It’s midnight. The Morelian night is calling me… Sitting at a little table I can see through the open balcony door of my room the City Cathedral of Morelia, lit up in all its splendor. The pink stone quarry in which is built and the baroque style is an imposing witness of this city day-by-day struggling to show to the eyes of Mexico and the entire world that there’s more much than what mass media has told about it in the past months and that has affected the tourism in a town that, since 1991, was declared by UNESCO as World’s Cultural Heritage. From the balcony I observe the quietness of the street and go through this day in which Michoacan invited us to rediscover its towns, corners, flavors and, above all, the heartbeat of a state with enough history to open our eyes and listen carefully the echo of its legends.
Michoacan welcomes us right at the highway with a wonderful view of Lake of Cuitzeo, also the name of the town we’re headed as a first step in this journey. Considered by the Ministry of Tourism as a Magical Town due to its viceregal achitechture and the unique landscapes as a result of being settled in the middle of the second largest lake in this country, Cuitzeo –which, in Purepecha’s Native Tongue means “Place of Jars”– greet us with the majestuosity of Santa Maria Magadalena Convent, an Augustine exconvent built in the 16th Century that not only represented the progress of the Conventual Missions in Michoacan, but also, it’s strongly linked to the nearly 460 years of history of this place, as the date the beginning of its construction is also the date in which this town was born.
Walking the Gardens is just preamble of what awaits inside this Elizabethan Gothic style property, also built with quarry stone. The level of conservation is amazing and it allow us to watch and enjoy, without trying to use our intuition for guessing what’s on the artist’s strokes. The upper floor provides us with a long hallway inside of which we will find heavy wooden door every three meters. Inside these doors we found what once was the living quarters of the Augustine missionaries. Despite what you might think, every cell has its own particular thing, whereas it’s a painting on the walls or a window in which we can easily imagine a religious man watching the scenery that, night by night, witnessed and protected the reams and nocturnal rites of the inhabitants of this convent.
Any travel back in time would be satisfied with, up until now, we had witnessed in this enormous viceregal culture vestige. However, after crossing the door deep down the hallways, we can catch sight of the long copper tubes of a very old organ, which, from its superior location, contemplates the church in front of us is being unfolded. It’s impossible not to bring to life the countless ghosts that from their indigenous origins were introduced to the evangelic culture of the New Spain sitting on those traditional long wooden benches. The echo of our voices resonates all over and, trying to make some sense out of our imagination, we read out loud the Eucharistic Hymn painted in Latin on the wall: Tantum Ergo Sanctorum… . Describing the timeless sensation that connects us with history is like trying to put on a photograph the scent of a dish; the answer always end up being: You would had to be there…
Out of the Convent and walking the streets unveils the effort of this town inhabitants to preserve the most authentic look. If it wasn’t for the cars and trucks driving down the main street, one could be sure that, any moment, a regiment of men will enter the plaza riding their horses.
In the midst of a self imposed silence that was needed to absorb what we saw, and what we imagine, we took the road to Morelia, the state capital and, surely, one of the most beautiful viceregal cities in Mexico. With its mix of an endless list of still alive prehispanic traditions, Morelia welcomes us with a magnificent late afternoon in which even the threatening clouds chose to pass quicker and, at least for today, save us from what it looked as an imminent rainy night.
Checked in at the Boutique Hotel Los Juaninos , we opened for the first time the balcony door and just stared at the people in front of the Cathedral. There was something special in this scene and, trying to find out if it were the kids running through the water fountains, the balloon vendors all over the place, the countless couples waling at that unique pace that is only used in contemplation of romance or just the magnificent view of the Cathedral the trick was suddenly clear… The magic was the conjunction of all these individual details and, as if it was a well-planned choreography, the sounds of laughter, chatter, but, above all, the amaze of us watching this scene being unfold.
Our dinner at Los Mirasoles , property of the Figueroa family and icon con Michoacan’s cuisine was the next step of this adventure and about which we will tell you later on detail, for the experience was overwhelming and, by far surpassed all our expectation.
Back in my room, satisfied in body and spirit with the first night in this capital city, birth of historical moments and legendary events in the creation of what is Mexico today, I turn the computer on and intermittent cursor of my word processor software blinks impatiently, curious, expectant. It’s midnight. The Morelian night is calling me…