Sunday, November 04, 2012

Turotel, Morelia

(A version of this review originally appeared on

Unassuming looking entrance belies comforts inside

We needed a modern and convenient hotel in which to stay in Morelia following surgery. After staying at Turotel, we are not surprised that it has won TripAdvisers' reviewers' First Place in the Hotel category for Morelia.

Among the attractions for us were its location, on the eastern outskirts of the city; not in the beloved, charming but traffic clogged central part of the city. Other attractions were the breakfast buffet and room service. We made use of both and were pleased by the freshness of the food and the speed of room service. (Albeit that all we ordered was juice and mineral water, but even though it was at 1 o'clock in the morning, it took only 5 minutes for room service to deliver the drinks.)

Most important of all, our room was spacious, with two double beds, an ample desk, a comfortable easy chair, a large dresser with huge drawers and a small but adequate lavatory-bathroom combination. More on that in a moment.

Image from Turotel website
Seldom have we used AC in a Mexican hotel, but here it was useful due to the strong Autumnal sun. But most of the time, we just set the AC to "Fan". Although our most recent room faced a busy peripheral road, the room was quiet enough, unless ambulances were passing.

The beds were very comfortable, the bed linens sleek and soothing and the pillows soft.

I was a little nervous at first parking outside, in front of the lobby, and not in some locked compound. But apparently Security is vigilant and we passed 5 nights in all without incident.

Housekeeping was spotless and detail oriented.

There is a small but pleasant pool on a first floor terrace and a lounging area with tables and deck chairs. It's pleasant, but a very minor attraction for us, as is the small adjacent gym room.

Internet access is very important to us, and here there was some faltering, as our connection would at times fade unexpectedly. However, several wifi routers were detectable and if necessary, I could go to the lobby, where there was always a strong signal.

Now to the lavatory-bathroom: the lavatory was of a high standard, with all the amenities and these of high quality. The door to the toilet and shower is positioned in such away that it is impossible for two persons to enter if one is seated. (Please, don't laugh.) Once inside, the toilet is fine. The shower stall is fully tiled and the supply of hot water quick to arrive and above all, abundant. It's a joy to use the shower. Towels were plentiful, although a bit rough.

We opted for the SuperAhorros plan in which breafast, either buffet or cooked to order, or both, is included. Our rate was $944 pesos per night, breakfast and taxes included. For the most part, the food does not aspire to a gourmet standard, but it's tasty, fresh and satisfying.

We couldn't ask for more under the circumstances, and at the price. We were fortunate to get this promotional rate, because as the holiday of Day of the Dead approaches, the rates increase to over $1000 pesos a night.

Wal Mart, 5 minutes, and Soriana, 10 minutes, are within walking distance. The former is about 2 blocks away. The immediate area is a bit thin on other restaurants. La Cenaduría Lupita II is close. It's a buffet, and not to my taste.

Taxis are cheap and put you in easy range of better and more interesting restaurants. We went out to eat but once, to Sanborn's Plaza Américas. More on that later.


Room: *****
apart from the minor nuisance of the bathroom door, and the annoyingly non detachable coat hangers, all very good.

Price: see rates on hotel website, or call.

Turotel promotional sign

Amenities: *****
Excellent. If you lack anything, like a razor or tooth brush, go to or call the desk. We were supplied with a toothbrush and tooth paste without charge.

Service and friendliness of staff: *****!!!
Great folks.

Personal bien padre

¡Vivan a las cocineras!
Internet: ***—****
Wifi in rooms varied greatly according to location and time of day. Sometimes the connection failed entirely. The signal in the lobby and restaurant areas was always strong.

There is a PC and printer in the lobby for the use of guests, without charge. That worked fine (Spanish keyboard.)

Breakfast buffet: **** 
Besides the cold fruits, juices, yogurts and cereals  there were at least two hot main dishes, and if that wasn't enough, you could order breakfast foods al gusto from the obligingly friendly kitchen. Sra. Cuevas asked for poached eggs, and after a moment of hesitation on the part of the server, she got her wish. They were perfectly cooked. Another morning, I had a good machaca con huevo.

