Querétaro

Querétaro is another of the 32 states of Mexico and its capital, called Santiago de Querétaro, often shortened to simply Querétaro, is a UNESCO heritage site. The whole state has a little more than 2 million inhabitants. Also this state is diverse. Well-known is the rain-forest area Sierra Gorda. The state has an interesting history like most of the Mexican states and some archaeological zones as well as a wine and cheese route.

 

13th Sept 2018

I arrived between 8am and 9am after have left Huejulta, Hidalgo the evening before. The toilet in the bus was closed, but every time the driver took a rest and, when we were at the bus terminal in Pachuca, I was going to the toilet. I actually have eaten too much Papaya or got en infection in my stomach. The one bus driver did drive for all the 10+ hours and only had short rests of around 20 minutes three times during the ride. He also was using his cell phone during driving etc. I did not feel secure, but we arrived without any accident, even the road partly was very bad and very small, because of road works.

The bus route was going via Pachuca again. I would have liked to see all the mountains one more time, but it was dark. Anyway I observed in the early morning, that the area around the city of Querétaro is flat. Mountains are at the horizon. I had been told, that the ride would take 10 hours, though I think the bus was late. I could have gone directly to my host, if I had arrived before 8am, but now I had to leave my luggage to a checkroom again. Unfortunately I did not see the checkroom before I was going to the bathroom. I tried to use a bathroom for disabled people – because I feel disabled with my luggage, but I was not allowed. A private security woman did tell me, that I have to use the usual bathroom, which was hard to attend as usual because of the carousel to go through. Another woman did push me on my backpack, though I made it in, even I nearly fell. The boxes in the bathroom were very small as well, but I actually managed it, but I had not full space to sit on the toilet. To come out of the bathroom area again was a little easier, because the carousel turns as often as necessary.

 

Querétaro – “Overview”

 

I had my breakfast at a Burger King this morning. I actually bought hot cakes there as a menu with a cup of coffee. I first understood the advertising like it was both coffee and juice, but I had to choose between coffee and juice. Furthermore there were a kind of potato nuggets included. I had preferred the juice instead. While I was sitting and eating my breakfast, I saw the checkroom for the luggage, therefore I left my backpacks there and went downtown by bus. I had to ask for, where the bus is going, because it was a bit away. At the exit of the bus station was only space for the taxis. Here in Querétaro the bus routes have numbers, but often there is only a number on the bus and not a destination. Though I had to ask at the bus stop, which one was going to the city center. The amount for the rides here is 8,50 MXN. I left the bus at the “Alameda Miguel Hidalgo” park, which was nearly in the city center. I was already in the historic downtown, though I walked the rest. I also passed a tourist information, where I have got a free map. There were some churches in the city center, as usual and a “Plaza de Armas” (main square) etc. I took some pictures with my new camera and got interested in a sightseeing bus, which was decorated like a locomotive. I asked for the price and made that tour, because I did not feel very well that day, like I told you before.

Sightseeing Bus

The sightseeing tour was driving around most of the time, but made two stops. The first one at the aqueduct and the other one at a park. At both places we got the possibility to walk around and take photos. The aqueduct was built in the 17th century, if I remember right and the park had something to do with the late emperor Maximilian from Austria. The guide was talking all the time and very fast as well, but I did understand the essential. There were a couple in my age or maybe a little younger. The man did not understand enough Spanish, though the woman did translate respectively explain to him. Unfortunately she talked nearly as loud as the guide. Back from the tour, which maybe lasted for an hour, I came along a cellular phone accessory shop, which stated, that it was possible to recharge cellular phones there. Though I asked, if I could recharge Telcel. I could and did. I hope, it will last a little longer then the last two times. Now I turn off the phone totally, when I do not use it, because it opens always a lot of programs, when I have it in my pocket or bag. Anyway I have to sign a figure for opening it, therefore I do not really understand, how that can happen.

I was going back to the bus station by another bus. He took only 8 MXN for the ride. I think he did not have exact change. That bus was really interesting, because it could drive as usual, letting people enter and leave by the pavements, but also use the special files for this bus, docking to “docking stations”. The bus had doors at both sides, but for the docking station only one door in the middle. This docking stations were not as high as in the city of Chihuahua, which made the system possible. Back at the bus terminal I bought only French potatoes at the Burger King in the hope it will help me to keep the food (it actually was working somewhat). Afterwards I asked for my backpacks.

After my good experiences with the free taxi in Mexico city, I did take such one again, when I was offered it. I had been looking for an official taxi, but they asked me first and when I asked for the price, they told me 60 MXN, which sounded fair. The driver actually had a smartphone with Google maps and used it. When we arrived at the right address he told me, that I have to pay 150 MXN. I replied, that he had offered me the ride for 60 MXN, but he answered, that it was longer to drive as he had known. Unfortunately I did not even try to pay 100 MXN only, but gave him the whole 150 MXN, stating, that I never will go with him again. Next time I will turn around and go my way, when such a “taxi” tries to get me again.

One of the Many Churches of the Town

Fernando, my new host, who is an architect, lives in a secured area. I had to tell the security man at the gate, that I will visit him. Fernando is well-known there. I do not know, if the security men knows all the inhabitants of this area so well. Anyway, they let me in, but did call or try to call Fernando and was then following me. That was good for me, but would have been better, when he had been a little earlier. I think the taxi driver would not have taken 150 MXN for the ride, when the security man had been there. Fortunately the security man told me on which floor Fernando lives. He also was following me up and waited until the “cleaning lady” had opened the door and told him, all is OK. I did not know at that time, that the woman, who opened, was the cleaning lady. I thought she was Fernando’s wife. Often people do not write that in their profile on CS. She showed me my room and I apologized, that I was very tired, because I was coming with the night bus and could not sleep. I was going to bed directly and was not up again before the next morning, even I was to the bathroom twice that night, but I think that does not count.

