Morelia Travel Mini Series: The Perils

What travel story is complete without a bit of peril?

As if a global pandemic isn’t perilous enough!

A second floor view of the main plaza in historic Morelia. It is green and there are marigolds decorating the paths and the central gazebo for the Day of the Dead.
the view out the balcony window-door

One perk of being in the Morelia Film Festival was that Hugo received a night free at Hotel Casino. It’s right at the city’s main plaza. An exciting location. Not a place to get a good sleep. Unless you have noise cancelling devices. 

The building, like so many of the buildings in the city, is built in the Spanish/Ancient Roman villa style where all the rooms are positioned around a central courtyard. The rooms are on the second floor. The downstairs of the hotel is a lobby/restaurant/bar so if you are staying there or not you can enjoy a meal. 

Our pad came with a tiny balcony overlooking the main square with a view of Morelia’s famous cathedral. A Goya reproduction (or print) hung over the bed. The vibe was minimalist hacienda posh.

There was not a lot of floor space to be had, but dark wood of the ceiling was like 17 feet up. No, I’m not kidding. For being shorter people back in the day, they certainly loved all that vertical space. 

Somehow, the room was almost too warm as the night went on. Either you put up with the heat or opened the window and put up with the noise. We took a middle option and turned on a fan that was provided for this very situation.
It took me a while to get to sleep. No big deal…


A pain at my right knee cap.

It felt like I was sliced by something; not a jab, but a cut. Was there glass in the bed? My mostly asleep brain was being stupid.

And I was trying so very hard to stay asleep. I did everything I could to ignore the sting, but each time the sheets touched my knee there was pain.

The nagging signal that something was wrong brought me awake enough to bumble into the bathroom. 

I saw there was a large red mark on my knee.

I was pretty sure then that I had been bitten.

Or stung.

By a spider.

Or something poisonous.

A pale person's knee. A silver dollar sized patch of skin on the knee cap is reddened. Dark hair grows through the skin.
The presumed bite/sting on my right knee. No, as a matter of fact I haven’t shaved my legs all year.
Deal with it.

The time was maybe about 4:30 in the morning. I’d slept for only a couple hours. It was a struggle for me to figure out what the hell I should do. I didn’t even think to wake Hugo in case the critter might still be in the bed!

Besides, he’s the one that gets bitten by the mosquitoes. I get bitten by the spiders. Them’s the rules.

I remembered to wash the area. Which I did. And then I applied some silver gel and a natural eczema cream. Those two things were all I had with me that made any sense to try. 

And I waited for signs of symptoms and watched the red on my knee and started hunting the internet for comparable looking bites and kinds of biting/stinging creatures in Mexico.

Google search on a mobile device is the most helpful GARBAGE thing the company has ever produced. So I kept watching and waiting and scrolling through mounds of nearly useless information trying not to grind my teeth in frustration.

When I noticed that a part of the welt was a yellowish hue (which you can barely see in the picture) I started to panic a little and woke Hugo up.

Hugo pulled the sheets and blankets around and looked for some sign of a critter, but there was nothing.

I thought then to put some hand sanitizer spray on the spot to make sure it was really, really clean. 

That, dear reader, was a m͓̽a͓̽g͓̽i͓̽c͓̽a͓̽l͓̽ encounter with a most- um- precise sensation. It wasn’t as strong as a white out pain, but it was nearly that high on the acute agony scale.

If I were a screamer, the whole hotel would have been awake at that moment. Fortunately, the pain did not last at that level very long and I was able to chill out again.

We both hit the internet one more time to look for more information about bites, where to find doctors, and managed to remain pretty dang calm. And we checked in with the bite.

We stayed up for a couple more hours to make sure I wasn’t having any other reactions. Nothing else happened. Thank goodness.

The spot wasn’t looking any worse so I slapped a plaster on it and made myself go back to sleep. 

In the morning the bite was looking noticeably better so I opted to carried on with the day.

I didn’t have any muscle spasms, fever, necrosis or anything else. So there was no real need to see a doctor. 

The wound healed like a burn/friction burn. After a week I still had a thick scab. It’s now a dark pink scar that’s smaller than a dime. 

I am fine. I survived a brush with something small and feisty. And unidentified.

Have you ever been bitten by something unknown and/or poisonous? What did you do about it? Leave a comment!

Morelia Travel Mini Series: For Plant Eaters

Listen up, Veg-heads!  

tm wearing glasses and eating a pastry with a wild, horrified expression
tm devours vegan pan de muertos from Tierra Mona like- Saturn eating his kids? The horror. The HORROR.

Plant-based dining is still an option in Mexico during a pandemic.