The only slightly off note were the inferior breads. Most are sliced  Bimbo type, but even the rolls were poorly made. As an alternative, decent tortillas were available on request. Your choice of maíz o de trigo. We simply didn't eat much bread.

Evening Buffet (extra charge of $93 pesos) ***
Nice, convenient. Somewhat redundant at times in use of ingredients, such as rajas de chiles Poblanos in two different dishes the same evening. But there was enough from which to choose.

Crema de Frijol: an outstanding soup
Ensalada Mulata. Attractive but very spicy.

Pool: small and adequate for a dip.

Gym: Ha ha, you're kidding, right? I didn't even step inside. It's small and basic.

Bottom Line: Over all, we couldn't be more pleased with Turotel Morelia, Mexico. We would recommend it to visitors wanting  a comfortable stay in a modern hotel. We would stay there again if we had the need.

Location and Contact:
Av. Acueducto No. 3805
Col. Fray Antonio de Lisboa

Tel. and Fax
Tel. +52 (443) 333 13 00
Fax +52 (443) 333 13 05
01 800 00 46835


Saturday, November 03, 2012

Hit or Myth?

Someone recently called me a skeptic. I can accept that name without hurt feelings, but I think it more accurate to designate me a realist. At least, sometimes.

A example at hand is the claim that the Plaza Grande of Pátzcuaro is "the second largest plaza in Latin América". The very audacity of the claim is ridiculous, but my reaction was "What does it matter?" The Plaza Grande is beautiful and gracefully proportioned. Does tourist bureau type hyperbolic comparisons make it better than it really is?

Plaza Grande: Big, bigger, biggest?

Another example comes to mind. The Great Pyramid of Cholula, near Puebla, México. Visitors may traverse the base of the pyramid via some man made tunnels, of which the most remarkable aspect is their uniform dullness. The visitors are told that there are some 17 kilometers of tunnels. I have to ask, "So what?". Whether it is true or false is irrelevant to me. The tunnels accessible to the tourists are maybe a half a kilometer in extent. More than enough to bore one in the first 5 minutes.

Pyramid of Cholula as it may have been.
Pyramid of Cholula now. (Use your imagination!).
I'm not sure this is related to the subject, but it's irresistible.
I am bursting to share this item I found in the book, Mexico Health and Safety Travel Guide, by Doctor Robert and Doctor Curtis Page. (Fortunately, I got this used book at a Pátzcuaro Biblioteca Book Sale, and didn't shell out any serious money for it.)
Here's the quote:
" A great ecotourist attraction just a few miles from Tuxtla Gutíerrez is the 2,625 ft. deep Cañon del Sumidero, created by the Río Grijalva following the completion of the hydroelectric dam in 1981"
underlined emphasis mine.
Cause and effect turned upside down.

Cañon del Sumidero, Chiapas. Worth a visit, despite the above nonsense.

We now move into the more recondite realm of caves . An acquaintance recently posted a query on our local Internet bulletin board. He had some circumstantial "evidence" that a cave opening on the brow of Cerro Blanco in Pátzcuaro was said to have wended its way to Tzintzuntzan. Furthermore, it may have been the route that the Purhépecha took to transport gold without being attacked by robbers along surface trails.

A-HEM. Naturally, my skepticism arose. I stated that it was geologically impossible for a cave, if it existed, to pass the lengthy gauntlet of valley and especially of the low lying Lake Pátzcuaro. He countered that maybe an earthquake cut it off.

View Larger Map

I later considered the question why the putative ladrones didn't lie in wait within the mysterious tunnel. It would have been easier to do their dastardly deeds in the dark of the caves. How is it that it's always only  the good guys who know where the secret entrances are to these limitless caves?

Of course, there's the question of practicality. How much more difficult would it be to traverse a cave passage of some 12 to 15 miles in length, as compared to a surface route? (I know that you are agreeing with me that the whole thing is ridiculous.)

After the third or so email exchange, he told me that he enjoyed thinking about such things such as transport by rays of light beams, and with that, he had me. I also enjoy such fantasies, except I take them with a costal de sal.

