What makes it great for you? What are the petty irritations? How about driving in the city. Guadalajara is very menacing. How's the crime level? Any other comments would be most welcome. TIA
Do I need to say that I will probably come out sounding a bit biased? The reason for the bias is Morelia is where my view of Mexico did a 180. But then before this I was only familiar with Tijuana and hadn't even been there since the 70's. Obviously I was missing something. That is the background, and Morelia is where I "fell in love" with Mexico. So I will clear the air on that to start.
With those new eyes I did begin to explore other parts of Mexico and found many beautiful places. What sets morelia apart for me is that I view it as the flagship of a vast flotilla whereas the other cities I admire tend more to stand alone, so my view of it includes the neighboring communities and artisan villages around Pátzcuaro. They are close and accessible and provide the "Sunday drive" getaways and a seemingly infinite and endless opportunity for exploration of which after six years I have barely scratched the surface though I have at least briefly visited the majority of these various pueblos. In this paragraph I should note as well it is the halfway point between Mexico City and Guadalajara, about three hours drive to either and also about the same time drive to the coast. With all that said now I can focus on Morelia itself and your questions about it.
I have driven Guadalajara several times, once with my Mexican co-pilot/navigator getting us deeper into it so to cause a difficulty finding our way out. I would agree it can be menacing. By comparison then I would say Morelia traffic can be irritating as opposed to menacing. Morelia is a fairly large city and I have heard what I believe to be exaggerated estimates of 1 million population but were that number accurate it is much, much smaller than Guadalajara and much easier to navigate. It has the one beltway/pereférico that typically moves along steadily and makes most shopping and other points easily accessible. It can become an irritation when there is an obstruction, an accident or construction project that impedes that steady flow.
The Centro, however, is a parking nightmare so I will use public transportation when that is my destination. Public transportation in Morelia is great, IMO, taxis are plentiful and combis all run every 5 minutes for 6 pesos. I estimate there are some 25-30 routes that cover wide areas and have long challenged anyone to show me any two points in the city that would require more than two combis to access those. Despite numerous discussions that remains unchallenged. In my corner of the city there are at least 5 combi routes within 3 blocks and can reach almost any destination with one ride.
As it is getting late and I am getting tired I will let this stand for now and address other points after I get up again.
I wanted to post this last night, but couldn't due to a poor network connection:
What makes it great for you?
The fascinating Centro Histórico.
What are the petty irritations?
Traffic, esp in Centro; hard to find parking spot. Hot season hotter than at Pátzcuaro.
How about driving in the city. Guadalajara is very menacing.
See above, Driving is a PITA. I don't know Guadalajara, having been only in the 'burbs.
How's the crime level?
We've only experienced petty, but annoying theft, twice.
Any other comments would be most welcome.
The best part of visiting Morelia is when we are leaving: our car ascends the upgrade a mile or so along the Pátzcuaro highway, the air grows cooler, a breeze blows, and we can see fields and mountains again.
Even better is when we turn off the highway and go along the final 3 kilometers of paved country road, through "our" valley. It means we're almost at our home on the rancho.
Traffic, esp in Centro; hard to find parking spot. Hot season hotter than at Pátzcuaro.
Cold season in Morelia is hotter than Pátzcuaro. While the winter days are typically sunny and warm it is no secret that it can be quite nippy in the mornings. Pátzcuaro gets downright COLD! Homes are more likely to have some sort of heating in Pátzcuaro. Many people in Morelia just tough it out. We make a lot of biscuits for breakfast in the winter and spend more time in the kitchen and dining room drinking coffee then also.
Typically I believe our traffic moves along fairly well except for a few trouble spots or especially when Madero is closed-off for some event. As you note parking is horrible in the Centro so we use public transportation for those jaunts. Many visitors to Morelia have little choice than to use their own cars, but I recall you saying you frequently will park at Costco where you intend to shop but will take taxi or combis into the Centro from their parking lot then return later to do your shopping at the conclusion of your stay.
