Cruising  ~ The Cat’s Meow Style ~  June & July, 2008

Cruising Inland, Mexico  ~  Part 1



Mid-June found us leaving The Cat’s Meow behind in the new marina in La Cruz de Huanacaxtle while we drove the van, with both of the kitties, for explorations inland. Since we were land-cruising with two cats, Robin had made reservations at three pet-friendly places to stay a week at a time. The fourth and last place was in a house where friend MJ (formerly of Sol Mate) was house-sitting, and it was also cat-friendly. We had been talking about doing this land travel for a number of years. It felt really good to actually be doing it!


Our first destination was Colima – a medium sized city, not very far inland from Manzanillo. We stayed in the Suites Galvan, a good location for walking into el centro (center of the town), and in a neighborhood with a few stores, restaurants, etc. The “suites” were actually an apartment building, with a small pool and tropical vegetation all around, kept very clean and neat, off-street parking, and with a guard 24/7. Not fancy, fairly typical Mexican fare for building, with AC, and overall just fine. We walked into el centro, checked out the three museums around the main square, had some tasty food, and relaxed the first day.



                                              An evening concert in one of Colima’s plazas                                                            Detail of a mural by Chavez


Other days, we drove into the countryside and up a mountainside to view a still active volcano. We could see steam rising from the volcano – and the clouds at the top parted just for us to see all clearly. Then we spent some time wandering about the pueblo of Comala. Robin sampled the local “ponche” (a sweet drink made with natural stuff + alcohol) while we ate botanas (appetizers),watched the mariachis get ready to play, and enjoyed the locals.




One day we went to the two sites of ancient ruins, which included an underground tomb. Another day we drove quite a ways up a VERY long, desolate mountain road and finally found a very small village, where we met some very nice people who were willing to take us to the very well hidden cave that had been used by some of the meso Americans, thousands of years ago. That was an adventure!! And then there was the 80 year old woman whom we found walking along the road, by herself, on our way back from the cave! We offered her a ride, and had a pleasant chat while we took her to her village, where she hopped out and scurried up the hill to her house. 



                            Some of the ancient ruins at the La Camana site                                                  Note the (real) human bones this dog is guarding                                          Exploring a really well-hidden cave


The second place we stayed was in a very old village, Patzcuaro, in the state of Michoacan. Here, we had lodging in an “eco-hotel”, up the hill from the village and overlooking the lake. This was a suite – a sweet suite at that! Very nice and well-appointed buildings decorated beautifully with local crafts. Patzcuaro sits above 6000 feet in elevation, so the temperatures were a bit brisk for us. Even the people working at the hotel wore jackets. It rained a LOT while we were in this area, and it was not very warm during the daytime and downright chilly at night. The weird thing was: we were the only guests in the entire hotel! It seems that they were not officially open until the next week, and there was a “skeleton crew” working, but we were treated like king & queen the entire week.  



                                                           We had this entire hotel to ourselves!                                                      The view of the lake from our suite                                                                        


The first afternoon in Patzcuaro, we happened upon the Baile de los Viejos/Dance of the Old Ones in the main square. This is a local area dance, performed at special occasions and of course for the tourists. Tourists from Mexico City and from Guadalajara come to Patzcuaro to get out of the heat, and there were a few other North Americans, but we did not see many.


                    Los Viejos dancing in a main plaza….and Robin’s “Viejo”                 



Here is a video clip (about 30 seconds) of some of the dancing Los Viejos did in the plaza:  



One (rainy) day we drove around the lake. Every few miles there is a pueblo that specializes in a certain type of craft, such as lacquered wood designs, weaving with a straw-type of material, copper items, woodcarving, etc.  This makes for a very interesting area. In many of the pueblos, one can see the local people working in their shops or wearing the dress that is specific to their pueblo. Patzcuaro and the neighboring villages are all painted exactly the same way: a brick-red on the bottom portion of the buildings with white above that. Some of these buildings dated from the 14th century. We saw some buildings still standing – some not too well – made of adobe bricks.




                        A maestra of lacquer painting in her shop                                                                         Woodcarving shop                                                                    Wonderful craftsmen, everywhere




                                                         The library in Patzcuaro  ~  quite beautiful                                                                    Typical street & buildings in Patzcuaro


One day we drove to the larger city of Uruapan. The roads all along our trip were quite good – well maintained, whether we were on the libre (free) roads or on the cuota (toll) roads. This day, however, driving on one of the cuota roads, we decided we did NOT enjoy this particular type of road. It was two-lanes, but each lane had about a half of another lane to the side, and the trucks, busses, and cars treated it like a three-lane highway. Scary!! We opted for driving on the smaller, slower, libre roads.

Uruapan is the mother-lode for avocados– there are more avocados grown here than anywhere else. Period.

Anyway, once in Uruapan and after we found a parking lot, we walked around the city. There is a large park that follows a river at one end of the city. This park is known for its waterfalls and other water scenes. What a fine park! It was hard not to take photos at every turn. Green was an understatement. We had a great time wandering about, and we only saw about half of the park.





Then, we decided to try to find the nearby volcano. Another drive thru great countryside, on a good road, and we came to a very small village. Here, guides on horseback continually offered to take us to the volcano – but we didn’t have that much time nor did we especially want to ride the horses to the volcano. We kept going, in the van, and eventually found a nice park and tourist area, with great views of the volcano. This volcano is of interest due to its very young age: it erupted in 1943, and was active until the mid-sixties. It completely destroyed two villages. You can see the steeple and part of the church sticking up out of the lava flow in one of the villages, but that is all that is left.




                                                                      Guide and his sons, with the volcano in the background                                                                 An artistic rendition of the volcano’s explosions



This trip took us four weeks, and we saw a lot, did a lot. Here, we are breaking the story and photos into two parts, because there are so many photos, plus a few video clips, to download. Of course, we hope you enjoy each and every one of them! Please go on to see the second half of our inland trip, since we kept Cruising ~ The Cat’s Meow Style…….