Tuesday, September 7, 2010

OMG, those tiny details!!!

Monday, Sept. 6, 2010

As I write this, I am sitting in the Camionera Nueva, the new bus station. I've purchased my ticket to Morelia, but it doesn't leave until 2:10. Behind me is a temporary wall which does absolutely nothing to mask the sound or the fumes of jackhammers. There's a big sign asking for my forgiveness for the noise. In two more hours I may be far less forgiving. Don't those guys break for lunch???

It was a frustrating morning. Mexico just doesn't get up at the same time I do. Not only am I an hour earlier clock-wise, my body likes to get moving around 6:00 am. Tlaqupaque doesn't open anything until 8:30 at the earliest. So, once more, I packed up my bags, locked them in the hotel room, and went for a long walk. I took a $50 traveler's check and my passport, with the idea that I could change it when the banks opened. Wrong. You see, I got one tiny detail wrong. My passport has all three names, spelled out and signed by me. My traveler's checks have only two names with a middle initial. For some unfathomable reason, this makes it "de no vale", of no value to Bancomer and several other banks. I stood in line for what amounted to a couple of hours before being told again and again "de no vale". Then, Scotiabank was my savior. I figured they had to be international enough to know an initial that matches the middle name on a passport would be sufficient. But even they asked for other ID. Fortunately I had my driver's license and also my badge from work, an official US Gov't ID, which by the way is NOT supposed to be used for identification. But what the hell? When in Rome, do what the Romans require.

So passed four hours of the morning. And it was a beautiful morning. Cool, overcast, muggy but not uncomfortable. While on my circular journey to find a Cambio or a bank willing to cash my checks, I met this lovely young lady, 18 years old, who went with me all over town and tried to help. She got to practice her English, and I got some gentle correcting done to my Spanish. We actually had a really good time. We stopped in at several financial establishments and then at the tourist information booth staffed by two good looking young men. While I tried to get information from them, she batted her eyelashes. Ah, to be young again....

Now, I'm just waiting. This might be a good time to work on my novel and get a bite of lunch.


Boy do I feel the fool. I thought, for some bizarre reason, that 13:10 was 2:10 pm. I missed the bus and had to wait around for another hour. I guess once a day starts out frustrating, it just stays that way!

Buses in Mexico come in various levels of quality. The first class buses serve food, have movies, restrooms and are a smooth comfortable ride. Second class is like the buses we used to hire to take the entire senior class on a ski trip, and third class are the packed Mexican buses you see in the movies, where you sit next to tiny native women holding cages of chickens while young people hitch a free ride on the roof. This first class bus showed two movies during the three hour trip, both American dubbed in Spanish with Spanish subtitles! The subtitles actually helped a lot, because I could barely understand the rapid fire talking. It takes quite a bit longer to say the same thing in Spanish. The second movie was a KungFu flick which was still going on when we arrived in Morelia. Since I could not really follow the plot of the first movie, Across Enemy Lines, I watched the scenery go by. There are numerous volcanos. The landscape looked like dozens of giant green camels were lounging about. The countryside is lush, with hills covered in every shade of deciduous and coniferous tree, while rectangular fields feature corn and the blue-green spikes of Maguy, the main component of Tequila.  Ponds appeared fairly regularly, edged by white ibis, frozen in place waiting for fish or bugs to appear in the water. Occasionally flocks of them could be seen in a single tree, like white Christmas decorations. Eventually, an enormous lake appeared and after traveling beside it for a while we turned south to Morelia. The bus terminal is divided into three sections. Out of Terminal B buses run to Patzcuaro every 10 minutes so I bought a ticket and hopped right on. Of course it's not a straight shot, the bus stopped at least four times to let people on and off. At one stop a vendor climbed on board and sold snacks - little bags of home-made potato chips doused in hot sauce and sprinkled with half a lime.

John had warned me to be sure to get to Patzcuaro before dark, otherwise the Combi's would not be running and I'd have to take a taxi out to Erongaricuaro (Eronga). The Combi's had definitely quit running, though there was still plenty of evening light. From Patzcuaro to Eronga, fairly evenly spaced along the road are several little towns, and out in the lake is an island called Janitzio with a native village covering most of it. On top is a huge statue of Morelos, one of the heros of the revolution. The villages were lit up, and so was the statue. It was fairyland pretty, pink clouds against an aging sky, dark purple clouds hovering over the mountain tops, deep green everywhere. And cows, donkeys, and goats in the road the entire way. The driver came to a full stop several times to honk at the animals. Following along behind were the herders bringing the livestock in for the night. The instructions I had led us right to the door and John was waiting to unlock the gate. It was fairly dark, but I could still see that the house was charming and the gardens gorgeous.