It was troublesome for vehicle travel when we live in middle of the Centro, but when we lived at the edge of it those restrictions were greatly reduced and parking was a non-problem. We are further out now and just a block off the pereférico which makes for easy access to all points, Costco, Sam's, many restaurant, and the larger shopping centers including most supermarkets are mostly located along that it. The Centro is the exception but while living there we had easy walking access to those points of interest and shopping opportunities. We had to do our supermarket shopping by taxi then, for the most part.
While it is nice to live in the country and rural areas, if you are so inclined, almost everyone finds need to come into Morelia on occasion. It is a fairly complete city in most regards, and offers things the other smaller communities do not. Morelia cannot be avoided for the expat who needs to renew his visa, etc. INM (Immigrations) is located along the pereférico though and we never had parking difficulties there.
By contrast I will repeat that Guadalajara traffic can be menacing while I find Morelia, outside the Centro, to be easy enough and irritating at times when there are obstructions. YMMV. Any Mexican city layout, though, looks like a second-grader's cut and paste job the way many streets and colonias come together. I would say it is Mexico-universal that some learning of the streets and passages is required in many interior parts of any city, Morelia no exception. The outter passages like the pereférico has been done well enough to make it fairly easy and quick.
Although there are a few places in the Centro we have cause to visit for one thing or another we largely view it as an attraction like the Pátzcuaro communities and go there simply for a pleasant outing.
Thanks for all the information. Most of the times we have visited Morelia we have pretty much confined ourself to the Historic Centro, and I don't think I'd want to be driving there at all. However, getting in and out seemed to be doable even for me. I love the combis.(sp?) I had to laugh at the post by Don Cuevas," the best part is leaving", which is exactly what we say on our way out of Canada, or if asked what's the best thing about Canada.
Just a couple of more questions.
How's the medical care there? It kind of looks like I'm going to cancel my private plan due to the smoking issue. I really didn't like their response. Is there an IMSS facility, just in case, because we have that as well.
We have been pretty spoiled by wonderful views here, and were wondering what life was like up on that hill behind the city.
I still plan to address more from your first post but today was watching videos - posted a good one on here too. I will get back to your other concerns and more general info when I can, but for now your new questions.
Yes, we have IMSS. They are supposedly preparing to build a new big hospital is what I hear. There already is a large one that looks fairly modern from the outside but it will either be replaced (is what I hear) or there will be the new facility in addition. There are a couple top-quality private hospitals which I have heard many rave about that have used them, but fortunately I have not required such and can only pass along what I hear from other expats.
I have used a couple local doctors for consultations. Walk-up service in all locations throughout the city, usually attached to the generic pharmacies. These generally cost around $30mxp. I visited a specialist on one occasion whose fee was about $400mxp and he gave me his undivided attention for more than a half-hour just to get to know me and see if there was more he could discover to help treat the condition more effectively. There is no shortage of doctors and hospitals, private, IMSS, general hospital, ISSTE, Cruz Roja. Morelia has it all it would seem, and quality care at that.
The hill. Altozano, Sta. Maria - how us lowlanders tend to regard all the various colonias up there even though that is not correct from the perspective of those that live there. Many gringos choose to make that their home. Altozano, New Morelia, is the new development and huge shopping mall complex, cinema, and residential areas, more too I suppose. There just is not many routes leading up there and traffic is getting worse. That's what I hear. There are many praises for it all. They have a Carl's Jr. opening soon also. I may actually make a trip up there for that, about my favorite of all hamburger chains. I don't need a hamburger fix but a Famous Star burger just might be tempting enough.
That is the up and downside of that hill. I don't really go there much and have little knowledge of it so I hope more folks will add to my comments. I understand there are some decent restaurants there too. It is becoming known to be locked-in due to few access roads so there is more effort to make it a more complete city in and of itself. There is a new Wal-Mart just opened there too. That new mall is supposed to be one of the largest in the hemisphere if I understand the hype correctly. What I understand though is that it is still so new there are not yet many stores opened to fill it properly. I really has only been a matter of a few months so just give it time.
It may be a good place to live, I know a few that live there, but it is not my choice. I live in old Morelia by choice.
One little thing to add to the New Morelia comments. Up there is also some of the very OLD Morelia also. Actually that was not called Morelia then but is/was Jesus del Monte. There is one old church I've visited there that was built in the 1500's. I think it was either dated like 1528 or 1541, seems to me it is the former. It has been almost six years since I visited that church though, so forgive me for the poor memory.
