The Road to Queretaro

Land borders fascinate me. No matter how many I cross, I am always amazed by their peculiarity. I mean, a land mass is divided into ‘ours’ and ‘theirs’ and suddenly an entire way of life comes to a halt at a man-made line.

Hard to wrap your head around, really. Especially at 6AM in the morning. Especially after six months in the US where Mexico seemed to be a distant (recurring) dream.

Laredo Texas mexican border

These days I make the effort to be present and grateful for where I am and what I have. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t long for Mexico in those last few months in the states. I did. Badly.

So when we crossed the border at Laredo, Texas, a town where the lines between Mexico and the US begin to blur, I could hardly believe we were back.

The more-than-twelve hour drive to our first Mexican destination, however, certainly gave me time to process it.

More than enough.

We rolled into the centro historico of the city of Queretaro as darkness fell upon the day, yet this didn’t manage to dull the brightly coloured facades of the buildings, the gleaming cathedral domes, or our spirits.

We were back in Mexico, baby, and it felt better than I ever thought it could.

The site of the quaint colonial hotel Tyrhone had booked us into made me melt into an emotional puddle.

quinta lucca

“Oh it’s so cute! Look at the colours! It has a well!”were among the many gushing comments I made as fatigue and excitement combined to make me feel like I’d been pulled out of anesthesia with a shot of speed.

Queretaro well

It was rather surprising to me how happy each little detail of the simple hotel room made me feel.

Quinta Lucca Queretaro

We asked the hotel receptionist if there was anything special happening in the square for Easter Sunday.

She looked a bit confused (perhaps by my terrible Spanish) and then answered, “Mmm, no. No especial.

We decided to walk down and check it out anyway, if only to grab a bite to eat and stretch our car-cramped legs.

It turned out that ‘no especial’ in downtown Queretaro on a Sunday evening included a heaving food market, public salsa dancing and blaring live music.

Queretaro mercado de comida

This is the face of a man who has been driving for 14 hours and needs a taco…

queretaro salsa

Nothing special…

As the only gringos, you’d think we’d attract a bit of attention crashing the fiesta, but no-one paid us any mention as our eyes bugged out of our heads at the array of gorditas, quesadillas, sopes, tacos and pozole being stuffed, grilled and assembled before our eyes.

We washed down a large sampling of the local offerings with jamaica, a sweet hibiscus tea.

Queretaro tacos

Then, of course, a ginormous brick of flan.

Queretaro flan

Then came the fireworks. We joined the crowd of families under the light of a nearby cathedral, craning our necks to ‘oooh’ and ‘aaah’ at the blasts of color in the night sky.

Queretaro fireworks

It was quite the welcome ceremony.

The evening was cool, but it wasn’t cold and the air was thick with a certain quality which exists in Mexico. A softness I didn’t realise I missed until I felt it again.

Much of my feelings for Mexico are indescribable. I don’t know why I love it as much as I do, because God knows it’s not perfect. It’s a little shadowy in places and downright ruined in others, yet life springs forth from it in a way which feels very natural to me.

As a result, I feel more relaxed here. Though we were only in Queretaro for two nights, I felt my whole self completely exhale with relief.

As we wandered into ancient churches and circled around the quaint squares the following day, I could barely believe that we were a day’s drive from Texas.

Queretaro architecture

Queretaro church

Three days previously, we were having breakfast at a cheap motel in Roswell, New Mexico when we were warned by a couple of well-meaning fellows about the dangers of Mexico.

Queretaro news

sarah somewhere Queretaro

I think the greatest danger of this country is that we may never want to leave again.

Queretaro Picante

Dondesubscribe to sarah somewhereMy next 12 week e-retreat, ‘Journey to Shine,’ begins May 4!


The Road to Queretaro — 16 Comments

  1. Land borders are weird! And the one into Mexico is especially so, at least when you’re crossing at Nogales as there’s so little fanfare (and no passport control!) and so one minute you’re in the U.S. and then without any warning: Bam! You’re in Mexico. It’s really crazy how such an arbitrary line on a map can result in such a huge shift in culture, language and the overall vibe of a place. For hours, we just kept turning to each other kind of dumbfounded saying, “We’re in Mexico!”

    So glad the road back was so smooth and that absence has truly made your hearts grow fonder for this place. Queretaro looke lovely—I hope we’ll get to visit it on our way down to Playa!
    Steph (@ 20 Years Hence) recently posted..Just WaitMy Profile

    • I hope you do Steph, and make sure you are there on a Sunday! El Portal is another restaurant we found that does amazing sopes and gorditas. So good. P.s I am on high alert for ‘se renta’ signs for you

  2. oh my… reading this made me SO nostalgic for what we consider a home of sorts, as well. Whenever we arrive in Mexico in general, Puerto Vallarta in particular, I feel the exact same breath of relief as you describe and can very literally feel the stress move down from my head down my body and out. It’s nearly immediate and happens every time. SO glad a normal Sunday evening in the zocolo revived your spirits. Can’t wait to see you one of these days in Playa!
    Rhonda recently posted..Finding Color in El FuerteMy Profile

    • Yes, it is instant! As soon as we arrived in Queretaro I felt it. When you look forward to something so much sometimes it can be anticlimactic, but it was the opposite. Looking forward to seeing you down here! Xxx

  3. ALways enjoy reading.
    Glad you’re back where your heart desires with everything at your finger tips!
    I wonder if you lived in Mexico in a past life…
    The only place I felt so at home, and it’s strange to so many people given the unfortunate history is South Africa. As I mentioned in Colorado, calmness came over me as soon as I crossed the border…
    And yes, borders are are so bizarre! Us humans are interesting folks who create greatness and not so greatness. 😉
    Lauren@ Imroamingtheworld recently posted..Gratitude and Reflections: A tribute for my fatherMy Profile

    • I’ve wondered that too!!! Patriotism has always baffled me as I’ve never felt it, but my deep love for this country gives me a sense of what it is like. Aw, I love that you feel like that about South Africa. Isn’t it interesting the places which draw us? Xxx

  4. Ahhhh Sarah you and I are having parallel experiences at the moment – I’ve got a post coming up on land borders and different times in our lives, and what crossing the border can mean. And reading this post, I really felt it resonate with me, especially the bit about exhaling as you enter the new country.

    In fact it was only last night when I was preparing my post that I decided to incorporate a mention of this blog as part of my inspiration for putting my personal stories out there. Stay tuned, my friend!!

    And have a fantastic time in Queretaro – it looks like a lot of fun <3
    Tim UrbanDuniya recently posted..Split living: Airport goodbyes don’t get any easierMy Profile

      • Thank you so much Gilda! They certainly do! And when they do it, they go big! I love how all the family seems to get involved, from teeny babies to abuelas. Safe travels to you!

  5. I can feel the happiness exuding from my computer screen! I am so happy you guys are back (it makes me miss Mexico too – SOOO many North Americans are ‘ascared’ of her, and I am so happy we went and backpacked for a month and a half last year despite all of that). Yippee!
    Emily recently posted..Local Eats: WeslodgeMy Profile

  6. You know, I came to your blog today thinking “ok, so I’m one or two posts behind”. Turns out I hadn’t commented in two months. WHAT. So I have a lot of catching up to do. 😀

    Anyway I get it about loving a place but being able to describe it. And about there being some very negative aspects to parts of a place yet being able to accept that and loving it anyway. I’m glad you guys went home and are happy.
    Karyn Jane recently posted..Coming Out Of The Broom ClosetMy Profile