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Mar 29, 2003, 4:16 PM

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Accommodations in Michoacan

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My wife and I just returned from five days in the Patzcuaro region, and four days in Morelia, and we found two "homes away from home" we want to share with those heading that way.

We are 70 year-olds who have begun travelling even more than before since retiring. Our favorite accommodations are up-scale bed&breakfasts, and the two we found last week were definitely A+.

The first is a resort /spa located a $2 taxi ride from Patzcuaro on 25 forested acres. Hacienda Mariposas is owned by Rene Ocana, who together with the Manager, Juana, provides a B&B atmosphere in a five-star resort. From the main lodge a half-dozen casitas climb into the forest, where a corral containing very ridable horses is located. The dining room is divided between a cozy fireplace gathering and an elegant, small restaurant setting.

The B&B/resort is not an oxymoron. For example, one piece of our luggage was lost by either AeroMar or AeroMexico. When Rene heard this, he promised we would have it the next day, and in the meantime he would be happy to loan us any clothing we might want. The next day, when some of the airline folks proved a little hard-nosed, Rene and Juana descended upon the airport like avenging angels and retrieved our bag.

Breakfasts and dinners are a delight, the staff is friendly and competent, the rooms lovely and the setting perfectly remote, yet only five or ten minutes away from Patzcuaro, the lake and other villages. Whatever you want to learn, see or buy in Michoacan, Rene is more than capable of seeing to it. And if you enjoy interesting conversation and comraderie, you have a new home.

The second jewel we found in Morelia; a B&B Plus named Casa Camelinas with casas climbing a hill in a series of small gardens and patios. Our hostess was Johanna Quinn-Sharidan, a lovely Irish lady with just enough brogue to be charming. Having breakfast in her dining room, you overlook the city below all bright with the morning sun.

The rooms are all Mexican-colorful, open and airy, and most have a "private" patio. Again, it is a $2 taxi ride to the beautiful center of Morelia, where crafts from all over the region, as in Patzcuaro, are available. Johanna can tell you where the best place is to buy whatever, where to eat according to your taste, and when to do what.

Like Rene at the Hacienda, Johanna becomes a friend before your first breakfast is over, and having to say goodbye is the only downer.

J'Ann and Mike Pybas

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