December 21 – December 27, 2018.
I was going to write something all insightful about friendship, connections, and people you meet on the road for this post but instead have decided to write about the most fun I have had in Mexico so far. Maybe it was so much fun because we were with some of those friends I was going to be all insightful about, or maybe it was because for a whole day I didn’t have to plan anything or figure out how to get anywhere, or perhaps it is just that Mexican touristas know how to have the most fun.
As you may have guessed from my abandoned post idea when we left Guadalajara we met up with some traveling friends. We headed south, spending a night on Lake Chapala and then on to Pátzcuaro, Michoacán the next day where we met up with sailing friends Jules and Jeff. We first met Jules and Jeff years ago when were sailing in the Bahamas. They now live on a boat sailing Mexico’s west coast. In addition to exploring on the water they have also done quite a bit of journeying inland off the boat in Mexico and were spending the Christmas holidays in Pátzcuaro which is along the path we were taking to Mexico City. We wanted to visit Pátzcuaro anyways so we thought we stop and hang with them for a while.
So on to the fun. On Christmas Eve day Jules and Jeff wanted to take a boat ride out to this tiny island called Janitzo in Lago de Pátzcuaro. At the very top of the hill which rises from the shores of Janitzio is a giant statue of a guy named Morelos. I had read about the island and statue previously and understood it was a touristy thing that Mexicans touristas love to do. I was up for it.
Jules and Jeff hiked up from where they were staying in El Centro to our campsite and from there we walked to the docks. Tickets were 70 pesos (about $3.50 US) per person round trip.
The fun began almost immediately after we launched. Those guys we saw lugging their musical instruments on board weren’t going to some gig on the island – no the gig was right there, right then, on the boat. And they were good! For my musically inclined friends, think Texas Tornados – for everyone else – Google Texas Tornados. They played half a dozen songs then passed the tip bucket. This is why you should always have smaller denomination pesos in your pocket in Mexico – truly you never know when and where the entertainment will be. After the bucket pass they started taking requests for larger tips. Everyone loved these guys. There was dancing in the aisles and they never ran out of people who wanted to tip them for a song.
As we neared the island I was hoping that we’d see these “butterfly fishermen” in their interesting looking boats and unusual nets I had read about previously. And we did. I saw a trio of them out the starboard window and leaned over a catch a few pics before we passed them. But then the boat stopped and I looked out the port side to see dozens of the fishermen posing for us. After giving everyone time to snap some pictures two fishermen flanked both sides of the boat working their way down the length of it collecting tips.
After disembarking at the island we started our ascent, climbing many, many stairs to reach the top of the monument. This, of course, didn’t disappoint either as the stairs were lined with restaurants and one gift shop after another enticing out of breath travelers to take a rest and look at their colorful souvenirs.
At the top we paid another 20 pesos each for access the monument and the surrounding courtyard. It was early so not much was cranked up yet but we got to watch Los Viejitos (child dancers with old guy masks) and sample some chapulines (fried grasshoppers) before we went inside Morelos. The chapulines were actually good. They taste pretty much like what they are seasoned with. I believe ours were chili and lime. But just like popcorn, when you chew little bits and pieces find their way down between the inside of your mouth your gums and you spend the rest of the day trying to clear out all the grasshopper parts.
Inside the monument was a ramp that followed the inside wall up to the top. As we walked up the ramp we followed murals that told Morelos’ story. If my Spanish was better I might be able to tell you more about that. At the end of the ramp was a twist of stairs which led us to the tiny windowed room big enough for maybe four people inside Morelos’ uplifted fist where we could look out over the island and the lake.
We took a different set of stairs on our descent down the hill and stopped at a restaurant along the way and had a tasty and cheap lunch.
The boat ride back was a bit more subdued. After the band (which was a bit more traditional and a lot less rocking than the previous band) passed the hat no one requested any more songs. Perhaps all the touristas were completely danced out, tipped out, climbed out, chapulined out, souvenired out, and just plain worn out from too much fun.
What’s the funnest thing you’ve done lately? What’s your favorite touristy thing to do?
* Click pics to enlarge and open into a slideshow.