Here I am sitting in a 'no-tell Motel' the like of which you will find all over Mexico, hidden behind high walls, designed specifically for sex by the hour on the outskirts of town, and which even provides discreet parking so no-one can identify your vehicle. The room is colourful, apparently clean with the largest mirror on the wall facing the bed I have ever seen. Needless to say I am writing and David is tightening screws on the bike. Such is life.
I haven't written the Blog for a while. The travel lark is feeling a bit of a drudge lately. How can this be the case I wonder. The world is an amazing place just waiting to be discovered; I am lucky to be making this journey-so many folk we have met have remarked on this. But I think that each discovery to be had in the world is unique to the individual. And it is not so much the physical journey but the emotional one too. We have been on the road and in each others company constantly for 8 months and it is testing sometimes, for both of us, as we have previously admitted. We each get fed up with one another's irritating traits. This can result in hours if not days of malcontent as each ruminates about the other, plotting I am sure all sorts of scenarios. What 'should' be an enjoyable (all of the time, and why not?) and exciting time ends up with us being hurtful, and all we can find to say is that it is because we are in each other's company all the time. Not a very clever explanation. But perhaps we have had enough of soul searching. But it is interesting how it seems to come in cycles, perhaps related to the purpose of the trip. I remember at the beginning we each had different expectations/ideas about travel, which mostly went unexpressed until it became clear that we were moving in opposite directions. We became angry at one another until we sorted it out. It seems that perhaps at this point in our travels, we have lost faith in our purpose. Are we here in Mexico to visit dead things with it seems to us, grizzly images of Christ or something else?????
We are/were both excited about travelling in Mexico: being immersed in it's rich colonial and indigenous cultures, which we had missed in Canada and the USA due to their shorter histories perhaps. But even David, who thoroughly enjoys culture and architecture being as how his dad was an architect, is feeling swamped. It is not surprising really. We have shifted from camping mostly, in the vast open spaces of North America, far, far from cities, in the great outdoors; catering for ourselves, watching sunsets, sitting around a camp-fire, waking to bird song or babbling streams; even on occasion waking to a wonderful sunrise, to staying in hotels or should I say hostels where we don't/can't cook and are cooped up often in cramped dark, cell-like rooms, a feature of trtavelling for a long period on a fixed budget.
Oh the rooms are usually clean enough, no bug bites yet, but it is primitive lodging. Mexican economy lodging we have read adds to the adventure. The rooms may be bright and cheerful in colour, but this pales to insignificance being as how they are often window-less and dark, lack hanging/storage space (a pain with all our motorbike gear) have temperamental power, certainly no heating, showers that either spits scalding water at you, or more probably sprinkles you with cold water, ok if the next place has a good shower so you can wash your hair; lighting from one bare light bulb in the centre of the room that will bleach out any softness and be hopeless to read by I like a room you can make a bit cosy!); a toilet seat if you are lucky (I like them too otherwise the loo is cold/uncomfortable on my bottom). The loo may flush but mostly not. It usually blocks at the merest hint of a poo and toilet paper, (so perhaps it is best to dig a hole outside and bob down, as we often did when camping in the US!!) The bed and pillow seem carved out of a local tree trunk: sheets seem clean but bedding is often stained, torn or worn out, but that is nothing when you take a peak at the condition of the pillow/mattress itself!!! Perhaps I am being fussy but I doi miss my own bed at times. Yet staying in more upmarket hotels is bleak and colourless. So what's the answer we wonder.
And of course we now head for cities rather than away from them, in order to visit 'dead things' like churches, cathedrals, basilicas, temples, museums and the like (David heaven!) because that is what the guide books suggest. But the Christ image is everywhere and overpowering and to some extent depressing, even for David. And I find it all a bit wearing, as Judy mentioned in her post, there is something perverse about all that wealth amidst so much poverty. Plus lurching from one city to another having smouldering disagreements about where to stay and what to do and when is draining. It is like we are on some kind of culture mission.
