Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Quinceañera times TEN!

NAOMI:
On Saturday night we walked through el Centro Histórico to meet a colleague and on our way we saw three separate venues and performances in the plazas. In the first plaza there was a tent for indigenous dance performances. There was a mariachi concert at the main square’s gazebo. We
saw a demonstration of Capoeira.
Capoeira Dancers

And finally a group of student musicians (like the ones we saw in Guanajuato wearing black with colorful ribbons pinned to their jackets) were performing in Plaza de las Armas (where the main government building is and the Independencia celebrations occurred).
Video of Plaza and Musicians
video
We also saw a student demonstration and I was reminded that we see demonstrations frequently. When we first got here there was the huge protest of the violence and kidnappings that occur here in Mexico. This was definitely a national protest with multiple locations, but we were also told there were protests the same night in Los Angeles and Chicago. Often when we walk through Plaza de las Armas we see people with signs chanting slogans and even banging on drums, and sometimes we see them marching through the streets. It is comforting to me that people feel comfortable gathering, marching and protesting. Freedom of speech is our friend.


The place we were supposed to meet our colleague was on 5 de Mayo, which was where we almost lived. It is a narrow street with a lane of traffic and a lane of parking, and it is filled with traffic! There are lots of theaters, bars and restaurants on the street and on Saturday night it seems like the main drag. As we were walking, women dressed in black spandex with beauty pageant-esque sashes gave us fliers for an upcoming event. We heard loud engines revving and saw motorcycles crawling down the street and they looked desperate to have the space to show off their extreme tricks, as advertised on the fliers.
Our Street


Also, people tell us all the time that Querétaro is known country-wide as one of (if not THE) cleanest and safest cities in Mexico! It is safe to walk around at night and there are droves of street cleaners. These women are dressed in orange vests (safety first!!), carry brooms and push orange garbage cans down the street. I think there must be a gathering spot for them near our place (maybe where they store their garbage cans at night?) because in the evening, or as they apparently say in South Central… IOWA (my brother Will is doing election work there this fall and just taught me the phrase), “of an evening” we see them parading down our street (which is very short, and not a main thoroughfare). And, of course, bright and early, well it’s still dark out at 5 am, we hear the garbage cans being pushed over the rough road as the women fan out across the city streets.

Sunday we met a colleague at 10 am and drove outside the city to a group home with two campuses (one for boys and one for girls). In total there are approximately 150 kids in this village that has its own school, cafeteria and dorms. The group home is run by a American pastor and his Mexican wife and it has grown exponentially in the past 8 years. We met several Canadian volunteers who come down each year to help with projects. They proudly told us that they poured concrete for the construction of the school, new dorms and the cafeteria. Each year the home holds a Quinceañera for all the girls who are turning 15 that year. This year there were 10!!!
Ten Quinceañeras!!!

We had the most incredible time being part of the huge celebration. The photo ops were unlimited because there were amazing faces, beautiful decorations and dresses, and even horses! It was fun to take pics of kids and let them see the photos on the digital display… the kids loved to get involved and a couple even used our cameras to take pics!
Naomi and boy sharing photos

The ceremony included a full band and sermons and each girl was presented with a Bible, a photo album to commemorate the special event and a ring. Afterwards there was food, dancing, champagne and cake. It was so great to observe kids (as young as 4 and as old as 24) as they watched the girls have their special day.
Many of the kids in the home are sponsored by Canadians.