This is my own imagining. In the valley where we live, close to Buena Vista and the autopista to Morelia is a peculiar hill. It's neither the biggest nor the highest of the hills. Its salient feature is that it has a sloping summit, inclined upward from south to north. This gives it the look of artifice, somewhat resembling a huge, grass covered tank. But for what purpose?

When the hill is shrouded in mist, an overripe imagination may spin fantasies of alien bases, methane gas collectors, refueling stations, last redoubt of the Purhépecha kings, blah blah.

The low, central mesa may hide secrets.
Looks pretty mysterious, doesn't it?

The Hill: lower left in this image. Why the frequent vapor in this area?

Unidentified Flying Vapor
Aura of light hovering over The Hill

This, just in: Gas leak explodes and burns as an incandescent cloud.
Excesses of the Holiday Season resulted in this mole gas leak, which spontaneously combusted in the presence of a chile catalyst.
Who can say what is real and what is mythical? Believe what you will. Most of all, have fun. Here are a few of my own imagining.

Dragon fossil beds
Dragon Gizzard Stones
DANGER! Carnivorous plant

We'll close our program me this afternoon with this internet phenomenon of years past.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Chicken in the Porch

We have been adopted by a wandering little hen chicken, who showed up on our front porch the evening of the, umm, chicken pot pie dinner.

Is this A Sign?

This morning as I was baking, the hen slipped quietly into the house and found a sleeping nook in the end of the hallway, under a shelf unit. I lured it out with some 10 grain cereal, but I couldn't come to grips with capturing it under a plastic washtub and tossing it outside. When Sra. Cuevas got up, she walked behind the hen and it went outside. The hen only left a few poops here and there in the living room.

Right now, as I sit outside, it's pecking at some food. It's kind of gentle, and it eats insects, but in the end, let's face it: it's not wanted here.
Send in the cats.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Creepy Peepee

I just went out to the covered porch of our house, and there was this creepy peepee, slowly slugging its way across the cold tiles.

Advisory: Graphic images after the break:

Friday, September 14, 2012

Domestic Tranquility

In our seven years of living in Mexico, we resisted the idea of hiring a cleaning woman to help us with our domestic cleaning chores. But with increasing age and infirmities, we began to consider hiring a helper.

We don't really live in a dirty house, but I admit that our life style is relaxed.

The transition was made easier because in the last month, we have been helping our 17 year old neighbor, Srta. Miriam, with her English homework. We have grown closer to both her and her mother, Sra. Salud. We had a passing acquaintance with them over the last 6 years, but only recently have we come to know them better.

We knew that they knew how to clean houses. They take care not only of their own, but of local three houses of their relatives living "al otro lado".  Sra. Salud, the mother, recently suggested that she could clean our house for us. It was intended as a gift, but we felt it important that they be paid for their work.

Doña Cuevas and I discussed the various ifs and could bes, and I got some valuable input from a few other expats. We decided to offer the mother and daughter team a four to five hours shift, one day a week job. They accepted with smiles. We wrote out a list of tasks that would be included and those to be excluded. For example, dish washing and cooking were excluded. So was clothes washing and drying as we still can mange those quite well ourselves. I'd be ashamed to tell you what little pay we offered, but pleased how willing they are to work. We had no idea how industrious, thorough and cheerful they are.

On Wednesday, although they arrived a little over 30 minutes late, when told the task list of the day, they went at it with high energy, persistence, a systematic manner and great cheer. Afterwards, the house gleams and smells wonderful; and their presence lifts our spirits.

The work begins
By afternoon, Sra. Cuevas and I were wearing out from general fatigue, but Salud and Miriam were still going strong. They cleaned ceilings as well as floors. First, of course, they washed our many windows. Ladder, hose, buckets, broom. They used experienced techniques that we hadn't imagined. They scrubbed the sills with a brush and bleach.

They cleaned our bedroom, which although it had been done by me recently, they still found plenty of spider crud to remove from the ceiling corners. They made our bed very nicely, although we hadn't expected that extra touch. It felt great later to slide into a well made bed for a nap. They arranged our shoes very nicely.

