Morelia, Michoacán

How lucky we were to have had the chance to visit Morelia the way that we did! It all started one night when John was walking down the beach at Saladita. He almost stepped on a dead puffer fish, half buried in the sand. Luckily he felt the first prick on his toe and dodged the disaster. He then buried it in the sand to make sure nobody else had the same experience.  A group of five travelers saw the short event and invited him over to talk. One of the travelers was Andrea, now one of our good friends in Morelia. Later in the evening, Andrea and her friend Lily invited John to hang out with her uncle, Nacho, his girlfriend Rousi, and his sister Gela.

The entrance to Casa de Nacho.

After a great night of drinking, playing songs on the beach, and practicing their Spanish and English, Nacho invited John up to Morelia to stay at his guest house. It has been over a month now (Amy’s back on the trip), and we’re hanging out at Nacho’s incredible house – a little garden oasis in the city which they rent to exchange students and other visitors (Click here to send an email to Nacho.). It’s only 10 blocks from the center of town and minutes from great food and markets.

Combis pass by every two to five minutes.

It’s a great spot within walking distance of the main market on Sunday and the centro, and it’s an easy walk to the main thoroughfare of Madero to catch a combi (mini-van) costing only 5 pesos for anywhere you’d like to go.

Tasty Taco: Homemade Guacamole, Arrachera (steak), and Sweet Peppers!

Nacho and Rousi are friendly hosts who have shared everything we need to know to enjoy the city.Having the local connection is definitely the best way to practice our Spanish. We’ve met all the family members and friends who are musicians, artists, craftsmen, even plastics recyclers, and we’ve tagged along to fun parties and carne asadas (barbeques).

One rainy afternoon, we ascended into the hills and enjoyed a beautiful view and then an amazing spread of cecinas (think grilled beef jerky) and chorizo (sausage) laid out with beans, tortillas, guacamole, salsa and grilled onions at an adorable homestead and restaurant in the mountains.

Morelia sits just east of Pátzcuaro, atop the altiplano of Michoacán. It lies in a flat valley that was formally an agricultural area. The city used to be known for it’s flour refinery and steel refining. Now this city, the capitol of Michoacán, is known for it’s nightlife.

The cathedral, aqueduct, fountains and other structures are illuminated at night creating a wonderful evening ambiance.

The town has multiple universities and a healthy job market for young professionals. These characteristics makes it one of the most expensive places to live in Mexico. Everybody under the age of 40 seems to want to live here! And why not? Every night there’s another fiesta or salsa bar full of beautiful, drunk people!

The centro area is fun to explore, with shops and cafes tucked into five-century old stonework. At Chiapas Cafe, we found not only tasty french-press organic coffee and agua de jamaica (hibiscus tea), but books on how to start your own fruit cooperative, how to grow organic coffee and reports on organic agriculture in Mexico. Que chido (how cool!).

As foreigners here, we found the people to be exceptionally welcoming and warm. We had multiple people on the street wish us a good day and tell us to have a good time visiting Morelia. Many young people here study English and were willing trade off speaking English to us while we spoke Spanish to them.

Plaza de las Rosas.

The local music scene appears to be flourishing, with reggae as a favorite of many. Our friend David plays in multiple local bands. We had the opportunity to listen to many of them because they practiced right behind our room at Nacho’s house.

Morelia has a little bit of everything. One moment you feel like you are in Spain sipping coffee at a shady cafe and admiring statues and ancient stonework. Later that evening you can drink pulque (fermented juice from the maguey plant) and listen to indie and reggae music at hipster bars. Walk a little further, and you are eating late-night tacos under a neon sign at La Cueva de Chucho (Chucho’s Cave – Chucho is a nickname for Jesus). We’ve attended free concerts at the Museo del Estado, shopped for regional candies at the sweets market, and eaten blackberry tamales from the Sunday market. Thus far into our journey, we’d recommend Morelia as the most fun and accomodating colonial city to visit in Mexico. We could have easily stayed another two weeks, but decided instead to chase waves in Oaxaca, post coming soon.

Amy & Andrea at the Bandera Monumental overlooking Morelia. A tip to the night watchman extended visitor's hours.

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2 Comments

  1. Jane said,

    June 16, 2010 at 3:53 pm

    very cool description and wonderful photos–yum!

  2. Ana, de Morelia said,

    June 17, 2010 at 3:46 pm

    Happy you enjoy mi tierra. Please, come back soon!

    Remember to be very careful as pedestrians.

    You will love Morelos and Oaxaca.


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