Photo’s are here or you can just click on the photograph above.
Morelia and Patzcuaro are in the north central highlands of the relatively notorious and beautiful state of Michoacán.
Michoacán is (amongst others) on the US government’s list of “no-go” Mexican states. Although it is frequently in the news due to cartel related crime, the state capital of Morelia and the town of Patzcuaro and its surrounding lakeside villages exude a tranquility which seems a million miles away from the stories which plague the news reports. Such is the level of avoidance of the area by other American and European travelers that during our entire visit we saw only five other caucasian western faces. Three of those were US ex-pats who had moved to Michoacán and stopped us in the street to chat. It is unfortunate that other travelers misguidedly avoid the region because they don’t know what they’re missing 🙂
The highlights of Morelia (a Unesco World Heritage Site) are many. It is unfortunate that the immediate start to our vacation standing at the Hertz rental car desk in Morelia airport left us in a state of utter bafflement as we flicked away the flies buzzing around our ears. Months previously we had reserved a car with Hertz at the airport for a prearranged price. As you can’t buy the extra insurance options until you arrive to collect the vehicle, we asked for those to be added when we arrived at the rental desk. The total should have amounted to some US$400 for a week which is pretty average in Mexico for something which should (hopefully) not break down on the exit road from the airport 😉 Mr Hertz tapped away on his calculator and announced that the total including extra insurances would be $1100. Backwards and forwards we went between his calculator, my broken Spanish and Geoff’s increasingly irate English until it finally became clear what was happening. The booking was (as usual) quoted and to be paid in US$. The insurances were (as usual) quoted in US$. The current exchange rate was 18 pesos to the dollar. Mr Hertz, the highway robber, insisted that he could only charge in pesos (which was a first) and that the current “Hertz” rate was more than double the exchange rate for the rest of the country.
Whilst Geoff continued his heated argument utterly in vain and entirely in English, I wandered off to see if I could find an alternative company with slightly more scruples. Two other car rental companies had no cars whatsoever (I don’t know why their representatives didn’t just go home and sunbathe in the garden) and another – Budget – confirmed that they did have a car for a week for the far more reasonable price of $350 inclusive of insurances.
Doesn’t really matter what you book in Mexico – it’s always going to be a tatty, basic model of some obscure brand unheard of outside of Mexican borders. So $350 sounded a far more reasonable price than $1100 for more than likely exactly the same clapped out vehicle. Even better, he had one available immediately for rent! I rescued Geoff from his heated interaction and we returned to Budget whereupon it transpired that Budget didn’t actually have any cars available immediately at all. However, his amigo at Happy Rent a Car down the road had one we could rent. As the alarm bells were ringing to a deafening level I said that we’d prefer one which was actually owned by Budget. To be fair even Budget is not a car rental company in which I would normally place much faith either – but Mr Happy and his rental car company were entirely unknown quantities. Budget could get us a car but it would take at least 2 hours … which in Mexico means 4 hours. Day 1 of our vacation was frittering away before our eyes …
We begrudgingly conceded defeat and were herded outside towards a battered unmarked van which screeched to a halt outside of the terminal. Mr Budget shoved us into the van and off we went with a complete and utter stranger to an unknown destination. It crossed my mind that this is where the vacation would end before it had started – robbed, stranded and/or murdered on a back road somewhere in Michoacán. However, before I could give voice to my fears we pulled up at the end of the airport exit road outside a portacabin emblazoned with the large and colorful logo of Happy Rent a Car. The lot was full of cars but the one which we were offered for the week was so well-used that it took a good 20 minutes for us to circumnavigate it taking extensive photos of the pre-existing damage and marking crosses onto the check-out sheet. A retired bumper car at Blackpool fairground might have had less rust and impact damage than our vacation vehicle for the week. Give them their due, the 2 staff members manning the operation were very friendly and even spoke a smattering of English. They adamantly refused to allow us to insure the car for the full 100% collision waiver (which we would have preferred) so I remained convinced for the entire vacation that we would return a week later and find that we had to buy them a brand new car because of some obscure ding or dent which we had missed in the vast ocean of other scratches, dings and dents 😉
Regardless, we had little alternative so we bit the bullet, rented the car and with it running on fresh air, headed to the nearest gas station before it broke down at the side of the road. And then onwards to our spectacular home for the next 4 nights in the historic district of Morelia only half an hour away from the airport. Casa 48 on Calle Guerrero is a fabulously renovated 17th century colonial property with all of the rooms radiating off the courtyard in the centre of which is a decorative pool with a small fountain and atmospheric night lights. There is also a roof terrace which we didn’t use due to the fact that it was popular with the local stray kitty population who liked to use it as a posh toilet. There was abundant trendy seating, black and white tiled floors and superb huge fireplaces for the chilly nights. I could have sold up immediately and moved there quite happily but the baying hounds of hell in the neighboring properties put paid to that pipe dream on the first night when we were woken by the usual symphony of howling and barking into the wee hours 😉 Mexican city life – literally never a quiet moment …
Morelia, which lies in the Guayangareo Valley, is absolutely beautiful and the Baroque-style Cathedral is considered to be one of Mexico’s loveliest. It took 84 years to build before its ultimate completion in 1744 and has the seventh tallest towers in Mexico at just under 67 meters high. They can be seen for miles around. Many of the city buildings are tinged with a pink hue – partly from the warm colored stone and partly because the cement holding the stones in place is a shade of rose pink.