14th Sept 2018

I awoke at 7pm and felt still a little tired, though I was thinking “half an hour more”, than take my medicine and so on. I actually checked my emails and it became around 8am before I was up. My host had told me, that he leaves for work at 8am, though I was unhappy, that I could not say “good morning” to him. When I finally came downstairs, his cleaning lady was in the kitchen. She is actually more than a cleaning lady, she also cooks for him. I asked her for a laundry, but she did not know, where a laundry is in that area. She told me, that I could use the washing machine and the dryer of Fernando. She showed me the machines and took a couple of clothes out of the washing machine and put them in the dryer. I told her, that I will wash later, after I had been and had breakfast, because when I asked her for breakfast, she told me, that I could get one at the Superama supermarket not far away.

When I left the secured area, where Fernando lives, the security man – another than the day before, asked me, where I come from and for my name. When I told him, that I was a guest of Fernando – I did not come longer, he filled in Fernando’s last name, he was OK with me. I also asked him, how to come to the supermarket and he explained it for me. It was very easy: Just at the corner of the second street. Well there I also saw a café, though I did have my breakfast there, which was waffles with ice cream and the always necessary cup of coffee. The waffles were for 50 MXN and the coffee for 25 MXN. I entered the supermarket afterwards, because I had never been inside a Superama. I did not know, that it was a usual supermarket. It was like a Walmart and they state, that they are the “new Walmart”. I was looking around for something to eat the rest of the day, because I thought, that I have to buy my own food like on a lot of other places. I took a banana, Serrano ham and Brie cheese. It was a little more expensive, but when I saw those, I just had to buy it. I have eaten Mexican food for such a long time, I am in need of something else. I was soon back at my hosts apartment, but the cleaning lady was not there. I ringed the bell lots of time, but she did not open. Therefore I sent a message to Fernando. He did not answer me, but the security man came after a while, looking for me and telling me, that the cleaning lady is at the supermarket.

After a while she was back with a trolley from the supermarket. She let me in immediately. By the way, while waiting I had tasted of my Brie cheese and it was really delicious. It had taste, what this kind of cheese not often has or maybe I just could not taste it, while I had the problem with the Lichen in my mouth. I was taking all I had bought to my room.

Now it is really time to tell you about this apartment. It is like a house on top of an apartment house. It has three floors. I do not know, what it contains on the third floor, but on the first floor there are beside kitchen and living room (open space) also a bedroom or maybe two. On the second floor, where my room is situated, there is another bedroom and a bathroom. My bathroom is en-suite. There are big rooms and in my room there is a nice, big English leather armchair (with ears), a wardrobe, a chest with drawers and mirror and beside the King-size-bed is a night table on each side. The floors in the house, but the kitchen and laundry floor and the stairs, have wall-to-wall-carpets. Therefore it is not allowed to have shoes in the apartment, which anyway is natural for me. The lights are hand-picked I think as well as I think they are antique. I have two windows in my room – facing two sides. They also give me a wonderful view on the town by night (and day). From the kitchen one can see the aqueduct.

In my room again, I had to eat a little bit more of the cheese. I did not stop before I had eaten half of it and it was a big ca. 250G bit. I opened my netbook to write down my report for the last two days, because I had not got the WiFi password yet. I was looking up something on my smartphone and continued with it for a while, took care about my clothes, which the cleaning lady had put most of it into the dryer before and continued with looking up things on my smartphone, when I heard Fernando coming home for lunch. He actually has lunch as late as 3pm. I was going down to the first floor to talk with him. He did take his time for me. We were also talking about places to see in the state of Querétaro and he also named San Miguel de Allende, which is a city in Guanajuato, another state of Mexico. I asked him, how to go to the places and he told me, that I had to make a list, which day I want to go where and he will explain to me. Fernando had soon to return to work. He seems to be very well-organized.

I was back to my room again and for a while on twitter, when the cleaning lady brought me the rest of my clean and dry clothes. I continued with my smartphone, now looking up the archaeological places of the state, until it became dark. Meanwhile I had heard Fernando coming home. Though I made my list and was going downstairs, switching on and off all the light buttons, because there were so many and I had to try out, which one was for the lights I wanted to switch on. I sat in the living room and was waiting for Fernando. Light was on in a room and the door a very little open, though I thought he will see, that I switched on lights and will come and talk with me. He did not, therefore I thought, he will be too tired and after a while I was going upstairs to my room again, continuing offline with the update of my blog. Soon I was tired as well and going to bed. (I have had problems with my stomach all the day.)

15th Sept 2018 – Mexico’s Independent Day

I awoke from a wired dream again around 7:30am. I did not know, if Fernando has to go to work this day. A lot of Mexicans works Saturdays as well, as you know, if you followed my blog all the time. I sent him a WhatsApp message, because I did not really know, which room is his and I won’t wake him up, if he still is sleeping and has not to go to work. I did not get any answer and was around an hour later in the kitchen. He has a coffee machine with capsules, he never use, because he is not drinking coffee. I do not know either, how to handle, though I did not have a coffee. I also was thinking of my stomach and may avoid coffee for some days. I had my banana instead, the rest of my ham Serrano as well as a part of my Brie cheese. I hoped by not eating bread for a while, I will be better soon. I sent Fernando another WhatsApp message, took my itinerary down to the living room and was waiting for his answer.

“Aztec” Dancers

After 11am, he came out of his room. When I told him, that I had waited so long for an answer, he apologized, that he had forgotten his cell phone at his office. We were talking about me plans not only in Querétaro, but also in my upcoming destinations: The states of San Luis Potosi and Guanajuato. He told me, that places were dangerous or not worth to sea. I wrote down it, thanked him for it, but did not decide if I will go there anyway, because I again and again made the experience, that they are not dangerous for tourists. He also offered me, to take me the upcoming day to a place in the state of Querétaro, which I should see. He had anyway to drive his parents to the airport.

Later he said, he had to go to the office, though I asked him, if he could take me downtown, what he did. He also was wondering, if I have had breakfast and added, that I could take of all the things in his fridge – and as usual, he had told me before that “my home is your home”. On the way downtown, when we were leaving the secure area he lives, he explained, that the area had been the family ranch, which they had sold and that he had designed the buildings as well as the “penthouse” (what he calls his apartment). He had then bought that penthouse, before someone else could do it. He added, that it is far too big for him with its four bedroom (one is on the third floor), but he thought, he might get married and have kids. For the moment, he cannot think about to do so, but one shall never say never. Anyway he loves his live and freedom – e.g. to travel.