They must have mopped and mopped the entrance area "porch" at least 3 times.

They cleaned our bathroom so well, you might be tempted to lick the floors and walls. We didn't think that they would get to clean the bathroom, but they did, due to experience, efficiency and high energy. When we last looked, Salud was in the bathtub, scrubbing the walls and tub surfaces.

During the time they were here, (9:30 to 3:30), they never took a break, except to use the bathroom; nor drank any of the water we'd set out for them . At 3:00 I had to almost forcibly stop Salud from cleaning more things.

Gleaming hallway
We wish we had hired them sooner, for having Salud and Miriam come to clean our house gives us a great sense of well being. We are looking forward to the next time they clean. Next time; kitchen cabinets, under shelf of my baker's table; dining room, living room and bath, again.

Tools of the trade. Even the potting shelves were washed clean.
Clean! Clean! Clean!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

A Not So Funny Thing Happened To Me In a Forum

          A Rant.

I've been involved in various Internet fora for years, starting with the Lonely Planet Thorn Tree and going on to, then others, such as Any Port In a Storm.

Obviously, different fora have different purposes and personalities. Thorn Tree is huge, and different branches have distinct personalities.

Although it's not perfect, (I wouldn't expect that.) I am still a frequent visitor.

What I have realized in the last years or so is that as sources for reliable information, some fora are nearly worthless. It may sound ageist, but the older the general membership of the forum, the less accurate is the info and the higher the noise to sound ratio.

I started to see this on Mexconnect, where a lot of time and text is spent discussing Inmigracíon and Aduana topics. Unfortunately, with a few exceptions, many of the replies are inaccurate, off target, outdated and incomplete. I question how anyone reading the responses can sort out the few grains of gold from the flow of dross.

It's one thing to ask for info on goods and services, but in the area of immigration matters and health, it's best to seek authoritative expertise.

Last week, a question arose on a local Michoacán Yahoo Group about how much it costs to renew an FM 3 visa. There were about 8 responses, one of which was wildly inaccurate while maybe one was close and one other was spot on. Who could tell which was right?

I suggested to the OP (Original Poster) that they go to the Migracíon office, ask in person, and get the official word. Or try to navigate the INM website for an answer. The whole fee chart is on that website.

Similarly, the Expat Forum-Mexico, which I joined about 2 months ago, has been very disappointing to me in that that there are regular posters who might have something useful to contribute but spend much time in rambling, off topic chit chat. I want to scream when I read these waylaid threads.*

In defense, I learned how to turn of the email notifications that came to my in-box when anyone added their nugget of trivia to an already totally wasted topic. Some members seem to be compelled to post a comment to nearly everything, whether or not their response is relevant to the OP.

Others don't seem to understand the difference between a forum and a blog, even when it's explained to them, and write long accounts of trivial events of their day, complete with personal minutiae which don't interest me in the least.

*There is one poster on the Expat Forum Mexico who totally sends me off the edge. Not only is he inclined to be extremely verbose, but rambling and somewhat incoherent. Yesterday he not only posted one of his streams of semi-consciousness blathers, but then wrote two responses to himself, commenting to himself!

A serious example of cluelessness.
The other day, in the Expat Mexico Forum, came a serious request from a woman with citizenship questions. She had decided to hire an attorney to help her make the transition to naturalized Mexican citizen. Fine. But, she had some doubts about being able to leave Mexico for a European trip while her citizenship application was in process.

So she asked the Forum. That set me off. I think it the height of folly to ask a group of inexpert amateurs questions of such a serious nature. I told her to ask at the Mexican Foreign Office (SRE) or perhaps her hired attorney could give better advice. It turned out that she was leaving in a few days on her trip, so that her question was essentially pointless and a waste of other posters' time!

I can only conclude that many expat questions are posed to the group in order to confirm the OP's preconceived "Reality Bubble".

This, just in! 
Another harmless but inherently unanswerable question appeared yesterday on our local Michoacán Yahoo Group. A couple was looking at renting a lovely house in Pátzcuaro. She asked the Group what typical utility costs, heating, etc were.

