Tuesday, May 10, 2016 | Queretaro
MY APOLOGIES TO those of you who assumed I was talking about ghosts I had seen when I posted the photos of my hotel, La Casa de la Marquesa. I did not. Thank God! What I should have written was that I had been told by a local resident that this old hotel is haunted. I heard that shortly after I had registered. Had I heard it before, I might have seriously considered getting another hotel.
I will tell you about my one and only night in the Cristobal Colón room (which is on the same floor as the Niña, the Pinta and the Santa María) later, but first let me give you a bit of history and lore.
Construction for the baroque-style hotel started in 1729 and finished in 1756. It was built as the home for Josefa Pula Guerrero, the wife of the Marquis of Villa del Villar de Aguila, otherwise known as Juan Antonio de Urrutia y Arana. Among the many prominent guests of the Marquis was the emperor Maximilian I, Mexico’s only monarch, who was executed not far from here in 1867.
That’s the official story. Here is what I learned from the guy who drove me here from San Miguel: Josefa Pula Guerrero was a nun in Queretaro. When her future husband first saw her, he was immediately smitten and decided he would make her his wife. He asked and she said no; she was already married to Christ, after all.
But the Marquis didn’t give up and one day luck visited him, in the form of a plague that had hit the city, caused by contaminated drinking water. Residents of this city were dying like flies. The nuns did what they could but they were helpless; as long as the people drank the water, they were doomed. In desperation, she went to her suiter and made a proposal of her own. She would marry him but first he might find a way to clean up the water supply to stop the deaths. Once he did that, he must built her the grandest house in the city.
He cleaned up the water supply and she left her order to marry him, and soon construction of this house began. How much of that is true, I don’t know, but it’s a good story. As for the ghosts? I don’t know. With so many rooms and so many people having slept, lived and died here over the last 260 years, there are bound to be spirits lurking around and wanting to come out every once in a while.
FORTUNATELY, FOR ME, they either chose to not make their presence known to me last night. Perhaps they found other guests more haunting-worthy. Perhaps they just fell sorry for me, knowing my great fear of ghosts.
Or maybe it was my ghost prayer, an adaption of the doggie prayer our mother taught us so we could recite it when confronted by a mean dog. It was a simple, El diablo en tí, Dios en mí; la sangre de Cristo me libre de tí. (The devil is in you but God is in me. May the blood of Christ protect me from you.).
I recited that prayer several times last night, even though I no longer believe in the God of my childhood. (And here I can hear the voices of my family chanting in unison: No que no, chignon?) Why not? If I am wrong and there is a God, She would hear me. If I was right, no harm done, other than a wasted few seconds.
Even if there are no spirits in this building, the hotel management has sure made it easy to be suspicious. When I came back last night, I discovered that the hallway and stairwell lights are all motion-sensitive, meaning that they were really, really dark until I took my first step into the hallways or onto the stairwells. To have lights go off and on, noiselessly, as your mind is preoccupied with ghosts certainly does nothing to ease the fears.
So how was my night? Sleepless, in large part. I normally don’t watch old movies on TV and late TV but last night I watched all of the creepy “Fatal Attraction” with Michael Douglas and Glenn Close, and I was fully prepared to keep on watching whatever movies came on next, until dawn. Fortunately, I started to doze off and I found the courage to reach for the remote to turn off the TV.
But I didn’t sleep long. I must have awakened some 20 times throughout the night until dawn finally arrived. Any time the AC clicked on, I would hear it and wake up, each time wondering what the sound was. Of course, the fact that I left several lights on the entire night.
SO THAT’S MY ghost story. Sorry I don’t have anything better. I’m off to get some breakfast and then I’ll head to the bus station to catch a bus to Mexico City.