8/02/05 Mexican Motorcycle Diary pt.3
(continued from part 8/02/05 Mexican Motorcycle Diary pt.2)
I noticed the rain had let up a bit to a sprinkle so I decided to make a run for the town and try to get a room pronto before the next wave hit. I handed the woman a 50 peso note to pay for my refresco, and even that seemed to piss her off that I didn't have anything smaller. So, after about 15 minutes of her running around trying to break the 50 note, it started to rain again. Thanks a lot Senora! Not a heavy rain yet, but just that rain that comes like preamble to a bigger onslaught. Each place I stopped wanted fairly high rates and even one had printed on their sign that a room was $120 pesos. A bargain! But when I pulled up the woman looked around and then told me the room is $250 pesos. "What? You sign says $120. Why does your sign say $120 if the price is $250?" She shrugged and said she didn't know why the sign said that, but today the price is $250. So, I kept on going toward the centro where the road turned into large cobblestone. Tough to ride on, but I was getting used to it. Until, the second wave of rain came and turned the streets into small rivers of mud. And, hiding all the pot-holes. I managed to keep the bike up and after realizing most of the budget hotels didn't have garages, I spotted one that had a lobby that opened up to the street. The sign said a room was $300, so I asked the woman where I might find something more economica. She was very friendly and asked if I was by myself. When I said yes she said the room is only $150 pesos a night. "Great! But, where can I put the moto?" "Just wheel it into the lobby, there is someone here all day and night."
The next trick was trying to get Ruby up a large curb into the lobby. Not such a problem with the motor to assist, but what I hadn't counted on was how slick polished terracotta tile can be when it's wet! Luckily, a passerby saw my plight and helped me over the hump. Ahhhh!! Now I could relax for a bit. The room even had a TV with loads of stations. I found that many of them were soft-core porn. Score!!!
I'm actually glad I got stopped abruptly by the rain in Patzcuaro because it wasn't anything like I expected. Yes, it's a tourist town for sure. But, I don't think I saw enough gringo tourist to count on one hand. Most were nationals and the city is really quite attractive with it's winding cobblestone streets, and all the buildings are painted the exact same color scheme, ie. sort of a brownish red ochre color up to about eye level, then white to the tiled terracotta roof. Even all the lettering is the same typeface with the first letter or two in the same ochre color, and the remaining in black. Sounds boring I know, but its really very stunning. Without all the buildings being painted every color imaginable like many Mexican towns, it gives your eyes fewer distractions and allows you to see the "texture" of the place a bit better.
The street food scene in Patzcuaro is vibrant with much variety. After few tacos, and some other eats I can't remember the name of, I settled down for a coffee on one of the smaller plazas. They had turned out all of the lights and fellows in traditional Indian garb were playing a game that resembled hockey, but the puck was a large hunk of firey coal. In the complete darkness is was spectacular. Eventually, two of the player lined up two balls of fire and smacked them with their hockey sticks sending them sailing about 50 meters to land in a fountain. I kinda hoped the fountain was full of kerosine and the fire balls would ignite the surface as a final punctuation to the performance, but they just sizzled out and that was that. Most of the other spectators started moving on as did I. Until they started lighting off those massive canon-like fireworks. I was only several feet away from the first one when the deafening boom nearly caused me to have to do laundry one day early. ;-) So, the show wasn't over yet! I moved off to a bench to enjoy the fireworks going off until one of the canon payloads exploded prematurely only about 10 meters high. The sparks and colorful fire streamed out into the crowd and I braced myself for disaster. I waited for a second, then came nothing but laughter. I didn't see anyone rolling around on the ground to put themselves out, nor did I see anyone running around screaming with their hair on fire, so I guess all was good. In the States I think there would've been much more panic and screams of terror, but here it was just an amusing foible.
Soon, the plaza lights came back up and I took a little stroll around the city. I'm not sure what it is, but this city has sort of a subtle creepiness about it at night. Not sure if it's because of my prior knowledge that this city is famous for it's day of the dead festivities, but there was a certain intangible queer feeling walking about the streets at night. For this, I think I liked this city much better at night. During the day it just seemed like any other tourist city, but at night it became something quite different for me. Something that stimulated my imagination and gave me a pleasant uneasiness. Ghosts? Quien sabe.
(to be continued in part 8/02/05 Mexican Motorcycle Diary pt.4)