I attempted to give an answer that sketched out some of the variables involved, but in the end, the answer is, "It all depends.".

That's all I have to say about this now. I can only conclude that I am either socially maladapted, or too damned cranky to put up with the charla babosa (drooling chitchat) on some of those fora.

Below are a few fun questions from my vast collection.
Q:"Is the party still on the 16th?"
A: Your guess is as good as mine.

Q: "How do I get to Santa Juana Fulana to —name of famous artesanías shop— I don't have a car."
A: "Take a combi, a bus or a taxi. Details below."

Q: "Where can I send a fax in Pátzcuaro?"
A: " Walk down any street or two in Centro, until you see a sign that says FAX

Friday, August 17, 2012

Got Gas?

La Cocina, 2006. Not all that much has changed in 6 years.
The symptoms first made their appearance within 48 hours of the big Popeye's Chicken Tenders feed. I went to turn on the gas range, but it wouldn't light. I went around to the back of the house where the gas cylinders reside and checked both tanks. One was definitely empty but the other had plenty of gas.

After I turned the selector switch of  the regulator back and forth a couple of times, I was able to light the stove. But it didn't last.

Later that day, the Gas Express guy sold me a full cylinder. I thought it was good to go.

They rarely look this good.

More like this, but not as nice
Estufa muerta.
Next morning, I got no response from either cylinder. I realized with a wrench that mi estufa se ha muerta. That wouldn't have been so bad in the short run, but I had two braided challah breads rising and needing to be baked before very long.

A call for help.
I called Global Gas from my phone and they said that they'd send some technicians out. Meanwhile, I made a couple of spaces in our chest freezer and put the slowly rising challahs into icy sleep.

Nipples, hosiery, and a bivalve regulator.
I got in the Windstar and drove to Pátzcuaro. There were several errands to do, but my main destination was Vidrioelétrica, Pátzcuaro's largest and most fully stocked ferretería. It wasn't too busy, and I quickly got what I'd come for: a new "bivalve" regulator of the mini type, and two flexible, reinforced hoses with easy to turn knobs. The modern kind, which doesn't require a wrench. Goodbye to stubborn copper tubing that breaks all too easily.

Snazzy American version of the same thing

A fast course in assembly.
Back home at the Rancho, I returned to the ailing old regulator and quickly gave myself an intensive refresher course in how to assemble this rig. It's actually quite easy when you know how. So of course, it took me a while. I had it all connected and working well in an hour or so, after several trips back and forth to the porch. The oven lit.

I removed the semi frozen breads from the freezer and let them come back to life on a table out on the porch. The day was pleasantly warm and the breads responsive.

The bread was almost ready to go into the now heated oven, when the Global Gas techs showed up. The looked over my work at the new regulator, disconnected everything, rewrapped it more securely with Teflon tape, but were unable to reconnect the main gas hose. The screws were stripped. I was told that the entire hose should be replaced, but there was no way I was going back into Pátzcuaro that day.

They suggested taking the working hose from the separate hot water boiler in the front, and it would serve to let the baking and cooking continue. But of course, we would then have no hot water from the boiler.

I told them to do so, as I needed to bake those two loaves that had undergone so much waiting. There was no charge for their services, but I gave them a propina para unos refrescos.

The oven quickly recovered its heat and the loaves went in. I took advantage of the gas supply to make lunch: rice, sautéed fish filets, etc.

The bread came out acceptably good.

archive photo

After lunch, I put a big kettle of water on to heat up for dishwashing.

Suddenly, I was exhausted. I lay down for a siesta, and when I arose an hour or so later, I decided to try the old hose on the hot water boiler. I was able to make a tenuous connection, one of dubious safety, yet enough for us to shower. Afterwards, I turned off the cylinder as there was a distinct smell of gas hanging about the porch.

I hope to conclude this project today by buying and connecting a new, replacement hose. Then all will be right in our little corner of the world.

