Mexico

Unknown Mexico: Colourful Michoacan


Dear Reader,

I truly find that real Mexico is found only in few places. I say this because this country tends to be stereotyped and often confused to what spring-breakers look for every year.
Don’t fall for that trap, my dear Reader, for you’re looking for authentic and genuine sites. You’re not after mass commercial tourism. You’re after meaningful places, meaningful culture and discovery.

So this time I want to take you to Michoacán, my favourite state in all Mexico.

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Wilderness of Anganguen

Michoacán is often regarded as a black-list state, a dangerous nest of narcos that yearn to hide among its many hills. It might be true but the way I see it is different. Besides, “danger” in Mexico is a very volatile concept, and all the Manzanillo lovers should know that Colima has in fact become very dangerous in spite of nobody saying anything about it. Check on this independent news website for more information about Colima.

Why I love Michoacán

Michoacan is simply divine in many ways.

“If you want to form an idea of our journey, take a map of Mexico and you will see that Michoacán is one of the most beautiful and fertile regions of the world, crossed by hills and lavish valleys, its prairies watered by several streams and its climate temperate and healthful.”
Marquise Calderón de la Barca

Michoacán is unique fusion of natural wild beauty, picturesque colourful, art, tradition and culture. Traveling through Michoacán is to take an extraordinary trip to the heart of Mexico, and I don’t mean it in geographical terms.

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Michioacán has an infinity of mountains which never tire your eyes, many lakes and indigenous towns. In these towns people still speak their own native languages and some of them even struggle with Spanish. The towns of Pátzcuaro, Meseta and Paracho are a vivid example of it: these towns have preserved the traditions and language of the invincible empire of Purépecha Empire (allegedly distantly related to the Quechua people from north of Peru), which dominated the region.
Michoacán is a cultural hegemony where indigenous groups such as the Náhuatl offer a wealth of traditions, fairs, fiestas (see my post on Halloween and the Day of The Dead), customs, music, dance, handicrafts, cuisine and architecture. And while the characteristic towns have maintained their indigenous legacies, the attractive cities of Pátzcuaro and Morelia have preserved their colonial heritage.

Alternative Tourism in Michoacán

The geographical location and actual situation of Michoacán makes this state an unexplored sanctuary for nature lovers, adventurers, and those looking for an adrenaline rush. In Michoacán you can surf, you can mountaineer, you mountain bike, you can dive, you can camp, and even simply star-gazing. It’s not only the geology of Michoacán that makes it favourable in adventure travels, but also the variety of climates it harbours:  rivers, lakes and springs bring the cold from inside the mountains, while the open ocean conveys the tropical warmth of the coast.

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What Michoacán is like today

Michoacán has the capital of avocado. Or aguacate. You name it. Uruapan is officially Mexico’s largest supplier of avocados and some say the world’s avocado capital too.

In spite of Michoacán’s many natural attractions that could easily make the most attractive of all Mexican states, it suffers greatly from the reputation it gained over the past few years due to drug-fuelled incidents over the past years. Ever since the former President Felipe Calderón declared and initiated the war on drugs by sending military forces into Michoacán, the state has been a hot spot and black listed destination to everybody, locals and not. Plenty of websites strongly alert about the risk of traveling to various Mexican states due to threats to safety and security posed by organised criminal groups and drug cartels. The situation fluctuates, one year it is constantly on the news while the following one you won’t even hear the name Michoacán.

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Even though current President Enrique Peña Nieto has repeatedly promised to take a different approach towards the war on drugs, he still deployed thousands of troops to Michoacán in order to suppress the violence that has led many communities to take up arms.

Even though several years have passed since the most hazardous incidents in the area, locals still won’t do their homework and dig a little bit deeper. The state, unfortunately, still is in the negative headlines even though overall things have considerably quieted down and left the top place on the list to its neighbours.

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6 replies »

  1. The situation Mexico is going thru makes me sad and angry at the same time. During the time I have lived in Southern California, I have learned to love Mexico. I have visited many states (and have a lot of Mexicans friends) and have been blew away by the culture, traditions, food and people. Really hope states like Michoacan get some peace. And, by the way, I will go to Michoacan (it would be better if you know some locals there). #WeekendWanderlust

    • Hi Ruth, thank you for your message.
      You’re right, I share your anger feeling quite often here. It’s like a circle and at some point citizens will realise how much power they have in their hands to change things. Change will not come from High Chiefs but rather from the bottom of the pyramid.
      I hope you manage to visit Michoacan, it’s just so beautiful and diverse.

    • Hi Leigh 🙂
      Thanks for your message!

      Yes Mexico is fabulous and so rich in many ways… I’m doing the same as you: visiting until I reach most corner of this country. Which seems very far away though… the more I travel the more things I discover.

  2. Love reading a bit about this part of Mexico, a country I dearly love. I’m hoping that now Pena has lightened up a bit things will calm down (at least via media.) Would love that butterfly experience!! #weekendwanderlust

    • Hi Elaine 🙂 thank you so much for passing by and leaving your message!
      It is not often I hear praises about Michoacan. I’m not sure Peña Nieto has improved at all, what I do know is that local civil societies are doing a work to improve the image of several states of Mexico so hopefully this will lead to something good.
      If you want to come for the butterfly experience you’re still in time 🙂 and if you do come to Mexico send me a message!

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