### NSFW art picture included ###
June 19, 2012 - Morelia is a fabulous stop. It reminded us in some ways of Arequipa, in Peru, a town that sticks in your mind. The more we walked around, the more we found. In a few square blocks from the main cathedral, we must have hit five or six small parks, occupied by young and old with lots of couples being friendly with each other.
Our hotel was just outside of town so we had a short ride in. There was a student protest going on right outside of the cathedral grounds, spilling along the sidewalks where close to a hundred tents were set up all over the sidewalks. The protest was around student reforms and pending legislation.
The upside for us from all this was that it created lots of parking spaces to squeeze the bikes into, so we basically parked in the shadow of the cathedral when we rode into town. Following local custom, we didn't even bother to lock the bikes up. For all the negative news about Mexico, we're finding the people, police, army check posts etc. to be more cordial than say, US customs, or any Canadian or European interaction with police authorities.
Morelia is jam-packed with stunningly appointed restaurants in a variety of styles. Here are a few shots of our favorite hangout.
The downtown area is dominated by the cathedral and its square. The Spanish colonialists did their job right and planted an impressive cathedral on one of the higher points of the city, the dark and doom of Catholicism seeping out from the catacombs of long-dead priests. Believers shuffle along cautiously to receive dubious blessings from a guy in a pointy white hat.
On the other side of the spectrum, Morelia has a fair bit of art hidden in various nooks and crannies. We went to the Alfredo Zalce Museum of Contemporary Art, mostly containing works by Alfredo Zalce.
The collection turned out to be quite varied.
A number of official institutions have occupied some of the older buildings in town and have struck a very fine balance between part operational purpose and public heritage, with all of them being accessible to the public free of charge. We visited the legislature and mingled with guys in suits, TV interviews being conducted as we strolled past. A keen security guard, armed to the teeth, explained a few of the depictions to us in one of the rooms.
Another feature not to miss in Morelia is the aqueduct.
The "collectivos" are everywhere and their modus operandi seems to consist of swerving to the curb to pick up a straggler and then to pull right back into traffic without looking.
We saw next to no tourists in Morelia, which surprised us. In fact, we have seen next to no tourists at all on this trip, let alone other motorcycle riders. Our next stop is Puebla. But first we have to battle Mexico City's traffic.