The Cathedral on Independence Day

Well downtown, he let me leave close to the end of the aqueduct. On the place there were Aztec people dancing. I am not sure, they were all children and grandchildren of Aztecs, anyway they were “dressed that way” – in different colors and shapes and were dancing to the same kind of drums and the same rhythm. It was hard work what the drummers as well as the dancers did. They had to take rests, of course. There were lots of groups and the surprising things were the banner with Christian motives. I had already read about, that the indigenous people mix the Christian faith and their own gods, but it was anyway surprisingly to see it in real. I walked throughout the town, everywhere were Mexicans – and tourists as well, celebrating. There were lots of stalls, which owners tried to sell off their items before all is over until next year. I was thinking about, if I should buy a little flag or what I should do. I also was looking for a bag, because my backpack, bought in Mexico, was destroyed now. I did not see a bag I was really happy in, but a blouse, with embroidery in the colors of the Mexican flag. I liked it so much, that I bought it – fortunately it came in my size.

A Fountain at the Other End of the Historic City

I walked to the “Alameda Miguel Hidalgo”-park, with a detour to the other side of the city center (it is not big). At the park at the kiosk, a group played music and they showed a traditional dance as well. A young guy was singing an “international” song in Spanish, all the time looking on his smartphone for the text of it. His voice was OK. I could not understand much of the text, but the word Jesus. They did pray before the scene was free for dance. The sunny sky had become very cloudy and I was expecting rain very soon. I started to walk in the direction of my hosts home, because I did not know, which bus line I should take, All went well until I came to a traffic point, where one cannot force the streets by foot. There are no pedestrian ways anymore, though I had to take a taxi, which was for 70 MXN, because once in the taxi I asked the driver to drive me to the Superama supermarket. That price was also a little to high, I understood later, even it was one of these official taxis.

Dancers in the Hidalgo Park

I was happy that Fernando was at home, when I came back. A thunder was telling us, it was good I did it home before it, but it was just the one. I also got the password for the Internet of him, that means, he put it in my notebook. I still had problems with my stomach, though parts of this text I was writing in the bathroom. I then asked Fernando if he maybe has a medicine for me and he actually had, but he told me, that I have to take one tablespoon at a time and that every 8 hours. So I did. (The next day I read, one should take two tablespoons every time and do it not more than 8 times in 24 hours).

Just before the first guest was arriving, Fernando ask me to help her, because she was the one, who had bought the “dinner” for the night. I did, of course, but there was not much to help. We prepared the dishes for the table as well. Soon the other guests arrived. There were two girls and a guy from Columbia. Two of them studied in Mexico. They try to be allowed to stay in Mexico after their studies as well. The two, which studied, also speaks English. Fortunately the other one not, though I could practice Spanish somewhat. The interesting thing I learned this evening was, that the drug problem no longer is so big at all in Columbia as it has been (but all is relative).

They evening started with, that the other were eating chips and had a dip as well. I did not take of it, because of my stomach problem. We were looking at the fireworks from the roof terrace and also watching the speech of the president of Mexico at the TV, which is on the first floor but by the open second floor it was possible to see it from there. The president started his speech with “Mexicanos”. Can you imagine, that our king would start a speech with “Swedes” or the English Queen a speech with “Englishmen”? Maybe the Queen does, I do not know, but I cannot remember that our king started a speech with “Swedes”. By the way, there is no bedroom on the third floor. This floor has a more and a less open space. The last-named is furnished with two similar benches in Baroque. There are nice to look at, but horrible to sit on, because one cannot use the backrest. – There are two bedrooms each on the first floor and the second floor. During the conversation I also understood, that most of the furniture as well as all this fantastic lamps are from the Hacienda, his parents had owned.

We had the traditional “Chiles en nogada”, but mine was without chilly, because Fernando explained to me, that the chilly “Poblano”, which is used for this dish, can be different spicy and I want not risk to get very spicy ones. We also had a glass of wine and water. I had been more than once to the bathroom this evening and was careful not to eat much and even not to drink a lot. Anyway I had to go to the bathroom again and again. I used only my en-suite bathroom, though I could not infect someone in case of the sickness is infecting. I also was sure now, that it was not too much Papaya, who caused it. I think, it was maybe the water at the last hotel or the salad I have eaten there.

I could follow the Spanish conversation, but got tired of all the circumstances and fell asleep at the table, which prompted the guests to leave. I actually could have went to bed and they could have continued with their conversation, but they did not choose that alternative.

16th Sept 2018

I had put my alarm clock on 4am for taking that medicine for my stomach and the other alarm on 6:30am, but was only awake around 7am. I tried to find out if Fernando already had left, but without success. Though I followed my usual routines, but did not have breakfast. I went sen downstairs, knocked his door and said, that I am ready. Around 8am he came out of his room ready to go.

His parents live close to him, but he was driving there with his car, than he changed the car and took the one of his parents to the airport. His parents also speaks English. I was sitting beside of his mother and she asked me the usual questions. His father told me, that the mountain Peña de Bernal was not a part of earth, it was coming from the space and has unnatural healing resources.

From the airport, Fernando drove me to the city of Bernal. There I first walked the historic city center, where people still were celebrating the independence. Girls were simulating the soldiers parade.  It was a little boring, though I walked further and followed the signs to the mountain. There were no many people out there yet, but a few already coming back from the mountain. A few stalls with souvenirs had opened already, but the most were still closed. It was a good time for visiting the village and the surroundings.

Bernal – A Small City with a View

Well at the Peña de Bernal – the way there was well signed, I started to climb up the stairs. I looked easy to force the way up, but after a while I became more complicated. Anyway on the way up it was easier, than later on the way done. The surface became uneven and it might had rained in the early morning, though the stones were slippery. I made it all the way up, even it took longer time for me as for the other people. Fathers carrying their children were faster than me! Anyway there were no possibility on different places for people to meet, though it looked more natural, when I as usual let the other go first. I did it all the way up – as long as it was allowed. There were climbers using the worst wall, that was, of course, not the way I was forcing the mountain and I was, of course, not really on the top.

At the End of the Path at the Peña de Bernal

For more photos of Peña de Bernal click here.

