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Melinda

Patzcuaro and Morelia - still too dangerous to visit?

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My husband and I have not been to either Patzcuaro or Morelia and would like to visit both towns in the New Year. However, we are a little concerned about all the reported crime from those areas. A friend recently mentioned that one of the travel agencies has suspended trips to the towns because of the crime waves in that State.

We would be very interested in hearing from anyone who has been there in the past little while. We're of the mindset that the criminals are not after us so we don't feel threatened when travelling throughout Mexico. However, why look for danger if you don't have to?

Any tips of what to see and where to stay in both towns would be appreciated.

Muchos gracias.

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I can't answer your safety question, but if you go, I would highly recommend including Uruapan in your trip. The national park there is a great place to spend a day, and there is a lovely waterfall about 15 km south of the city. There is a road from south of Los Reyes across to the road that comes in to Uruapan from the north that passes through the heart of the avacado growing area and Paracutin, where the volcano came up in the cornfield in the 1940's, and buried all of the town except the church.

Urpapan is also much warmer than Patzcuaro this time of year.

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2 years ago we stayed at the Catedral hotel, in Morelia on the plaza. It was nice and had parking around the corner. Location was great. We took a tour which left from the plaza to see the Monarch butterflies. We booked it the day before. Other than that, we wondered around the town, saw churches etc. pretty city.

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Well, we live in Pátzcuaro and often travel to Morelia to attend concerts or shop, and like to go to Uruapan to warm up in the winter. None of these places is as dangerous (at least for us) as has been described by what I can only call fear mongers in the media. We drive home from Morelia well after dark without concern, walk at night in Pátzcuaro, and other than keeping our eyes open we don't do anything we wouldn't have done in the US. I don't think we have our heads in the sand, but neither do we live in fear.

Remember the old saying--If it bleeds, it leads. The media has a vested interest in sensationalism, after all.

I say, go ahead and visit, but stay out of dingy cantinas, don't associate with drogistas, obey traffic laws even though no one else is, and enjoy Michoacán. It's a great place with wonderful people, fantastic crafts, and lovely scenery. I can't promise nothing bad will happen, but in our experience it is as safe as anyplace.

I guess I should change my user name to Nancy in Pátzcuaro.

N.

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I was going to reply earlier, but I knew that it would lead to my favorite five day itinerary for visiting Michoacan; one that is too short and could easily be expanded to ten days. I think it is the most beautiful state in Mexico.

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I can't answer your safety question, but if you go, I would highly recommend including Uruapan in your trip. The national park there is a great place to spend a day, and there is a lovely waterfall about 15 km south of the city. There is a road from south of Los Reyes across to the road that comes in to Uruapan from the north that passes through the heart of the avacado growing area and Paracutin, where the volcano came up in the cornfield in the 1940's, and buried all of the town except the church.

Urpapan is also much warmer than Patzcuaro this time of year.

There are areas of Michoacán where it is still very dicey for travel, and the area around Los Reyes is one of those. Los Reyes, like almost all of the small towns in almost all of Michoacán, is infested with and controlled by El Narco. I know the road Arturo recommends and would absolutely not travel that way right now.

What people think of as the exaggeration of violence in the media is in fact not exaggeration at all; Mexico's media do not begin to report all of the problems that exist in these small towns. Why? Because it is too dangerous. Mexico unfortunately occupies the #1 spot in the world in terms of danger to journalists, largely because if El Narco doesn't like what a reporter reports, he or she is threatened with death. Many have been killed and few dare to report the facts.

Friends in Zitácuaro, east of Morelia and a jumping-off place for the butterfly reserves, report that El Narco patrols the town streets beginning in the early evening and that no one dares to go out after dark. Friends in a village near the Paricutín volcano report the same situation. Friends in Tancítaro (just an hour or so up the mountain from Uruapan) report that first seven people were killed by the narcos and then another three; the first were killed on the road just outside town on the way to Uruapan and the second were killed on the town plaza. Those friends have repeatedly urged me NOT to visit them until the narcoviolencia calms down. They don't even visit one another, although they live mere blocks from one another: it's just too dangerous there to go out to socialize.