JOSE:
Naomi and I were invited to a Quinceañera this past Sunday and it was absolutely wonderful. There were 10 girls (that’s right TEN!) celebrating their 15th birthday. I50 years worth of celebrating. As some of you might know, the 15 birthday for a young girl in Latin countries is the equivalent to a sweet 16 or a Bat Mitzvah (12 for girsl, 13 for boys). It’s a rite of passage into womanhood. And here in Mexico it’s a very big deal.
Walking the walk


And what made it even more special was that these girls were in a group home. The group home is called Plan de Vida, and it houses about 150 kids. It’s practically a village with its own school. It was founded by father Dario (an American with a huge heart) about 15 years ago. The place is run by volunteers (who don’t get paid a cent) and also gets help from donations. A few international volunteers from Canada were also on hand. This place was basically built with the help of volunteers from Canada.
Plan de Vida Village

We met Bob and his wife Karen who have been coming for the past 7 years and have sponsored a few of the kids in the group home. The dresses you see the Quinceañeras wearing were bought with donations from Canada.
Bob and Karen


The boys in the group home were bused over for the afternoon festivities and were giddy with excitement at the girls in their flowing gowns walking down the aisles. The girls (or young ladies) did a little spin before going through the last archway and sitting down. There was a pastor who spoke about the rites of passage and each girl was given presents, which were symbolic for their journey into adulthood.
Da Boyz

There was a full on band and the food was spicy and delicious. The girls made a toast with some champagne and then cut the huge 4 tier ‘pastel’ right along their names.
A Toast



Cutting the Pastel

Naomi and I were surrounded most of the time by the small boys who were as curious as cats. One boy took lessons from Naomi on how to operate a digital camera. A group of about 7 boys ranging from 10 to 16 sat down next to me and we talked about Xbox, movies, baseball and get this ‘American football.’ Some of the boys said they preferred it over ‘fútbol.’
La Audiencia

Look Ma, No Cavities

Listening to the Pastor (patiently)





We thought we were going for a couple of hours, but it ended up being a 5 hour event (and it was still hopping when we left). By the time we left the younger boys were being given horseback rides. Oo-oo me next!
Giddy Up!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Our Neighborhood and Dia de la Independencia

Our rooftop (we'll put a cold one on ice for you)

JOSE
Getting back to Querétaro felt like home (absence does make the heart grow fonder even if it was less than 24 hours). As we wake and go about our days here, we’re getting to know our neighborhood and our neighbors well. Across the street from us lives our landlord’s mother, Conchita. She sits outside on the cement benches that surround a single sapling (imagine a huge potted plant with benches). Other neighbors occasionally join her for a few hours of chit chat. Naomi and I once stopped for a quick hello, which turned into an hour of commiserating on old scars and hip replacements all the while being eaten alive by mosquitoes. Also across the street we met Enrique and his wife Martha, who own a small shop, which sells beautiful original pieces of metal work (think lanterns, metal framed tables, ceramic pots, etc.).

Enrique doing his thing

The shop could use a bit of organizing and is reminiscent of Sanford’s junkyard. We hired him to make us a table for preparing food which came out beautiful.

Our custom made table

We live on a street that’s more like a triangle and at the tip of this triangle is a beautiful fountain with a taco stand that serves some of the most delicious tacos on this side of the street. Also on that very corner is a small stand (well they’re actually on the floor) with 3 women selling fruits and vegetables (I’ve already made a yummy soup out of them).

Fountain, Taco Stand and Naomi


Delicious Tacos for 10 pesos ($1 usd)


Further along our block there are butcher shops (2 of ‘em) one specializing in red meat and the other in chicken, a bakery and a law office (you can sue the butcher for tainted meat and then buy a cake to celebrate your settlement all in one block). A lot of the stores here specialize in specific items or services. You can walk into one store and get tennis racquets (not balls or other accessories, just tennis racquets) and then walk into another and get shoelaces (not shoes or sneakers just laces). Naomi and I wonder how they make their money since we don’t see anyone frequenting the stores, but what we’ve assumed is these are people’s residences and their living rooms have been converted into store fronts. We’re also guessing that the other partner is out making the main bulk of the income at some other job. One more thing, there’s a small market with actual stands that sell tacos and fruits and vegetables. It’s like having a farmer’s market everyday up the block. I think one of the vendors overpriced us on some plums but who’s counting.

