty much leaves buying software to the internet. Yes, electronic hardware is everywhere - but not the stuff you want to run on it. The people, here as everywhere that I have been, love the internet. There is a store front with a internet connection on nearly every other block in el centro and every half-mile further out. The cost in this city is 15 pesos per hour and it was ten in Guadalajara. I was getting a strong signal on my cell, but I could not roam here. I was getting tired of always having to call home from the street; I broke down and bought a phone. Betty will be able to call me or send a text message anytime now. The cost for the phone and 200 pesos of calling was only $60 USD. This cheap phone may be usable in Europe too. Why Verison and the other US cellular companies don't use this technology is a mystery to me. I just have to get a new chip when I go to a new country. Easy, thank you TelefonicaMoviStar. The not finding what I wanted was frustrating, but it helped me to understand this place.
In the evening I went to a movie, the School of Rock. I would have to only give it two out of five stars, but it served the purpose of bring me home for a couple of hours. That is one of the nicest things about American movies when you have been away for a while.

Today, Tuesday the 24th: I seem to be sleeping later and later. This is not really the best when on the road, but it is a sign that I am getting in to the swing of traveling live. My favorite breakfast is scrambled eggs with chorizo, beans, tortillas, and café con leche. Although I don't eat it every day, I did today. Then I was off on a day trip around Lake Patzcuaro. It is a beautiful area less than 30 miles away. Once I got to the lake, I drove slowly around it. I stopped in Patzcuaro. It is the largest and nicest town along the lake. The vibrancy was immediately noticeable. I walked a bit through two of its plazas. They were full of life. It is difficult to explain it to an American, unless they live in NYC or the heart of San Francisco, but I love it: from the street vendors, to the market places, to the greatly used open spaces, to the friendliness and openness of the people.
I continued my drive. I stopped a couple of times for a snap shot. The land about the lake is arid. Only an occasional field was green. This is a dry season, winter, even though the daytime temperatures are in the 60's and 70's. The area along the lake was dry. In the western US I have seen lakes with no vegetation. It exists here but it is scant or dried out. I would call these highlands (5000 to 7000 MSL) an arid region. I still notice the litter along the roadside, but it has either decreased a lot since my last visit or I am gaining a tolerance to it. I think it be the former. There is a clear effort by the government to decrease litter as signs discouraging abound along the highways. One of the sights that astounded me was an island, Isla Janitazio, in the lake that jutted up like the tip of a mountain. It was clear by the building that rose up along its hill that many people lived there. But still it was an odd looking sight.
Upon my return to Morelia, I set up some photos for my BLOG and head for this café. Now, I am read to send it out. It may be tough; the two glasses of wine have dulled the senses a bit.

For tomorrow I have no significant plans. I will try to spend the day studying Spanish, which is always in need of improvement. If anything else happens, you can be sure I will capture it in these pages.

Lake Patzcuaro, Isla Janitazio on the Left

Posted by bill at February 25, 2004 02:18 AM