We wandered the streets for hours, took respite in the various plazas and gardens and under the famous portales (covered archways) of the buildings surrounding the Cathedral and the Plaza de Armas. We sipped cucumber margaritas and ate trout (fished from the local lake) and hibiscus flower salad under the arches at LU Cocina. We ate chilaquiles for breakfast at Guarecita de las Rosas under the shade of the trees in Jardin de las Rosas (a slimline park running alongside the Conservatorio de las Rosas). Not a single rose grows in either the rose garden or the conservatory but the Jardin is suitably adorned with one of Morelia’s ubiquitous stone fountains, a statue of the revered Bishop Vasco de Quiroga and the carefully tended flower beds are filled with white calla lilies. Every time we passed the park I spotted an ancient vaquero (a Mexican cowboy) replete with boots and cowboy hat who seemed to have taken root under the shade trees with a couple of equally ancient amigos. It was our favorite place in the city.
Next door to the Jardin is the Conservatorio – a music school through which we wandered following the sound of a couple of students practicing their percussion instruments.
So long as you sign the visitor book it appears that you can pretty much wander into any historical building throughout the city to admire the architecture. So we stopped into the Government Palace to see the expansive murals. After three attempts to access the Centro Cultural Clavijero and its collection of contemporary art we had to concede defeat – it was always closed even when it should have been open.
We sauntered through many fountain-filled plazas such as Plaza del Carmen, Plaza Morelos, Plaza Villalongin and Plaza Valladolid. The renowned Museum of Artisans at the ex-Convent of San Francisco in Plaza Valladolid has brightly colored, flamboyant local arts and crafts including gilded, enameled jewelry and wood crafts.
I was enticed into sampling a piece of candied sweet potato thrust at me by a decidedly unsanitary looking paw as we made our way through the famous Mercado de Dulces (the sweet/candy market). Only the Mexicans would take a vegetable, caramelize it and turn it into candy. There is no nation on earth more dedicated to the consumption of sugar in all of its possible forms.
After hours of wandering, until Geoff could wander no more, we made an unscheduled stop at Spa Sayamara in the backstreets of the historic district for an hour of reflexology and foot torture worthy of any half decent Chinese foot masseur (highly recommended). With the benefit of hindsight, it was a good job that we’d had our trotters worked upon during the day because the evening’s entertainment didn’t go entirely to plan.
Every Saturday night at 8.45pm there are fireworks in front of the Cathedral. At 7.45pm we were sauntering through the Plaza de Armas which was packed with families and Mexican tourists. The mariachi singers had gathered quite a crowd, the Dance of the Old Men was attracting much excitement, and small children were enthralled with the colorful balloons of the balloon sellers hawking their wares. Outside of the Cathedral there was a large stage with a band singing catchy but untranslatable songs. A typical Saturday night of public entertainment in a busy Mexican city.