Back at Vidrioeléctrica the next day
The store was even less busy than the day before. At the counter I asked the salesgirl for a gas connector hose. She rejoined with, "How long do you need?"
 I told her that 3 meters should do the job.
"¿Económica o reforzado?"
" Reforzado."
She brought out a pre-measured length of Coflex Conector Flexible para Gas. VG-B300. It is shiny and beautiful. It was fabricated in Monterrey. This is their website. Coflex.

The Gold Standard in Gas Connectors*

Look over the packaging. It has illustrations of the parts, with the names in Spanish, so that you can learn the difference between trenzado, manguera, férula y tuerca.

Back home again, I could hardly wait to connect it. In fact, it took all of two minutes. Once again, we have gas for cooking, washing dishes and bathing.

* Except that Coflex also makes a stainless steel reinforced flexible connector. Ours is vinyl reinforced.

Monday, August 06, 2012

Kuar Tukuni

We are big fans of hot springs. The more natural their setting, the better we enjoy them. The aguas termales of the Balneario Kuar Tukuni more than meet our needs. Too bad that it's so far from Pátzcuaro.

Our energetic and ever enthusiastic, bird specialist friend Georgia Conti had discovered this place and organized our excursion. We were nine in number, including amigas from Georgia's neighbors of her village.

The trip from Pátzcuaro takes about an hour or more. The correct exit from the autopista is marked by a sign for Ario de Rosales and El Tejaban. There, a graveled road winds eastward for about 3 miles until reaching a turnoff to the left, which descends to the balneario parking area. There are  a large swimming pool (cool, I think) picnic tables and changing rooms close to the parking area.

Upper pool

Picnic area
From there, a paving stone pathway descends to a stream which is crossed on a suspension bridge. I call it, "The Bridge on the River Kuaar".
The Bridge
The paths lead through phantasmagoric woods, with cascades and dense trees, the spookiest of which are the ghostly "saurian" trees.

Hold tight to your Mommy's hand!

Kuar Tukuni (or "Tukuri", speliing seems to vary from sign to sign.) is a simply outfitted, rustic balneario. There are no flashy water slides and other child frenzy magnets. What it does have are three, circular thermal water pools, about 3-4 feet deep and 15 feet in diameter. Two are filled with very hot water and the third with lukewarm. I didn't take any photos of the hot water pools nor of the picnic palapas. Fortunately, Georgia had some photos from an earlier visit, which she generously sent to me.

Lower hot pools. Photo: GC
Additionally, there's a large, apparently cool water swimming pool near the upper parking area. Another, with somewhat turbid water, is below at the end of the lower thermal pools clearing. There are several palapas  lined concrete benches, and simple cooking facilities, a rough table, and most important, the roof that shades you from the intense sun of la Tierra Caliente.

Lower cool pool. Photo courtesy of GC
This pool was the hottest, at a measured 111º F. Photo by GC
We didn't see this "natural" pool on our visit. Photo: GC
Costs: Adultos $30, niños, $20
Hours: I don't recall: about 9 a.m. to 6 p,m., I guess.
Pools are drained and cleaned Tuesdays and Thursdays Fridays, (Georgia wrote me to correct the days of cleaning).
Restaurant available on the grounds on weekends and holidays only. Pescado sarandeado a specialty.
We didn't try the restaurant, as we were headed to La Mesa de Blanca, some 35 minutes drive north. in Ziracuaretiro.

I recommend Kuar Tukuni for a pleasant day out if hot spring pools in a rustic setting appeals to you.

Georgia Conti deserves great thanks for organizing this outing. If you are interested in birding in México, she can take you to the best spots. You can see more on her blog, Pátzcuaro Birder.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

A License To Kill For

Get one if you can!
On our return from the United States a few weeks ago, we were dismayed to discover that through an oversight, our Michoacán drivers' licenses had expired. We promptly sought advice from our usual reliable sources: SFC (US Army, Ret.) Ric Hoffman and Ms Jennifer Rose.

Our first, simple task was to to the Centro de Salud in the outskirts of Pátzcuaro to obtain a certificate of good health. That wasn't very difficult. After a short wait, a nurse briefly interviewed us, took our waist measurements, blood pressure and weight. We passed the exam, and on paying a modest fee at the cashier's window, we were issued our Certificates of Health.

