Tuesday, September 04, 2012

the jundland wastes are not to be traveled lightly

OK, Steve.  What is it with the odd long-shot photographs of almost empty streets?  Is this your Philip Glass period?

I thought I would do a preemptive strike before one of you did.

The answer is -- nope. 

For the next two weeks, I am staying in one of the suburbs above Morelia.  The city spreads out below.  But I am holding off on visits down the hill until later in the week.

I got up Monday morning intending to walk through the local village and take a few photographs after dropping off my laundry.  But once I am in walk mode, I will often keep going just to see what is around the next corner.

On Sunday night, I had dinner at a very nice apartment a few miles from here.  My host pointed out the shopping center on the horizon.

For some reason, I got it into my head I would walk over there -- having no idea how far it was.  You can barely see my starting point in the photograph at the top of this post.

It turned out to be about a three mile walk each way in very pleasant summer weather.  Around 75 degrees.  But it is evident not many people walk that route.  Even though the streets are perfect, there is little space for pedestrians on a portion of the walk.

After I took the top photograph, I turned around -- and there it was.  A shining city upon a hill.

Well, that may be too John Winthrop.  But the shopping center's white architecture literally shone in the morning light.

Let me stop here for a moment.  I am not a shopping center fan.  Probably because I have no connection with the adjective.  I find no pleasure in shopping.

But Paseo Altozano is not just a conglomeration of box-shaped stores -- though, there are stores.  The place is an architectural wonder.

There is something whimsical in Hispanic architecture.  You can see it in Calatrava's City of Arts and Sciences in Valencia or Gaudi's Sagrada Familia in Barcelona.

Paseo Altozano has that same effect.  It looks like a well-designed sailing ship marooned in the mountains of Mexico.

Take a look at these shapes.

The "sails" perform a function -- acting as umbrellas for the open-air pathways.  But the effect is sculptural.  They exist to give pleasure in addition to function.

Of course, the mall is a place of commerce.  And there is plenty of that.  Even though at one year old, the retail space seems to be only half filled.

What is there is exactly what you would expect in an upper middle class mall.  Tommy Hilfiger. Brooks Brothers.  Liverpool.  Sears.  Several eyeglass stores -- giving the impression that Michoacán is the heartland of myopia.  A cinema.  Several eateries.

I went into only one store.  Not surprisingly, a small electronics shop.

The power inverter my brother gave me when we drove down to Mexico four years ago was stolen during one of the three break-ins the Shiftless Escape has suffered. 

I decided to see if I could find a replacement.  I did.  Paying the usual premium for electronics purchased in Mexico.

And because I was at the mall, I had a Carl's Jr. fish sandwich and then took in a rather miserable movie.

But the view of centro Morelia made up for the movie.  The city is a beautiful sight -- both in the day and the night.

Surprisingly, the three mile hike back to the house was quite pleasant.  Pleasant enough that I may just keep the truck garaged for most of my time here.  Driving into the centro area is not on my list of things I would really like to do.

I stopped off at the laundry -- a place that would not quite fit in with the mall, and that is to its credit -- to pick up my clothes.  They were still warm and fresh-smelling from the dryer.

In Melaque, I pay by the kilogram of clothes.  At this laundry, the owner looked at the clothes and gave me a quote.  Based on the stack returned, the price was as bit more expensive than Melaque.  But this is the big city. 

Even so, at the equivalent of $3.75 (US) for two weeks of dirty laundry, it was a bargain.

And then we were off to dinner at Espartakos -- a restaurant owned by a local Greek family.

I may be reaching for humor these days, but I loved the pun of "takos" in the name.

My year of living in Greece gave me an appreciation of its cuisine.  And I love gyros.

I prefer lamb in mine, but there was none available on Monday night.  So, I chose the pork.  In my Greek village most souvlaki sandwiches (that is what we called gyros in Kato Achaia) were pork.

And mine was far better than the anemic offerings that go by the name of gyros in American shopping malls.  Even though one of the best I have tasted was last April in a New Orleans food court.  But New Orleans makes everything taste great.

I have long ago acclimated to eating something light in Mexico for my evening meal.  And the gyros filled the bill perfectly.

After a day like this, Morelia is very tempting as a place to live.  It was always on my short list.

And there is one little weight that may tip the scales.  Paseo Altazano is about to open one of my favorite stores --

Who knows where this could lead?


John Calypso said...

I had no idea 
Morelia is so big.  How is the air quality?

Felipe Zapata said...

Carl's Jr.? Jeez, man. My wife and I ate there for the first and last time about a week ago (yuck) and we did that just because where we really wanted to go was not open just yet.

That would be the deli counter you encounter by walking into the movie theater lobby and looking straight ahead. They make some sandwiches that, with the optional blue cheese, are incredibly wonderful. They don't call them sandwiches. There is some other fancy-pants name that eludes me at the moment. Left side of the menu on the wall. Gotta get the blue cheese, however.

After you get said sandwich, you walk behind that deli counter to the big area with tables and a stunning view of Morelia spread out below.

I've eaten at the Greek joint twice and like it. Lamb was available both times.

Ain't Melaque, is it?

Felipe Zapata said...

 Air's fine. Not much heavy industry in Morelia.

Steve Cotton said...

It fills the large valley between the surrounding volcanoes.  There is a paper mill that adds a bit of smoke to the air.  But it stays rather clear for a city this large. 

Steve Cotton said...