More people started arriving and took their places opposite the towers of the Cathedral so we joined them at 8pm and waited for the fireworks to start. From a reasonably dispersed and peaceful crowd one minute, the next we found ourselves pinned flat against the wall of a building opposite the cathedral. We were trapped in a mass of heaving, swaying bodies and unexpectedly taking part in centenary celebrations for one of the city’s most influential churches. We discovered that the band was a famous Mexican Christian pop group whose lyrics remained a mystery but whipped the crowd into a frenzy of excitement. In the middle of the ever-growing crowd we spotted a pick-up truck slowly making its way through the crowd with two priests perched on makeshift chairs on the back of it. They were to preside over the religious ceremony. The celebrations continued with increasing fervor – sermons, mass prayers and more music followed by more sermons, more mass prayers and more energetic singing. All the while, more and more devotees of the church continued to arrive waving huge white embroidered flags. The more excited the crowd became, the more we were flattened, trodden on and elbowed.
I could sense that Geoff was not enjoying his Saturday night on the town quite as much as I had hoped but it was impossible to move. An Uber Eats motorcycle en route to deliver food to a customer passed within inches of our toes on the sidewalk because there was literally nowhere else for him to go. I flashbacked to the near death crush we had found ourselves trapped in at the funeral of an ex-president in Santiago, Chile a few years back. Geoff was all but sitting in the lap of his neighbor so he struck up a conversation. He was a Mexican living in Minnesota who told us that the centenary celebration was very important in the city. I didn’t catch the name of the church but we were reliably informed that the body of Christ was preserved inside the body of a cow which was buried in the grounds of said church. For the past 100 years the congregation had been tending to the grave of the cow, and by default protecting the body of Christ. I wondered fleetingly if something had gone awry in translation or whether I had simply misheard in the noise of the crowd but apparently not. At 10pm – after 2 hours of crushed toes and elbow punctured lungs – the sermon finally ended. My beaming neighbor grabbed me in a vigorous embrace kissing both of my cheeks. She couldn’t have looked happier if she’d just won the jackpot of the Euro Millions lottery. The fireworks shot across the sky illuminating the facade of the Cathedral in a spectacle of reds and whites and pinks. It was all over in 10 minutes.
All in all, an atypical evening of entertainment for 2 atheists but when in Rome etc. etc. …
Sporadic fireworks continued across the city into the wee hours as is normal for any celebration in Mexico ensuring yet another night of broken sleep.
On Sunday morning we ambled over to the famous fountain Fuente de Tarascas at the start of Calzada de Frey Antonio de San Miguel – a tree-shaded pedestrian cobblestone walkway running alongside the Aqueduct and the Cuauhtémoc Forest. Every Sunday morning sections of the roads in the city centre are closed to traffic so that locals and tourists can head out on pushbikes for some car-fume-free exercise – it is known as the Ciclovia. In addition, there are teenage boys practicing their parkour skills somersaulting over walls along the Calzada parkway, there are small kids with multi-colored candy pedaling furiously on their tricycles and a general air of relaxed bonhomie amongst the strolling families and couples.
Nearby, the narrow Callejon del Romance (Romance Alley) is, as promised, suitably romantic with pink bougainvillea tumbling down stone walls and an old stone fountain at the end of the alley. If you look too closely into the darkened recesses of the alley or under the overhanging bougainvillea you will undoubtedly spot at least one teenage couple engrossed in various amorous acts which would likely make their parents raise an eyebrow 😉
The Cuauhtémoc forest is a park which attracts more hype than it deserves – but its failures in cleanliness and charms paled into insignificance compared to the massive disappointment which is the Museo de Arte Contemporaneo Alfredo Zalce. Whilst the 19th century building is passably appealing the contents were not. When we visited, you could only access the first 2 small rooms of the building which housed a handful of dark and depressing paintings and one small sculpture. It took longer for us to sign in and hand over our worldly possessions in my backpack to the security guard than it took to admire the meagre works on offer, retrieve my backpack and leave. We strolled back along Plaza Morelos which was hosting a fiesta. The red and yellow covered food stalls sold only one of 2 food stuffs (which by default must be supremely popular in Morelia) – roasted peanuts and freshly chopped sugar cane. Literally stall after stall after stall of nothing but peanuts and sugar cane. A testament again to my theory that this nation runs almost entirely on sugar and its derivates 😉
As planner of all vacation activities, I talked Geoff into a day for 2 at the luxurious Villa Montana Hotel and Spa. Just on the outskirts of Morelia, the hotel is perched on a hilltop overlooking the city and no doubt its spectacular view is reflected in the cost of its overnight accommodations. A day at the spa, however, was extremely reasonable so I booked us in for massages, saunas and facials. It was Geoff’s first and undoubtedly last facial given his complaints about the excruciating pain – which came as a surprise to me. If he thinks a facial is uncomfortable I should book him in for a session of body waxing which would really make his eyes water…
The pièce de résistance of the day, however, was an algae body treatment. This comprised being scrubbed with salt, smeared in cold, luminous green algae, wrapped in cling film and left alone to warm slowly in a giant heated plastic duvet whilst listening to the strains of whale birthing music. Again, something I’m not sure Geoff will be rushing to repeat …
Before we leave Morelia behind us and head off to Patzcuaro a world (but only an hour) away, recommendations for places to eat and imbibe coffee or cocktails (for those interested in visiting the state capital) are as follows: LU Cocina – so good we ate there several times, Cafe Loto – an excellent vegan restaurant, The Bean Corner Cafe, La Guarecita Peltre (in the rose garden) and La Guarecita Tostadores de Cafe y Cacao. Others we intended to visit were Chango and Therai – but both closed when we visited. Unfortunately, I conceded that Geoff could choose a restaurant for dinner one evening. It was La Conspiracion de 1809. I should never have allowed us to go off script. It was decidedly average.
