After our one-day-stay in Celaya, we were driven by our host and her sister to the city of Santiago de Querétaro. After some hours of deciding what we would do next and how we would contact our next hosts we said our goodbyes and ventured the city. The city itself is a beautiful place to just wander around, a city with equal historical value as many of the cities we’ve been visiting but with a much smoother vibe. It didn’t feel like it was slowly fading away like in Aguascalientes, it didn’t feel like it was fighting the forces of nature to keep itself from sinking like in Mexico City, nor did it feel trapped in it’s golden age like in Zacatecas. On the contrary, it felt like it has survived through time with the good willed preservation of all that it offered.
As always with any new city, we had little to no clue of where to go and what to see. I mean, we had our list of basics to cover with each: the important political building, the big churches (or in some cases the cathedral), the well known monuments, and a marketplace. But beyond that there was always plenty to see we weren’t fully aware of, and although we mostly relied on our Couchsurfing hosts to point us in the right direction, we had yet to meet up with them. And honesty we didn’t have that solid a plan to follow for the whole state of Queretaro, so to get a better idea of what there was to do we surrendered our usual improvising to the what the touristic information could offer us.
Unfortunately we bumped into a lot of dead ends before we saw the light. Once we gave up on the small booths around the main plazas, we went straight to the office for Secretary of Tourism, and it was there that we were given a very enthused list of recommendations by a lady who had a Bachelor’s in Tourism out of the love of her state. Mostly thanks to her did we even consider exploring all that we could in Queretaro without sticking only to the cities and primary attractions.
After “hiding” in an Irish pub (where we met a nice group of Irish tourists out celebrating Saint Patrick’s Day) and formulating our actual plan for Queretaro, we got contacted by our hosts and we met up. Long story short though, we just went to another bar and had an awesome night bonding. Our hosts had likewise passion for travel and for their native country, and were beyond enthusiastic about showing us their city. To end the night they even showed off a very nice view they knew of at the very top of a hill. After all, night-views are quite enchanting.
Next day was when it got a little more interesting. Our lovely hosts took us to the archeological site “El Cerrito” (a site barely given publicity and overshadowed by other impressive sites) and provided enough explanation about it to leave us impressed of their knowledge. My only disappointment being how the site is still 80% incognito and not much but the basics are known about it, but it was impressive as always to walk amongst areas long abandoned by a civilization we take up half our culture of. There’s a slightly eerie experience about it.
Then it was back to the city where we wandered around for a bit, taking in the city without the usual clutter, and eventually exploring two impressive pieces of architecture.The first was the Church and ex-convent of Santa Rosa de Viterbo, a church very gloriously decorated with gold covered wooden sculptures. And second was the now Museo de Arte (Museum of Art), formerly monastery of San Agustin.This building left quite an impression on me. Like I mentioned, our hosts were very knowledgeable about their city, and it included details about the meaning behind this building’s particularly impressive stone sculptures (I wasn’t allowed to take any pictures of the Museum, so sorry). We spent at least forty minutes debating the meaning behind them, so much thought and symbolism went into the sculpting of it all, but the context being primarily important so we understand what impression they were trying to leave to all who might’ve walked through here. In this case the symbolism here comes down to religion, but there were hints of power and oppression here and there.
And on our third day in Santiago de Queretaro we left early in the morning. Having developed a plan to explore the Sierra Gorda, we wanted to get a move on before we stayed in a big city for too long. Although we were excited to get to see the most we could of a state, we were a little hesitant to leave the city, it was a very beautiful and comfortable city, after all. After a week and a half of bad luck and cranky people Queretaro was a nice place to land in, and there was plenty of gorgeous things we did not get to fully explore because of time (and because we spent plenty of our time here gawking at how impressive and well kept everything was). This only proves that we’ll be back as soon as we can!