Saturday, January 31, 2009

¡Viva Don Vasco!

We went to Morelia. The last weekend. My reaction when I heard where we could spend the weekend was: so what's going on there? 
Let's see: 4 hours away from the DF, on the highway,there's this city, capital of the Michoacán  State, who's name is, obviously, taken from Morelos, the revolutionary. Just because Morelos, the Mexican State,and the dozens of Morelos streets in Mexico City weren't enough. OK, I come from a country where the cult of personality was something special. in a way much people don't want to remember. 
And I didn't say anything, even if I wrote half a page:)
OK, a university city, 600.000 inhabitants, a beautiful central plaza, the Zocalo, a UNESCO treasure, a lot of festivals, no security problems, lovely climate, blue sky, a colonial downtown, portals, old tram, information points for tourists and, the most important in a country with so many polices yet inefficient, the Tourist Police. 

The sweets market, where I got waaaaaay before the merchants, is what I didn't expect, in fact, hoping it will be different from what I've seen in Mexico so far. nuts, pistachio, almonds, raw, fried, in chili or caramelized, the famous Alegrias, figs, dried fruits, tamarind and so so on. All uncovered, guarded by people who, at 10 AM, was that breakfast or almuerzo? digged their noses in the plastic plates with steamy tamales, chilaquilles or God knows what it was. I imagined, of course, in my twisted mind, all kind of greasy drops on the sweets so away I went, with fear.
Souvenirs, then. As here in the DF I could see all the colourful things artisans in this little country do, nothing impressed me in Morelia's market. Not even the tiny little leather booties where you could keep your Tequila glass, neither the "Remember Morelia" Eco bags, nor the cowboy frogs with  sadist smiles, who knows why.
11 AM and the sun was burning so hard that i wanted to throw my coat. I kept walking, though, as all my pockets were filled with phone, ID, money, batteries, Kleenex, all necessary when you are alone in a town you don't know. No map! 
The shoe cleaners in the Zocalo were busy bees working hard. I felt compassion for the one who was paid to dye some ex-trendy pink boots in the sades dullest black I've ever seen. But the one who wasn't working yet was somehow more depressing. Or was it the one totally ignored by his client? Don't know, I clean my shoes myself.

The coffee, a real blessing for my half-opened eyes (to too much light or too few oxygen- the altitude is not much lower comparing to the DF)- was taken at Lilian's Gourmet, in the chlorine flavour of the stuff one guy used to scrub the floor so vigorously that I suspected a murder took place there, the night before. I chose the place as at the  Conspiraciòn the doors were closed. Conspiracies have nothing to do with the daylight, it's more and more obvious for me!
I bumped into Melchor Ocampo's,statue too. A man who is so many streets, like Morelos, in fact.** 
A dauntless man with a cruel end, who strongly believed, as the plate is saying, he did for his mother country what he judged it was better. Another moment when the local patriotism strucks me in my head.
I took a deep breath to recover and then, like any normal human being with a stomach, no barriers and fresher air in his lungs, I was hungry. As I never go hunting without my gun, I searched the web looking for The Restaurant, I ignored the guides who, one night before sent us where some guys were selling the tables and chairs of what was once las Viandas de Don Jose.  So we went to Fonda Marceva.Then we walked, say a beautiful tree

a strange guy, 

we realised the little green man runs hard here, when it's his turn, of course, and we noted that it's hard to get bored on a Saturday evening in Morelia.  We saw a tram that does the city tour so we decided that could be a nice thing to do, even if near the Zocalo there were two different concerts. We paid our tickets, waited for our guide, met a family who was really prepared to do the tour (with fried potatoes, sweets, coke, popcorn and toys for the kids), saw where we could leave the tips and we waited. And waited. And waited, until the tram driver told us there's no way he could leave, since the tram is empty.

So we climbed our hotel's roof, sat down, listened to the music and watched the fireworks. And the lights on the Morelia Cathedral . And the people on the street. 

*Don Vasco de Quiroga, born in Spain, came here some 500 years ago. A great man. Details here.
** There's no happier moment than the one you get lost in Mexico City, just because in every colonia there is a Morelos, Ocampo, Revoluciòn or Londra street!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

useless mexican police

While people are assaulted on the streets, while drivers are left without the cars at street corners, while families are left without children for weeks and get a piece of the victim's ear or finger for some million of pessos, I was stopped at a corner because I claxoned. I did it because at every corner somebody jumps on my car to clean it. My car is cleaned every week with proper products and I don't intend neither to get a scratched or dirtier car, nor to see a pistol pointing my head. I claxoned, the policeman stopped me and asked for my papers. This time I was lucky. Next time I could be killed. Policemen are there only when you don't let the guys "clean" your car. Mexico has ten kinds of "policias". Could I know, please, what are they doing?