Unmissable local cuisines are chilaquiles for breakfast (apparently also a great hangover cure); local lake trout; paletas (frozen fruit and fruit juice mixed with cream on a stick – to all intents and purposes a lollipop – but far, far better than any lollipop I have ever eaten – they come in a multitude of flavors from blackberry through avocado); peanut and sesame toffee candy which can be purchased from any little old lady who wanders past carrying a basket of said homemade delicacies; Ates – a thick sliceable fruit and sugar paste – plus other exotic candied fruits at the famous candy market; avocados which grow in abundance in Michoacán; the green ceviche (trout) and hibiscus flower salad with blackberry dressing at LU and, most importantly, their cucumber (pepino) and lemon margaritas.
Leaving the big city behind us we headed off to Patzcuaro passing through verdant valleys, rolling hillsides and miles of agricultural fields. You could be anywhere in rural Europe if it weren’t for the dormant cinder cone volcanos dotting the horizon. Less than an hour after leaving the city life of Morelia behind us we turned off the main road and found ourselves bumping and jolting all the way down a steep, cobblestoned hill until we pulled up outside of La Siranda, a beautifully restored colonial property mere steps to the centre of town. La Siranda was our home for the rest of the week.
The most striking features of the town are the red terra-cotta roof tiles, the red and white painted adobe walls, the cobblestone streets, hand-painted red and black street and shop front signs and the fabulous covered portales (arched porticos) of the buildings surrounding the main plaza.
Patzcuaro is undoubtedly one of Mexico’s most beautiful “pueblos magicos” (magical towns). It is a Spanish colonial town but with strong roots in its indigenous heritage. Originally founded under the Purépechan/Tarascan empire in the 1320’s, the region enjoyed 200 years of its own indigenous history before Bishop Quiroga was sent by the Catholic church to Patzcuaro in 1536 to establish the Catholic church. He was instrumental in not only bringing the Catholic religion to the region, but more importantly, he promoted the development of artisanal crafts and the basics of self-government to the villages around the lake. Each would ultimately specialize in a specific local industry which has subsequently been taught and passed down through the generations. These trades remain strong today.
We took a drive north around Patzcuaro Lake to visit some of the unique indigenous communities and found ourselves in Santa Fe de la Laguna at the daily market. Elderly ladies dressed in indigenous costume were poring over the daily produce for sale as vendors sat cross-legged on the side-walk – their fruit and vegetables spread out on blankets and sheets in front of them on the ground. There were fresh flowers for sale under the shady portales in front of the church, butchers flicked flies away from their meat and friendly dogs strolled through the plaza looking for scraps of food and a chin tickle. Thankfully, we needed to buy neither emergency supplies of kale, fried pig skin nor a plastic bucket because even my paltry Spanish wouldn’t have helped much in this town where the locals speak the original indigenous Purepechan language.
Heading back south again we stopped in a town famous for wood carving and straw weaving with a tongue twister of a name – Tzintzuntzan. The market area was jammed full of tens of thousands of Christmas decorations woven from straw and multi-colored ribbon. Opposite, there was an alleyway crammed full of wood carvings where we watched artisans staining and polishing their carvings ready for sale – the perfect place to go if you need a 4 foot tall hand-carved mariachi singer or a hand-painted “Dance of the Old Men” mask 😉 Behind a marigold covered archway there was an avenue of huge, gnarled olive-trees leading to a 16th century monastery complex. A traditional band was practicing their indigenous music and dance moves in front of the church whilst stray dogs sunbathed on the grass.
