Cure Whatever Ails You

I know that you are all on the edge of your loungers (please don’t tip over) just DYING to hear all about Queretaro and our work assignments. I promise you will.  But first, breaking news.

My dear friend Sally came down with a killer cold a few days ago.  Not to be outdone, I decided I wanted one of those too.  So, here we be, dos Amigas in need of a cure.   

Ginny from Worcester (pronounced Woos-TAH) heard me coughing and sneezing.  She insisted that we IMMEDIATELY adopt her fool proof cure.  She guaranteed that a hot toddy would get Sally and me on the road to recovery.  (Or was that alcoholism?  I forget.  One of those.  Or both.) So what if it is only 10 AM?  

Being an obedient Catholic school girl, and wanting to protect the rest of the group from our germs, I immediately sprang into action.  Despite being somewhat competitive, even I had to admit Sally won the sickness award.  So off I went to the market.  My sweet young fruit seller was glad to see me, despite my tiny order of only two lemons.  I normally am good for a couple of kilos of bananas.  He pointed me in the right direction for miel (Spanish for honey.)

Past the CDs and stuffed animals, beyond the floral displays, beyond the fruit and boots.

NUMEROUS Mexicans stopped what they were doing to help me.  What a gracious, welcoming culture!  
I left with lemons, honey and a bottle of what my Grammy would call medicine, except she pronounced it “med-SIN”).   My black medical bag was now complete.

Take a look.  The white plastic bag contained a cup half full of honey, scooped  from a huge barrel.  The big cup was from Woolworths.  (They are getting to know me there. The cashier that kissed me last time asked me in English “you sick”?) 

Did our “med-SIN” work?  Well, take a look at Sally and you tell me

We are feelin’ no pain!  

Welcome to “Flex-ico”

On our first day at UTEQ, Julio, our coordinator greeted us with “Welcome to Flexico”.  We were way ahead of him.  We had already demonstrated our ability to ‘go with the flow’ on the day before.  You see, although the National Holiday (February 5) fell on a Sunday, Mexico, like the USA, celebrated it on Monday.   We were all ready, willing and eager to work on Monday morning, but we had to cool our jets and practice patience, because school was closed.    


Some were under the impression that we were commemorating the 100th anniversary of the 2-15-1917 signing of Mexico’s constitution, but WE knew the holiday was REALLY to rejoice in the Patriot’s unprecedented overtime win on Super Bowl Sunday. 

Either way, we ALL were celebrating an historic event!

Pam arranged for a Super Bowl party in La Llave, the hotel’s restaurant.  We gathered there to watch TV, stuff ourselves with Mexican AND American snacks and hoist more than a few beers and margaritas.   

My sisters and cousins would have definitely approved of Susan’s attire! 

What to do with our unexpected free day?   Pam and the University very thoughtfully arranged transportation for us to visit San Miguel de Allende, which is about an hour and a half from Queretaro.  We spent a very pleasant day in this lovely colonial town, wandering through the narrow streets, poking into little shops and galleries.  Check out the staircase in this pottery shop.

Jeanne, Sally and Kristy

Jeanne, Sally and Kristy

Kristy was fascinated by the exquisite carved doors, so Monday’s quest was to find a photo book either of the doors of San Miguel or of all of Mexico.  Despite chalking up some pretty impressive numbers on Fitbits, we ultimately had to resort to to get what Kristy wanted.  

Something tells me that she might be making her OWN book. She sure took a lot of door photos.

Here is proof of Kristy’s door obsession.  She took this photo of me, sitting outside, trying to unobtrusively polish off a granola bar.   Doesn’t look like I succeeded with the unobtrusive part.  
Although San Miguel was lovely, I don’t understand why anyone would prefer it over either Queretaro or Guanajuato. We had originally planned to spend the weekend in San Miguel, but after Monday, decided that one day was sufficient, so we cancelled our hotel reservations for the following weekend. Still, to do the city justice, here are a few more photos.

Sally was determined that we all experience the heavenly delight of jicama tacos, so we embarked on yet another quest to find the one restaurant that makes this exotic dish.  A very kind young Mexican man overheard us struggling to find the restaurant, stopped what he was doing, then in perfect English gave us directions.  Unfortunately I didn’t take a photo of the restaurant’s name, but did get a shot of the beautiful mural on the back wall.  So, if you happen to be in San Miguel, and you spot this mural, be sure to order those tacos! 

 Art is everywhere, so although the uneven sidewalks make it prudent to watch where you are going, it is important to occasionally stop and look up at the top of buildings.

I’ve decided that this violinist is none other than St Michael the Archangel.  After all, we ARE in San Miguel.  I especially liked it because it reminded me of my very own violin maker.  I’m not commenting on the angel part, but his name IS Michael.

 As with most colonial towns in Mexico, churches and religious art are everywhere.

Look at the indigent person, so very grateful that the Spanish padre arrived to take his gold and save his soul. 

I’ll end with  a little contemporary humor from our lunch spot,  a panoramic view of the city and a group shot, just in case the featured photo doesn’t post.

Global Volunteers, Mexico: Arrival

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.img_0164

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?