Tuesday, February 02, 2010


We opted for the back roads this time and were rewarded with lovely pueblos, empty roads and incredible views— of vaqueros on horseback wrangling their cows, families in their Sunday best waiting for collectivos to take them to church, young couples out walking out by mile high lakes. Every zocalo we drove through was teeming with people of all ages. Sunday is, without a doubt, THE day to be in Mexico.
We arrived in Querétaro mid-afternoon, pulled into the parking lot of the Hotel Flamingo, about a twenty minute walk from downtown and the kids ran off to the pool. Afterward we hopped a taxi into town -- and what a town. Like Acapulco, Querétaro is about three million strong. What it lacks in landscape it makes up in architecture and plain ol' class. What a regal city, cobblestone roads, beautiful zocalo and squares full of trees and life, the streets colourful stretches of lovely high stone walls set with massive, ornate wooden doors and huge windows wrapped in detailed wrought-iron. It definitely rivals the charm of Oaxaca, which is saying something.

We wandered around for a while, just soaking up the energy of the place. We decided to treat ourselves to a nice dinner in a little Italian place off the Plaza de la Independencia. Set in a pretty stone courtyard, the food was good, the elevator music cheesy, the Mexican wine terrific. A little more wandering after dinner, a traditional Mexican ice cream for the kids and when we made it back to the Zocalo, Henri spotted the last five empty chairs in front of the gazebo as a marching band was tuning up. Concerts really make for the best people-watching; everyone's attention is directed elsewhere leaving you free reign to stare unabashedly. There were several rows of folding chairs in a semi-circle around the gazebo and one row of chairs around the base of the gazebo facing the audience. The people in these chairs, mostly couples in their 60s and 70s dressed to the nines, were fascinating to watch. The way they greeted each other (they all appeared to know one another) seemed as much a show for us, the audience, as a gesture to one another. They reminded me so much of the couples who came to dance at the Miercoles de Danzón in Oaxaca and also of amateur theatre productions when the chorus members come onstage to set the scene, and try very hard — too hard? — to act casual and natural. The greetings had that kind of feel. Their get-ups were anything but casual — blue sequin dresses, fedoras set just so, high high heels, polished shoes, and hairdos fresh from the salon. The men greet each other with a handshake and a mock hug that was more of a lean in with a pat on the back while the ladies get a handshake and a one cheek kiss.

A lovely walk back to the hotel with glimpses of the interiors of some beautiful colonial homes & cafés and crowds bunched in the doorways of magnificent churches along the way. In the night, the weather went from bad to worse with the rain coming down in buckets when we awoke. We packed up in a soggy rush. Managed to have a look at the incredible intact aqueduct spanning an urban valley on our way out of town. The city was obviously having trouble absorbing all the rain as many of the roads were inches deep in water. Off we go to San Miguel de Allende but we'll definitely be back to give Querétaro the attention it deserves.

1 comment:

Peter C said...

Nice - why the rush out of town ? Oh yeah I keep forgetting you ain't city folk !! Big hugs.