A little side note: The other day we were walking down our block and happened to come upon this huge caterpillar. HUGE! Naomi rushed back to our place to get the camera. When she came back, a man, a woman and I were huddled around the beast, contemplating what kind of creature it was. The woman said it was deadly poisonous and that it was a “cienpies” (centipede). A man about my age pulled out a ruler (people in Querétaro walk around with rulers in their pockets). It measured 5” or 11 mm. And it was thicker than a drunk’s swollen finger. After it’s photo shoot, the beast was pocketed by the man, who apparently ignored the venomous fangs (just kidding).

The Beast


NAOMI
We decided to come home to Querétaro for Independence Day. And arriving back in our city felt like coming home again. I’m very grateful that it feels like that. Monday the 15th felt like kind of a regular day… most businesses were open. In the evening we made our way into the main plazas and witnessed the masses celebrating. It was wild to see the costumes: big fake moustaches, sombreros, red white and green painted on faces, white blouses and dresses, cowboy hats, red white and green belts and festive ribbons in hair, and even red white and green fake eyelashes! I saw a man painting on a fake moustache.
Jose and the moustache bandit

We saw military bands perform, soldiers with machine guns chatting on their cell phones
Soldiers tooting their horns

and greeting the crowds; lots of families; and vendors selling food, drinks in terracotta cups, costumes, red white and green eye masks, flags, horns to blow (like New Year’s), and dolls in traditional costumes. We tried Papas francesas with: ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise, hotsauce and lime! They were very yummy.
At first we were afraid that we had missed the Grito (celebration of the cry of independence) because the Plaza de las Armas (a.k.a. Plaza de la Independencia) was pretty deserted. We explored the streets, alleys and plazas and eventually made our way back to the main government building on Plaza de las Armas, where crowds were gathering. You’ll notice that because the colors of the Mexican Flag include red and green the decorations have a Christmasy feel.
Decorations all around the Plaza


We found a space to stand and were incredibly lucky to be partially under a tree that was trimmed at an angle so that when the rain started we were sheltered most of the time. It was also very warm because of the number of people. We waited for several hours for something to happen, and heard people around us wondering when it would happen. I was very impressed by the huge camera boom,
BOOM

almost crane-sized, that swung around over the crowd and up to the government building. Above the balcony (with the podium that appeared in preparation for the governor) was the bell.
Governor and the ringing of the bell

Red, green and white balloons were distributed to kids in the crowd. A large group of kids was watching from a platform until an official came to clear the platform so that the press could photograph and film the main event. One girl’s mom took the girl’s balloon and tapped the official’s back repeatedly as she laughed. I couldn’t tell if it was just for entertainment’s sake, or if she was protesting that the kids were made to move. Eventually, the governor came out and yelled Viva Querétaro, Viva Mexico and rang the bell to loud cheers from the crowd. Suddenly there was a blast of confetti
A blast

Rockin'

and then fireworks shot across the square on wires that were strung from building to building! It was the closest I have ever been to fireworks and it seemed like the sparks were falling on me!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Guanajuato Weekend

Naomi:
For the weekend preceding Mexican Independence Day (September 16), we made a trek from Queretáro, which calls itself la cuna de la independencia (the cradle of independence) to Guanajuato, where the first major battle took place in 1810. Guanajuato is also famous for being a mining town, and colorful buildings occupy narrow valleys and climb the mountains. We visited Colleen, a Fulbrighter who is located there this month (she is one of the ones who planned to live in several different locations during her time in Mexico), and met up with several other Fulbrighters (Caley, Nina, Abbi, Katie, and Chelsea), who are living in D.F. It was fun to meet up with people and hear their tales of settling in… the general consensus is that the first few weeks are more about getting settled than about the project proposals. The views in Guanajuato are incredible, colorful, and brilliant. Because of the steep mountains burros and mules are used to transport goods and help people move in and out of apartments!
Milkman delivering milk

