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.
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.
“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.
It was rather surprising to me how happy each little detail of the simple hotel room made me feel.
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.
This is the face of a man who has been driving for 14 hours and needs a taco…
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.
Then, of course, a ginormous brick of 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.
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.
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.
I think the greatest danger of this country is that we may never want to leave again.
My next 12 week e-retreat, ‘Journey to Shine,’ begins May 4!