We moved to Mexico City from Morelia due to the violence that we personally experienced there, beginning in September 2008. The city is calmer now than it was at the beginning of this year, and so is Pátzcuaro. I spent five peaceful days in Morelia at the beginning of December, both for business and pleasure. I would not hesitate to go back--but I would also recommend that a casual tourist know the lay of the land a bit before venturing out to other towns. If you don't read Morelia's Spanish-language newspapers (especially La Voz de Michoacán), you will have no idea what might be happening in that part of the state. You can find it online at http://www.vozdemichoacan.com.mx/. The last several pages of the Morelia section are usually where crime and violence reports are found.

Michoacán is indeed the most beautiful state in Mexico, filled with regional wonders and incredible natural glories. It is also one of the most violent. As many people say, El Narco is not looking for you. But it would be hell to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

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All this proves that unless you can follow the Spanish news sources AND have direct links to the Mexican community (and I am not talking a maid or gardener) it is impossible to know what is happening. While my Spanish sucks, my wife is Mexican and she follows the news. Hence for more than two years I have been suggesting the country is trending down and I see nothing preventing it from continuing. More Liana is very in tune with where Mexico is headed and her posts always an insight and much appreciated.

I know some expats in Patzcuaro would love to leave but can not sell house and others who have left. As some have suggested, do not invest more in Mexico that you can afford to loose.

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Friends spent several days over there in August, no problems at all, my neighbor went on a tour to day of the dead in Nov, no problems.

There are people who won't even go to Guad, also who would leave lakeside if they could sell their homes, so does that make us a "no travel zone"? You find fear where your paranoia takes you. I intend to make a trip over to Leon after first of the year.

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We drove over some 500 miles of Mexico's back roads in November. It was beautiful and we encountered only one brief, friendly Mexican Army checkpoint.

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If you feel like going to Morelia or Patzcuaro go for it. Did you stop to go to Jocotepec or Guadalajara because they have murders there?

There is an element of danger wherever you go especially if you drive. You are more likely to die in a car accident than killed by the cartels so go for it and enjoy the place.

We drove over 4000 kms in October in the states of Puebla, Vera Cruz, Chiapas and Oaxaca and did not encounter any problems. We went through lots of check points but we were waved most of the time, saw a lot of army and federal convoys all over the place but did not encounter problems.

I am not saying that the roads are 100% safe but neither is this area .

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My husband and I have not been to either Patzcuaro or Morelia and would like to visit both towns in the New Year. However, we are a little concerned about all the reported crime from those areas. A friend recently mentioned that one of the travel agencies has suspended trips to the towns because of the crime waves in that State.

We would be very interested in hearing from anyone who has been there in the past little while. We're of the mindset that the criminals are not after us so we don't feel threatened when travelling throughout Mexico. However, why look for danger if you don't have to?

Any tips of what to see and where to stay in both towns would be appreciated.

Muchos gracias.

I can't speak to your security concerns, other than to say that I have had friends travel to both places recently, and they encountered no problems. As to what to see and where to stay, you might check out these three links to my photo-journal blog from our visits:

Morelia: http://cookjmex.blogspot.com/search/label/Morelia

Patzcuaro: http://cookjmex.blogspot.com/search/label/Patzcuaro

Uruapan: http://cookjmex.blogspot.com/search/label/Uruapan

¡Buen viaje!

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All this proves that unless you can follow the Spanish news sources AND have direct links to the Mexican community (and I am not talking a maid or gardener) it is impossible to know what is happening. While my Spanish sucks, my wife is Mexican and she follows the news. Hence for more than two years I have been suggesting the country is trending down and I see nothing preventing it from continuing. More Liana is very in tune with where Mexico is headed and her posts always an insight and much appreciated.

I know some expats in Patzcuaro would love to leave but can not sell house and others who have left. As some have suggested, do not invest more in Mexico that you can afford to loose.

You are exactly right. You have to get the facts trom spanish language areas and NOT the mainstream media here. There were just 3 buses attacked in veracruz and 7 people killed that included a mother and 2 daughters from the usa. Call it fearmongering if you want, but people here take it more serious than you people. I guess it's the out of touch factor.

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