After driving for three hours, we checked into the Mission Cathedral Hotel in Morelia, a beautiful hotel in an old colonial mansion on the edge of the Zocalo, the main plaza. We got settled, ate lunch on the patio, and left for a quick tour of the city.
Morelia is named after the important War of Independence hero, Jose Maria Morelos y Pavon. We got to see many statues of him.
Next to the Zocalo was the main cathedral. Like all other churches in Morelia, this cathedral fashioned the three types of colonial architecture: baroque, neo-classical, and Herreresque. The ornateness of the interior baroque architecture is spectacular with its gold paint.
One of the other monuments we saw was El Fuente, which literally means “The Fountain”. The cool thing about this fountain is that it is just a replica of the original because the original mysteriously disappeared in 1940.
Morelia is a beautiful town with its colonial architecture so important that a law was passed to make it illegal to build or remodel in any other architectural style than colonial.
We had an early breakfast, hopped in the car, and drove off to Sanctuario Mariposa Monarcha, otherwise known as the Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary.
Getting there took a long time considering that there were so many unpaved roads and rocks in the middle of them. We even saw a car get stuck in a pile of dirt. Once parked, we hiked for about 45 minutes to get to an area full of butterflies. It looked like it was snowing orange, there were so many monarchs. On some trees, all you could see were butterflies, which were weighing the branches down.
The butterflies migrate from Canada in a cycle of 3-5 generations round trip. The adults butterflies start the journey and mate. The males die and the females lay their eggs on the milkweed of Texas and Florida, then die. The eggs hatch into caterpillars, the caterpillars build cocoons, and out comes the butterfly. The cycle then starts over.
Today we ate another early breakfast and drove to a lake called Lago de Patzcuaro, the second largest lake in Mexico. There we got on a boat that took us to a large island called Isla Janitzio. Janitzio is very popular on Dia de los Muertos, so much so that the overcrowding makes it dangerous. Covered in steps, this island is basically a large market. We weaved our way up the steps to the top of the hill. On the hill there was a large stone statue of Morelos and we got to climb inside up to his wrist, which was held above his head in a fist, signifying power. Since you can no longer climb the Statue of Liberty, this, I guess, is the next best thing.
Once we were back at the car, we drove into the town of Patzcuaro, had lunch at a place called La Priscilla, and took a quick tour of the town. Like Morelia, this town also is very colonial.
We drove the three hours back to Whatcha Gonna Do. On the way, we passed a burned out truck that we’d actually seen on fire on the way up, and we almost ran out of gas. We’ve now arrived safely at the boat.
Morelia was a fun place to visit, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to do it again. The butterflies were spectacular, but I would recommend Oaxaca long before Morelia.