Driving to Pátzcuaro
This morning we would be driving from Mexico City to the small town of Pátzcuaro, in the state of Michoacán. Two guidebooks gave a driving time of 5 hours from Mexico City; however, the local people that we talked to all said 6 to 8 hours.
We had a bumpy start getting our car from the Hertz office in downtown Mexico City. First, the address that was provided on my emailed reservation confirmation simply did not exist. Our taxi driver was resourceful enough to whip out his yellow pages and get the correct address. Then we discovered upon arrival that this Hertz office did not have any cars; so they had a driver transport us to another Hertz office. After we completed the car inspection and signed the paperwork, our transport driver accidentally drove away without giving us our copy; so we had to wait for his return. Finally, the gas gauge needle in the car was solidly on “E”, and the Hertz attendant could not tell us where the nearest gas station was. (What?! Are we are on candid camera?)
Here is a wonderful statue across from the first Hertz office:
We eased into the Mexico City traffic, and headed out of town. I figured that there had to be a gas station soon—this was the main artery leaving the city, with bumper to bumper cars. Ben was gentle with the gas pedal, I was projecting the “let there be a gas station around the next corner” vibe into the universe, and we were both scouring the streets for a “Pemex” sign (Mexico’s national gas station).
Sebastian was happy in the back seat:
After ten minutes (which seemed like an hour), we saw a gas station—hurrah! These nice attendants filled our tank and checked our tire pressure:
Then we entered the “crawl” out of the city:
After a solid hour, we had traveled 1 ½ miles. The drivers around us all seemed to be resigned to this state of being, with no angry horn blowing or rude gestures. We inched forward in the same spirit. We were in awe at the sanity of this insanity.
We passed through a neighborhood of single family homes, some of them quite large. We could tell that we were leaving the “big city” behind.
This house had a beautifully carved gate:
We passed this unusual building, with people cleaning the outside:
We saw a lot of road construction today, including these workers paving the tunnel road:
We found the vast majority of paved roads in Mexico to be in excellent condition—much better than many of the roads in our home state of California.
We finally left the traffic behind and sailed along on the toll road, heading toward the state of Michoacán. We all enjoyed looking at the many types of houses, catching glimpses of the bits and pieces that make up other people’s lives. Here is some passing scenery:
There were many roadside restaurants (“barbacoas”). We stopped at this one:
There was only one thing on the menu: pork tacos. We had the choice of ording individual tacos, or buying the succulent pork meat by the kilo and making our own tacos with all of the fixings. We chose the individual tacos, and they were heavenly. We devoured a total of 12.
The restaurant also had a very fun playground for the children, who made a beeline for spinner:
After lunch, we all settled back into the car for a pleasant drive:
Both Genevieve and Sebastian were soon fast asleep:
Ben and I gave a celebratory “woo hoo!” upon crossing the state line into Michoacán:
I looked back at the kids and found this:
(The photo above is one of my all-time favorites.)
We passed by this peaceful lake:
The capital of Michoacán is Morelia, which we found to be extremely charming with its narrow streets, beautiful buildings, shady plaza, and picturesque churches. We took these photos while passing through, but we’d like to come back one day and explore.
Finally, we arrived in Pátzcuaro—the drive had taken 7 ½ hours, with the Mexico City traffic delays, a ½ hour lunch stop, and another 10 minute break).
Almost there! The car ahead was coming through!
We were amused by the creative techniques that drivers used to pass by each other on these narrow streets. Sitting in the passenger seat, I often found myself instinctively squeezing in my shoulders and body parts, and holding my breath, in an attempt to make our tiny car even smaller.
We were staying for three nights at Casa Werma, a bed and breakfast inn in the center of town. Casa Werma was a walled-in oasis of greenery: five acres of grass, flowers, fruit trees, and even an old cabin that the children were free to explore. Here are Genevieve and Sebastian admiring an avocado tree:
This old cabin on the property was a wonderland for the kids, inspiring hours of imaginative play:
Our large comfortable rooms were in the “grand casa” (big house), which had a lot of character. Sebastian was enchanted with this large wooden trough.
After settling in for a bit, we set off to explore the nearby town squares. Pátzcuaro has two town squares, only a block apart. Leaving Casa Werma, the children were prepared for sporadic showers:
This is our street, which in the daytime transforms into a bustling market:
I found this old building to be fascinating, with its colors and combination of stucco, brick and tile:
The square nearest to Casa Werma is bordered by this wonderful old church:
We wandered to the next square looking for a restaurant that was recommended in our guidebook, which unfortunately contained only a vague description of the location. We walked around the square, enjoying the sights, but with no luck in finding the restaurant. We finally decided to eat at La Compañia, which prepared fresh and delicious meals for us, combined with very good service. We were very pleased.
Sebastian ended the day, as he had started—with a beautiful smile:
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