So- good news for people who want to eat less animal products.

A quick scan of google maps or will give you an idea of the options you have. I wasn’t on a foodie tour so I didn’t make it a point to try all the meatless options in Morelia, but I can tell you about a few places.

I can certainly recommend Tierra Mona. I ate there a few times because it was near by the hotel I stayed in. The space is tiny so I would not recommend going there during peak hours. Be considerate. And try their dish of the day.

It impressed me that the folks who came to eat here weren’t only idealistic youths or trendy ‘strawberries’ -rich brats. (I like to call them strawberries instead of fresas. It’s more insulting, in my opinion.) 

A local mother came in with her young daughter to have a no-meat burger and fries; an average looking, middle-aged Mexican couple who looked like they just discovered the vegan lifestyle exuberantly enjoyed their food; two older Americans came to eat and chat quietly. (Maybe they were Canadian?)

There was a French speaking couple, too. The butch of the pair seemed to be very comfortable in three languages: endorsing the food in English and then dealing with the check in Spanish. May I be that verbally- vocally confident one day.

low border of plants with green and white striped leaves in front of a stone wall. a tall thorn stemmed star-shaped flower cluster leans in to the shot from the left.
plants. because.

LU is a more upscale place I ate at. It’s attached to The Casino Hotel right at the main plaza in the city. They had their one item on the menu that I could have without modification. It was basically a fancy baked potato- but that is over simplifying the dish- which was quite good. 

LU’s setting is nice too. It’s nicer if you sit inside, actually. I felt like the tables were far enough apart to sit comfortably without a mask and it’s quieter. The majority of the people chose to sit outside so it felt very crowded. Plus so much else was happening on the street. A generous heart could lose a lot of coin out there between all the beggars, performers, and hustling kids. 

I made sure to hit up a chocolateria for some drink of the gods. Shokolate ended up being the place I landed at.  Classic, real hot chocolate made simply with water (there were no plant alternatives to cow milk offered there) can be so satisfying sometimes. 

If you find yourself in a joint that does not serve vegan options, try to ask if the kitchen can modify a dish for you. I was surprised when a chef was willing to make a vegan version of one of his dishes. I have been to some places where requesting a change would destroy the order of the whole universe… but I won’t get into that. 

I think a person seeking meatless dining can do well in Morelia without suffering lack of options.

Do you have dietary restrictions? How do you navigate your food issues while traveling? Leave a comment!

Morelia Travel Mini Series: The Film Festival

colorful Mexican trompo

So I’m a legit film maker now?

I still don’t believe it. I don’t know how this rough, little video piece that I ‘hammered’ and ‘ducked tapped’ together using a second-hand laptop got selected to be in the 18th edition of the International Morelia Film Festival, but there it was. Right there along side professionally produced work. Some were even backed by Guillermo del Toro!  

It was both a moment of pride and humility. Taking those steps into another, unfamiliar world makes you keenly aware of how small and inexperienced you are. 

cropped out man resting his boots crosslegged on the back of a seat in an empty movie theater.
Las botas del Norteño

Though it was in the running for prizes, there was no expectation that A Home For The Brave would win anything. The honor was for it to be there at all! 

The drawing animation was shown in the company of these clever, funny, poignant, whimsical works:

  • A Home for the Brave | Hugo Crosthwaite
  • In the Lead | Andrea Santiago
  • The Beast | Ram Tamez, Marlijn van Nuenen, Alfredo Gerard Kuttikatt
  • The Parade of the Absent | Marcos Almada
  • Introduction to the History of Western Philosophy | Aria Covamonas
  • Our Perpetual Now | Jorge Aguilar Rojo <– winner
  • Pixel + Dynamite | Fernando Llanos 
  • Revolykus | Victor Orozco Ramirez <– honorable mention
  • ALL THIS HAPPENS WHILE YOU SLEEP (and you can’t see what I dream) – Vol. 4 | Adrián Quintero Mármol Martínez
  • A Wooden Toy Dreamed of Paper Boats | Mauricio Hernandez Serrano

man wearing beanie as see from behind looking out at the main plaza in Morelia.
the beanie is because someone hasn’t been to a barber since before March

Have you ever felt the ‘imposter syndrome’ loom large over your shoulder? Leave a comment!  

Post Script

Are you asking yourself why you can’t see the A Home For The Brave? Well, because maybe it’s heading over to Toulouse, France! I’ll let you know when I know more.

In the meanwhile, I am raising funds to buy a new computer. If you would like to help me purchase better equipment that won’t crash while I work, please click the Buy Me a Coffee link at the bottom of the page!