March 15, 2005

Updated: 01-10-06

Q: Most flights appear to be arriving late in Morelia. Do you have any suggestions for arriving the night before (3/2) then coming up to Patzcuaro the following day (3/3)?

A: This is an excellent idea!! Morelia is a great city, not overly large and with a beautiful historic center and a huge, rare curving aqueduct. Well worth exploring on foot for a few hours or more before continuing to Patzcuaro.

To accommodate those who might want to do this, I've reserved (5) rooms at the colonial Best Western hotel on Morelia's main plaza for the evening of 3/2. The cost per room is between $67.50 and $72 per night. (2) of the rooms have a king bed, and (3) of the rooms have two beds if anyone would like to share the cost. Click here, or on the picture below, for more info about the hotel.

Please let me know if you would like one of these rooms before Feb 18th. For those staying I'll arrange a shared mid-afternoon ride up to Patzcuaro at about 3:30 pm on Friday 3/3. You'll arrive at the Casa in Patzcuaro at about 4:30 pm, which is plenty of time to settle in, explore a little, and have dinner.

Q: Is Mexico safe?

A: In a lot of ways, Mexico is safer than the US. Families are strong, people watch out for each other, greet and talk to each other on the streets, and helping each other is second nature. Your physical safety is not at risk. That said, and while Mexico's economy is improving, it has been a poor country for quite a while. In touristy areas in particular, people "hustle". They may pester you to buy something, or children and poor indigenous women may beg. There is also a risk of pickpocketing.

In Patzcuaro, because it's *not* a highly developed touristed area, these risks are much less. But in any foreign or unfamiliar environment it's wise to be cautious with your wallet (wear a money belt), and to keep an eye on your luggage at all times. Another good rule of thumb is to not bring anything travelling that you would be heartbroken about losing.

One advantage of this trip is that I've met and trust the people we will be dealing with -- from the innkeepers, to their driver, to the leaders of the excursions. But it's true you will be at more risk when you are on your own. Remember though, that travel cannot be broadening unless you do take risks. It's hard to absorb the experience of a new place while staying inside a airtight bubble of American "perfection". It's also interesting to note that most of the travel stories we remember and tell others, are the ones where we encountered something unexpected or difficult. It takes 5 minutes to express the beauty and wonder of a place. But you will never forget the story of breaking down in a taxi outside some little village just as a storm was breaking, and having to figure out what to do. Experiences like this are "scary" but they're not life-threatening and they do what travel is supposed to do -- stretch us. (hi Jupiter!)

I hope this covers the question of "safety"! Let me know if there are any other concerns.

Q: What about the water?

A: Actually, the water isn't the problem in Mexico, it's the plumbing, which, no matter how modern the facility, connects to an antiquated and poorly built utility system. The infrastructure isn't effective at keeping the water clean enough to consume, nor is it effective at removing wastes.

Everywhere in Mexico, even in 5-star hotels, you should drink and brush your teeth only with bottled water (agua purificada). The Casa Encantada has 5-gallon water dispensers next to every sink just for this purpose.

In restaurants, ask for agua purificada. And when eating salads, be sure the vegetables have been washed with purified water -- tap water treated with iodine is okay for this purpose.

For toilets, it's typical everywhere around Mexico to put your toilet paper NOT in the toilet bowl, but in a special little waste basket next to the commode. The sewer system can handle raw waste, but it can't handle the additional load of paper. Please try to adapt to this habit -- it's not hard. The waste system of a building can be completely destroyed if too many people flush paper.

Q: Do I need shots to travel in Mexico?

A: No, Mexico is a Western country with modern conveniences. Preliminary health precautions are the same as for travelling in the US or Europe. Your tetanus shot should be up to date, and shots for hepatitis are always a good idea. No other special precautions are necessary.

Q: What is the electrical current in Mexico? Can I bring items to plug in or will I need a converter?

A: The current and outlets are the same as in the US. No converters are required.

Q: You say the elevation is 7,200 ft above sea level. Will it be cold?

A: The latitude of Patzcuaro is the same as Hawaii, and March is the dry season. The weather will be warm and beautiful, not sweltering, but not cool. In the mountains it will cool somewhat at night, but all you will need is an additional sweater.

Q: Why are the accommodations so expensive? I thought Mexico was cheap.

A: Mexico has been catching on to its value, beauty, and popularity. It has also been upgrading and modernizing to accommodate the desires of North Americans. The cost of living for Mexicans (food, clothes, utilities, etc) isn't much different than ours, so realize that when we pay very little it's hard for the person providing a service to get ahead or make ends meet. If you consider prices in the United States, nowhere else can you get sun, color, culture and rich ancient history, nearby, for such a low price. Mexico is still an incredible value.

Q: Is it possible to swim in Lake Patzcuaro?

A: No, Lake Patzcuaro is a mountain lake with soft, marshy edges. It's not good for swimming. There are however town piers (muelles) with small ferry boats that go out, either for a ride on the water or to various islands and villages.

See also:

- Costs & Registration
- Accommodations & Meals
- Remaining Rooms Available (continually updated)
- Flights & Ground transport
- Travel insurance (optional but strongly recommended)
- Morning excursions (optional)
- About Patzcuaro, Mexico
- Current Weather & Forecast for Patzcuaro, Mexico

Contact me for more details
Back to main AP Mexico page

Vinessa • 10:30 AM •

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