This weekend, all four of my housemates and a Mexican teacher from school took a trip to Morelia, Michoacán. Hurray for long weekends! As we walked around the city, we were fortunate enough to be in the right place at the right time and got to see all sorts of fun things, including the Dance of the Viejitos and part of a college fashion show. It was fun to watch Emma thoroughly enjoying art galleries in the cultural center. One exhibition was made of pictures composed entirely out of feathers. Another showed the very interesting syncretism between Pre-Columbian religion and Catholicism. Kelly and Alyson took lots of good pictures around town and Monica helped us out by explaining customs and food dishes.
The Morelia cathedral was incredibly beautiful. The pope will be coming to visit in a few weeks so there were many preparations taking place around the city. I didn’t take a picture, but one of the fabric stores had a large display of bolt after bolt of fabric printed with…the pope. Just what you needed. We also went to a candy store and museum that told the history of the development of the industry in Morelia. We got to sample some “ate” still hot that our guide made for us in a turn-of-the-century kitchen.
We had a wonderful dinner in the Jardin de las Rosas, which didn’t actually have any roses that I could see. It was fun because it felt like we were just joining the locals on Saturday night. There were very few tourists and even fewer foreign tourists. While we ate dinner, we enjoyed a few songs from the bards, similar to what I enjoyed so much in Guanajuato, The Beginning of my Travels. After dinner, we walked a few blocks back to the cathedral where we enjoyed a fireworks show and got to watch the teenagers play El Torrito, which is a game where someone puts this huge decorated structure on their shoulders and tries to dance with it while everyone else dances in a circle around them to really upbeat music. It was hilarious to watch.
The next day, we took a 3 hour bus ride over roads that reminded me of the Blue Ridge Parkway, beautiful, but dizzying when you take the turns too tight. We drove along the Sierra Madre Occidental to get to El Rosario monarch butterfly sanctuary. It was packed, but the weather was wonderful. One moment to complain about my biggest pet peeve in Mexico: we only paid $35 pesos to get in with our teacher discount, but had to pay $5 each time to use the bathrooms, which were pretty awful even by Mexican standards. Okay, I’m done complaining, back to the sunshine. We had a steep hike up at a high altitude, but climbing the heights was worth it. The monarchs were all over the trees and ground and in the air. It sounded like autumn in the States, when the wind rustles the dying leaves. One thing that made me sad was seeing so many people disregard the rules and touch the butterflies or shout loudly or leave trash around. I was so thankful to be able to see it in person, but I am sad for what will eventually happen to the monarchs if their habitats continue to be treated this way.
After loads of pictures and oohs and aahs, we trekked back down and enjoyed delicious carne asada made by a local family. We were serenaded by a small band and had a little bit of time to look around at the souvenirs and art work being sold. We got back to our hotel around nine in the evening, but we all pretty much went right to sleep. The next day, we enjoyed breakfast across from the cathedral and then headed back to Guadalajara. I’m so thankful for the experience and the time with friends.