The way back was worse, because it was easier to slip. Some parts were really hard to force, but there were always helping hands of other people. The Mexicans are so diverse in their way to be. In an occupied bus, the younger not even raise for the really old people, but in the mountains, you do not need to ask for a helping hand, there are lots of people and in all ages, willing to help you.

Down again I walked back to the center and tried then to find a bus or collectivo to my next destination: Tequisquiapan. I found a bus stop, after I had ask a woman in the center of the village and ask there a man, waiting for the bus, if there is one, which is going to Tequisquiapan, but he told me, there is not. All the buses are going to Querétaro. I was tired, because I had not eaten anything that day and only had taken small gulps of an energy drink I had bought on the way to the top of the mountain. It is fantastic, what the Mexicans can carry those complicated ways up. Though I entered the bus to Querétaro and bought a ticket for all the way back, which was for 48 MXN. Back at the bus terminal in town, I bought a ticket for the taxi, which was for a cost of 55 MXN. These 55 MXN is the correct price for a taxi drive from the bus terminal in Querétaro to the area, where my host is living. It should not be more.

Well back at Fernando’s home I told him, that I only had been in Bernal. He told me, that I should have left the bus to Querétaro at a junction and there tack another one to Tequisquiapan. I told him, that I did not know and that it anyway had been enough for me that day as well as I would make the tour o Tequisquiapan the following day. I ate my left “Chiles en nogada” and took water to drink, but it did not stay inside me. Directly afterwards I was going to bed. I was so tired again.

17th Sept 2018

It was Monday and Lola, the cleaning lady, should be back, but I did not know, at what time of the day she would come. Though I took two quesadillas, which she had prepared for the weekend and warmed they in the microwave. It was staying inside me for a while, but before I left this day, it had left as well. Fernando told me, when he came out of his room for breakfast, that he had not showered yet and has to care about his little toe, which he had hurt a time ago. Though it would take almost an hour before he was ready to go and asked me to take a taxi to the Oxxo – or walk, and explained, how I will come further to the bus terminal. I was walking down to the bus and asked other people waiting for the bus, which one is going to the terminal. A guy told me, it is the 88. Unfortunately, they do not use the word bus terminal here, but Central (de autobuses). On the bus to the terminal is written Central and other destinations. Though to be sure, that it will be the correct bus, I asked one more time.

At the bus station, I was told, that I had to go to the other terminal (there is a bigger and a smaller one, I think the smaller one is older). From the smaller one the economic buses are leaving – the buses, which do not have bathrooms, often are old and stop at a lot of places in between. I bought my ticket and had to go directly to the bus for not missing it. It was perfect timing, but I had no possibility to go to the bathroom before leaving. Fortunately all went well. As long as I did not eat or drink anything, I did not need to go to the bathroom now. The medicine did its work. We stopped at another bus stop with bathroom, halfway. I asked the driver for how long he will stop there and he told me, for 10 minutes. Though it was time enough for the bathroom and I was not the only passenger using it.

Well in Tequisquiapan I was going by “city bus” to the center of the small town. I did not know, how far away it is and it seemed a quite long way, the route the bus was driving. The ride was for 7,50 MXN. I first gave 7 MXN to the driver, because I had heard 6,50 MXN. Sometimes I still cannot hear the difference between seis (6) and siete (7), depending on, how the person pronounce it and especially, when there is a cincuenta together with it.

Alley in the Historic Center of Tequisquiapan

I walked the town, which also is a Pueblo Magico – the state of Querétaro has a lot of them. The last street I walked came out not very far away from the bus terminal. Though I did not take the “city bus” back.

Beautiful Bench in the Historic City

For more photos of Tequisquiapan click here.

My next goal was the “Vineñdos Azteca”, a winery. Fernando had recommended this one for me and told me, that they produce a priced wine called PRETEXTO. Luckily I had got a map in the center of the town about the wineries in Querétaro, though I could show the sales assistant, where I will go. I have got a ticket to the following town and the bus was leaving five minutes later. The bus driver was told, where I would leave. It was a kind of chief assistant, who helped me all the way and even talked with the bus driver to make sure, I want get to my destination. Anyway, the bus driver missed it, though he stopped in the next town and put me on the bus back, gave the driver some coins and told him, where I will leave. For this bus driver it was a little easier, because there was another winery on his side, which he could see easily. The “Vineñdos Azteca” is not possible to see from the highway.

The bus driver stopped for me at the right place and before I was looking for THAT winery, I red about the one I was in front of, their last tour for the day was at 4pm and I hoped, it would be the same at the other one. I used the pedestrian’s bridge over the highway and looked for the winery. I actually found it and saw, that it was an old Hacienda. There were newer buildings, still raw and it smelled like a pig farm, but I think, they were part of the Hacienda as well. The smell may have another explanation. Finally in front of the entrance, I read, that the winery only is open for public on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Though I turned around, walked all the way back by using that pedestrian’s bridge again and asked at the Finca Sala Vivé, which was the other winery, if I could attend a tour and it was OK. I paid for a Classic Tour 110 MXN, because the others, which were much more expensive, had horse carriages or similar included.

Inside the Finca Sala Vivé

Well on the inside of the gate, it was not so easy with the orientation. I had to ask more than once to find the right desk and the right tour. All went well. I attended a tour for Spanish speakers. I do not know, if there was one with an English-speaking guide. I understand most of, what the guide was explaining. She was speaking slow and clearly enough. We could see the quality control and were then taken down in the cellar. It was really long down. There were some old barrels, but mostly the wine was in bottles. At the end, we got shown different bottles with wine in different stages of the process. Afterwards we got all a glass of a sparkling wine. I had not eaten anything after the breakfast, though I asked for a half full glass only. Even I took time while drinking, I had to buy something to eat. The only food available was cheese plates with even bread and Salami. I bought one of them (for 35 MXN) sat down at a table and finished my meal and the wine just before the Finca closed – I actually was allowed to use a bathroom before leaving.

