Global Volunteers are exhorted to “expect the unexpected”. That was good advice indeed, because we certainly didn’t expect to see the federales and military in riot gear a block away from our hotel when we arrived!
We learned the streets were blocked in anticipation of their president’s visit the following day. February 5th commemorates the day the Mexican constitution was signed and is a national holiday. This year was the 100th anniversary of that momentous occasion, and since it was signed in Queretaro, what better place for the president to visit?
Although initially the sight of all the guns was disconcerting, we had nothing to worry about. Everyone was peaceful and friendly. My “broken” Spanish was sufficient to get us across the barriers to the ATM in the restricted area, not once, not twice, but three times. (I escorted several of my fellow volunteers — and after the second time, I didn’t need to explain. They saw me coming and smiled as they opened the gate.). It was just a minor challenge to our getting settled and was easily overcome.
Remember in the last post I said that the Hidalgo is an older hotel? And that you can buy just about anything in Queretaro? Well, both are true statements. The “authenticity” of the hotel means that some purchases might make your stay more comfortable. Fortunately there ARE stores nearby.
Sally and Kristy in Del Sol
We all decided jumbo towels were a great solution for unheated bathrooms. And you can never have too many hangers.
Some objects were a little more challenging to find.
The one hook in Sally’s bathroom is strategically placed, right over the toilet. What could possibly go wrong with THAT? It only took ONE day to convince Sally that she needed another option for her towel. So, we embarked on a ‘find the hook that can be placed over the top of the door’ quest. Sounds simple enough, right? It wasn’t. Our search for a “gancho de ropa sobre la puerta” took FOUR determined women TWO whole days!
We hit Woolworth’s, del Sol, several sewing shops, the open air market. We even resorted to showing random passers-by a picture of what we wanted, downloaded from the Internet.
Leave it to first time volunteer, Kristy.
She not only convinced us to check out Waldo Mart, but she was also able to locate exactly what we needed amid the hodgepodge of goods. And yes, you did read that right. Much to our amusement, we discovered the Mexican version of a dollar store, really is called Waldo Mart.
How perfect are these?
The Hidalgo is in an ideal location, in the historic district with restaurants, museums, beautiful gardens and squares close by. It has lots of charm, but what it DOESN’T have are rooms with lots of light.
This time, Woolworth’s came to the rescue.
For about $10, Sally and I were able to buy small lamps. (Light bulbs, we discovered, are sold in the pharmacy down the street ). It might not look like much, but that little lamp makes a huge difference!
I just set it atop my closet and it illuminated my desk (and dressing) area perfectly.
The Mexican workers have been very helpful, friendly and oh so patient with my Spanish. I speak like a toddler, but like a toddler, I keep trying, without embarrassment. I THINK i said to the cashier “I only know some words. But I try to learn. Please speak slowly.” But then again, I might have said something else, because after my little speech she didn’t say anything. She just reached over, hugged me and kissed my cheek.
Our shopping was not limited to dry goods.
Because the University offers classes from 7 AM till 9 PM, our schedule varies. Some days we make our breakfasts and bag lunches at the hotel, and go out for dinner. When the classes are in the evening, we eat those two meals out, and pack our dinner. I volunteered to be the fruit purchaser, recruiting my three amigos to be my helpers.
Because WordPress is being a bit balky, I need to end this post and what better way than with some shots from the market?