Undoubtedly the architecture here is awe inspiring, and history remarkable, but the use of the Christ image ragged, bloody and bleeding, bruised and gouged, eyes lost in the middle distance,(David thinks it resembles a still from the Texas Chain Saw Massacre, and how can that be uplifting) in churches, on streets, homes, roadsides, and being driven around squares on the back of a truck to the strains of jolly Mexican music played by a raggedy but tight brass band, trailing a solemn knot of followers waving balloons, one of whom insists on letting rockets off every few seconds (he holds the rocket in his hand, lights it and waits for it to lift off before letting go-health and safety nightmare!!!!) is both wonderful to behold and puzzling, partly because we are unable to ask questions because our Spanish is limited.
Yes places of worship can be truly peaceful sanctuaries; a space for contemplation (when not inundated by tourists) yet their hallowed walls bare testament to scenes of much suffering. And it is this through the Christ image displaying suffering, misery, and judgement on all who eyes feast upon it, that people come to judge their own souls and find themselves wanting, always. So what to do with ourselves-we have lost a sense of joy. We have begun to feed our own souls less on the richness of the culture we are visiting, and more on each other, we have turned in on ourselves again.
And also we are not meeting/talking to people in the way we were in North America, although we have of course enjoyed the brief company of Chris and later Fred, fellow bikers. However not being able to speak Spanish well enough to converse with people who live here, and find out about life here, rather than always asking for what we need: a room, towels, provisions, directions etc. is a serious limitation. We feel like we are voyeurs gliding through the country rather than travelling in it. So we need joyful purpose to take us out of ourselves. We have a plan-but more of that as it unfolds!!!!
Nevertheless Patzcuaro was a mixture of niggles and delights. We drove around looking for a hotel David had selected from our Footprints Guide. One of the local police type people (there are many important and fearsome folk in uniforms here, all carrying guns of one sort or another or even a bazooka!). It is difficult to know what they do, as they all seem to direct traffic at some point. Anyway this chappy directed us left then right then straight on and goodness knows where, when in fact it was facing us-very Mexican we are told!!
Anyway having squeezed Nancy in through the middle of the market vendors
and the door of the hotel between cake sellers, a toy ride and small children
we settled into our room (second left)then headed off for food
The following morning we took a walk around the town. The map we were given by the local tourist office bore no resemblance to the actual town (again very Mexican) so our tour was interesting to say the least. First off we visited the main square
and the market
the main outdoor market
and indoor market
(these things dangling from the ceiling contain sweets-at parties, the host is blindfolded bashes them until they burst then everyone scrabbles on the floor to bag as many as they can-a real free for all). Then we wandered the streets
took photos of the library
Other rather nice colonial architecture
gaped at the locals
A view over the rooftops
We visited the Casa de los 11 Patios
where locals were making-selling their wares
We visited the Templo de la Compaña de Jesus
and wandered around a shop selling everything from 'white goods' to stereos, furniture and scooters motorbikes and tyres
The following morning, we had breakfast at a local restaurant, and set off for a walk. We were not quite sure what to do with ourselves. Initially the idea had been to stay an extra day to visit the lake. Then we spotted a BMW bike and it's owner, Mario, who we had coffee with and who invited us to his home in Morelia, so off we went to meet his friends and family for the day. First we met their friends Blanca and Eduardo where we (well I) shared a glass of fruity Australian red wine, in their beautiful home. Then we drove over to meet Mario Junior with his wife Beatrice and three children in their stunning home
There we were treated to a delicious meal of broiled pork, tortillas and salsas topped off with yet more silky red Chilean wine. We ran out of time to see the town before dark, but promised we would return on our way back through Mexico to the USA
Sitting down is Mario, holding Gabriel his grandchild age 10 months. Behind him is Blanca a family friend, who is standing next to Mario Junior, and his wife Beatrice, then Eduardo Blanca's husband, and the grandchildren Mario Junior Junior age 7yrs, and Eugenie age 10yrs. We had a wonderful afternoon with them all. They were very patient with our lack of Spanish for which we are grateful. Thank you!!