I have been plotting and planning for some years to take a trip to Mexico to coincide with the famous Day of the Dead celebrations. In Tzintzuntzan we came the closest so far to the celebrations by visiting one of the region’s most famous graveyards – albeit we were still 3 or 4 weeks too late for the main event. It was decorated with thousands of withered, fading orange marigold flowers, melted candles and decaying fruit – all offerings for the visiting spirits on the night of the Day of the Dead. The graveyard was strikingly atmospheric even in the heat of the midday sun. The majority of the graves are muddy mounds of earth and the makeshift pathways around them were thick with a thousand dried footprints – it must have been knee deep in mud on the night of 2nd November 2019 …
Other villages around the lake specialize in crafts such as iron furniture (Tzurumutaro), masks (Tocuaro), black clay sculptures, or copperware (Santa Clara del Cobre) but I wasn’t planning on shopping that day. I had a more infamous destination in mind for the last stop on our excursion – the altar of la Nuestra Señora de la Santa Muerte (the Saint of Death) at the Templo de Santa Muerte a short drive outside of Patzcuaro. The temple has been created over time at a private house. Devotees lay shots of tequila, flowers, cigars and colorful candles at the feet of the life-size centerpiece skeleton dressed in billowing black robes. There are skeletal figurines in every nook and cranny wielding scythes and globes. Incense wafts between grim reaper statues in a myriad of different forms and a skeletal lady in white sits on a chair with a sign to her side saying “Waiting for the Perfect Man”. Santa Muerte is inextricably linked with the Mexican drug cartels and as such I suggested we keep our heads down and eyes averted from any visiting worshippers 😉 Santa Muerte wields a variety of powers including those governing prosperity, health, protection from violent death and protection from witchcraft. Most poignantly and considerably more chilling than any of the surrounding paraphernalia of worship was a photocopy of the driving license of a young man who was missing. The paper had been clipped to the robe of Santa Muerte by his mother with prayers for the safe return of her son.
Time to head back to the relative safety, tranquility and cheer of the coffee shop Chocolate Don Jenaro in the backstreets of Patzcuaro for our first ever deep-fried sugar-coated churros which we dipped into our hot chocolates 🙂
Patzcuaro is a beautiful and peaceful town where children play in the shade of the ash trees in the tree-lined main square (Plaza de Quiroga/Plaza Grande) overlooked by the statue of Bishop Quiroga standing in pride of place in the centre of an equally grand fountain. Market vendors hawk their voluminous produce at the daily market close to La Plaza Chica. Outside of the imposing Basilica de Nuestra Señora de la Salud (where Bishop Quiroga is buried) stalls sell religious souvenirs and offerings for the devout to place at the feet of the Virgin Mary.
Of all the towns and cities we have visited in Mexico, Patzcuaro is one of our favorites.
Although I had a lengthy list of restaurants to try, several of the best known (Santo Huacal and Dona Paca) are closed mid-week as the bulk of tourists don’t arrive until the weekend for a quick getaway from the big cities. Consequently, we saw the town at its quietest – nobody but locals going about their daily business – but we didn’t get to sample all of the best of Patzcuaro’s culinary scene. Having said that, El Naranjo on the ground floor of a hotel (notable for a spindly orange tree growing as centerpiece in the courtyard) is worthy of mention. On a recommendation we visited Verde Limone (an Italian restaurant) – the salad and flatbread pizza were some of the strangest we’ve ever eaten. We wouldn’t return. One afternoon we stopped in at La Surtidora cafe under the portales to rest our weary legs. Our enjoyment of the view from the cafe’s prized position overlooking the corner of Plaza Grande was inversely proportional to our enjoyment of the coffee which was utterly undrinkable.
