Isla Mujeres Mystery ~ Lynda L. Lock
Dormant volcano being used for gravel

Cruising along two hundred kilometers south of Guadalajara, on the #15 multi-lane toll highway, the surrounding land is fertile, richly coloured. 

Numerous dormant volcanic mountains tower in the distance, their peaks obscured by low clouds.  The earth resembles grated cinnamon, un-sweetened dark chocolate, and freshly ground coffee. 

And the air smells of burning oil.  That can’t be good.
We turn off the road at a highway service area into the PeMex station, and shut off the truck.  Burning oil; dripping from an engine gasket onto the hot exhaust pipe.  The gas jockeys gather around the truck offering suggestions in Spanish and pointing.  Lawrie has a pretty good idea of the problem.  We add a litre of oil, and buy two more as a backup.  We decide to turn back, at least as far as the previous highway exit, to a place called Morelia.

Morelia Centro

Our first turn-back opportunity is at a toll booth populated with a dozen or so State Police.  I’m driving.  I power down the window, and sputter a few words hopefully explaining that the truck is broken.  Camioneta roto.  Regreso a Morelia.” 

It works.  They laugh.  Smile.  And let us do a U-turn on the highway, picking up the traffic cones, waving us through – joking about the smoke pouring out from under the truck.  

Not the usual reaction we have had with Mexican State Police in our home state of Quintana Roo.   (Perhaps I mistakenly said that his stilettos were pretty?  Or that he had peanut butter stuck to his eyebrow?”)

Service Manager David and Lawrie discussing Sport Trac

We make our way to Morelia and ask the local police how to find the Ford Dealership.  More smiles.  Shoulder shrugs.  And then a passerby helps out.  “Straight ahead, through town, and it’s on the left.”  Easy!  Sure.

Morelia is a big beautiful city of around four million inhabitants and that day the main street was closed due to an accident.  

Morelia Centro on Saturday night

We spent the next hour trying to find our way around the various hilly side-streets, following first one taxi then another.  I pulled over at a little vehicle repair shop and asked for help; more directions in Spanish, and a hand-drawn map. 

As I got back into the truck the shop owner’s son pulled up beside me on his motorcycle.  “Follow me!”  He zipped along back streets, one-way streets, and tight corners and then we were there.   He waved off our offer of a tip for his efforts.  Just smiled and waved.  Gone.

We are now completely captivated by the City of Morelia.  Beautiful – and friendly. 

David, the Ford Dealership Service Department manager was very helpful – but it was Saturday, and they had already closed the service department for the day.  All the mechanics had finished work at two in the afternoon, and were done until nine in the morning on Monday.  There was nothing for us to do but find a decent hotel for a couple of nights and explore the city.  David handed our taxi driver a Ford Service Department coupon for a complimentary taxi ride to a hotel.  He suggested the Alameda Hotel, near from the gorgeous cathedral in Centro.  It was an interesting hotel, compiled of three old hacienda-style buildings.  The sturdy stone walls made the hotel rooms extremely quiet and cool.

Musicians in Morelia Centro Saturday night

Saturday night the Centro was buzzing with people.  People gathered in the cathedral square to watch entertainers, chat with friends, or enjoy a drink in a sidewalk café.   It was fascinating.  We spent the next two days exploring the city, on foot and by tour bus. 

Originally settled in the 7th century, the city was later settled by the Spanish in 1525 and re-named as Valladolid in 1541.  The name was later changed to Morelia in 1828, to honor a local hero, José Maria Morelos Y Pavón for his part in the War of Independence from Spain.

Sunday morning mayhem in Centro Morelia

Sunday morning we stepped outside of our hotel to be confronted by an odd sight; dozens of people riding bicycles, children on plastic pedal cars, teenagers on roller blades with dogs running along beside.  Not a car in sight.  We wandered snapping photographs and exploring side-streets. 

By Monday we were anxious to make a decision on the truck – repair, or not.  We returned to the Ford Service Department.  A part was required, but it could take two or more weeks.  David said we could drive the vehicle as long as we checked the oil frequently.   Lawrie asked them to balance the front tires, and said we would be back in the morning to get the truck.

One of dozens of shoe shine stands in Centro

Lawrie made a phone call to the company in California that supplied, and imported the Sport Trac for us.  They apologized profusely.  They suggested we could either leave it in Morelia, or if we wanted we could drive it back to Guadalajara and leave it with their representative there.  They would find us another better vehicle, quickly. 

In the meantime, on our last night in Morelia, Lawrie happened upon a nearby restaurant that had great reviews on the internet: Casa Grande.  We decided to treat ourselves to a good dinner.  It wasn’t just good, it was fabulous! 

Appetizers, rack of lamb, dessert, and wine the total bill was around $80.00 dollars.  It was our tastiest dinner out in four years, including our recent trip to France and Italy. 

Roof top view at Casa Grande Restaurante in Morelia

Leaving Morelia on Tuesday morning we had an interesting drive through the scenic secondary roads back to Guadalajara, and back to our original hotel.  We flew home to Isla on Wednesday.

We’ll continue our cross country adventure at a later date, including a one-night return to the lovely City of Morelia. 

It was an unexpected delightful detour.

Yipee!  Our Canadian passports arrive

3 Replies to “Morelia – an unexpected detour”

  1. Hi All: Yep it was a fun adventure …. to be continued sometime in the next month. Loved both Morelia and Guadalajara (although I keep saying we visited Guatemala!) Cheers L


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