There is a great view at the top of a funicular (mini train up the side of the mountain) where there is a statue of the hero of the battle of Guanajuato. Apparently he approached the granary (where the Spanish were holed up and hiding from the revolutionaries) using a rock for protection, and burned the doors of the granary to allow the revolutionaries to fight the bloody battle.
Cathedral and main square from above
.
Colleen’s guacamole was some of the best I’ve ever had, and we enjoyed the beautiful views from our host’s apartment and roof.
View from apartment

Guanajuato is also the birthplace of Diego Rivera, so we visited the museum in the house where he lived until age 5. We got to see such a variety of his art pieces: paintings reminiscent of Picasso, Gauguin, and Cezanne from his student days, sketches for paintings and murals, early portraits, and a series of cartoon-like illustrations of early Mexican history and mythology.
Guanajuato was quite the happening town (population is approximately 150,000) and I’m not sure if that is generally true, or if it was because of the many holiday visitors adding to the festive feel. We hung out in a really cool joint with high ceilings, red walls and art made from tape on the wall. One of our crew suggested that the original plan might have been to paint using tape stencils, but they realized that it looked cool and left the tape to create the art pieces. Part of the excitement was the rain, which we had been warned about. The steep alleys of Guanajuato become rivers when it rains. We also got to experience a blackout… and it was cool to see how people responded to being in a crowded space without electricity. Basically everyone was very calm and the security guards had an excellent system in place to ensure people paid their bills before leaving.
View of Guanajuato

The following day we visited the Museo de Momias, which was not at all what I expected. First of all, it was extremely crowded and we had to wait in a very long line to get in. Secondly, I imagined mummies like I had seen before: remains that had been carefully prepared, wrapped and laid to rest. These were more like freeze-dried bodies that were removed from their graves because their gravesite taxes weren’t paid. Somehow the elements in Guanajuato preserve the bodies, hair, and even sometimes shoes or clothes! Our group had long discussions before (while we waited in line) and after our visit to the museum including the following topics: the modern Bodyworks exhibits, Dia de los Muertos and people’s relationship with death in Mexico, and possible differences between museums in the U.S. and Mexico. It was kind of bizarre to me in the museum that couples and families were posing for photos in front of the mummies. In the past the mummies were not in glass cases and people used to put clothes on the bodies and cigarettes in their mouths. I started feeling nauseous at the final display case, but I’m glad that I experienced it, and we all agreed that we are glad to be alive.

JOSE:
Leaving Querétaro on Saturday morning for Guanajuato (wah-na-wah-toe), I felt the excitement of adventure to explore another historic city. Guanajuato, supposedly claims to be one of the birth places of the revolution for independence in Mexico. And they say the celebration in Guanajuato is off the map, especially with Dia de Independencía right around the corner (16, Sept).
We were invited to Guanajuato by Colleen, another Fulbrighter, who we have become good friends with. We also met up with a few other Fulbrighters; Chelsea, Caley, Katie, Nina and Abi, also becoming good friends.
Parking was a bit of a hassle, especially with the hilly environment (think San Francisco) but we got an overnight place that charged by the hour (ouch). Having Fulbright contacts across Mexico gives us the ability to visit or host others in the spirit of discovery and getting to know other parts of Mexico. Colleen seemed to have gotten the lay of the land so far, but Caley also had good familiarity with the city since he had been several times before.
Teatro Juarez

After parking, Colleen Naomi and I went off to meet the rest of the gang, which had come by bus from el Districto Federal (Mexico City). The center of Guanajuato was bustling with tourists from all over and the buildings and churches seemed steeped in European colonial architecture. Before meeting up, Colleen, Naomi and I braved some street food with a Comida Corrida. Its safe to say that we all survived and enjoyed an inexpensive meal of enchiladas en salsa verde with a consume de pollo.
Meeting up in the center