Outside I had seen a sign about Querétaro, though I was thinking, that the bus also may take that direction. It had started raining and I had taken my rain cape on. So I was walking the highway in the direction of the sign. Fortunately I asked a man, meeting me, but he told me, that the bus is going the other highway and that there is a stop, where I could wait for the bus. I did not see the stop and was waiting at a closing down taco place. The boy working there, explained to me, that I have to go a little further and I found that stop. It did not take very long time before a bus to Querétaro was coming and stopped for my sign. When the bus driver asked me, where I will go, I asked him for the price, just not thinking about, that there are more stops before we are coming to town. I apologized and told him my destination. I had to pay 57 MXN and took a seat. The bus was becoming very full and an old men, with problems to walk, did not get a seat. Nobody of the younger passengers did raise for him. I got angry and offered the man my seat instead. I had to hold with both hands, because these buses and the conditions of the road make it not easy for me to stand up during a ride. A girl next to me, which all the time had explained, that the seat on the side of her is broken – the backrest was not possible to raise, and had her luggage there, did after a while use that seat anyway and offered me the one, she sat on before.

Back in Querétaro I took a taxi again all the way to my host’s home. Finally there, Fernando was interested in, how the day has been and I answered him, that it had been taken very long time to go by bus and that I could not have made that trip the day before as well. I also added, that the “Vineñdos Azteca” was closed during the week. We talked a little more about it, afterwards I ate a banana and took a glass of almond drink as well as a glass of coconut milk. I had to hurry to the bathroom. By the way Lola was cleaning the house, when I was coming home. She was cleaning the sofas at that time. She seems to be very good in the work she is doing. She also is very friendly and do not care about, that she has a little more work, when Fernando has guests.

I was going to bed soon again with my alarm clock on 6:30 again, because I had to prepare for the next days during the upcoming morning.

18th Sept 2018

I had the alarm clock at 6:30 again and I did hear it, though I had enough with time to pack some things for staying over night at a hotel. Lola had made breakfast for me as well as for Fernando, but Fernando’s was to go. I enjoyed the fried eggs with ham and cheese as well as the banana milk and the strawberries. She had sliced and cut papaya, but unfortunately I had to tell her, that my stomach would not like it yet.

I had my little green backpack and a plastic bag and enough with clothes, though I could stay away for two nights, even if it will get cold. I expected, that I will need the extra sweater and even my ice breaker underwear, because I will go to the Sierra Gorda, a mountain ranch in the state of Querétaro. Fernando did drive me to the bus terminal. During the drive he asked me, how long I needed to walk down to the aqueduct the day before. I had not checked it, therefore I could only answer him, that I do not know. In the big part of the bus terminal I asked for a bus to my destination at one of the counters, but was told, that I have to go to another counter, even in the same building. When I was there, I was asked, if I will take the second class bus at 9am or a first class bus at 12pm. I took the earlier one, because it anyway will bring me to Jalpan de Serra earlier. “de Serra”, by the way, was the name of the founder of the small city. The way it is spelled, is not a mistake.

Sierra Gorda View

It was very close to 9 o’clock, therefore I had to hurry to find, where the bus is going – actually from the old terminal, though it was a quite long walk. I made it in time. This bus has had it’s best days, but it brought us save to our destination. The ride was worth much more money as I had paid. The views could not be paid enough for. I felt somewhat like a millionaire, that I was able to see that scenery. The first part was a little boring, not much to see, but then there were so many different kind of mountains and a lot were rolling mountains. The engineers of the road had done an amazing work as well. The road did go at the edge of the mountains, without any big bridge. Unfortunately the windows of the bus were very dirty, though I did not even try to get this scenery on tape. I think we were going for two hours, maybe three, throughout this amazing nature until we arrived in Jalpan. I did not eat anything during the ride and only had the little rest of the power drink from the day before, drinking it in small gulps as well. I did not have any problem with my stomach during the trip and was very happy about it.

When I left the bus, it was really hot outside. I was not awaiting that. The first I did was to look for a restaurant, because I was hungry now. It was already after noon. I found a place, where I ordered en omelette. I had bottled water as well. Anyway I did not drink much of the water – and I had no problem with the meal. I was looking for a bed for the night. All the hotels on booking.com were a little to expensive for me. I did not find a hostel or similar, but there was a tourist information office and I asked there. When the female assistant understood. She told me, that there are two “Hotels economico”, one named “Camino veijo” and described how to go there.

The Smalls Things Make the Picture

I chose the cheapest room – a room with twin beds ca 90 cm, maybe 100cm – not more and booked 1 night. Later I went back to the tourist information to find out, what I could do the following nights. I also asked if it was possible to go to a lake not very far away by bus, but that was not, because the place is in the state of San Luis Potosi and there is no bus connection from here she told me as well as she told me I had to take taxis to the different old missions of the Franciscan friars nearby. I decided to stay 2 nights in Jalpan instead. I will afterwards try to go to San Joaquin. If that is not possible, I will already go back to Querétaro on Wednesday. At the hotel I asked for a second night, but the receptionist told me, she has to ask her chef first. I went to my rented room and updated my blog.

Way into Town

Around 8:30pm I was to a nearby restaurant for a meal. It was chicken breast with ham and cheese, French potatoes, vegetables and rice(!) as well. I had a beer, too. All was for the amount of 135 MXN and it could only eat half of it. I saved the rice, half of the vegetables and half of the chicken breast+. I told the waitress, I would like to have it “para llevar” = to take away/to go. For only Spanish-speaking waiters you cannot ask for a “doggy bag”. I have got a very nice pack with me ;-)!

For more photos of Jalpan de Serra click here.

Back at the hotel I tried to update my blog a little more, but I did not come far. I was too tired and I soon fell asleep even it was very noisy outside. This hotel is directly on the side of the highway, where also heavy traffic is rolling and I also heard people talking outside as well as the room next door. I awoke different times during the night, because it is very warm here and I did not start the fan before I was to bed, because the fan is very noisy.

19th Sept 2018

I was still sleepy, when I awoke around 7am, though I was on twitter for a while – unfortunately for a too long while. I was ready to go at 10am, after I have had a breakfast in the close by restaurant. I asked the cleaning lady, if there is a bus to Concá, my first destination for the day, where one of the five Franciscan missions are. It would become the second one I will see, because one is here in Jalpan. She explained it for me, but I did not find it, though I asked around closer to the point, it should be, but did not find it anyway. Though I asked a taxi driver for collective taxi to Concá and that was working. Here are two kinds of taxis: The orange one are driving individually. They are registered in Jalpan. The white one, which are coming from another community – which Concá is a part of, drive collective. The driver regretted first, when I asked him for Concá, but at the same moment another woman came and ask for Concá as well, though he was starting with us two and picked soon another woman up, who won’t go so far. During the ride, off and on people entered and left. The last one was a couple and we were already three passengers. The passenger in the front seat made space for one more. I am always surprised, how easy that is working. It seems to be very natural for the Mexican people.

