Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Michoacan Mexico - Morelia, Patzcuaro, Uruapan "El Dia de los Muertos"

Ooo. now it comes to my favorite self-exploration trip for the festival of day of the dead in Morelia, Patzcuaro and Uruapan. Lots of adventure incidents coming your way.

Patzcuaro is well-known for its el dia de los muertos "dead of the dead" because of its location where it is an island surrounded by waters and you can only get there by boat. And through the guidebook I saw how lovely it was. After gathering half-hearted responses because it was the exam week, I decided to take the plunge and backpack alone without much planning going from Morelia to Patzcuaro and then to Uruapan then back to monterrey.

Arriving in Morelia early in the morning, I found the town bus that would lead me a couchsurfer's house - her name is Gabriela - and I was her first couchsufing partner. She welcomed me with such open arms that I knew it was going to be a wonderful trip ahead. She then told me we had to go to the market near her house to get some things for the 'altar' for the dead. So off we went - to grab skull head sweets, cute-shaped sweets, flowers, a few black stones and fruits for it.

The final 'altar'
Then because she had to rush to school - poorthing, she came back to settle me in the house and the place- I walked around myself. The atmosphere is so gothic- I like!
1. Walked past a school that had a display of the 'altars' self-designed and made

Then as I walked along, I saw some peering through some windows to an underground cellar. Out of curiousity I checked it out too. And look! how cool. There was a bed with a corpse on it.
And I walked some more and heard loud music in one of the college campus. So I popped by head in and .. ooo.. there were more displays of the festival.

As I breezed through the small streets, I finally reached the main corner. Greeting me was "la danza de los viejitos"(the dance of the old people (a humorous dance in which the dancers wear masks of old people)- the Native Dances of the area dressed up with masks, canes and wooden shoes which make a lot of noise when they strike the ground. They dance around while acting like they they are elderly people.
And then there was a display of many altars in the center of the park.

And there was more displays - this time with skull statues :) It was like watching a movie

After walking and eating along the whole evening, it was time to make my way back to Gabby house before the night falls. Gabby had also smsed to let me know that there was a day of the dead function tonight - it would be something like halloween.
Gabby decided to dress as snow white and me as - haha - i dont know what.

It was a fun party that had lots of people dressing as frakinstein with screws in their head, a torn dressed dishevelled skeleton bride and more..

The next morning, I woke up with a plan to enjoy the rest of the day with Gabby then make my way down to Uruapan for the Mariposas (butterflies). However, sadness, when I reached there, I was told that the season starts the following month. But since I was already there, I wanted to try and make my way up there. But alas, because there was no season, the buses trickled to maybe 1 bus for the whole day. So I had to sit a taxi, which cheated me! well he did ovecharged me but I had no choice. And when we reached the mariposas park, he did not even wait for me and drove off. To my dismay I was stucked there with the owner telling me that its not yet season and that the next bus may take forever to come and gosh, it was freezing cold that day and all I was wearing was a shirt and 3 quarts and one scarf.

He then took pity on me and told me that his friend might come down and pick him and he might be able to give me a ride. We waited and waited, however his friend called and said he was only able to make it late in the evening. I was already waiting in the freezing cold for close to 1.5 hours , I decided to take it in my own hand and try to hitchride. No one bothered about me. And I stood there for close to 2.5 hours and I prayed and prayed. And goodness, a car turned into the mariposas farm and turned around ( guess they did not know the season was not there) and seeing me so cold and shivering, they stopped and asked me where I was going - ( I had planned to go back down to the main town and sit a bus to Patzcuro for the island) but by God's goodness, this family told me that they were heading in the same direction and I could follow them. I thankfully quickly squeezed myself in the back seat with their daughters. So thankful.

Such wonderful people they were. I was then suppose to meet a couchsurfer at Patzcuaro but due to the delay, I could not contact her and was left stranded. They welcomed me to join them , buying me a drink and getting me the boat tickets. So wonderful right. However since it was family time for them I decide to make my leave and said I was meeting my friends.
The feeling of being on the island was fantastic. It was full of culture and Mexicans.
Then I went around trying to spend some time till morning so I could check out the sunrise but as I tried sitting down to rest ,it made even colder - gosh. COLD.

So I decided to make my way back to the bus station on the main island where it was enclosed and so maybe I could hide away from the cold. To make things worse, there was no buses back to Morelia. So to hide from the cold, I booked the first bus out to a nearby town - which still was 2 hours from the time I was there - so I sat on the seat curling up as much as I can , using my backpack and friction to keep myself warm. Finally, the bus arrived. The bus warmness was such a comfort :)

The town which I arrived in was really a town called Agahuan that was famous for its history of volcano eruption of Paricutin or something similar. There was nothing in sight except wooden houses and mountains. I began truding up the paths with my backpacks enjoying the silence , yet fearful of what may happen since there seemed to be no one at all. Being on top and looking down in the forest, a guide told me that there was a beautiful monument in the middle of the forest - which I could see. He said I should use him as a guide because the forest might be confusing. Did not heed his advice as I like to explore things on my own - I had to climb up high rocks to make sure I still could see the monument and walk to it, and I am proud to say I made my way there to the monument after 3 hours.

Along the way I also finally got to eat the blue corn tacos which they self-pressed and formed! Amazing taste. Amazing. Yummy. I miss it! The cooks were true blue Mexicanas chicas :)

Also saw some kids along the way. So carefree - in the center of nature - the forest. Just them and their family and their huts.

However as I made my way back trying to recognise the path I came from - I was lost. And there was no one in sight. Only me and the trees. Just when I was thinking of what to do. I heard voices. And I found a teacher leading her students and she was lost too. She had a map so she instructed her kids to follow and of course I followed but guessed what, she turned and turned and we kept coming back to the same spot and she still insisted she was right. I decided to go my own way and find my way out. After what seemed like 5 hours of trekking I finally found similar areas and found my way back! but with blistered feet and a shirt soaked with perspiration and cuts along my legs as I bashed my way through some trees that had thorns.

Finally back to where I had been
Took a rest inside and found that there was a museum about the volcano. Quite interesting I would say.

And as I made my way down to the roadside bus station, I passed by a graveyard where they were going about the rituals for the day of the dead for their deceased. Young boys carrying flowers, garlands was up everywhere, kids picking dried flowers etc..

I headed for my final destination of Uruapan
Went to the natural waterfall park - it was refreshing

Continuing my exploration of the city- it had more displays on the day of the dead and also that of art of Mexico history - carvings on clay , figurines, cloth, straw - very inspiring !

My journey for Michoacan began and ended. It was an amazing journey - of self exploration, of coldness and of fear yet knowing that the Lord will always be there protecting me . Thank you O Lord for your goodness and grace throughout. Amen.

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