The city seemed to be preparing itself for dia de independencía, with decorations of wired framed signs fringed with what seemed like Christmas tinsel (Mexican colors). We decided to do some touristic things like take the funicular up the side of a mini-mountain to see a magnificent view of the city.
We were greeted by a beautiful view that did not disappoint. Nestor, a young tour guide (all of 10 years) looking to make some lana, sat with me and explained the sites below. He was very articulate and knew most of the history of Guanajuato, but I would be lying to you if I picked up even half of what he was saying not because of lack of understanding but it seemed rote and my batteries were on low by that time of the day.
Nestor giving me a history lesson

I forgot to mention, the city was in such a festive mood that it was hosting its second annual musical festival which invited different universities from across the country to be part of some huge jam. Most of them were dressed up in medieval costumes (ala jesters).
Musicians

After taking a tour of the city we headed back to Colleen’s great apartment. She was the ultimate host, with tons of food and drink and a great view of the city from her rooftop.
Caley and Colleen on rooftop

Katie and Chelsea

What I’ve been noticing about Mexico is that people eat late and stay up later than in the states (New York City being an exception). We headed out at about 9:30 to a very cool jazz bar. We met the owner and stayed for two pitchers worth of time. There were tons of musicians on the streets and Katie (who is making documentaries on music in Mexico) did an interview with a few of them.
Katie interviewing street musicians

After hitting a few more bars we knew it was time to head home when the lights went out.
The next day we headed out to the birthplace of Diego Rivera, which was converted into a museum. I was pleasantly surprised with his early art. He was totally into making sequential art. He would have made a great cartoonist but he had bigger fish to fry like capitalists. After the Diego Rivera museo, we headed out to Guanajuato’s claim to fame which is the Museo de las Momias (museum of the mummys). I was tentative whether I wanted to see them at all. But when in Rome, and who knew when we would be getting back to Guano. I was impressed by the number of people waiting in line. The story behind how exhibiting the ‘momias’ started was that the families had to pay a tax in order to keep their loved ones buried. If the taxes were not paid, then the dead were unburied and put on display as a sort of humiliation. However, the corpses became mummified by some natural process involving the soil in Guanajauto (no where else in the world does this happen). There was some decorum in the way the momias were presented. They were behind glass (in the past they were out in the open and visitors would light cigarettes and place them in the mouths of the momias, etc.) and most people just took pictures.
Las Momias

Guanajuato all in all was a great city to visit and I would recommend it to travels looking for great night life and for its rich history.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Looking for an Apartment

Naomi:
1 Septiembre 2008
Today we have had the pleasure of slowly making our way through activities of our choice: wandering streets and neighborhoods, taking photos of for rent signs, finding a Comida Corrida in which to have a full lunch, and discovering Starbucks under the aqueduct here in Querétaro. Starbucks here has valet parking and is super expensive, much like McDonalds and Burger King. It also claims to be one of the top employers in Mexico according to the sticker on the door.

As we wandered people were extremely friendly and offered to point us in the right direction, even though we were “getting lost” on purpose.

We went to a meditation tonight at 5:30 at a beautiful building we saw one of the first days we were here. We didn’t leave until 9:30. Our host led the meditation, which was wonderful, and afterwards proceeded to connect us to numerous housing possibilities and his phone book. It was really a trip. Barry, an ex-lawyer from NY, introduced us over the phone to his network (including a local Spanish teacher and his wife who is a hairstylist). We have quite a few more leads now. J Plus, a former Fulbrighter we spoke with, invited himself and his wife and me and Jose over to Barry’s Wednesday evening. So there’s more to come.
As soon as I saw Barry’s home from the outside I was in love. Then we saw the ad for the meditation session. After the meditation he showed us his home and it did not disappoint. The bottom floor is mostly a parking space and the meditation room. Upstairs is the main living area with large windows overlooking the cityscape (cathedrals mostly). Also on that floor are the kitchen and a beautiful patio. On the third floor is a sleeping area and a gorgeous roof garden. He said re-did the place completely. It is just what I’m looking for here.
Beautiful Querétaro Arquitectura


