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Trip Report Report on Morelia & Patzcuaro, I am so in Love

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In early Nov. 2011, after a week in Oaxaca (for Muertos) and then Playa del Carmen (my husbadn was wirth me for that part, our 25th anniversary), I put my husband on a plane home and I flew from Cancun to Guadalajara on Volaris. I immediately took a cab from Guad. airport to the bus station near Tonala, and got a wonderful 3 hr. 1st class bus to Morelia (enough room to stretch out in an almost relcining position, w/a opo down thing from seat back in front of me to rest the entire length of mylegs on).

In Morelia I stayed at the most wonderful Inn called Casona Rosa. I can't say enough good things about this place. It is owned by a woman from Chicago, Rose, who is colorful, vivacious, interesting, and nice, and who has a love for the handicraft and arts of Mexico. Casona Rosa is wonderful in all ways. 5-6 very coloful and different rooms, each (except one) with an attached ful; bathrm, and each decorated in different themes and colors. Each has a separate sitting room attached to it also.

I stayed in the Frida suite. Rose upgraded me, I was supposed to stay in the PAtzcuaro suite which is bigger and has a TV but does not have an attached bath- the bath is a few steps away across a courtyard in the main area of the house. I LOVED the Frida suite. Two rooms, one of which I used to sleep and the other to lay out all my stuff in. That second room has a twin bed and desk in it. Both rooms had a lot of windows and light, and were decorated w/Frida items, They are "happy rooms." I paid about $50 a night.

Rose is great and so are Maria (who manages the place), and Jesus, the dedicated taxi driver for the hotel. Jesus picked me up at the bus station at midnight, for which I was grateful. He speaks English very well, an dlikes to chat. We became good buddies as he drove me to Patzcuaro later.

Morelia is very nice, colonial but not as colorful (literally- the stone used in Morelia is a pinkish stone on the bldgs) as some other colonial cities like Oaxaca or Puebla, I spent two restful days there, strolling, seeing the wonderful cathedral, eating comida at some great places (esp. liked the 35 peso comida around the corner from Casona Rosa, Maria will direct you there, even had a piano player along w/3 course comida for 35 pesos!), visting the Mercado Independencia and the Casa del las Artesinias (which has handmade art and handicrafts from all over Mexico, many juried winners, and had a 50% off everything sale at the time),

Casona Rosa is one block from the cathedral. GREAT location. LOVE it. my recommendation is to look no further, STAY HERE., you won't regret it. Oh and you get use of the nice kitchen as well.

After a few days I was ready to head to Patzcauro. I planned to rent a car and drive myself around the lake to visit all the different crafts towns. But Rose convinced me that that was not a great idea, and to use Jesus to do this tour for me. She was so right. Jesus and I set out at 10 a.m. and went first to Capula. Jesus knew exactly where to take me, what familes to visit for the incredible pottery available in Capula. Capula has become known in the last several yrs as a place for unusual Catrina sculptures. I usually don't even like catrina items but I ended up buying an incredible 3 ft tall pottery sculpture, totally unique, of a catrina woman w/indigenous dress and with 3 birdcages on her back, w/little birds in the cages.

I was very concerned about transporting this home. Jesus talked to the artist, who said he would carefully pack it in as small amt of space as possible, and then he woudl personally drive it to Morelia to Casona Rosa so that I didn't have to take it with me to Patzcauro, it woudl be waiting for me in Morelia when I got back there. I couldn't believe this generosity. It was much appreciated.

Jesus took me to about 5 other towns around the lake. We visited ceramic artists (esp. liked Manual Morales, who is pretty famous, and his wife, who is in a different area of the village) who gladly opened their doors to Jesus, but no one else was there when we visited, so I do not think their workshops are "open" for visitors- I just got in bc Jesus took me. We visited straw markets, a town where guitars and other wooden items are made, and a few more. We had lunch at a great seafood place on the way. And then we stopped at the home of a woman who is hgihgly regarded for her indigenous embroidery work, so much so that she was chosen by the govt. to represent MX at the International Folk Arts Festival in Santa Fe last yr. (her name is Tefila Servin).

