Friday, March 23, 2007

We Just Sort of Fall into Some Very Neat Stuff

Wednesday – Week 3: It really is better to be lucky than smart. We planned a road trip to Querétaro (keh-REH-tah-roh) today. When walking to the parking garage we were crossing Juarez Park and a big event was being organized with school children, military and police units, flag units, dancers, and drum and brass bands. It became apparent that this was a program in honor of Benito Juarez, as this was his actual birthday. It was a fascinating event and we felt very privileged to be able to enjoy it. Lots of patriotism, the national anthem, multiple presentations of the Mexican flag, school groups presenting segments of Juarez life, speeches, marches, school girls presenting native dances, release of live birds, and the bands playing. The program was about an hour long and we stayed to the end. There were not a lot of spectators, but it appeared everyone had a good time and all the kids were apparently dismissed from school after what was a very well prepared program. I checked back in the Atención newspaper and the San Miguel Portal website, where event announcements are made, and no mention was made of this program. Too bad, as it was a great insight into the schools’ curriculum, and Mexican patriotism.

Although our road trip was a bit delayed it is only about an hours drive East to Querétaro. We are getting so good at finding our way around Mexican cities, that we drove in (and out) without being lost or a single argument. Querétaro is a city of about 600,000 people, but has a beautiful preserved historic center. It was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1996. It seems our most serious problem with these road trips is finding a parking place. Parking is always at a premium in central historic districts, as they really did not plan for the automobile back in the 14th, 15th, 16th, 17th, 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries. Go figure.

We parked up the hill near the Convent of Santa Cruz, and so had a nice walk back into the center. The center is a series of squares and gardens connected together with pedestrian only streets. It is very well done, and seemingly a much quieter pace than San Miguel. We stopped for lunch at a very nice sidewalk restaurant (Restaurant 1810) located in the Plaza de Armas, across from the Government Palace. Mary Ann had originally encouraged me to park in the nice garage under the Palace, but the policeman seemed to have other ideas for me.

Altogether it was a very pleasant and educational day. Betti was back “maiding” today so all was right with the world – clean clothes and clean house.

Quirky Living Note: One amazing thing about San Miguel is you are never more than about 30 seconds away from an available taxi. They are everywhere, just driving around looking for a fare. They are used equally by the Mexicans as well as the gringos. Don Reichert (aka Reichert Nissan) will be happy to note that about 90% of the cabs are Nissans. This says a lot about the durability of a Nissan. The preferred model is called a Tusuru with some Sentras mixed in. The taxis are all the same price in the central district ($2) during the day and ($3) at night, no matter how many passengers there are.

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