Saturday, November 3, 2012

We are in Morelia, MX

What a time for us to decide on going to Mexico. We arrived on the "El Día de los Muertos" or "The Day of the Dead". We really had no inkling that we were about to have the time of our lives when we landed. We landed in Toluca, MX, a town next to Mexico City with a wonderful new airport terminal, and experienced a quiet ride through a sleeping city to our hotel. A hotel, mind you, that was far below what one would normally pay close to the airport. Our ride took us past a set of entwining towers that were lit with colored lights - built for the courtyard of a museum, according to the taxi driver.

We checked in to the hotel and chuckled at the desk clerk's attire - scarf and suit coat over a very bulky sweater. Yes, we landed in a cold spell, unusual for this time of year, and without fall-type clothing on our backs, but yes, in our suitcase. The front desk was situated in what we originally thought was inside the hotel. On further investigation, the middle of the hotel was an outside courtyard and there was no wall between the reception area and this outside courtyard. The poor man was freezing. I guess he had no trouble staying awake as he was trying to stay warm.
We decided that we were going to head out of Toluca to Morelia in the morning and see Toluca and Mexico City, or least some superficial parts of said places, at the end of the journey. Our aim for this trip is to see the Silver Cities and Morelia, not Mexico City and Toluca. So with this in mind, we set out for the bus terminal for a bus to Morelia. The bus terminal is said to be the largest in all of Mexico. From the front, it was hard to see that it was all that big ...
 but when we drove out the bus bays seemed to go for miles and miles. The trip was a mere 4 hours and we snagged the front seats on the upper deck. Perfect for seeing the countryside.

Morelia, in the provence of Michoacán: a vibrant, fun-loving city made all the more so by the continuum of festivals and happenings and yet, an UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Our hotel, one that was a last resort choice (we could not find a hotel room for love nor money), is very basic but at least warm, dry and comfortable. We originally thought to walk from the bus terminal but on 2nd thought, took a taxi. We are located about 12 blocks from the Old City, a good walk uphill. Check in and head out, that is the name of our game and so we did. We headed to the Old Historic part of the City to try and find some festivities related to El Día de los Muertos" which supposedly actually lasts all weekend, not just on the 1st and 2nd of November. As we wandered into the small streets and side streets we came across our first indication of why "No Vacancy" - yes, the 10th International Film Festival" also celebrating 50 years of cinematography in Mexico. International it may be but I think that all of Mexico is here this weekend.
 The selection of films are from all genres and some I recognize but most I don't. You buy either a pamphlet that lists the films and their showing times or a book that gives a description of the films as well as the timetable. Everywhere one looked people were perusing either one or the other, and with the lines at the box-office suffocating. 
We looked and found so many movies that looked interesting, we had to put the pamphlet away else we would end up spending our whole time here in a movie house.
What a happening to simply wander into without knowledge or planning.

Across the street and up a block we found a great place to eat while we listened to live music. How were we to know that we snagged a seat in the most sought after open-air restaurant in town - Jardin de las Rosas. We looked out over an open green space with the same name and got our first glimpse of the floral representations for the Day of the Dead festival.
 Fitting, no?

As we sat eating and listening, dusk rapidly enfolded us and the crowds became more and more. We reluctantly left our seats to seek out more entertainment. And boy did we find it! We lucked into the the festival of La Noche de Muertes en Morelia" a festival within a festival.
And crowds that included all ages.
Here we came across the dressing up and the representations of the significance of the festival:
 They asked to have their photo taken

skulls of all kinds and shapes, everywhere

in memory of ????? That is not a person sitting there.

skeletons of all sizes and in all manner of dress

shades of Halloween?
each gate to the park was decorated like this

this is made up of "pan de muerto"

always the same orange-yellow flowers

which is the dummy?

floral tributes of all kinds

skeleton with clothes and a cardboard guitar

And this is my favorite:
I asked the parents if I could take a photo of the little girl as the little boy was in mom's arms and she put him down beside her and they posed. Isn't this just too adorable?

As we wandered around a very small area we came across more interesting things than we will probably ever be able to take in. One was an exhibition of photos taken during various filming of films made in MExico. These were sitting in one small section of the Plaza de Armas. And the architecture ... it is phenomenal and so reminiscent of that which we saw in Spain and France. Of course, it was the same as over there as the immigrant/ruling people that built these buildings were from Europe. 

The party was going strong when we left the area to walk home. We met people still heading into the area as we left. There were so much input in such a short span of time, it is hard to even digest let alone write about. And how to cull the photos down to just those that give a good representation? It is definitely something to experience and we are so fortunate to have landed in the middle of this. Tomorrow is another day and more experiences to come, I am sure.

'til tomorrow or ......