Frigid weather and Magnificent Monarchs
04.02.2007 - 05.02.2007 6 °C
Jay´s being nice to me, usually we switch up the writing per post but I felt rather disappointed that I only had about ten minutes to write my previous post so I´m allowed to do this one too!
Anyway, my finger crossing paid off, as we have had possibly the best luck these last two days! Firstly, after writing my previous post on Patzcuaro I ran back to the hotel Valmen (where we´d been staying), and Cliff and Jay were there, chatting and waiting. I quickly packed and we set out to look for the combi that would take us to the central bus station. I called out to one across the street "Estacion de autobus?" and he nodded Si! Si! and we popped into the back of the van and he sped off, in the opposite direction of the bus station.
Finally he stopped the combi, nowhere near the bus station, but right in front of a bus, and let us out. Taxi drivers were yelling at us from across the street "Morelia! Morelia!" but the bus was going there too and for 30 pesos (about 3 dollars) we were off in a 2nd class bus, which may not be as posh but is still pretty comfortable for everybody except Jay, who has not been doing too well motion - sickness wise (we´ve loaded up on the Pepto).
Anyway, an hour later we were in Morelia, the Capitol of Michoacan. I went to the ticket counter, as I guess I´m the official translator for the tour, and as luck would have it there was a bus headed for Zitacuaro (closer to the butterflies) leaving in 15 minutes. Perfecto! So, we were on the bus for Zitacuaro, 3 hours away.
At this moment I should mention the difference between the Michoacan scenery and the landscape of the rest of the country thus far. Drastically different! Whereas Baja was spectacular cliffs and amazing Saguaro cacti and every other imaginable cacti, and Jalisco had Agave farms everywhere, and Guanajuato state had rolling hills and farmland throughout, Michoacan is all about the trees. It feels reminiscent of British Columbia, full of mountains and pine and spruce, although the houses look *slightly* different. I sat transfixed and feeling pretty comfortable in the lush surroundings. We´re definately out of the North.
Finally, we made it to Zitacuaro, which seemed pretty enough, but I had heard from the Lonely Planet message boards that the place to go was a little silver mining town north of Zitacuaro called Angangueo, which was not even listed in our guide, but I threw caution to the wind and asked for the next bus there. Again! 5 minutes later, we were sitting on the back of an old yellow school b us with broken windows full of Mexicans, and the bumpiest ride later we were there. And boy, this little town is PURDY, but COLD!!! We are about 3000 meters above sea level, and my fingers are numbing as I write, added to the fact that all Mexican buildings are made of concrete so they basically act as cold conductors. Everybody here has a winter Jacket.
We also had nervous spirits upon arrival as the locals mentioned that it snowed a couple of days before. Great. So, we found a hotel with a queen sized bed for 150 pesos (in this hotel they charge per bed, not per room, so if we used the twin in the same room it would have been an additional 100 pesos), but it had a nice hot shower and they fed us breakfast this morning (nescafe with hot milk and a pan dulce with strawberry jam). Luckily for us they had thick wool blankets on top so we were warm as soon as we dove under the covers. Before we did so, however, we found a fantastic restaurant in the downtown (which consists of two competing cathedrals, a snack shop, a taco stand and 2 competing restaurants) where we were served a generous bowl of fresh guacamole, pasta soup and while the men had beef soup I had a great chicken mole, which was less chocolate and more bbq than the one I had in San Miguel. Cliff, our St. Louis retired travelling companion, insisted on footing the bill, and we got him back today. He´s a great guy who has travelled all over Mexico and Central America, and we´re really enjoying his company.
Well, it was raining in the day, raining in the evening, and we crossed our fingers for the morning. We woke up this morning and didn´t want to get out of the warm bed, but sailor´s delight - not a darn cloud in the sky! Hallelujah!!!
In fact, it was the best luck and the absolute best day to go see the butterflies. We didn´t go to the most popular spot, El Rosario, as the man in the tourist office explained another spot, Chinqua, was less busy, affected by logging, and closer to reach by Taxi. In any case, we found a cab that would take us there and back for 250 pesos, and when we got there we paid the entrance fee and received our guide, a nice girl named Patricia. We waited for Jay to buy some Quesadillas for lunch, and by 11:45 we were off for the butterflies.
It took us about 1 1/2 hours through mud, snow patches and dirt path to reach the site of the butterflies, and the altitude at that level (which must have been at least another 1000 meters or so) made Jay and I quite lightheaded for the duration of the journey. It was worth it though, as we arrived to the most incredible sight and amazing views.
Imagine: On a slope with valleys, hills, faraway towns and little wispy puffs of clowd in the distance, surrounded by spruce and firs, and the sun shines down and the trees, sky and forest floor awash in orange and floating palm-sized butterflies, awkwardly floating in the air, landing on your clothes, weighing down the branching, glimmering in the sunlight. We soaked it in for almost an hour, revelling in the beauty and the magic of it all. Aside from the occasional jet sound there was no other human noises, birds chirped and you couldn´t believe a sight was like this. And all this without our Canon! We were thankful that Uncle Bob lent us the 35mm, and I hope the pictures turn out because it was truly, truly amazing.
We returned to the town in the best of moods, had spicy tacos and tasty ice cream, and hung out on the steps of the church and chatted with other travellers who walked by. A young couple from Germany, Maizel and Corinna, who had taken the same rickety bus from Zitacuaro to Angangueo as us, joined us for dinner at the same place as we had the night before, only this night the only item on the menu was Chicken Adobo, which was tasty but considerably spicier than what you make, Mom. We all shared stories and chatted for a couple of hours, this international crew, before we swapped contact information and agreed it was far too cold to continue to talk.
We rushed back to the hotels and Jay and I hopped across the street to this internet cafe, where I write now. Tomorrow we head to the big City. Mexico City. We will buy or repair a new or our camera, and plan our trip to Teotihicuan, and have new tales to tell.
Until then, Love Tess