The night that Suzie sprang a leak was a very unfortunate night. We were sleeping soundly on the beach at Barra de Nexpa after a day of driving the windy highway 200 on the Michoacan coast.
It had been cloudy all day, a fact that we reveled in, it was a break from the unrelenting heat and humidity of the previous few days. The night before in St. Patricio-Melaque we had even enjoyed a thunder and lightening storm before going to bed. In Barra de Nexpa, gusts of wind began shaking Suzie, flashes of lightening lit up the windows. We snuggled a bit closer and closed our eyes until ‘drip, drip,’ Ken was rudely awoken by several splashes of water to the face. Suzie’s roof was leaking! Unfortunately it was one in the morning and pouring, and there was absolutely nothing we could do until the morning. A pot was placed under the leak and we fell back asleep to the ‘plink, plink’ of the water. In the morning, we expected to wake up to blue skies and heat, after all this is Mexico, it doesn’t rain here, right?
Wrong. It was still pouring. Instead of lazing on the beach for another day in the sun, surf, and sand we packed up and headed towards the colonial city of Morelia in the mountains of Mexico hoping to escape the rain. However, as we proceeded north, it continued to rain. Sometimes a sprinkle, sometimes a downpour. We tried to push the worry out of our minds and enjoy the scenery, which was incredible, imagine soaring mountains strewn with yellow, blue, red and pink flowers, but it was difficult to do so considering the extensive water damage the roof had sustained the prior winter (read our post about repairs here). Trying to keep our spirits up I read about the beautiful catherdral in the historic centro of Morelia that according to Lonely Planet was lit up by fireworks and spotlights every Saturday, and it was Dia de los Muertos weekend, even better! ‘This is going to be incredible,’ we thought to ourselves. Arriving in Morelia around 4:00 we found Hostel Allende relatively easily and it even had a covered parking garage nearby, because yes, it was still pouring. Again, unfortunately, due to poor prior planning on my part, the hostel was completely booked. So were the next four or five hostels/hotels we managed to stumble upon as we circled the city center for two hours. Morelia is a beautiful city, but its streets are very narrow, cobblestoned, filled with throngs of people, and were flooded due to the storm. Ken did a magnificent job navigating the hazards.
Luckily we had a few contingency plans. A WalMart had been spotted on the way into town and every WalMart we had encountered in Mexico had large canopies over its parking lot. Perfect! A free place to sleep and shelter for Suzie. Unfortunately, this WalMart was the first one without canopies. Fortunately, they did have wine, a soon to be necessary salve for the disappointments we had experienced throughout the day. Our second contingency plan was an Auto Hotel. For those of you not in the know, an Auto Hotel in Mexico is not a hotel for your automobile although each room does have its own private parking garage. An Auto Hotel is code for a hotel of ill repute, without the girls, or so we thought. We had read and heard from previous travelers that if you were absolutely out of options these were the place to go. Sure you had to pay by the hour, but the hotels were remarkably clean and as mentioned before secure, covered parking was available. For some reason though, the lady would not let us enter. I tried over and over again, “Cuentos cuesta para todo noche, para doce horas?” I’m sure something got lost in translation as she rattled off a string of words and numbers that I could not sort out with my limited Spanish. We deduced that this Auto Hotel must come with a girl in each room, and instead of taking advantage of us poor clueless gringos, this kind lady was actually doing us a favor and saving us from a potentially extremely awkward situation. Defeated we got back on the road. Things were getting grim. We couldn’t pop the top unless we were under shelter and our bed and clothes were most likely getting soaked with the continuing rain, not to mention the newly reconstructed roof could be slowly becoming saturated with water again, and we were violating our one and only rule by driving at night. Eventually we found a Quality Inn, broke our budget, and lived it up with two double beds, unlimited hot water, internet, and television! The next morning we found a WalMart with a covered garage, because it was still raining, and Ken examined and recaulked the roof.
Hostel Allende had plenty of room for us the next day and we donned our raincoats, missing our xtratuffs, and explored Morelia despite the rain.
We ate a lot of delicious tacos el pastor and met a fellow traveler, Mike an Irishman living in Australia who has been traveling since January and covered the majority of the US and Canada. He is planning on shipping his BMW bike from Panama to Chile and driving north. We hope to run into him on the road!
Morelia is truly a special city. At night the streets fill with people stopping and chatting at cafes and bars. Guitar and mariachi music spills from open doorways. Couples kiss in plazas, on benches, under street lights, everywhere. Even though there was no light show, the cathedral was still breathtaking. We thoroughly enjoyed it despite the travails of the prior day.
We are now in Guanajuato, another incredible Mexican city. Here the streets are even narrower then Morelia. There are more people crowding the streets, sitting in plazas, sunning on the steps of the theater, and chatting it up in cafes. If there wasn’t a continuous flow of Spanish all around us, we might think we were in any city Europe. We are camped above the city center in a great little campground, and true to form have been serenaded at night by a cacophony of barking dogs. Guanajuato is an amazing city and we are thoroughly enjoying exploring as many corners and winding alleyways as we can. Luckily it hasn’t rained for the past few days and an inspection of Suzie has revealed less water damage then we feared. Just another adventure to add to the growing list.