This morning I brought along the road map to breakfast thinking that when we were finished that I would walk over to the police station and ask about the safety of the roads we were intending to travel on today. In recent weeks there has been some violence and unsettling in the state of Michoacan. As Kev and I walked across the square towards the officer clutching his M16, I looked up the spanish word for safety, so that I could communicate clearer. "Seguro camino?", I asked the officer as I pointed to the route we were to be traveling on the map. Another armed officer approached us. I repeated myself "Seguro camino?" He looked at the map and replied "Si, segueo!" Ahhh…. that was a relief. Although, I will still be on guard while we ride today, I feel confident enough that they would have alerted us to any disturbances near by.
It turned out to be an amazing day of riding. Not only were the roads in fairly good repair, we once again started to ascend into the mountains ranges, this time in the state of Michoacan. The air was clear, the temperature a perfect 26 degrees celsius, the roads smooth and tope free, the views spectacular. We passed through villages that were hand making, dying and fire kilning terra-cotta bricks made from the natural red clay of the area, it was fascinating. Roadside stalls were selling their handcrafted rustic looking terra cotta pots, plates, basins and wears. Having limited space on a bike is definitely a money saving feature! Soon we were surrounded by large oak trees. As we sailed through their magic canopy and the twinkly filtered light, the oak leaves fell around us, and continued to dance behind us as we rode through….It was an absolutely surreal experience! All of my morning hesitations and fears were wiped away and I was totally caught up in the moment and all of its glory!
For the record though...I have to note that I did encounter some challenging traffic situations today! I was almost squished between a semitrailer and a parked car, almost being run into in slow motion as a merging car acknowledged me then continued anyways, and almost being wiped out in fast forward as a truck barreled down a side street leading onto the street I was on having me abruptly swerve ! The key word here is almost! I take these instances and memorize the senario, in hopes to avoid a future disastrous outcome.
Largo de Patzcuaro magically appeared as we rounded another sweeping curve…WOW! We rode into Tzintzuntzan, a small town on the lake. Originally we had planned to stay here although the accommodations we had researched earlier did not look so hot, so we continued around the lake. The ride around Largo de Patzcuaro was amazing. As you wind around the lake you can see 5 smaller islands on the lake. One of them with a huge sculptured concrete towering figure atop of it. Kev and I had been riding for 5 hours now and had not stopped for lunch…we had lost track of the time. I spied a small drink/bar by the side of the road… we happily unmounted and enjoyed a liquid lunch while reprograming Navi towards accommodations in the next town of Patzcuaro. Two cold Coronas, two bottled agua's, and sliced oranges with chili cost 54$ pesos…($4). I tipped the young señorita 10$ pesos and a small wooden container of the dulce de leche, she was pleased!
As we rode into Patzcuaro, Kev radioed to me "Where is the Magico?" I was a little surprised that it was named a Pueblo Magico….then we entered the historical district! Ahh..This is why! We rode around the centro square and pulled up in front of the hotel that we had programed into Navi. "I don't see any secure parking here?", we verbalized in unison…ja ja ja…jinx! Kev walked in through the huge heavy carved wooden hacienda doors to see if by chance they had parking out back while I stayed with the bikes. "Your not going to believe this, but they have shown me a closet that we can ride our bikes into, they will be safe there! We'll ride right through the lobby of the hotel!", Kev says with a huge grin on his face! Sounds great, it's now 5:30 pm, I'm tired, and tope out!…Ok, lets do this! Artero opened up the double stained glass doors that were behind the heavy carved wooden doors and moved a couple of planters, while I grabbed the video camera! Up and over the old concrete street curb, Kev carefully maneuvered and inched his way through the glass doors, down the slippery polished antique tiled hallway and backed into the closet. My bike is wider than Kevs, believe it or not, so the panniers needed to be removed. The attached peg packers, now caring one petrol container since San Blas, scraped the antique 1770's architrave as it rolled backwards into the space. WOW…Now this was the icing on the cake…What an amazing day!... Artero then offered us a welcome cocktail!
Our room has a set of large wooden doors that open up onto large glass doors that open up onto a small balcony that faces the town square. I kind of feel like Evita when I step out onto the narrow balcony. This morning the square is buzzing…Today is Valentines Day! Sweetheart mylar balloons for sale float in bundles throughout the square. Bouquets of roses, heart shaped candles and chocolates are being sold from small makeshift stalls throughout also. Lovers holding hands stroll around the center fountain, couples are cuddling on the old carved concrete benches of the square and there is a beautiful euphoria of love in the air. I have never seen such a wonderful display of friendship, love and excitement in one place at one time….apart from attending a wedding or birth of a child! I feel very lucky indeed to have been in Patzcuaro on February 14th!
Today Kev and I caught the little minivan buses that run all over the town down to the docks to catch a boat across to the Isa de Janitzio. You can see a massive figure atop of the island situated in Lago de Patzcuaro. For 50$ pesos roundtrip, $3.80 US, we rode the boat, powered by a car engine complete with clutch and shift stick across to the Isa. It had to have been one of the most entertaining rides on a boat that I have ever encounted! A band of elderly men hopped aboard, one caring a large base, one a squeezebox, one a guitar and the lastly a violin…to play for us on the trip across. The boat slowly made its way from the water hyacinth bogged waters around the docks out into the muddy open waters of the lake. The band started to play, couples immediately got up to dance, small kids did their kiddy dance, people clapped along, smiled and sung. Beers were being tossed back, kids were eating fresh mangoes covered in chili pepper on a stick with the juices dripping down their tiny faces, dogs were sitting next to their owners enjoying the fresh breeze pass by their noses and most kids were playing with their fishing nets off the sides of the boat, trying to capture a lone floating hyacinth. It was just fantastic!
The very steep walk up to the monument was cluttered by many shopping, eating and drinking distractions, "eat here, drink here, buy this, don't you like this lamp…of course all in Spanish….and to top it off the festive dance celebrations of a descending wedding party! The view from the top was spectacular and we celebrated with a frio agua botella! Another awesome day!