I had to pay 50 MXN for the ride and it was a really long trip – more than 30 km and more than half an hour. I also was told, when I would leave at the first sign for the convent, that the taxi will stop closer. The taxi stop is closer! There is one taxi stop in that little village with only two streets. Close to it is also a bus stop I have seen later. I walked the short distance to the church and convent. These churches are amazing on the front, but that is all. The convent cannot be accessed. Anyway these old buildings (from around 1750) are still in use.

For more photos of San Miguel Concá click here.

Close by was a kind of tourist information, where I could see a map with path to the surrounding sightseeing objects. I tried to find the path for the waterfalls, but without success. In the very big tree I was not directly interested in. I have seen some now. I am not so very impressed of them anymore, even it is amazing, that the very old trees still are alive and none will cut them down for any reason ever. Mexicans seems to be proud of these big trees. I started to walk to the taxi stop, but there was none taking collective passengers, therefore I continued out to the highway, but changed my mind soon, when a bus was coming. I had to check, where it will go – and it was for Jalpan. I had to buy the bus ticket of a cashier in a small office. It was for 44 MXN  – not much cheaper than the collective taxi.

I was going back by bus all the way to the bus station in Jalpan. Actually I did not really know, if there is one, but I had seen different bus companies driving throughout the town, though I guessed, there would be a bus station. Finally there I was asking for a bus to another Franciscan mission: Tancoyol. There were a bus leaving in the afternoon, but no bus back from Tancoyol this day. I guess it would be a village as small as Concá and no place to sleep there. I also thought, it might not be possible to go from there to San Joaquin. I did not try to go there by collective taxi, because I could not be sure, there will one go back to Jalpan in the evening. I was a little disappointed, that I had booked two nights in Jalpan, because I could already had continued to San Joaquin. I asked at the bus station even for a bus to the last-named destination. I had to change bus in Camargo to a collective combi, I was told, but it was possible to go there, without going back all the way to Querétaro. By the way, I had asked the sale assistant to speak a little slower, even she then was bad in it anyway, a woman asked me if I speak French or maybe English. I answered here, that I speak English as well, but also Spanish and continued with the sale assistant in Spanish. Another fact made me more disappointed, because at the bus station I saw, that buses are going from there to Xilitla in San Luis Potosi. I had not booked the second night here in Jalpan, if I had known that and I think I had been satisfied to see the one of those Franciscan missions in Jalpan. They are all very similar, even they have some different figures at the front.

View from a Pedestrian’s Bridge

I tried to make the best of it and was looking for a café in Jalpan. I found one, while I was walking back from the bus station, but they sold tacos and similar food. They also sold Frappes etc two days a week, why they called themselves a café. Before I came so far, I did see a beautiful butterfly. It was black with one yellow stripe on each of his two wings and it was unusual big. I know, there are bigger ones and all is relative, but this one was anyway bigger than the most kinds of butterflies. I followed it by my eyes for a while and had to witness the whole tragedy. The butterfly got hurt of a car, though it could not really fly anymore, but still tried. It came not higher up than my knees. Not long time after, it was hit again of a car. This time by a wheel and the beautiful creature was not more. I walked further, but did not find a café or coffee shop, though I only bought a mug Agua de Horchata. I was sitting down on the place in front of the Franciscan mission, when a Mexican woman told me, that the light green little creep with wings close to me, was an insect, which likes to sit on people and suck their blood. I thanked this unknown woman a lot for that information and changed place. Later I saw, that the woman did kill the insect with the tip of her umbrella.

I became interested in the “History museum” of the town and it was open. It also was for free. I had been there around 20 minutes, when I have been told, that the museum will close for a couple of hours and I have to leave. I was welcome back, when they open again – for an hour. I told them, that I just had started to look at the exhibition, but that I would be back, when the re-open. I actually did not. It was still very warm and I preferred to go to the hotel. Later I did not feel like it.

En la Museo Historico de Jalpan

Back at the hotel I took my “doggy bag” out of the fridge and ate the meal at my room. I had bottled water till. I decided to update my blog, but before I started with it, I tried to update my netbook. It always says, that it has no space for the download for the update and now I also read, that it does not accept the SD-card as an external space, even there is nearly nothing on it. Though I got the idea to try with my USB-stick, but that I have at my host in Querétaro.

A thunderstorm was going down outside and I was happy to be inside. Finally I was ready to start with the update of my blog and here you can see the result. It became really late, before I had finished the update. I apologize, that the links to the additional photos are still missing.

20. Sept 2018

I was up at 7am and was surprised, when I saw me in the mirror. My eye lids were very swollen. I was surprised, that I still could see. I tried to cool them with cold water on my towel, but it did not help. I hoped, that nobody would see that, when I wear my glasses. At the same time I was wondering, what it came of. I think it is an allergic reaction. Maybe an insect did stick in my eye lids during the night. The night before I had been stuck in my arm and sprayed my body with repellent. When I was going to bed, I was wondering if I might spray my pillow with repellent, though insects won’t come close, but I was afraid, that the repellent will not be healthy to breath for me as well. When I was in the bathroom during the night, there were also an insect running away for the light. It was actually in the shower, though I did not shower that morning, but wash my whole body. – I had done the same the morning before, because the lock for the drain is moldy and I was afraid, what will come up if I put the shower on.

