Heading to the Mexican Highlands – a Birthday Celebration and Dia de los Muertos

October 31st arrived and I found myself celebrating the night in Tequila, MX… yes the region producing the drink so many have over-indulged on.  The town was very lively and finding accommodations for 4 riders as the sun set behind the brightly colored building was proving to be tricky.  We needed secure parking for the motorcycles so we ended up paying more than we wanted for the night (650 pesos = $52 USD.) It was a nice hotel, and even though it busted our daily budgets, it was worth the security.  Once settled, one of the riders, Randy, and I walked the town in search of taco carts (there are usually a bunch in a row, so take your pick of which meats look good), dinner costing a hefty 10 pesos (about $0.80) then treating ourselves to cake (45 pesos = $3.60) in a quite celebration of my birthday on the road.  Not a bad way to find celebration… in the centro of a lively town in foreign country on a grand motorcycle trip.

Next day two of us headed out earlier from the group, finding ourselves needing to take differently timed breaks throughout the day, knowing the other two ride fast and could easily make the miles. We agreed to meet in Patzcuaro in the evening for a Dia de los Muertos celebration.

Riding through numerous small towns, each with many topes (named after sleeping policeman, but they are nasty little speed bumps) slowed the days travels.  As the sun started to graze lower in the hills, people were starting to gather in festive dress for the evening.  We passed fields of wildflowers as locals collected marigolds for the night’s offerings to their loved ones.  The distance took longer for the 175 mile trek than we hoped and we only landed in Zacapu, about 40 miles short of our original destination, as the night started creeping in and we decided to get off the road. We rode toward the steeple that marked the center of town, where there usually a church and courtyard and an atm, then found an affordable place for the night, Hotel Plaza Zacapu.  As with every night, parking is key to agree to accommodations, and after asking the attendant if we could park inside the hotel, she offered to secure parking next door at the Medicina practitioners office which happened to be closed for the days’ festivities.

Once unloaded, we walked around the centro looking at the designs of skulls and crosses  made with colored sand and candles illuminating offerings to the dead. We ate what was essentially a home cooked meal sold in bulk as a fundraiser.  The rains came and extinguished all the lights, but left a glow on the sidewalks as things were being cleaned up for the evening.  Randy had a good ear for music, which we decided to follow to a gymnasium where there was a contest (to the best we could figure out similar to crowning a prom king and queen, but dressed in big dresses and black and white face paint.)  We did not go unnoticed though, a high school girl was prompted for a picture from mom with the only two white people in town and we obliged.




I was glad to have stayed the night in some random town.  I’m not sure what we would have seen at Patzcuaro, a prime destination, where the hotels were full, housing tourists during the week of Dia de los Muertos. What we experienced was the comfort of being around what Zacapu had to offer… feeling less of a spectator and more a part of the festivities.