The streets of Queretaro

Monday, May 9, 2016 | Queretaro

I’M SITTING ON a private deck outside my room of the Casa de Marquesa Hotel in old Queretaro. It’s a huge deck and very private. I could walk around naked if I wanted to and nobody would know. There’s a Jacuzzi up here that I’d be tempted to try out if it weren’t so late. Maybe I’ll do that first thing tomorrow morning.

Because of the high walls surrounding me I can’t see much of the city, other than a tall church steeple. There’s so many of them that I’ve forgotten which church that is. Behind it, barely visible through the thin layer of clouds, is the moon. Just a sliver. I don’t know if it’s waning or waxing; I haven’t kept up with Señora Luna in a bit. Whatever it is, it’s beautiful.

It’s a cool night, with just a slight breeze. I’m tempted to sleep out here except that the lounge chairs don’t look very comfortable.

QUERETARO IS A large city. Fourth in population, I believe, behind Mexico City, Guadalajara and Monterrey. It is beautiful city. At least the central historical district is. I don’t know about the rest. What little I saw from the highway on the way in does not seem that appealing, despite some of the beautiful architecture of some of the modern high-rise office buildings.

The central district is old, of course, but unlike San Miguel, it has more of a European look. There were times when I felt as if I was in Granada or Sevilla. There are wider streets and larger, statelier buildings, many of them headquarters of some government agency or other. No cobblestones. Much more green space than in SMA. It’s almost impossible to walk more than a block without coming upon a neatly tended plaza. Some are full blocks, others are just a corner lot; they all offer shade and benches, welcome escapes from the harsh afternoon sun. And the best part: almost all of them have free wi-fi and some of them even offer free cell phone charging stations.

There are numerous pedestrian-only streets and alleys and there is a lot of sculpture. Some old, some very modern.

I did not see a single bus. The city must have banned them from the centro. A wise move because it has made this a very pedestrian-friendly area, less noisy and less polluted. And pedestrians are everywhere, especially after the sun goes down and the temperatures start to drop a bit. A lot of young people. Couples everywhere, but also groups of male and/or female friends.

Comadres walked around hand in hand. Compadres shuffled along or sat on park benches, muttering to each other. Young couples cuddled and giggled. Whole families paraded around. I saw a number of women being pushed around in wheelchairs in the evening. I hadn’t seen that earlier in the day, and I concluded that the evening hours is the only time working children can take their mothers out for some fresh air.

There are the beggers. Not a lot of them, but enough to make their presence known. Not persistent. Very polite. I saw what I hadn’t seen since my visit to Oaxaca a number of years ago, young, pre-teen boys mindlessly playing accordions as their mothers stood by them with tin-cups in their hands.

AFTER DINNER TONIGHT, I came upon of students in graduation cap and gowns, posing for photos in front of the statue at the Plaza de Armas. They were a happy group and the joy they exhibited made me not want to leave, so I sat at a nearby bench and just watched them.

On my way home, I stopped at one last plaza and sat on a bench. Soon a man got up from a neighboring bench, went to stand in front of the fountain, and announced that he was going to preach. “I am a Christian,” he said. “I am not a Catholic or a Mormon or one of those, but I am a Christian.” And with that he began his spiel about sin and about how we’ll be judged when we die by the sins that are in our heart – not our friends’ sins and not our parents’ sins – and since we don’t know when we’re going to die, shouldn’t we be trying to get rid of those sins?

He went on for a long time. I had almost decided to start walking home but I felt bad for him because nobody was listening to him. Some even moved away as soon as he started talking. So I stayed and only half-listened, but I kept looking towards him, as if I was listening. As he spoke, a young girl on roller skates, wearing short cut-off jeans and a bright yellow T-shirt, began circling around the fountain, which meant that she was circling around him also. It was a strange, surreal sight.

Finally, the girl got tired and moved on, and so apparently did he, for he announced that he was going to quit preaching but that he would stick around in case anybody had any questions or needed him to point out where in the Bible can be found what he had said about sin, etc. Only that he didn’t quit preaching. He continued for another four or five minutes. He then reached into his backpack and took out a stack of pamphlets, which he said he was going to pass out, which he did, starting with the only person who seemed to have noticed his presence, me.

AND, SO, WITH that good deed, I ended my day on the streets of Queretaro. It was a good day.

About juanzqui7

Former Texas reporter, columnist and editorial writer.
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