"Cold season in Morelia is hotter than Pátzcuaro. While the winter days are typically sunny and warm it is no secret that it can be quite nippy in the mornings. Pátzcuaro gets downright COLD! Homes are more likely to have some sort of heating in Pátzcuaro. Many people in Morelia just tough it out. We make a lot of biscuits for breakfast in the winter and spend more time in the kitchen and dining room drinking coffee then also."
What? No gravy for those biscuits?
How we deal with the cold up here in the hills.
Up here in the mountains, we stay warm in the winter by donning more layers of warm clothing. We make huge cauldrons full of Sopa Tarasca. We eat more chiles. We have 3 propane heaters for our house. All are portable to one degree or another. We just run them wherever needed, except in the bedroom, in the early to late morning and when bathing.
We have thermal blankets for our bed. Occasionally, we have to throw on an extra quilt at night. I will wear a watch cap while sleeping and while at the computer in the early a.m. We have not had to use our sub-zero polyfill sleeping bag as we had to up at that cabin in "Los Altos Más Arriba de Pátzcuaro."
We have a natural heating system for the cold months. We close our seven large sets of windows at about 4:30 p.m. And open them about at about 10:30 a.m. Because of the greater exposure to sun in the cleared area around the house, and its concrete block construction, its double layer roof of tejas (traditional clay tile roof.) over the old, flat concrete roof, we stay pretty warm.
Although I am an Urban Guy at heart, and I love cities, the tranquil rural ambience here on the rancho suits me at this time in my life. That said, I have to at least go into Pátzcuaro 2-3 times a week, and to Morelia at least once a month, for my "stimuli fix".
Thanks for all the information. Those biscuits look excellent Don Cuevas, have you got a recipe?
We have been using a roll around propane heater, and fireplaces to keep warm, however loading up the fires with wood has gotten old faster each year, and the heater only heats up one room at a time.
Never mind thermal blankets, we have an electric one, what a wuss I am.
Our house faces west, so we only get a lot of sun in the late afternoon. The terrazza prevents it from reaching the larger windows until very late in the day. Add in 10 inch thick walls, so when it gets cold, it stays cold. In hot weather, it's just great. We have never felt the need for air conditioning.
That hill does sound kind of isolated, so we'd be trading one isolated ghetto for another.
That is on top of that hill. If it is view property you want there are several colonias on the face of that hill that are not so isolated and easy enough access. Those might be the key. Those are a little pricier and the terrain presents some minor challenges - not easy to go out for an evening stroll, doesn't have all the little tiendas and taco stands at each corner. You may wish to explore those a bit. I think the prices helped rule those out for me.
By US standards it didn't seem all that expensive, but my retirement pay is not quite up to US standards either. Probably no worse than many places in Ajijic though, perhaps on par with SMA. Worth a gander.
That logo photo at the head of each page was taken from my upper deck. I am at the edge of town in the other direction where there is a bit of elevation and that satisfies my desire for a view. My area is still cheap enough for me.
Not sure what your wishes may be but there are some options. As far as Altozano, Sta Maria, and all, those are popular gringo spots on top of that hill. Most of those homes don't have a view either but they are perhaps popular because of the relative isolation. I don't like it for that reason myself. Then again, I prefer living with Mexicans than gringos. You may agree.
Those portable gas heaters are nice, a couple friends have them. We had plans to buy one but this past winter was warm enough it was not necessary. Perhaps this year we will buy one. As mentioned, we use a gas heater though it is not portable. The oven is our heater and friend.
The idea of biscuits was new to Tere a couple years ago but she is a firm believer now. To make it easy for her I used to buy Bisquick at Costco but that seems to have disappeared from their inventory so now I pre-mix my own biscuit mix that she can store in the fridge and can just add water or leche.
Her gravy-making skills are pretty good. She does not always quite have the idea about where to use it preferring her biscuits with butter and jelly so gravy sometimes turns up in inappropriate places from a gringo perspective. Next time I will just ask for a bowl of gravy for the table.