We were going to go to the town where masks are made but I was pooped by 5 pm and he took me into Patzcauro. It was very clear at the end of this day that I was gong to need to buy a 2nd and much larger suitcase to carry all my handicraft purchases home.
Cost of the Jesus Full Day Tour: $1000 pesos. TOTALLTY worth it.

Jesus dropped me off at my Inn, called Posada Mandala. OMG, I loved this place. I had been emailing w/Enrique,the owner, for several wks. He was even nicer in person than on email. He is a published writer of poetry and stories, as is his daughter. He is in a wheelchair and his room is by the front of the Inn, so he sees who is coming and gong, not intrusive but itmade me feel safe as a woman traveling alone.

I got use of the small kitchen while there and I did use it several times over the 4 days, for breakfast in particular, and I kept cheese and drinks in the fridge.

My room was great. I was in #5, upstairs (must use a very narrow winding wrought iron stairacse to get up to it). It is a large rm, wa king bed and a single bed, very clean, w/attached bath. Big picture window that opened and looks over tiled red rooftops and onto the mountains. A nice cat came over the roof next door to visit me each evening. I had good wireless access. Bed was good, not rock hard as so many at this price range are. 400 pesos a night. Incredible for that rate. Posada Mandala is across the street from Once Patios (11 Patios), a wonderful old handicraft shopping area.

I totally lost my heart in Patzcuaro. I have been traveling all over Mexico for 35 , in particular I love the colonial towns, and this is now my favorite town. The art and handicrafts are just off the charts good, and they are everywhere, in so many good shops around the Plaza Chica and Plaza Grande and all up and down the side streets, many many outdoor stalls all around the main inglesia, Once Patios, everywhere you look. Very high quality also. I bought lots of woven goods (in particular, go to the place on the main road coming into/out of Patzcuaro, owned by the American woman and her MX husband, tney have been there since the 1970s and pay locals to sheer their sheep, rake their yarn, dye it, and then pay locals to weave the products). Iincredibly detailed hand embroidered shawls, dresses and shirts at the stalls in front of an d to the side of the church. Straw items in the mercado. Lovely handblown glass in Rick's shop (he owned CHaCHaCha when that restaurant was open, ask around and you'll fnd his shop easily). Copper items from Santa Clara.

On and on. Just phenomenal quality. Good tip is to go to the Friday market in the Plaza San Fransisco. I sw only locals there, I was the only gringa. I had a tripe caldo at a stand under the portales there, OMG it was so good, and I have always said I would NEVER eat tripe. I also ate at the new restaurant that is in the same place where ChaChaCha used to be. Can't recall the name but it was pretty good. There is a great place on the Plaza Chica for pizza, Look for the BIG 5 ft tall straw catrina outside at the door and get pizza there.

Patzcauro is like a step back in time. There are still Inns on the cobblestone streets where I saw horses tied up outside, people who had come in from surrounding towns w/their wares on horseback. On Sunday a few different troops of young people dress up in the HUGE puppet like paper mache things that are like 15 ft high and they take a badn w/them and walk and dance around the streets for tips. I was just stumbling on all of this magic while I was walking around. Also, the election for governor was happening while I was there, so there were street marches related to that. A very lively town but also sleepy at the same time...

When I arrived back in Morelia (I had to have Jesus come get me, I had too much stuff I had bought to take the bus, lol) Rose at Casona Rosa helped me pack up everything I had bought. Somehow I got that big 3 ft catrina sculpture on the plane w/me, although they xrayed it 4 times, lol. I flew home from Morelia on Continental on FF points.

I am definitely going back. I almost cried when I had to leave for the airport, and most places and people don't get to me like that when I travel.

If you are considering a trip, GO GO GO. I was worried in the last few yrs. about Michoacan and the drug wars, but I should not have been, I encountered no problems at all and I speak only travelers Spanish. This trip report is making me want to go back NOW. If you go, tell Rose, Jesus, MAria, and Enrique that Eileen says hola.

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