Tuesday, February 2, 2010
Weekly Update Feb 2, 2010
I had a pretty event full week this week.
I went out one day this week and climbed back up to the shrine, then carried on to the cornfield and then hit new territory finding new trails to descend back to town from.
I pushed a bit heading up to the shrine and made in 11 minutes. I rested a bit there and saw a women come down from higher up the mountain. She was dressed totally in white coveralls including white hat and scarf. Only her face showed and she carried a few plastic one gallon water jogs. She asked how far I was going. I told her I was heading up to the cornfield, but I didn’t know where I was heading from there. She asked if I’d help her group out. I’d seen small trees that were planted along the trails on previous hikes. I had no idea where they were from. I’d joked with Lynne once that they were part of the Mexican reforestation project. It ends up that was about right. She and her group were planning all along the trails. There was a fence that I had to cut through to get up to the cornfield. She asked if I’d help out by taking one of the jugs and filling it from a large container that was next to the fence and then carry it up to the cornfield. I guess she had carried the half dozen or so jugs she had up to that fence. I said sure. Why not, it was all I could do to get up to that cornfield the first time I’d done it. I might as well try it with a big jog of water in one hand at the same time. In the end, it wasn’t has hard as I thought it would be.
I hung out at the cornfield which is about 1300’ above the town, which is about 5200’ above sea level. I took some bars and a few water bottles with E-Load. I felt good. I took a bunch of pictures looking up the mountain and down to the town. The mountain continues up another 2000 feet or so. There are a couple of climbing groups around, but I’m going to continue exploring on my own. I’ll go a bit further and fine new trails each time until i get really familiar with these hills over the next month or two before going back to running.
On the weekend I headed out by car to the town or Morelia. Morelia is about 500k east of here, about half way towards Mexico City. Morelia is the town that the Monarch butterflies migrate to each year. Now, I must admit, I really couldn’t care less about butterflies, but I figured that, seeing as I’m this close and it is pretty amazing that these bugs fly from Canada to here each year, it was something worth going to see. Something I found interesting is that the butterflies fly down from Canada to the same mountain in Mexico each year. They get here; they breed, and then die. The butterflies that are born here fly back to Canada in the spring and breed, and die there. The butterflies make the several thousand kilometre trip by instinct, arriving at the same area year after year, generation after generation.
Lynne wanted some time alone. We’re together pretty much 24 hours a day. Some time alone would be good for both of us. I drove out on Friday morning. Within a hundred kilometres the landscape changed from the mountain ranges that we live in to old volcanoes jutting out of the otherwise flat green land. The skies were overcast. The overall appearance reminded me of pictures of "the land before man". I’m told there are some live volcanoes in the area. I’m going to research them and visit one soon.
The GPS put me on the toll roads pretty quickly. I turn off after a few hours and headed south towards the town of Patzucuaro. John and Joan told us it’s a beautiful town and that I should check it out on this trip. It was getting late in the afternoon. It was going to take me another hour to get to Morelia from there so, I just drove through and looked around from the car. The town did look inviting. There were tons of wood working shops, wood carving actually. Almost every corner was another shop. I don’t know why i didn’t get any picture. I’m sorry now that I didn’t, but I’m sure Lynne and I will head out there for a weekend soon to spend some time exploring the town.
I notice the first strip joint I’ve seen anywhere in Mexico too. The building was huge and the music was really loud. I could hear it from the car from the middle of the road. I looked at the place, thought about all the stories I’ve heard of gringos getting killed in joints like those and, kept on driving!
Lina, our Spanish teacher kindly forwarded a newspaper article that spoke to the 2600 people who were killed in the first 6 months of last year due to drug wars in the area. I think that prompted me to stay in the car too! I didn’t see any traces of drugs, drug lords or drug wars while I was away. Lina did email me when I got home to tell me that 8 people were found beheaded in that state over the weekend. I’m glad she waited until I was back home to tell me!
The drive from Patzucuaro to Morelia did take about an hour. The roads twisted and turned everywhere. It was a fun drive. It was interesting that, as many woodworking shops I’d seen in Patzucuaro, there were as many, if not more, stone carving shops on the roads to Morelia. There were stone carvings of everything from small animals and birdbaths to huge pillars that would sit in front of massive cathedrals. I’d love to go back again another day and explore some of the shops in both towns.
Morelia was an amazingly busy town traffic wise. It took an hour to get the 3.5k to the hotels when I got to town. The GPS showed me that there were a number of hotels all in the same area. What it didn’t tell me was that they were all the high-end hotels at the centre of town. I was too tired to head our again when I realized what I was in for, so I took the $120. Room and spent the night there at the edge of the incredibly beautiful town square. $120.00 isn’t a lot for a hotel at home but, it’s a fortune for Mexico.
I tool lots of pictures of the hotel and the room, but headed out early in the morning for ‘Butterflyville! It ended up that I was still a couple of hours drive from the sanctuary.
The place was high in the mountains. The temperature was only about 8 or 9 degrees. The skies were overcast again. I found the place, parked the car and walked through the woods for about 30 minutes. Up and then down the mountain to the end of the path. I was a bit pissed at first when there were no butterflies in the air. All the stories I read about the place talked about the millions of butterflies. What I didn’t know at the time was that, when the weather is cold, they group together high in the trees in hugs clumps, huddled together to keep each other warm. Eventually I notice hundreds of dead butterflies on the ground. I did see one butterfly in the air. I laughed when I realized it had died and was only falling to the ground! I headed back when it started to rain.
Oh well, I’ve seen it!
I headed back home, but stayed on the main highways all the way. Again I loved looking at the landscape that kept reminding me of those "Land before Man" scenes.
Traffic laws here aren’t what they are at home. The speed limit is posted at 110, but most people drive at around 130 - 145 kph. I followed a pickup truck for a bit. Mom and Dad were in the front. 4 kids were playing in the open cab in the back. At one point I clocked us moving at 160 kph. The kids played in that open cab as if they were sitting in a playground. I kept waiting to see one of them or their toys go flying out onto the road!
I got a couple of good shots of the red sunset sky on the way back. I was home by about 8:30pm. It was a fun trip. The butterflies sucked, but the adventure of exploring the land was great. I think next weekend I’ll stick closer to town and head back up into the mountains or over and explore the town of Chapala.
Our neighbours John and Joan left for California on Monday morning. Like us, they sold there house and are traveling around deciding where to settle down. We’re going to miss them. They were the first friends that Lynne and I made since we left Aurora in July. Hopefully we’ll keep in touch by email.