2 Septiembre
So today we looked at two incredible apartments (without our agent, from our ex-pat connection) and one that is completely awful. The incredible ones, of course, are much more expensive. They do have everything included as far as telephone and internet services already hooked up and in the rental cost, which is a benefit. And they’re furnished, which would be much more convenient. Jose is already dreading de-constructing our life here since it was so much work in LA. And he’s dreading having to move furniture into a place. So we’ll see. Hopefully our agent will show us some more places tomorrow. So far we’ve seen three with her and only one was even a possibility.
When we looked at the beautiful apartments we ventured into a new part of the centro historico and discovered a new church and a beautiful plaza with an incredible covered walk. The “ceiling” had amazing brickwork to create the domed arches.
Domed Ceiling

We also walked way out of the city center this afternoon and discovered an excellent chicken place. They prepare food to go and we brought some back to eat in the courtyard of our hotel. The mother, Lucia, & son, Carlos, working there were incredibly kind and welcoming. They are local, but have also lived in Aguascalientes, which is north of here. Lucia and Carlos said that Queretaro is booming and growing exponentially. A few days ago we spoke with a mattress salesman (in case we don’t get a furnished place), who said that Queretaro is the only state (Queretaro is the name of both the state and the city) in Mexico that is self-sufficient and sustainable because there are such a variety of industries, including aeronautics, Purina, refrigerators… I’ll have to get back to you on what else is produced here. On the other hand, our new friends who are in Guadalajara are working with kids whose families migrated from the state of Queretaro for economic opportunities (they sell small items at intersections)… so like anywhere, not everyone benefits from the industry boom.
The Aqueducts of Querétaro


Anyway, today we made a vision BAG (instead of the usual visionboard) about our perfect apartment. It was really relaxing to look through magazines for pictures that show what we want in a place and trim the pictures carefully and then arrange them… since we had no posterboard or cardboard or bulletin board we taped them on to a paper shopping bag! It turned out really nice and it was cool to do it together with Jose.
4. Septiembre
I believe in visionboards/bags!
We did it! José set the intention at the beginning of the week that we would move into our place on Friday, and tomorrow we sign the papers and move in! It’s been an adventure looking for places and we’ve seen some freaky places. We were told there weren’t too many basement apartments here in Querétaro, but we bumped into a lot of musty, dark apartments that seemed to be underground. We also saw places that were outside of the city center in gated communities (not what we were looking for) and were not in such good condition. Finally today we saw two beautiful apartments that are furnished, which will be much, much easier. When we saw the first one we thought it was the one, yet I was a little reluctant because there was no outdoor space. So, in typical fashion, I insisted that we go to the next appointment. It was slightly further away from the main plaza, but still in the center. Extremely modern and with lots of stairs, which would prohibit many families from living there… but as we climbed the stairs José kept saying, “This is for us too?” By the time we got to the roof we felt dizzy with excitement.
It is pretty incredible and really combines the priorities we each had:
Naomi= in el centro histórico, so that it is walkable; lots of light; an outdoor space or roofgarden; space for guests
José= in more of a neighborhood; with a parking place; lots of light; trees
And the bonuses: beautiful views of the city; everything is new; a Jacuzzi tub on the roof; the bedrooms seem almost like hotel rooms (hint, hint)
Our Vision Bag


It is going to be much easier to have a car there than in the exact center where I first imagined living, because of the parking place, but also because there is street parking, the street is not as narrow or a main street, and it is close to the edge of el centro histórico, which makes it easier to get out to go to other parts of the city. Plus, it is within walking distance of where José will be working! There is a fruit & veggie market just down the block from our new house and it’s in the western part of the center, whereas our hotel is in the eastern part, so there will be lots of new places and streets to explore.
And our landlord left us a fantastic CD of Vicente Fernandez, who is known as the Mexican Elvis. It has been a great soundtrack as we set up our home here.
The Legend Himself: Vicente Fernandez


Jose:
So here we are one week removed from the Fulbright Orientation and we’re back to reality, oops, there goes gravity! No, not really, we’re still floating on air and having some of the best times of our lives. Of course that includes the stresses and anxiety that looking for a place to live can bring. But we flow. And flow we did, right into our new apartment. We are absolutely ecstatic about it. Yeah! We get to go grocery shopping, cook and not have to worry about the hotel cleaning crew waking us up.