I had not reconnoitered enough when I decided to eat.  Carl's Jr. was the only thing available. But the fish sandwich was not bad.  Most fish sandwiches I have eaten in Mexico taste as if the fish had been assembled from left overs.  The fish and chips at Hecho en Mexico (in San Miguel) comes to mind.  But, after having seen the Cinemex deli, I would have eaten there.

Morelia has a lot that Meglaque does not have.  But Melaque ha the ocean.  And that is hard to beat.

Tancho said...

Now go into the stores like Liverpool and spend some of that SSI money. At one end of the center you can also purchase that nice new Honda you need.
I hope the center starts filling up, each time we are there, it is pretty much empty. We only go during the weekdays, never on the weekends......

Shannon Casey said...

Wow, Carl's Junior and Best Buy. What next? When we were there last the WalMart wasn't even built yet. 

Andean said...

Where is Mexico in all this, Best Buy, Gyros, Sears...sounds like the States...

jennifer rose said...

I'm not far from Paseo Altozano, and it does fill up at night and on weekends. Meanwhile, it's enjoyable to be able to go to a mall like this on a weekday morning shortly after the stores open up at 11 a.m. and have the place to yourself. And there are more places to eat in addition to Carl's Jr.: Bariloche, Fisher's, Liverpool, Sanborns, the food court, El Globo, Starbucks, Lilian's Coffee, Cafe Europa, and Casa Avila. And that's without ever walking into Cinemex, where even more offerings can be had. 

The air quality up on the hill in Santa Maria de Guido, which predated Morelia, and Jesus del Monte, and parts in between can't be compared to what's found down below in the valley. Up here, it's an entirely different climate, one where the air is clear, the people more attractive, the children all above average, and where there seldom is heard a discouraging word, and the skies are not cloudy all day. 

Steve Cotton said...

 I was told that Monday morning -- when I went -- is a perfect time to go.  I felt as if I had the place to myself.

Steve Cotton said...

All you need to do is to install the "Camelot" sign.

Steve Cotton said...

That is the joy of living in a nation that reminds of The States in the 50s.  There are changes every day.

Steve Cotton said...

There are many Mexicos.  This is the Mexico where people are now earning enough to have expendable income.  The growth of the middle class is always a joy to see.

I like this Mexico as much as the Mexico I find in Melaque.

Steve said...

My wife and I used to like Morelia, but lately it seems to be over-run with Mexicans.

Steve Cotton said...

 Clever twist.  When I was looking at places to live in Mexico, Morelia was described as a large city with a very small expatriate community.  On my visits here, that has proven to be true.  That environment makes the city a fascinating place to live.    

DonCuevas said...


Saludos, Don Cuevas

DonCuevas said...

We haven't been to Paseo Altozano yet. It seems so.....far away from our usual paths.

Saludos, Don Cuevas

Steve Cotton said...

It is worth the trip.  If you are interested in buying something you cannot get in Patzcuaro.  But I guess that is what Costco is for.

JoS said...

Ahem [pushes glasses up]- Winthrop described the city upon a hill. Reagen added the bit about shining. Say what you will about the sticky wicket of sprucing up the sermon on the mount - they called him the great communicator for a reason). Apparently Winthrop only could imagine a poorly lit city in that shabby boat.

Steve Cotton said...

Point well taken.  But Winthrop scanned better.  Something a Harold Hill aficionado such as yourself should appreciate.

Nothing to be done. 

barb in joco said...

Your mention of several eyeglass places reminded me of one of the things that fascinates me here in Jocotepec, Jalisco, and in other areas which I've visited in Mexico.  That is that almost nobody wears glasses except for us old gringos.  I can't remember the last time I saw a local person around here in glasses.  Now assuming that everyone in Joco has NOT had laser eye surgery, I have to guess that either the Mexican diet contributes to better eyesight or that people just can't afford glasses.  Since most people seem to be able to afford a cell phone, I'm gonna opt for arroz y frijoles.  

Steve Cotton said...

Your economic option makes the most sense to me.  I regularly see Mexicans with eye glasses in the more prosperous areas, but not in the poorer villages of the coast.  I suspect it is a matter of cost.  Or they may be like me.  I need glasses, but I can get by without them.

Steve Cotton said...

A waggish Mexican friend suggested another option: if you do not waste your time reading, you will not need glasses.

jennifer rose said...

Cost is a huge factor, but it's not the only one. A fairly simple set of frames with progressive lenses, anti-reflejante coating, can set you back over $6,000 MXN. There are a number of eyeglass trucks around fitting out the poor with glasses. While educated Mexicans wear glasses at the same rate as gringos, there are cultural factors at work which make wearing glasses less appealing to the working class. 

Reading a book while sitting all alone at a cafe in this country ranks right up there with committing an act of self-abuse out in public. It's just not socially acceptable. Mexicans don't read for pleasure at the rate of folks in many other countries. Did you ever catch a look at the price of books? Why would you need to wear glasses if you're not going to fritter away your free hours reading books? 

Wearing glasses is a matter of demographics. 

barb in joco said...

jennifer, i wasn't so much thinking of reading glasses, since you can buy those much more inexpensively at tianguis, i was thinking of glasses for folks who are near-sighted.  i almost never see anybody around here wearing them.

i think this is somewhat supported by the fact that it is almost impossible to buy clip-on sunglasses. but you're probably right about economics/demographics.  if i don't drive because i don't own a vehicle, then why do i need glasses to correct my near-sightedness?  still, it fascinates me to see how few folks around here, even in Guadalajara, wear glasses. a month or so ago, in a small pueblo here in Jalisco, i saw a little girl wearing them and literally did a double-take. 

Babsofsanmiguel said...

 OR wanting to be able to see.......