More on the Costa Michoacana
UPDATE: I WROTE THIS POST IN MAY 2009. SINCE LATE JUNE 2009, THERE HAS BEEN MUCH TENSION IN THE AREA JUST SOUTH OF LA PLACITA BEFORE REACHING LA FARO AND LA TICLA, WHICH AS OF WRITING THIS UPDATE IN MID SEPTEMBER 2009 HAS LESSENED. I WOULD HOWEVER RECOMMEND THAT ANYONE WANTING TO TRAVEL ALONG THE COAST CHECKS THAT THE AREA IS SAFE.
Last night I went see the film “Amar a Morir” (loosely translated as love until death). Having suffered from all the cinemas in Mexico being closed for ten days or so in early May, because of the flu pandemic, and losing an estimated one million dollars, this film is now one of the top five earning films in Mexico, and the highest earning Mexican film.
The film is glossy, entertaining and absorbing for more or less all of its two hours. In many ways, the characters and the story are stereotyped. Spoilt, narcissistic rich kid living in Mexican city, high on drugs and alcohol, driving his latest model BMW, accidentally knocks down and kills a young, indigenous kid in Mexico City. Disturbed and disoriented, he goes off on his own, gets lost, and ends up on the Pacific coast.
There he meets and falls in love at first sight with a young, beautiful woman who happens to be the wife of the local narcotraficante ‘el tigre‘, whose chief lieutenant is a one-eyed, sadistic piece of work called ‘el tiburon’, (the shark). There are also other stereotyped minor roles – the fun-loving, hard-drinking, hard-smoking, surfing Australian, the tough, cynical female restaurant/bar tender with a heart of gold, the corrupt army captain, the local priest in cahoots with the narcotraficante.
I don’t quite get it how the main character in losing himself on the way from Mexico City to Puerto Vallerta via Gaudalajara loses himself on the Michoacán coast – have a look at a map of Mexico if you don’t know the geography to see my point – but that is indeed where he arrives.
Although the characters seem stereotyped, the actors are competent and Fernando Lebija, the Director, does a good job. The real star of the film, however, is the Michoacán coast.
I was delighted to see this part of the Pacific coast so beautifully filmed and in being able to recognise many of the locations where the film takes place, which I wrote about in an earlier post. The main action takes place at a small town called Ocelotitlan, which I don’t know, and which is not on the 1:250000 detail map I have of the area.
On the film’s web-site, it does say that this is a real town. In the film, it is a surf resort, and I wondered if the surfing action is filmed at La Ticla (at the 182km mark on the coast road), which is the major surfing spot in this part of the coast. At one point in the film, the two main characters drive off to La Llorona, which is a startlingly gorgeous beach near El Faro, around the 175 km mark. As the female character says, it is called that, because when you walk on the sand, it makes a sound as if of a woman crying.
At the end of the film, there is a dedication from the director to his father, who unfortunately died before the film was completed. The Director thanks his father for having introduced him to the lovely beaches of Michoacán.
Hopefully, this film, by showcasing the attractions of this region, will help to bring people to this part of the world and to Mexico in general, whose tourism industry is reckoned to be down about 40% for the rest of the year, because of the flu outbreak. I have to say I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, from an environmental perspective, I think it is good that there will be less human pressure on the important ecosystems where many of the key tourist destinations have been built. On the other hand, it is estimated that 1 in 10 people in Mexico has a job connected with tourism.
I am still amazed and delighted that this coast remains so undiscovered. Largely because there are no airports nearby, nor fast roads, and the area has a reputation for danger because of the presence of narcotraficantes, (which the film also exploits), the area has not been developed for conventional tourism, like Cancun, Puerta Vallerta or Ixtapa. Long may it stay this way.