I have been living in Mexico for almost four years to this date. I grew to enjoy and love this country as my home. After four years of life experience, I do believe Mexico is big enough to satisfy all kinds of travel tastes. And by this, I mean there is enough choice for those seeking touristic attractions, shopping-focused trips, culinary itineraries, dark and remote areas for those seeking for something out of the ordinary.
You can find authenticity in all of the above, true, but the unknown has more room to surprise you.
This time I want to take you to a dark side of Mexico: Michoacán.
Michoacán has been on the black-list on-and-off, seen as a dangerous nest of narcos that yearn to hide among its vast hills. It might have been true at times, but the way I see it is different.
Michoacán is unique fusion of natural wild beauty, picturesque colourful, art, tradition and culture. Traveling through Michoacán is to take an extraordinary trip to the heart of Mexico, and I don’t mean it in geographical terms.
Michioacán has an infinity of mountains that never tires your eyes, many lakes and indigenous towns. In these towns people still speak their own native languages and some of them even struggle with Spanish. The towns of Pátzcuaro, Meseta and Paracho are a vivid example of it: these towns have preserved the traditions and language of the invincible empire of Purépecha Empire (distantly related to the Quechua people from north of Peru), which dominated the region.
Michoacán is a cultural hegemony where indigenous groups offer a wealth of traditions, fairs, fiestas, customs, music, dance, handicrafts, cuisine and architecture.
While the characteristic towns have maintained their indigenous legacies, the attractive cities of Pátzcuaro and Morelia have preserved their colonial heritage.
Alternative Tourism in Michoacán
Michoacán, thanks to its geographical location, is an unexplored sanctuary for nature lovers, adventurers, and those looking for an adrenaline rush. In Michoacán you can surf, you can mountaineer, cycle, you can dive, you can camp, and even simply star-gazing.
It’s not only the geology of Michoacán that makes it favourable in adventure travels, but also the variety of climates it harbours.
Rivers, lakes and springs bring the cold from inside the mountains, while the open ocean conveys the tropical warmth of the coast.
What Michoacán is like today
The capital of Michoacán is also the famous and undisputed capital of avocados. Or aguacate. You name it. Uruapan is officially Mexico’s largest supplier of avocados and some say the world’s avocado capital too.
In spite of Michoacán’s natural attractiveness, it suffers greatly from the reputation it gained over the past few years due to drug-fuelled incidents. Ever since the former President Felipe Calderón declared war on drugs, the state has been a hot spot and black listed destination to everybody, locals and not. Many websites would alert about the risk of traveling here. Mostly due to threats to safety and security related to cartels and petty crime.
The state, unfortunately, still is in the negative headlines even though overall things have considerably quieted down.