There was a time when Morelia, the capital of Michoacán State, would be a tourist destination for anyone visiting Mexico City just over 300 miles away. Morelia was the still preserved colonial city of quaint shops and fruit stalls — all dominated by the town’s rose-colored baroque cathedral. This was the quiet and quaint Mexican city that the tourism ministry wanted all foreigners to perceive as representing true Mexico. Today this beleaguered town may still represent Mexico, but in a very different manner.
The physical charm of Michoacán remains the same with its Pacific coastline matched against alternating rocky heights and green fields. The verdant fertility of the countryside often carried the perfume of citrus groves and avocado crops. Now the same green fields dominate but also hold rivaling stretches of marijuana planting and hidden meth labs. It’s definitely not a good tourist destination: Every inch is being fought over by the large landowners and the dueling drug traffickers who have raped the countryside.