I had breakfast in the restaurant nearby again. This time I had hot cakes and a coffee. The first since more than a week and unfortunately it was not a tasty one. I like it strong, with a little milk or cream, but this was not strong at all. When I checked out before 9am, there were no receptionist. She had left a message on a sheet of paper, which everyone could read, but was for a couple only. I left my key on the desk and was going to the street, waiting for the bus, because the incoming bus had stopped there. I waited a while and saw than the bus going outwards another street. Though I missed this one and started walking to catch the next one at the bus station. It is around half an hours walk and I thought, if I will not be at the bus station in time, I can stop the bus somewhere in town, because the bus had to come that way I was going. I made it in good time to the bus station and told the sales assistant – another one than the day before, that I would like to buy a ticket to Camargo, because I would change there for San Joaquin. This woman told me, that there is no bus between Camargo and San Joaquin, but between Vizarron and San Joaquin and I had to buy a ticket to Vizarron instead. Though I did. When I entered the bus I asked the driver to call at Vizarron, because it is always hard to see, where the bus is, but on bus stations and I did not know if Vizarron has a bus station or only a bus stop.

San Joaquin – Mountain View

The bus was going for a couple of hours throughout the beautiful scenery again and I was lucky, that I was sitting in the first line, but the bus did have the most of the windscreen darkened, though I could not really see anything. It was hard for the curves, because they are so heavy I had to hold me one way if it is going to the right and another way, when it is going to the left. When I got a passenger on the side of me, it happened, that she fell on me for that reason (she had the same problems like I). Vizarron has no bus station, only a stop close to the main square. The driver told the ambulant bus ticket seller, that I would go to San Joaquin and he might help me to come with the right bus. He also told me, that the bus to San Joaquin will come in around 40 minutes. That was no problem by the ice cream shop ;-). I also needed a bathroom, but because I did not have change, only a five-hundred peso note, I was allowed to use it for free. There were two other buses coming before mine and I was both times told, that they are not my buses – even I could read it on their window-screens. I was thankful anyway. It is better to be a little to service-minded as I would get no help at all.

San Joaquin – Street Vie

The way from Vizarron to San Joaquin was beautiful as well, even I could not see much of the beauty either. Well in San Joaquin I was looking for that “Pueblo Magico”. I actually was very disappointed and happy I had not planned a long stay here. Surprisingly this small town has a tourist information, which was open. There were three or four people in there, maybe they have other tasks as well. I asked for a map, which I got, but it was quite useless without street names etc. The only things of interest was a view-point and a cave, which was too far away for me. I was hungry and walked around, up and down in that village to find an open restaurant. There were no many at all and the one I saw were very small. At the end I had two quesadillas at a street stall, which also had tables and chairs for some customers. I had a bottled guava juice as well. All for only 48 MXN. I tried to give a tip, but it was very small because my lack of coins or small notes. It became only 3.50 MXN. I apologized for that and the waitress answered very friendly, that this was not a problem.

San Joaquin – City Center

For more photos of San Joaquin click here.

I took also a look in the market hall of this very small town. There were no many stalls at all. There was even no space for more. Though I tried to find the view-point, which was not easy. I walked all the town to the end in that direction, but did first find a sign for it, when I was coming back. Actually it was only possible to see the sign coming into town. The only bus back to Querétaro was at 5pm, though I was afraid, I would not make it in time down again from that point and skipped it as well. The buses to Querétaro leave every second hour, but the last one for the day at 5pm. There are no night buses at all from San Joaquin. I think the road is too dangerous by night with all it heavy curves. By the way, later I read, that there are two archaeological sites close to it, but that was not advised in the map I had got. I think, they are not so close as it seems on the site “Visit Mexico”. On that site the description of the town is very lyric and if you do not fly over the town, you will not see the beauty from the picture on that site.

I was in good time for the bus and was happy, because it was a new one. I could already enter after I had paid the 106 MXN-ticket for Querétaro. Therefore I could choose seat. Unfortunately the best seat was occupied with the drivers clothes, but he picked them afterwards. On the seat on the side of it, was his little suitcase, but it did not take more space than the one seat. Though I changed my seat even the driver was looking surprised. The good thing with the seat no 3 is, that there is more leg space and also, in the best of cases, you have the best view you can get out of a bus. This time I had the best of cases. The bus did not have any darkening attribute on the right part of the window screen. I really enjoyed the mountain views I had during the trip, but I did not enjoy that the driver were driving as fast as possible. Some times the warning system just sounded, sounded, sounded… for a long while. The driver also used his cellular phone during driving. He did not use a headset. I would have liked to see more of the mountains, but was happy, when we finally arrived in Querétaro without any accident.

I took a taxi home to Fernando and it actually felt like coming home, which I also told him. He had to go to a dinner with business partners and could not stay, but was happy about, what I told him. I had a meal and was then up to my room, where I started to update my blog again after I had checked my emails and the couchsurfing site. I had to do that by my notebook, because me phone has already run out of prepaid data traffic again. I do not understand, why that is happening much faster with this new phone as it did with my Samsung, I had bought in Sweden. I think there is an option for Telcel to earn more, because I bought it in a Telcel store. Unfortunately I got tired very fast and had to close the notebook.

21st Sept 2018

I awoke early, but was still a little tired. Lola and I had agreed the evening before, that we would leave at 10am to go to the pyramid “El Cerrito”, which actually is situated in the town of Querétaro. I still had lots of time and I also managed to transfer some money from my Swedish to my Maltese account, because of the nights in the hotels I run short of money on my HSBC-account (which allows me to use their ATMs here without paying any fee.

It was Fernando’s idea, that she should go with me. She has a car, which made it very comfortable to go around in the city. She is from a place in San Luis Potosi and does not know Querétaro very well. She told me also, that she is not traveling much. When we had found the pyramid, the place was temporarily closed. We continued back to the city center and were going to the Cerro de Campagna (Hill of the bell). There are stones in the park, which sound if one hit them with another stone etc. The stones actually contains naturally metal. She was going on the wrong side of the park, though we had to go back and take another way to enter. I already had told her, that I know the place and by the need of walking so much around, she was not longer interested in to see it, even thinking about, that I already had been there.

