Saturday, May 11, 2013

Feliz Día de Las Madres (en México)

This morning we had to get up "early" in order to take a walking tour of the city of Querétaro. Mary and I decided to leave the house around 8:15am so we could grab coffees and sit in La Plaza de Armas (our meeting point) before the rest of the group arrived. I ordered some mochas for us and we sat outside, taking in the cool air and tranquility of the morning without the usual hustle and bustle of a crowd in the plaza. It was a great start to the morning!

Our tour guide, Norma, was very knowledgeable and fun for the 2.5-hour tour. We began at el palacio del gobierno (also called la casa de la corregidora) located in the Plaza de Independencia. This is where some of the important Mexican leaders lived and met to plan the Mexican independence movement. It also housed the city's prison, where one of the prisoners was a wife (?) of one of the leaders and stayed. Legend has it that her stomping on the prison floors signaled Ignacio Perez to deliver the message to Hidalgo to begin the revolution on September 15, 1810. This message triggered the Cry for Independence and began the Mexican Revolutionary War. 

We also visited several churches in the area, such as el templo de Santa Cruz. This church is ornately decorated in the Baroque style - thank you, Vienna Summer School's Art & Architecture class, for teaching me something :) After standing in the back during a special mass being held for El Día de Las Madres (Mother's Day - celebrated on May 10th every year in Mexico), we moved along to visit a former convent that is now one of the campuses of University of Querétaro (UAQ), which is the same university we are studying at (just at a different campus further from downtown). Norma pointed out and explained many other sites along our tour, such as statues of famous leaders, schools that used to be areas of war and fighting, historical homes that have been transformed into hotels and restaurants, and other historical parts of the downtown area. We were able to go to the mirador, which is a point at the top of the city that overlooks Querétaro and its aqueduct system (no longer in service). She explained the history / legend of the aqueducts using students as "actors" and how centuries ago the system was born using mountain springs and gravity to deliver fresh water to the city through 12 (?) fountains located throughout. While many of fountains have been destroyed over time, a few still remain. 

After the tour, we decided to walk to a market that Norma had suggested so the students could buy flowers for their host moms to celebrate Mother's Day. It was a large, somewhat indoor market with clothes, shoes, accessories, electronics, produce, flowers, meat, and seafood - basically had just about everything under the sun packed into one giant square. We strolled through the rows, though I had to hurry through the areas that had raw fish heads with dead eyes staring at me and there were hanging carcasses of cows who were so freshly slaughtered that their blood was still dripping on the floor (apologies for the graphic description...). Needless to say I could understand in those instances WHY people become vegetarians. The students decided to buy a dozen roses from a stand for 50 pesos total (approximately $5 USD) just outside the market to split up and give to their host moms since the ones inside were nearly three times as expensive - nearly 60-75 pesos for just a half dozen! We were told that the prices of flowers are marked way up on Mother's Day in Mexico, just like how it is on Valentine's Day in the U.S. However, $5 for a dozen fresh roses? Considering a mark-up price of that would cost close to $75 in the U.S., I'd like to know what the price is for a dozen roses in Mexico on any other given day.

Once we were done at the market, we decided to have lunch at a restaurant called María y Su Bici (María and Her Bicycle), which was highly recommended by Norma earlier in the day. To our surprise, we were given menus in English! I ordered a dish called enfrijoladas, which included three corn tortillas with a soft and mild white cheese inside covered in black bean sauce and topped with oaxaca-style cheese and crema. Despite being what we deemed a "heart attack on a plate" thanks to the copious amount of cheese and the fried tortillas, it was ridiculously delicious. Some of the UAQ students (Alex, Eduardo aka "Lelo," and Mini) who were host siblings accompanied us on the tour and ordered some traditional dishes for us to share and try.

We finished our day by going to La Plaza de Zenea and getting some self-serve frozen yogurt at a place called Nutry Yogurt. It was just like back home! I was able to get "natural" froyo which is very much like the tart original flavors that are my favorite at home in the U.S. It had a little more icy, granular texture than the places back home, but was refreshing and yummy nonetheless. After we grabbed this dessert, we split up for the rest of the day and Mary and I went back to our house where she caught up on work and I caught up on blogging (hence the previous post) and made some guacamole - because who can be in Mexico and NOT make some fresh guac? It was muy delicioso :)

After a couple of hours, I decided to return to the downtown area by myself to check out the Mother's Day festivities. I intended on people-watching, but it was so busy there was hardly any place to sit in any of the plazas! There were SO many people out, taking in the musicians and other entertainment going on in the plazas. There were also a lot of vendors out, including a variety of florists. I stopped by one of the stands and picked out a nice yellow gerber daisy for Mary, since she's like my "mom" for the month we're in Mexico. I walked for about an hour between all the different plazas, taking in the entertainment and exploring the general downtown area. 

I returned home, gave Mary her flower (she was quite surprised by and appreciative of the gesture), ate some more guacamole and chips and a cookie Mary and I had picked up from a local panadería, Face Timed with Husband for about a half hour or so (conversing almost completely in Spanish!), took a shower to de-gunk myself since I'd sweated so much throughout the day, and headed to bed. 

Tomorrow we are going wine and cheese tasting, to Peña de Bernal to climb a large boulder / rock / cliff thing, eating lunch at a restaurant in Bernal where everything is made completely from scratch, shopping in Bernal, and going to a dancing festival at a theater in Querétaro - it is going to be a very long and very busy day! 

Hasta luego!
(See you later!)

1 comment:

  1. Our conversation in Spanish was one of the most fun I have had in a long time! Glad you are having so much fun in Mexico :-)