You may wonder why I failed to mention the vision test. Because there was none.

No vision test! Thanks.

Following our guided plan, we then went to the Pátzcuaro Tránsito office near the Mercado Tariacuri in the former Lo Tengo building. There we were told that we didn't need to be there, because they didn't administer drivers' tests, but if we wanted to take one, we could have it in Morelia. I said that I would prefer not to, and the official asked me "¿No le gusta Morelia?" I said I liked it fine, but not to go for a test.
He then told us that we should go to La Administracíon de La Renta, known as La Renta for brevity. It is where the licenses are finalized, or at least, used to be.

That is the building in Pátzcuaro next to IMSS with several long lines of people outside and a security guard at the door. I went up the guard to ask about las licencias para manejar. He told me that we'd have to go to Morelia to get them. He didn't know where, exactly. A kind lady in the line told us that  there was a módulo at the Terminal de Autobuses Morelia; maybe also at Plaza Capuchinas. But, with expired licenses, it didn't seem prudent to run the possible gauntlet of keen eyed tránsitos with powerful thirsts for refrescos.

Of course, we could take a bus to the Terminal de Autobuses Morelia, but we'd also heard that there were waiting lines up to 5 hours, due to the issuing of placas at the same time. There was an alternative office on Avenida Lázaro Cárdenas in Morelia, close to the Cristalería Corona, a restaurant equipment house with which I'm familiar. But the report was a year old, and the official had been recalcitrant to issue the license until Ms Rose persuaded her otherwise.

Late news arrived from friends who live near Quiroga that it was a piece of cake to get your license there. All you had to do was give up your birthright birth certificate. But on further explanation we came to realize that it was a certified copy of a birth certificate, the original, of course, being held in the vaults of ones' natal city. Our new interpretation is that the birth certificates are for first time applicants. Maybe.

Our friend Ron related that when he renewed his license in Pátzcuaro last year, when they were still doing it, he was required to get an official Spanish translation of his birth certificate. Where? In Morelia. At least the service was free, and only required two trips to our state capital city.

Next to Quiroga on Monday with our friends, the Fergusons. It was miraculously too good to be true that we got a parking spot at the front door of the administration building, on a narrow back street in Quiroga Centro, across from the Hotel Tarasco II. (Read the address in the header, if you can. There's your vision test.)

Once inside, we were crestfallen to learn that the agency was fresh out of fichas and that we would have to try in Morelia. We returned to the Ferguson's house, regrouped, snacked and called an information number, 070, which didn't work. Later we found out that it works only from a landline phone.

Richard offered to drive us to Morelia, which we gratefully accepted. It's a beautiful drive, until east of Capula, where we entered the ugly outskirts of Morelia. It got even uglier when we were blocked by a police barrier on Avenida Camelinas before reaching the Governor's Palace, forcing us to detour through interminably slow traffic until we could emerge again.

During the detour, we were making calls on our cell phone and basically being rebuffed at almost every attempt to find out where licences might be obtained. One exceptional person gave us hope that we could perhaps get the licenses at the Plaza Capuchinas módulo. That was encouraging, as I knew the area fairly well.

Richard double parked his vehicle at Plaza Capuchinas while I went into the Colonial edifice to check. It was a spacious patio with reasonably well sorted lines waiting for various services. But again, I was told that no fichas were available hasta mañana, so I retreated.

After the debacle. we soothed ourselves with a nice lunch at LangoStiko's on Av. Santamaría. We returned to Quiroga,again squirming past traffic jams, the worst of which that we encountered on Calzada La Huerta after passing through Av. Universidad.

Tuesday was a rest day.

On Wednesday, we dared to drive back to Morelia in our van. After an short visit to INM on unrelated migratory matters, we headed for the Centro de Convenciones módulo. Unfortunately, we didn't get into the lateral in time, so we missed the turn from Camelinas onto Ventura Puente.

Instead, we headed back to the módulo at the Administracíon building, on the south eastern corner of Plaza Capuchinas, on Calle Ortega y Montañez, Centro. We arrived at a few minutes before 10 a.m. I ran inside and at the Informacíon booth found out that ¡Sí, hay licencias!

