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Thursday, February 25, 2010

Cansada en Queretaro...

So, it was a birthday filled with travelling, with almost no sleep beforehand.  I guess that's not so terribly unusual for me, but at least everything went off smoothly without a hitch. I was picked up at 3:15 am, then by some miracle since I was checking in with United I didn't get charged that annoying $25 fee to transport luggage, even internationally.  Slept the entire flight.  Landed early in Phoenix, took the shuttle to the other terminal at that user-friendly airport, then slept the entire flight to Mexico City.  On both flights I was in a cluster of 3 seats where the middle seat was empty, so that was nice.  Then after clearing aduana y inmigracion, I got some money out of an ATM, went to the bus ticket office, then right downstairs to the waiting Primera Plus bus and got right on.  Nobody hassled me in any way, and the next thing I knew I was Queretaro-bound on a luxury bus which included reclining seats, individual tv screens, and a sandwich and drink.  I convinced the lady across from me to let me use her cell phone to call my host to let him know an arrival time, then slept the rest of the bus ride only waking up to witness an absolutely spectacular sunset over the countryside between the two cities.  I was about 5 minutes too late to capture decent photos.  Bummer!  The sky is pretty stunning in this area.  It is considered semi-desert...


Once again I have been fortunate enough to have wonderful people agree to host me.  Have I put in enough plugs for Couchsurfing yet?  1.7 million people are now a part of this global network, which you can read about at www.couchsurfing.org.   My first hosts were Juan Carlos and Maria Jose, and their two kids who were actually quite smart and cute.  They are originally from Guatemala and are happier living in Queretaro because it's so much safer ... They live in a beautiful neighborhood called Milenio III that was built about 10 years ago, up in the hills to the east of town.  The windy roads up reminded me of my own neighborhood!  And the houses are painted in sort of adobe and dusky pink and beigy colors, sort of Arizona-like.  There is lots of light everywhere and it was a lovely house.  JC was kind enough to make dinner and we talked about Guatemala and Queretaro and lots of other things late into the night.  They warned me that their kids wake up around 6:30 am and that they didn't think I'd be able to sleep through the deafening noise, as I was sleeping in a doorless room.



I was comatose.  I slept till almost 9.  Recuperating from the previous work weeks.  Then I got a lift into town with JC and had the loveliest time meandering around the downtown fairly aimlessly.  There are lots of public parks and green spaces, and they all have free wi-fi, in case you needed to be convinced of how civilized this place is. The downtown architecture is beautiful, and there are lots of andadores, which are streets closed off for pedestrian strolling.


One of my first stops was to an OXXO shop (much like 7-11 in Thailand, they're *everywhere*) in order to buy a cheap crappy cell phone with SIM cards and minutes already included, for 299 pesos (about $23.50 USD) since despite my well made plans, my regular US cell phone doesn't work here because it's locked, and my unlocked phone which I bought in Thailand and which worked all over SE Asia didn't work because it refused to pick up the Telcel signal. Grrr. So now I have a cell phone for each of various parts of the world! Registering for the network was a non-intuitive pain in the ass as well, but the lady at the OXXO shop took pity on me and helped me out.

Next I overheard an orchestra practicing, so wandered down that street and just sat and took it all in, they were wonderful, about 35 or so men with brass instruments. A few other people were sitting and watching and they were sort of amused by me being there, or so I thought.


I also went to two museums -- one was Museo Regional which had an amazing "féria" exhibit in miniature, it was like a whole Mexican pueblo with various vendors, people celebrating different stuff, very colorful and adorable.



The other was the Museo del Arte, situated in a beautiful ex-convent, which I guess a lot of museums are in, usually with courtyards in the middle. They had a David Alfaro Siquieros exhibit, and a great exhibit called Apariciones by Humberto Spindola, whose stuff was really fanciful and again very colorful, which I like. It was more modern. Of course there was the usual colonial era art, and European art, most of which seems to involve stuff like crucifixions and raptures and things of that nature. I gave that a quick perfunctory glance and then went back to the cool multimedia different versions of clouds and such.


Then a visit to the tourist office where I discovered that there is a lovely wine and cheese tour that goes to the nearby villages of Bernal and Tequisquiapan, but they only go if there are 5 people signed up and the tourism business is sadly kinda slow.  I think I will end up renting a walking tour headset which they have in multiple languages and takes about 3-4 hours walking around town.

Somewhere along the way I found an absolutely lovely quesadilla with guiso de patate, made at a little hole in the wall place called Cafe de Olla. Then I met up with JC and got a ride home and just lazed around in the evening and then talked for hours and tried some tequila that he had. Only a small amount, as us old people (which I somehow became on Tuesday) are only prone to debauchery and insanity in occasional spurts.

This morning JC brought me to my next host, Robin, who is a friend of his. He is from Australia and recently married a woman from here who unfortunately is out of town in the Big City (DF) for work this week. He is a lovely baker and cook and I got to sample some of his homemade treats and also saw the huge colony of leafcutter ants who are very industrious, luckily outside the house, not in. I am currently using his computer to blog while he teaches an English class in his home. Next we are going out to a pub that he's going to do a conversational English class at and I guess I will be like a guest-English-speaker with a different, funny accent! Tomorrow, walking tours, and a party on Saturday in another town... Below: a photo of Robin in the best Indian restaurant in Querétaro -- Bhaji!



This is a delightful town and the weather is sunny and in the 70s during the day but comes down to the 40s at night being semi-desert ... but perfect for daytime exploring, so looking forward to doing more of that! No crazily bizarre adventures as of yet, possibly because Mexico feels so non-foreign and I do speak the language. But we'll see what comes up! :)