“I am so sick to my stomach. All I want to eat is KFC or McDonalds,” said no one ever.
Well, not quite.
For travelers, eventually we get stomach sickness from a food-borne illness. For Kristi and I, it happened at the start of our 6th week in Mexico, on the eve of our visit to Guanajuato. When I was in Guanajuato 12 years ago, I got violently ill to my stomach, so history was repeating itself. After a few days of eating nothing but yogurt and bread, my appetite started to return and all I wanted to eat was something familiar. I had no desire to eat chiliquiles, tacos, enchiladas or huevos rancheros.
So I ate at KFC twice in one day. In my entire adult life, I have probably eaten KFC twice in the United States, and I am pretty sure I had a massive hangover both times. Never do I look at a grease-soaked chicken wing and limp french fries and think, I gotta get me summa that! But chicken strips with mashed potatoes and gravy totally hit the spot and put me back on the road to eating solid food.
On our last day in Guanajuato, we started to feel better and decided to stay another day in the town since we didn’t get to enjoy it. Since our hotel had been completely empty all week, we rolled up to reception and declared that we’d like to stay another day. The clerk, who is the fastest talking Mexican in the country, said they had no rooms. Incredulous, or maybe thinking we misunderstood, we looked on the web to find out that every room in Guanajuato was indeed booked. It was a long weekend for the school and everyone was on vacation, evidently.
So we packed our bags and went to Morelia, and like those chicken strips and mashed potatoes, it totally hit the spot. Although Morelia is as grand as any other colonial city in Mexico, it is off the tourist trail. How much longer, I am not sure, because surely the word is getting out that this spectacular city is among the friendliest and most beautiful in Mexico. Of course the mere fact that I’m writing about it on this blog means that it will explode in popularity.
After a few days in Morelia, we traveled to the Monarch Butterfly Reserve, and saw one of the great wildlife spectacles on Earth. After hiking high into the mountains with a local guide, we saw literally millions of butterflies clustered high in the pine trees. As the sun warmed up their wings, they started to fly around, and eventually the forest and sky was aswirl with monarchs. As a bonus, we were the only people there. The reserve didn’t officially open for the season for a few more days, and we had it all to ourselves. It was nothing short of magical.
From there we ventured to Mexico City for two days and caught a flight over to Campeche in the Yucatan. If Morelia is still off the tourist trail, then Campeche is being discovered in droves. We arrived on a Saturday afternoon and walked around the deserted, perfectly preserved colonial town. We saw almost no locals out and about, a sharp contrast to the Saturday before in Morelia where the city was packed, but we did see quite a few pale northern Europeans.
After sunset, like vampires, the city folk emerged into the darkened streets and filled the parks, squares and sidewalk cafes. Seeing how it was 91 degrees with a heat index over 100 during the day (see footnote), the smart locals were all having a bit of a siesta. In addition, bands of package tourists, armed with cameras and iPads, began roaming the streets, shooting photos of the colorful buildings all lit up at night. So far we’ve been traveling in the low season and haven’t seen too many tourists. That is all about to change now that we are in the Yucatan and nearing the holiday season. And if I see a group of tourists eating at McDonalds, I won’t scoff at them. I have no idea what kind of hell their stomachs may be going through.
Week 6 and 7 Photo of the Day
Next up: we will be exploring the Yucatan peninsula, seeing more of Campeche, Merida, Chichen Itza, Uxmal and Valladolid.
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Footnote: 91 degrees Fahrenheit= $%^&ing hot in Celsius.