One week of wonder

by locahermanas @, Minnesota, Sunday, February 27, 2011, 10:03 (2817 days ago)

One week of wonder: Zihua-Morelia-Butterflies-Patzcuaro-Zihua
A full trip report might turn into a short novel, so I’m going to try to keep it to the “Best Of” experiences:

Best Hotel – Hotel de la Soledad in Morelia. Ambiance, location, garden sanctuary, most attentive staff, and price booked through Orbitz made this a winner. The rooms facing the street were a bit noisy, but I always travel with earplugs and had no problem sleeping. Courtyard rooms are quieter, but not as nicely appointed. Sunday brunch offered many regional food choices and was a bargain.

Best Meal – Tough one. Fonda las Mercedes in Morelia was a 5-star experience that food critics would rave about. Old-world atmosphere with stone columns, ollas, religious artwork, lovely table setting with regional ceramics. The only thing missing was some music. The Chimichurri Arrachera was tender, with explosive flavors of garlic and cilantro and the tenderloin wrapped in bacon melted in your mouth. Hard to top this, but Mistonga in Patzuaro was equally wonderful. Where the space of Fonda las Mercedes is more refined, Mistonga is bright and the Argentinian music really sets the mood. Once again, I had the Chimichurri, but the cut of beef was a tenderloin that was the best I’ve had in my lifetime. Melt in your mouth and the grill was smoky and popped on the tongue. Another in our group had the Beef Medallions and said it must have been veal.

Best Drink – Hands-down winner – HOT CHOCOLATE anywhere in Michoacan.

Best Guide – Jaime Hernandez Balderas from Patzcuaro ( He is a registered tour guide and has a personal quest for more knowledge on the history of Purepecha culture and the role Don Quiroga played in developing the region. Jaime took us to many off the beaten path places of crafters and artisans who opened their studios to us and shared their world. Amazing, unforgettable and touching our souls. The crafters are really struggling with lack of tourism and the world economy. They may not survive and this would be a great loss for families that have been carrying on their traditions for several generations.

Best Bucket List Experience – No question about it, the monarch butterfly sanctuary. The wonder of nature cannot be matched by anything else – sex, drugs, rock and roll, do not compare to hearing the fluttering of tender wings in the cathedral of old-growth oyamel forest. To be surrounded by their lift-off as the sun rises above the trees, sending the butterflies to the surrounding wildflowers for nectar will compel you to just stop and be present now.

Best Encounter with the Gods – Our guide, Jaime, explained that before we ascend the Tarascan ruins, we should pay homage to the Gods. My husband, who is a heathen, disregarded this tip and bounded up the steps toward heaven. The sacrificial alter is placed at the top of the ruin and is another 3 or 4 platform higher climb. On the second platform, the earth opened under his feet and he went crashing down. Luckily, he was only bruised, but crushed my camera – no butterfly pictures for me. He still can’t figure out how this happened, but the rest of us know that the Gods were giving him a little reminder about whose turf he was on.

Best Travelling Companions – My locahermana sister, Paulette, and her husband George, and gardengal Phyllis and Coach Norm. We had a really fun time. Norm sure put us in our place leading the group at a fast pace up the mountain to the butterflies. We’re going up to 8500 feet and he isn’t winded at all. Guess that’s that strong, Swedish heritage. Keep on keepin’ on Norm.

Finally, let me say that we are so glad we made this trip and didn’t let fear keep us back. The people everywhere were warm and welcoming, as always. We were smart about using a guide, and he took extra care in a couple of spots that might have been a little “iffy” – like Zitacuaro. If you are thinking of venturing out of Zihua and want more details, please email me or Jaime as a guide.

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