Sunday, February 14, 2010

Celaya & Guanajuato, Mexico

It was time to leave Patzcuaro and travel to Morelia and catch a bus to Celaya. Matthew and I took a busvan to the place we were dropped off when arriving to Patzcuaro. We weren't exactly sure how to catch a bus to Morelia, but we knew the buses stopped at that spot. While looking like sad little lost gringos, our buddy, Gerado showed up in his taxi! He said he could drive us to Morelia! This worked out quite well. We arrived at the bus station in Morelia and bought a ticket to Celaya.

The purpose of traveling to Celaya was to visit some friends. They picked us up at the bus station and took us back to their house. The next day they showed us around. Have you ever seen a Garbonzo bean/Chickpea NOT in the can? This is what it looks like.

I don't know if you can see the green pods, but that is where the bean is. We collected a mound of bushes, and Rogelio's mom picked the beans. The next morning, she was roasting them over a fire. This makes them very tender and delicious! You just peel and eat!

We had a great time meeting their families. Matthew and I decided to stay in a hotel close to the airport since our flight was at 9:00am. On our way, we made a trip to Guanajuato. The city was very cool. It has a lot of old Spanish style architecture. There is a series of tunnels made by silver miners. They were deemed structurally sound, so now you can drive UNDER the entire city via these tunnels.
This little dog was just hanging out on the roof. (Haha! Get it? Roof?)

This is a pretty good example of what most of the buildings look like. There were so many brilliant colors.

All in all we had an AMAZING trip to Mexico. I most definately want to return to the beach and spend a whole week. We weren't prepared for the cooler weather inland, but we still had a great time. The history and old buildings were fascinating. We felt safe the whole time, but we had done our research on the places to go and not to go.

The plane ride home:
We arrived early enough to chill in the airport before our flight left. We arrived in Houston at 11:35 CST. Our next flight left at 12:46 CST. For some reason I had to check my bag, but Matthew was able to blue tag his. Anyway, we jump off the plane, I go running to get my bag. I forgot that we have to go through customs first. I waited for Matthew for a minute, watching to line grow. I said, "Forget this" and got in line. I made an entire loop before Matthew showed up. He got in line with me, and we begin watching the minutes tick. 12:00noon, 12:10, 12:20... we were averaging 10 minutes a loop. We FINALLY get to the desk, and we get through fairly quick. We RUN to the baggage claim, skipping the escaltor and taking the stairs. Matthew goes on one side, I take the other to look for my bag. GOT IT! We RUN up the stairs to the train to take us to our terminal. It was pulling away just as we got there. So we wait... We jump on the train... 12:45... We RUN up stairs (with our bags...) I really thought my legs were going to give out. More running... 12:55. We missed our flight! The lady at the desk was just as frazzled as we were, but she was sooo nice. The only flight to Charlotte was the next day, but she found a flight that was leaving at 2:40 CST to Asheville. AWESOME! This worked well, because we were able to get lunch. We called everyone, and Matthew's parents could pick us up at the airport. My sister didn't mind keeping my truck at her house for another week (Thanks, sis!).

The best part was spending a whole 10 days with Matthew. We haven't had a vacay together in years.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Tzintzuntzan, Mexico

So headed back into town for lunch. This was the beautiful courtyard where I had pasta alfredo. Yeah, I know...

Instead of busvan, we took an old bus to Tzintzuntzan (szin-SZOOT-san). Matthew affectionately calls these "chicken buses".

The purpose of this trip was to see the famous Purepecha (poor-hay-PAY-cha) Indian ruins. They are still in the process of cleaning it up and "fixing" the ruins. We just took our time and wandered around.

Some of the old blocks had carvings.

We had a big day! We went to Isla Janitzio AND Tzintzuntzan. I'm as bad as a toddler when I get tired, so needless to say I was becoming a little cranky. We took the bus back to Patzcuaro and went in search of dinner. Most the restaurants were already full, and we ended up circling back around to our hotel. That suited me just fine, so we had a nice dinner.

We ordered our beers, and we notice that everyone else is drinking coffee! No one was drinking beer. I guess they were too cold. We grabbed some beers and took them to the balcony on our floor. Despite the wool blanket, it was pretty cold! Matthew and I headed to the room to make plans for the next day.

Janitzio, Mexico

Our bellboy told us places we should see, and Janitzio is one of them. There were these "busvans" (as I called them) that just went all around the city for pennies. So we hopped on one to Lago (Lake) Patzcuaro. From there, we bought a boat ticket to go to the Isla (Island) Janitzio. (I had to steal this photo because for some reason I didn't downsize one of the ones I took).
(Yes, those are houses and people live on this island.)

Janitzio (hah-NEET-zee-oh) is very interesting. We start with the boat ride which is nice and slow across the lake. You can admire all the egrets and I spied a hawk on the lookout atop a skinny tree. The boat takes us all around the lake and comes to a stop. The fishermen show us how they use the butterfly nets to catch the pescado blanco (white fish), and the little fish are fried (called charales) and sold in bags with hot sauce.

The island has famous statue of Jose Maria Morelos, and it was built from 1500 concrete blocks that were brought from Morelia (a larger city east of Patzcuaro). He was a famous hero in the Mexican Independance. You have to hike all the way up the island to the statue. It was quite steep, and filled with vendors selling everything from trinkets to t-shirts to snacks.

So we paid our 6 pesos each (12 pesos was about $1usd) and checked it out. The inside of the statue has a staircase spiraling all the way to his "wrist". All the way up are detailed murals of Mexico's history. No flash photos were allowed, so I didn't take any inside. My vertigo was held at bay while the stairs became very narrow at the top.

After we hiked back down, we didn't see a boat to go back. This was a great opportunity to check out one of the little restaurants and have a beer. There were two burrachos in the back corner at 10am. They were hilarious! He kept changing the radio station to see if we liked the music. There was also a young lady making tortillas and frying them. This is what you usually see at the food vendor spots. Sometimes wood is used, but she had propane. You can see the charales in the cup in the lower right.
Of course the place was decorated for Christmas.

No boats had showed up yet, so we ventured down to the dock. Someone told us the departing boats where at a different dock. Short story long, we made it back across the lago and caught a busvan back to town to have lunch.