Again, through some miracle, I located a parking spot just outside the door. Just too good to be true.

We parked to the right of the handicapped slot

Once inside, we settled into the correct line to obtain our numbered fichas. After some waiting, we approached the desk (outside the building but under the portales) and after the señorita inspected our documents, we were given our numbered tickets.

"They also serve who only stand and wait." And wait.

Hours crept past as the sun reached its zenith, then slowly slid toward its shady siesta. But we were fortunate in finding seating. Without that, and shade, water, and antojitos, we might not have survived.

I went out on walks around Plaza Capuchinas while Doña Cuevas held the position inside. I found a place called "El Sope Caribeño", east side of Plaza Capuchinas, owned and operated by a Mexican-American couple, where I bought inexpensive but tasty antojitos para llevar.

Back inside, the drama intensified when the snail paced but steadily moving lines were further refined into "Placas y Trámites" on one side and "Licencias" on the other.

Slowly, slowly, the lines reduced as the numbers called went up.

At about 1:50, our numbers, 68 and 69 were called. I was nearly bursting with need for a bathroom, but I gritted my teeth and held on.

We were almost home free and had reached the penultimate window where passports, comprobante de domicilio, but  our not migratory documents were again reviewed. We were interviewed again, then digitally fingerprinted of both hands' index fingers. We passed to the cashier's window across the room. We chose licenses with 10 years' duration. By the time they expire, we may not be living or may be incapable of driving, but: we will never have to renew them again!


We then crossed back to the photo booth and showed our PAGADO receipts. Another digital scan fingerprint and we were photographed. Almost all the staff were pleasant and of good humor. We were feeling better, too.

After my photo, I took advantage of a pause and found the baños: to the back of the patio, a right down the hallway, down a few steps and outside, and there were the baños. Then I felt even better.

The whole thing took about 4 hours. In hindsight, we should have gone there first and postponed Migracíon for another day.

Afterwards, we were exhausted but happy. We met friends and celebrated with a great meal at Restaurante Parrilla y Canilla , up in Sta. María de Guido.

* There is the possible, that if we change our migratory status from FM3 to FM2, we would have to give up our vehicle import permit and obtain Michoacán placas.

Por favor, señor; la fila para placas está a la derecha.

Monday, July 23, 2012

A Little Summer's Rain

Along the road to home, July 23, 2011

We enjoyed a lovely, sunny, summer day yesterday. As is normal, dark clouds gathered at evening, promising a little rain.

Storm clouds over mountains

What a surprise. About 6:30 p.m. the rain began. It quickly grew into a wind driven storm. Water forced its way under our living room window onto the tiled floor. That was nothing new. But soon, the wind went crazy, blasting water into our covered porch, then under the double front doors and into the hallway. That was joined by water driven into the garage (we almost always leave the garage door open).

(By the way, it might have been a strong storm, but not one third of the ferocity of  the one we experienced last year in Tonalá.)

Then came the hail. We had had hail before, but never as plentiful as this. Our yards looked like una Blanca Navidad.

July in Michoacán
Peach trees on a summers' evening

Back yard scene
The hallway was well flooded to a depth of an inch or so as the storm abated. Water ran into the bathroom from the hall. I opened the convenient bathroom floor drain so it could escape.

The usual procedure in these deluges is to deploy a number of old but thick bath towels along the floor to soak up the excess. This time it was also necessary to bring in the wringer mop bucket and extra heavy duty mop (we have three mops, each one for a special task) and mop the floors. That was fine, as these areas were in need of a mopping.

Then I got down the table fan from its storage shelf and strategically placed it where it could help further dry the hallway floor. I left it on for 4 hours. There are still patches of damp.

Meanwhile, the soggy drenched soaker towels went outside until such time as they could be laundered and dried.

Toward the end, I made hot chocolate as a reward for our labors before snugging down under two blankets and quilt.

I love the Michoacán weather. Tomorrow it could might look like this:

Morning in the mountains
It's still raining intermittently at 3:18 AM.