Breakfast pizza is common for us in the winter and pizza for cena for some evening heat also. Peach cobbler turns up a lot in the winter. Tere likes to top it with neopolitan ice cream which I am less than enthusiastic about its use there.
Our kitchens are not as central in our current homes. Our new casita will have the kitchen on the patio which is not fully enclosed. The gas heater purchase this year appears to be a greater probability now. We now have three homes on the same block though one is a rental that we will likely give up when the casita is ready. Her sobrinos may want to keep it though as it is large, comfortable, and rent is cheap at $2,000mx.
Those prices are really great! I'm really on board for living in an all Mexican neighborhood, but my better half, has really basic Spanish, and is balking a bit. In order to facilitate his Spanish practice, I have refused to speak to the new gardener other than saying good morning etc. So far, so good.
Since it's going to take awhile to sell this place, the kitchen and baking business sounds like an excellent plan. Since I'm the baking part of this equation, I'd better dust off my sifter and get those oven mitts ready for action. In fact, since it's a slow day, and cold in the kitchen, maybe I'll try my hands at those biscuits. Peach cobbler also sounds extra yummy, although we don't usually eat dessert. I have the bad habit of making seriously calorie laden pies with french cookie crust. Awfully good, but very bad for the waistline.
Although I introduced peach cobbler as a dessert it has not been used that way since. Even with the ice cream it gets served to me as part of breakfast now and then to replace toast or pancakes. It can show up as cena once in a while as well.
There appears to be very few foods that have a particular meal where they are appropriate. Two days ago I was given spaghetti and meat sauce for breakfast. Like a lot of men I will eat non-traditional foods for breakfast so I actually praised her for her spaghetti. I believe that is what she has in mind for tomorrow's breakfast as well. I have no problem with that.
Santa Maria and JEsus del Monte are actually OLDER than "old Morelia." And there are parts of both pueblitos where you can find tiendas, etc. on every corner. Not all of the hill is swanky like Altazano.
Thanks. I recall that templo I visited in Jesus del Monte is the oldest I recall of any building here in this area. It was early 1500's though I don't recall the exact year. Further along, I think, was San Miguel del Monte. I don't recall all the colonias up there, that would be for the people that live there. For them it matters more but for many low-landers that whole area is often generically thought of as Sta Maria, though properly that is a specific place among many up there.
There are a number of places of attraction, a couple places I used to stop, but as my routine has changed and traffic has increased it has been a long time since I have been anywhere up there. Of particular interest is El Mirador or La Bandera, a little park, lookout with great view of Morelia, has statues of famous folks and a huge flag.
I recall being along with a panadero friend some years ago making his delivery rounds up there. We were in Jesus del Monte while he was schmoozing with a ladyfriend he knew in a tienda and me waiting outside I hear a dog barking and a huge low-pitched >snort< while some huge bovine creature was coming down the roadway to a T intersection. I stepped back between two parked cars to give wide berth to this animal who apparently knew where it was heading and cut a left at the intersection. That helped top another sight I thought unusual at that time of my early days in Mexico where up the hill I recall seeing a number of horses untethered and freely grazing between houses in vacant lots. I have since learned to not consider that out of the ordinary at all.
There are some quaint and some gaudy areas there that run the gamut of town and rural. it has been several years for me to go up there but with tales of a new Carl's Jr. I might be tempted to journey that way some time again. Thanks for bringing that up that it is both the OLD and NEW to Morelia and before anyone would think to include that as part of Morelia even.
Feel free to elaborate more on this area. I am getting rather winded trying to tell what I know of an area I really know little about. Inquiring minds do want to know. Thanks for the input.
Yeah, please folks, I am the site owner of this forum but certainly no expert or authority on Morelia. I try to supply information as best I can but have been hoping someday to have a forum here that would attract folks that like to share much more information than I myself have. I do my best to share what I know and try to make it clear I know rather little but have learned quite a bit since coming here just over six years ago and am glad to pass what wisdom I have gathered in that time. From my perspective I know almost infinitely more than I did then, enough to get by fairly well, but if I had to rely solely on someone like me for everything I would be lacking for sure. I just hope I can be of some help. I wish I knew some good cheers to prompt more input.