10 February 2010
We started the day with a half mile walk to the bus station to catch the bus to Morelia. This 35 mile bus ride will take us about 1 hour with all the little stops along the way, this isn’t the Express… it was a comfortable ride with the bus being about 80% full and us having to share the rear full bus length seat with just one other man. When we pulled into the bus station at Morelia we were blown away. This is “A Bus Station” !!! There must have been 100 buses there, and they were all of the quality of the one we rode in on or better. I’m sure that somewhere they still have the “chicken bus”, but so far we haven’t seen them. Our bus was an “inter-city” bus, but when you get one of the cross country busses you get LUXURY and I do mean luxury. In leaving the bus we were directed to the terminal (looked pretty 1st class to us…) and then a short walk out to the waiting cabs. Well we had been reading the Lonely Planet book again and we knew, or thought we knew, that we wanted a combi (white with a red stripe) that would whisk us off to our predetermined hotel. As we walked out to the cab area, we noticed that there weren’t any combi’s to be had…ok, now what??? I asked a security guard as to where we might find one, and he immediately asked us with a smile…”Are you sure you want a combi and not a cab?”. Well we should have gotten the idea that just maybe we were making a mistake by going with the combi, after all, we’re not the normal “Lonely Planet backpacker” in the big city. Well we were told the combi’s can be found about a block away so off we went. Sure as heck, here comes the red striped combi and it even has CENTRAL written across his windshield (the common practice). When Louise and I jumped into the back of this older VW van we joined 2 other ladies heading towards the downtown area. The cost for getting us from the bus station to Central was 5 pesos (.40 cents) each so we weren’t going to go broke riding to town. About 20 feet into our ride and I told Louise that “something sounds like it’s ready to go..”, and sure enough about a mile later and 5 more people added, we’ve broken down. Now that’s not a big deal as there was another combi right behind us and it was ready to handle our needs without a problem. The only thing that we didn’t learn from the Lonely Planet book was that the red striped combi’s have a number system displayed on the front windshield too. The number 1 took you directly to Central, while the others 2-6 traveled all the neighborhoods using a back and forth pattern to collect as many people as possible before finally getting to our destination. What could have been a 15 minute ride turned out to be 40 minutes and we had a FULL combi too. Now this reminded us of a college initiation prank, “how many students (paying customers) can you cram into a VW van…we had 17 plus the driver…DID WE WIN ANYTHING??? Finally arriving in the “Historical Center” of Morelia we were able to free ourselves of the combi and quickly search out a coffee shoppe. Actually it was right on the corner of our departure, so finally somebody was looking out for us. The coffee here in Mexico has really been good and this stop wasn’t any different. Just outside of the doors was the “Presidents office” (the Governor of the state of Michoacán) and there was a peaceful demonstration happening. One long block was completely blocked by demonstrators’, some sitting in the street and others pacing around. Now first rule for a traveler in Mexico…”stay away from demonstrations”…well we’re inside right, what the heck can happen in there having a cup of coffee?? Fortunately nothing. Finishing our coffee and checking out our map, we headed out to find our hotel. Morelia is an easy city to get around in once you’ve gotten yourselves into the center. We found the hotel, checked-in and immediately went out to see the sights. Right across the street was the Morelia Museo Arte Colonial.