The best restaurant by far was La Terrazza de Antonia with a commanding view over the Plaza Grande and surrounding rooftops of the centre of town. It is on the rooftop of the Casa Leal Boutique Hotel. Only one slight hiccup. We told the server at the outset that we didn’t eat meat – just to ensure that I didn’t make a mistake with my translations and inadvertently order something which had previously walked on the earth with 4 furry (or hairy) legs. We ordered guacamole – by anyone’s reckoning a vegan dish. At Antonia’s, however, it arrived with 4 crispy fried tubes inserted into the centre. These turned out to be sections of deep-fried pigs leg. Luckily Geoff only took one small bite before ejecting it onto his plate. The server was very apologetic and to compensate for the horror of biting into the crispy skin of a piggy he showered us with lots of free vegetarian side dishes. I’m guessing he was worried about his tip 😉
We were not, however, good vegans every day and as a result can highly recommend the shrimp tacos which were spectacular at Antonia’s. Before we returned to vegan life back home there was one more local delicacy I wanted us to try – pasta ice-cream (nieve de pasta) – made from caramelized milk. “The” place to go is a side-walk vendor under the portales – Neveria la Pacanda. As we lined up to place our order, a small hand tapped Geoff on the elbow and he looked down into an imploring pair of large brown eyes. As foreigners are few and far between here the local kids can spot one a mile away and are clearly adept at tapping them up for a free pasta ice-cream. So we bought one each for the cute little girl and her equally doe-eyed older sister who appeared out of nowhere once it was clear that her younger sister had hit pay dirt with the gringos. Then we hot-footed it into the park with our melting pasta ice-cream before we ended up with a trail of stray kids behind us all the way back to the ice-cream vendor 😉
Whilst I would have liked to visit Tiendita Verde restaurant out towards the lake, we were too lazy to drive out again so that’s another culinary experience that we’ll have to leave until next time. Far more importantly, I had spotted a potential new addition to our sculpture family and had to find a way to surreptitiously maneuver Geoff through the streets back to the arts and crafts galleries of the most famous of Patzcauro’s tourist destinations – Casa de Las Once Patios (House of the Eleven Patios). Originally the buildings comprised a convent for Dominican nuns back in the 1740’s. Only 5 of the previous 11 courtyards exist today but I was making a beeline for a specific art gallery – “artisano galería”. I had previously homed in on a spectacularly crafted but simultaneously spectacularly unnerving black clay (barro) female figure whose famous image goes by the name of Catrina. Catrina is an elegant skeletal lady dressed in various finery and decorated with flowers. She is the most recognizable symbol of the Day of the Dead celebrations. Most Catrina figures are very colorful but my Catrina is jet black clay and she represents a Spanish dancing lady. I loved her as soon as I saw her. Fortuitously, Geoff fell under her spooky spell too 🙂 If I’m honest I held out little hope that she would make it home in one piece given that she is very delicate, highly intricate and we had to carry her hand luggage on 2 flights along with all of the rest of our luggage. The gallery painstakingly wrapped her in reams of toilet paper (which didn’t boost my confidence in her likely longevity), a layer of old scrunched up newspaper and some bubble-wrap and then placed her in a heavily used cardboard box. I was expecting that she would at least be decapitated in transit or lose a long, skinny skeletal finger or two but she made it to her new home in perfect condition. She now resides in our master bedroom where she greets us every morning with her toothy grin 😉
Whilst we were in Patzcuaro, we should have lounged around in coffee shops for less time. We spent far too long watching the world go by and the autumnal leaves swirling through the park. Instead, we should have hiked up to the lookout on the volcanic ridge “el Estribo” for some exercise… but we didn’t… maybe next time… 🙂
As is tradition now, over the final Mexican coffee sipped in a shady, courtyard cafe under the portales, Geoff told me that he wasn’t leaving Mexico. Tempting though that is, it isn’t a viable option (quite yet!) so we loaded our luggage into our battered old rental banger, sent up a prayer to la Santa Muerte that the engine would start and set off cross-country again back to Morelia Airport. When we pulled into Happy Rent a Car an hour or so later we were greeted by the smiling Mr Happy himself. I was still convinced that we would be fleeced with a bill for some obscure damage not covered by our “insurance” but it turned out that Mr Happy was absolutely delightful – not just because he spoke very good English (courtesy of his third wife in a considerable collection of previous international wives) but mainly because he apologized profusely for the state of the car which we’d been given. He explained that if only he’d had a few days notice ahead of time (instead of the 10 minutes we’d actually given him) we would have had one of his sparkling new vehicles from his fleet of 20 sparkling new cars. At least we will know where to go next time for a rental car when we’re back in Morelia and it certainly won’t be Hertz!