It was hard to find a parking space in the city center – like in all city centers. We had seen three parking lots, but all were already occupied. The next one luckily was not, even there were only a few places left, but we just needed one, though all was fine. The first I told her then, was, that I needed a cup of coffee. Unfortunately she does not drink coffee, therefore I had a coffee to go. The mug was very full and some coffee run out while walking, even I had a lid on it. Fortunately I had not done my planned laundry yet. I told Lola, that I would need a coffee-colored t-shirt. She was smiling. We did have a little small talk, but she told me, she is not good in it. Anyway it was nice together with her in town. We also was to the Art Museum of Querétaro, that means it was showing art of artists, which were working or had studied in town. There was a series called something with memories. It seems it was inspired of a woman with Alzheimer’s and what she remembered. It looked strange, but so is Alzheimer’s. There was also another temporary exhibition of an artist, who works with different materials like tiles, metal and canvas as well as a permanent exhibition. The last-named was not so very interesting.

We were going home after the museum and even by the traffic jam we were in good time, that Lola could make the meal for Fernando, who always comes home around 3pm for lunch. She already had pampered me with a meal. After Fernando had went for work again, she also helped me with the laundry. I tried to make it by myself, but she is so service-minded, that it was impossible. I feel a little ashamed, when she also make all that for me. It is extra work for her. If possible I make the dishes, but that happened only twice. – Even this time she came with the dry clothes to me. By the way, I had told her, that I will leave on Sunday morning and would like to say good-bye to her before she is leaving for the weekend. She actually came up to my room and she also did give me a hug.

I had made my files and was now uploading my photos from the last few days to my Google account. Unfortunately I had added a new folder on my SD-card, which I tried to delete. Together with it, all my photos on the card were deleted and I did not find them anymore. I just did not find the trash bin on the card. Luckily this happened after I had uploaded them all. Some of the files are quite small. I did not really understand, how the auto ISO work. Now I have an ISO of 800 and the files are bigger again. I finally updated my blog before I was to bed.

22nd Sept 2018

I woke around 8am after I had been awake some times during the night. Fernando was not at home, though I did take my time for my routines and the breakfast. I finally also ate some papaya. It was the first time after almost a week. When I was ready to go to town, Fernando came home and I could ask him to lock the door after me. My first destination was the bus terminal, where I would buy the ticket for San Luis Potosi, where I will go tomorrow. I was walking downtown, but did take another way this time and actually tried one very different. There were stairs, but they did stop after a while. I had seen people going all the way down and followed them. There was a little pass, where it was slippery, but when I was there, a young woman were coming against me. I asked her for a helping hand and she was eager to help me. I had to walk a while on the side of the highway until I came to the point, where I could take a city bus to the bus terminal.

There were a queue, but also lots of sales assistants working. I soon had my ticket. It is for a Primera Plus bus, though it should go direct and also has a bathroom. Anyway the trip will only last for 2 1/2 hour. On the map, it looks much further. I messaged my upcoming host, when I will arrive and she promised me, to meet me at the bus terminal in San Luis Potosi (SLP). I look forward to it.

Fernando had invited me to the cinema at 3pm. When I was ready at the bus terminal I took a city bus downtown and was looking for something to eat. I also passed the Museo de los Conspiradores. I entered it and it was for free. It took a while until I had read all the Spanish text (there were no English text) and Fernando messaged me our meeting point, which I found in time. Before I had finished the museum and had bought some churros and a bottle of water, though I was not totally hungry and thirsty. At that stage I did not know, what was awaiting me. At the cinema, we (Fernando, a girlfriend of him and I) were going to the V.I.P. saloon. It is not so big, but has very comfortable seats with foot rests (like a TV chair you can buy for your home). There are also waitresses and a menu. I was told, that I should choose whatever I want, then Fernando asked me if I like cheese and he would order cheese sticks, which he would share, though I should choose something else. I did choose a warm chocolate cake with ice cream. Unfortunately the cake was very dry and hard to eat with the teaspoon. I never got that cheese stick promised. Maybe it was not available.

The movie was both funny and romantic with a happy end. It was in English with Spanish subtitles. It was about a couple, he from China and she from the USA. He was son of a very rich family, what she did not know, before they were visiting his family in China. There were a lot complications, of course – mostly about that the mother of the guy would not accept his girlfriend as his former wife, even the his girlfriend was a professor in economy in New York at a university. It was all about that she had not the family roots matching the guys family and that she was born in the USA and not in China. Unfortunately I do not remember the title.

After the movie, Fernando asked me, what I would like more to see of Querétaro or the surroundings. But there is not much left and the other museums were closed at that time of the day. We were going home to Fernando, but he promised me to take me to a very beautiful place for dinner. I updated my blog until Fernando called me. We ended up at an Hacienda, where a main meal with meat was for around 500 MXN/person. I chose pasta with two different kinds of mushrooms. It was delicious, even it was one of the less pricey meals. Fernando had ordered some oven baked cheese and a kind of very thin cut meat as a starter, which we shared.

When he had brought home his girlfriend, he showed me the horses, his family owns – I could only see some of the 200 all together. There are horses between, which won a price. In addition to that, he showed me a little more of his projects and the office building, which has towers. He took me into the tower of the building. It is so beautiful, especially the cupolas are art! I now also understood, that the family owns much more land, that I first heard of him. He projects part of this area from time to time. Some underparts they build houses on and rent them, other underparts they sell as lots of different sizes. A lot for a little house has 170 sqm, but they also sell lots about 20,000 sqm – which will become commercial projects of the buyer. The office is close to, where he lives. We were home late and I was going to bed directly.

23rd Sept 2018

It was time to say good-bye and go further. Fernando had offered me to drive me to the bus terminal. He had told me, that it would be early enough to leave his home at 9:20am. I was up some minutes after seven, though I will be ready in time, but Fernando did not go up and seemed not to be awake before after 9pm. I got stressed and sent him a message, but he did not answer. Though I tried to call him. He did not answer the call either. I guessed, he was at home for his shoes were close to the door. I sat like on needles, because I had already bought the ticket – as I wrote the day before.

At 9:20am Fernando came out of his bedroom. I think he still had the clothes on, he slept with, but a jacket above. He told me, that we still have lots of time, but it was he, who told me the day before, that we should leave earlier than 9:30am, what I had asked him for. I was thinking, it might be a traffic jam and I cannot get there in time. We were lucky, there were no real one, but just a little low flow in front of a traffic light. Though I was there in good time. That was the bus as well and all went smoothly.

About my arrival in the city of San Luis Potosi and the upcoming days you can read by following the link to the state of San Luis Potosi.

For more photos of Santiago de Querétaro click here.