I’ll give you an overview of the week’s events leading up to finding our fab departamento*. First we had a great real estate agent, Gabriela, help us in our quest (in Mexico, you don’t pay the real estate agent rather the owner does). Initially in our search, we saw some bleak depoto* that were unfurnished (having to furnish an depoto* would have been very expensive). But we were patient, sometimes making cold calls and venturing off on our own to see depoto* on the otherside of the avenida Zaragosa. Some of these depoto* were basement dwellings with cold marble floors and dated furniture covered in plastic. Most depoto* we saw didn’t even come with a stove or refrig. I was getting a little deflated in our quest until Gabriela called us Wednesday night and said she had two, not one but two fab furnished depoto* to show us. I couldn’t picture what she meant and had my doubts about what fab meant. The next day we saw a depoto* right in the center of town.
Church in the Center

Now let me explain how dwelling places are set up here en el Centro de Queretaro. Most can’t be seen from the streets, instead, you open up these huge locked doors and enter a beautiful courtyard with a huge house with a colonial look (in the past whole families would live in these places). Now they’re set up to be individual depoto* for rent. The one bedroom depoto* we saw on el 5 de Febrero was incredible compared to what we saw earlier in the week. It was completely furnished with red leather sofas, washing machine, appliances, computer desk, tv, etc. I immediately turned to Naomi and said, “This is home…shake?” Naomi wasn’t so quick to shake my hand. We had one more depoto* to see. I smirked thinking that the other place wouldn’t hold a candle to this place.
More Churches en el Centro

We got into Gabriela’s car and drove down Zaragosa to encounter midday traffic. When we got there I told Naomi that it had taken us a bit out of the center of town, and one of Naomi’s requirements were that it need be in walking distance to the center (1 point for the first depoto*, 0 for the second). The representative who was showing us the place didn’t have the keys and we had to wait for someone to bring them (2 points for the first depoto*, 0 for the second). When she did arrive, she had a difficult time opening the gate (3 points to 0). Finally when went inside, we were pleasantly surprised. Huge glass doors opened into a very modern dining room. 3 steps down was a kitchen with all new appliances. There was a half bathroom with smoked glassed doors next to the kitchen. We climbed the stairs to a bedroom with beautiful hard wood floors. (3 points to 1, hmm).
Entrance/Dining Area

Then we walked the next set of stairs to a marble tiled bathroom with a limestone looking sink and a washer and dryer in a small closet. (3 to 2). The next set of stairs led us to a second bedroom identical to the first. “Is this all ours,” I exclaimed to the person who was showing us the place.
Living Space

The Stairs

But, there was more. The next and final set of stairs led to the rooftop terrace with a breathtaking view of Querétaro (oh, by the way it has a jacuzzi on the roof). (3 to 10).
Our View from the Rooftop

We also found out that it was a 15 minute walk to el Centro. And the price was within our range (actually cheaper than the previous place) so the next day we signed un contracto and moved in. The neighborhood is very tranquilo and centrally located so that you can walk practically everywhere. We found a small outdoor market where you can get taquitos and fresh fruits and vegetables.
Naomi's Arrangement of Veggies we Bought en el Mercado

And a few blocks further is the MEGA where you can get everything from freshly baked bread and milk to brand new tires. All very modern (think Target). It was really nice to unpack and buy grocery’s. Oh BTW, the MEGA has a movie theater below for $1.70USD a showing.
La Mega que Pega