A Day in Queretaro, Mexico

It was an early morning for me. I had big plans to head to Wal-Mart to pick up some things I couldn’t easily get in the smaller Mexican stores. I had been staying with a friend (Rocio) and her husband and son (Mario and Isaac). On a typical morning, I may have lazed in bed for a while, checked my WordPress notifications, and so on. But this morning, I promptly dressed, brushed my teeth, and was ready to go. Mario happened to be going to work around the same time and offered me a ride to Wal-Mart. I waited a few minutes for him and Isaac to pack their bags, and then we were on our way.

We open the locked apartment door, walk downstairs, say hi to Rocio’s grandma, and open the other locked door. Next, we get in the car, Isaac on my lap, and pull onto the street. Mario gets out to close and lock the gate, then we’re really on our way. A short 5 minutes later, we’re at the Isaac’s day care. Both dad and child get out, and then a few minutes later, we’re headed to Wal-Mart, listening to some good ol’ Foo Fighters (I really like Mario’s taste in music!)

When I enter Wal-Mart, I am met with a the huge display of Christmas chocolates, all of which I’m sure cost significantly more simply for being Christmas-themed. I pass the seasonal decorations and treats, and make my way to the grocery section. I pick up Greek yogurt and coconut oil, and spend the next 5 minutes searching for baking soda, before I give in and ask someone who works there. It turns out baking soda is a pharmaceutical product, so over to the pharmacy I go. I pass by aisles of wine, beer, and spirits, before arriving at the pharmacy section. Right next to the Alka-Seltzer, I see the boxes of Arm & Hammer. It’s the only option, so I grab it and go. After paying for my purchases and tipping the bag lady, I’m on my way back home.

It’s a short 15 minute walk, through the quaint streets of my friend’s neighborhood.

I enjoy a quick breakfast and an episode of Friends on Netflix (which, I’m told, has significantly fewer options in Mexico). I pack my bag, tie my shoes, and am out the door, once again. Today, I have a light sweater, scarf, and light jacket. It’s not as chilly as yesterday, but still not warm like last week. I exit through the three locking doors, sure to lock the gate twice (all doors automatically lock, but you can turn the deadbolt a couple extra times for added security). I glance in the mailbox by the gate and see that my new credit card has not arrived yet. I don’t know what I was thinking asking my Dad to send it via regular mail. Hopefully it’ll arrive in the next month or so.

As I walk to El Centro for my language class, I enjoy the sights and sounds of this beautiful city. The walk starts just outside of the city centre, along a big, main street, so it’s really not all that exciting. I approach the connecting road between the main highway and the big road I’m currently on. Luckily today there aren’t too many cars coming off the highway, and I’m able to dash across fairly easily. Other days I’ve had to wait several minutes before quickly running in front of the oncoming traffic. I do the same when I approach the opposite ramp for cars entering the highway. As I cross these streets, I see construction workers hard at work today. There are both women and men, and I smile at this sign of women’s rights…. and then I pass by an auto shop that attracts its customers with this:

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Women may have rights, but the traditional ways/stereotypes are still there.

I pass a man waving a bright orange flag to signal a closing lane to drivers. Where, in other countries we use signs to do this man’s job, here he is hard at work making sure traffic changes lanes. I wonder if he enjoys this part of his job.

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Continuing on my way, I smile at the man on the street who may be homeless. He is dressed in rags – and many layers of them – and is always in this same spot, but never appears to be asking for anything. Curious.

As I pass by OfficeMax, I see a policeman and two cars stopped on the side of the road. A following-too-closely/slammed-the-breaks incident, no doubt. Just another day in Mexico.

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Just past this accident, I see that the Mexican authorities have put measures in place to stop the craziness at this busy intersection. Typically cars would merge into the turning lane at the last second, or they would just turn from the outside lane. Not anymore!

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I turn on the next street and smile at the signs that I am approaching El Centro. The street is smaller, dotted with small shops and a tiny sidewalk with trees popping out of it (sidewalks appear to have been an afterthought).

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I squeeze through two typically parked cars and I look both ways before crossing. A man stops to let me go and I throw the back of my hand up to say, “thank you”. While this is the accepted way of doing it here, I still feel like I’m tell him to f-off. Using the back of the hand really is much easier, though.

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Because I have some time and don’t mind the walk, I go a little further so that I can walk through the main park in the city: the Alameda. I am greeted with a sign saying “Feliz Navidad” and enjoy the peacefulness of such a green space in the middle of busy streets.

It is obvious that I’ve reached El Centro when I see beautiful colonial buildings, statues, water fountains, and flowers.

One thing I love about the centre is that all the shops look nice and fit in well together. Even chain restaurants, like Subway or the Mexican Oxxo, use nice lettering.

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I glance in the small shops, tempted to start dancing as music blares from most every one. This is typical in grocery stores as well – I love grocery shopping here!

A short hour after having left, I arrive at the language school, sweaty and ready for my conversation class.

I’ll tell you more about this typical day soon. Stay tuned. 🙂

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