Monday, May 20, 2013

Visitando Tequisquiapan

Seeing as how I am without internet signal in the casa (for the third or fourth time so far), this post will most not likely get put on the blog until tomorrow. It's such a bummer that the internet can be so spotty, but I'm at least grateful for any access at all in the house. I think back to my summer in 2007, right after I finished up my freshman year of college and I worked for Merge Ministries in Guatemala, Dominican Republic, and Mexico, when I had to go to an internet cafe in order to get access (which was probably close to once every two weeks or so). Hardly anyone even really had smart phones back then. I most certainly didn't, let alone have any electronic gadget with me for those two and a half months save for my free-with-plan flip cell phone and a travel alarm clock. Fast forward six years and here I sit, back in Mexico but for a totally different reason, with (albeit spotty) internet in my house and an iPad to document each day. Gratefulness abounds. 

Moving onward...

Today (Sunday) was a more-than-welcomed free day for me. I was so exhausted last night that I yawned at least ten times throughout my attempted FaceTime with Husband (which, by the way, ultimately failed, thanks to the spotty internet and its tricky signal that kept going in and out). I slept in until I could no longer ignore the various noises that daily make their way into my bedroom (it has a window that faces the street), which was at 9:30am. This left me with nine hours of sleep and still wanting for more. But as the heat started to set in in the bedroom, I got myself up and ready for the day. 

Mary and I decided to go to a little town called Tequisquiapan for our day off. I called Eduardo, a taxi driver who our program was recommended years ago by UAQ students and staff as a reliable and safe driver and Mary has used every year, to pick us up and take us to the bus station. He came only 15 minutes later and dropped us off at the terminal. In no time we paid our 45 pesos each for tickets, boarded the bus, and were on our way. The nine hours of sleep I had gotten the night before apparently wasn't enough, seeing as how I immediately fell asleep and dozed for the whole hour-long ride. 

We arrived in Tequisquiapan and attempted to get information on how to return to Querétaro. That turned out to be way more confusing than it probably should have been! First, I went inside the station and asked a man at the desk where I could buy return tickets to Querétaro. He replied saying that he doesn't sell those tickets and that I had to go back outside where the buses were. When I asked where exactly I needed to buy them, he just said to go outside and there would be someone. So, when I went back to where the bus dropped us off, I approached the guy with a fanny pack full of money and tickets, calling out announcements for travel to Mexico City. When I asked him if he sold tickets for Querétaro, all he replied with was no, and then was back to calling out. When I asked WHERE I could get tickets, he just said to ask someone else. I was stumped. Mary suggested we go back to the bus driver who dropped us off to inquire so we headed over. Thankfully he was very patient and explained that we would simply come back to the station before the last bus left at 8:10pm and could buy our tickets right before boarding the bus. I had him confirm at least twice more that we did not have to buy tickets in advance and that we could just buy them right before getting on the bus. He agreed both times, only emphasizing that we should probably at least be there 10 minutes before the last scheduled time at 8:10pm. After thanking him profusely for clearing up the confusion, we hailed a taxi to take us into the main downtown area. 

The taxi driver dropped us off at the main plaza, which had a gazebo in the middle, a large church with a towering steeple toward the side, restaurants and shops beneath a line of arches surrounding the plaza's entirety, and groups and crowds of people throughout. We went to Kpuchino, where we sat outside underneath an umbrellaed table and ordered some coffee (hot mocha for Mary and a cold frappe for me) and a corn dulce de leche piece of cake to split. It was so relaxing to sip our drinks, slowly nibble on the cake, watch passersby, read a bit from our books, and just take it all in without any rush or hurry to get anywhere. 

We then decided to browse the markets nearby the downtown area. There were two artisan markets with lots of basketry, pottery, wooden toys, and other items. At the first market, Mary bought some custom-made calves' fur slippers which, despite my initial indifference to the fact that baby cows had died for them, were incredibly soft and I could tell would be perfect for Michigan winters. We also walked through a more general market that had items I think locals would shop for - shoes, everyday clothes, produce, watches, socks, belts, etc. The last market we browsed was an outdoor lineup of booths with pretty table linens, jewelry, and other handmade things. After going through all of them, we decided to go back to the first market to retrieve a few things we'd had our eyes on but wanted to see other options before biting the bullet. Mary bought a beautiful handpainted ceramic planter and I got some pretty pottery in a pattern I've been swooning over ever since I laid eyes on it when I first arrived in Mexico. I picked out a pretty bowl with a scallop-like edge and a butter keeper. The pattern is a mix of blue, yellow, white, and sometimes orange and/or red with dots and lines and flowers throughout. It's difficult to explain but I've seen it at a bunch of shops throughout the cities we've visited and I LOVE it. In Bernal I also bought a small pot in this pattern and hopefully now I'm all set! I'm looking forward to figuring out how to decorate with it around the house. 

We walked through some more shops and took a look inside the church in the plaza before deciding to go eat some "lunch" (at 4pm). I was slightly embarrassed when we went back to Kpuchino, but that quickly dissipated once I realized how wonderful the food appeared. I ordered chicken flautas (my favorite) while Mary got a tuna fillet and berry salad. We were both stuffed and full with food babies from the large portions and decided to head back to Querétaro when we finished our meal at 5:30pm. We grabbed a taxi by one of the markets and headed back to the bus station.

Just as the driver had said, we were able to buy tickets right before boarding the bus and leaving Tequisquiapan. Apparently we had gotten to the station just in time because it left within minutes of us getting on, at 6pm. Although I slept for about half the trip, I was soon woken up by someone asking me to move over so they could take the seat next to me. The bus was PACKED and even one person had to stand up. It was only about 20-30 minutes longer before we were back in Querétaro and dropped off. Initially there was some confusion when we went to get a taxi, since there was a line of people waiting by a sign that said "Línea Para Taxis" (Line For Taxis) with each person holding what looked like tickets in their hand. It turned out that we had to go to a booth inside the station, indicate what neighborhood and street we were heading to, pay, and get a ticket in order to get a cab. We followed the steps, were directed to a taxi once the line moved through, and were brought back to the house. 

The rest of the night consisted of finishing up the book I've been reading, attempting to access the internet, eating my two leftover flautas from lunch for dinner, and writing this post. Tomorrow is the start of our second (and last) full week in Mexico and I can't believe how much time is flying here! We are in for another full schedule of hospitals, this time to the mother/infant/child hospital to see lots of deliveries and to the general hospital for experience in a variety of floors. While we will still have our free day on Wednesday, Mary and I will be busy getting the house ready for a group dinner. Galdina, another person who Mary has developed a friendship with, will be cooking a traditional Mexican dinner for the group and their host students that night. Apparently this is something she's done each year and I'm looking forward to trying some new things. 

Hasta mañana!
(See you tomorrow!...or at least I hope so, since the internet might be out again...crossing fingers that this won't be the case...)

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