Sep 18, 2011, 9:41 AM
Post #8 of 27
I'd like to visit more of Michoacan, driving from Chapala. I think the person you refer to as having left Morelia would be me. It's true: we did indeed move to Mexico City because of the violence not just in Morelia, but also in the entire state of Michoacán. In more than 30 years of living in this country, I would never have thought to say that life in the DF is more secure than life in Michoacán.
WHICH areas do I need to AVOID, specifically?
Is there a 'safer' route from Chapala to Morelia that is better than others, if so, which one?
I have been to Morelia before and long to re-visit but have heard too many stories saying not to. Not a scaredy cat, just want to avoid problems. Have lived in MX for 4 years, driven many places but the past year's worth of stories re: Michocan have put traveling there on the back burner.
I read on another forum that the chef/instructor/food writer who had been living in Morelia for many years, left because of the violence there....makes it hard for me to convince my spouse all is safe again in Morelia, Patzcuaro.
I understand chinagringo and other posters who have recently traveled in the state and who saw and experienced nothing violent. That's wonderful, truly--but it was not my experience. Where I lived in Morelia, in a very upscale neighborhood, my household was repeatedly exposed to gun battles, a grenade attack, and a number of narco-related assassinations. We were not afraid, but we were tired of living under a cloud of tension, waiting for the other shoe to drop.
In addition, part of my work involves culinary tourism. I often took small groups of people to towns and villages off the beaten track, for culinary events, market tours, and annual fiestas.
Last December, I was scheduled to take a small group of Mexican nationals to a town in western Michoacán for a special festival. Two days before our departure, a narco-related gun battle left two dead. The two bodies were dismembered and left on the base of the statue at the entrance to the town. I called the spokesperson for the group I was to lead and told her, in good conscience, that she needed to re-think the group's travel to that town that week. They (IMHO) wisely elected not to go.
And again, in good conscience, I decided that travel on Michoacán's little-traveled routes, in areas known to me to be frequented by narcotraficantes, was inadvisable for the near future. I could not justify exposing tourists to the possibility of danger, and the last tour group I led in Michoacán was in February 2011.
The bottom line--for me--is this: it is very unlikely that any foreigner would be a target for narcoviolencia in Michoacán. Foreigners on this and other web boards often post things like, "Hey, as long as I don't get involved in drugs, nothing is going to happen to me." Or, "They're not looking for us, we're not in any danger." What those posters fail to consider is the collateral danger of simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time, very much like the 75-year-old Mexican man who was just riding home in a Morelia minibus and was killed by a bullet the day of the assassination of a government official and his two bodyguards, in my neighborhood.
It is entirely possible that a foreigner could unwittingly be caught in a dangerous and unfortunate trouble spot. I personally know (not know of, I KNOW) an American couple who found themselves in that situation in Michoacán but managed--by feigning ignorance of Spanish--to extricate themselves without being harmed.
I am not saying that you should not go to Morelia. I often go, to visit friends and for business. You do, however, need to be aware of the real situation in Michoacán as well as that in the eastern part of Jalisco, where it joins Michoacán--the part called JalMich.
If you go to Morelia, go on the toll road from Guadalajara. It's likely that the only difficulty you could (not will, but could) encounter on that road is another narcobloqueo. And the chances are good that you won't have any trouble at all.
The trouble is that you never know what's going to happen, or where. It could be a gun battle in an out-of-the-way small town, or it could be something ugly in Morelia. Or it could be nothing at all.
(This post was edited by esperanza on Sep 18, 2011, 9:45 AM)