A River Runs Through It

A River Runs Through It

One of the things I like about living in the Col. Centro Histórico de Querétaro is that there is a river that runs down the center of Av. Universidades with walking paths on both sides. It reminds me a bit of the Boise Greenbelt, except that here the water is not as nice and it isn’t as “green.” There seems always to be a soapy foam in the water, as well as various discarded items (i.e., trash). I think the foam may be due to the people constantly scrubbing the statues and features along the path, but I can’t be certain.

Sophie & Izzy on Av. UniversidadesThe warm climate here also invites people to sleep outdoors on the many small retaining walls and benches that line the walkway. They also use the fountains to bathe and clean their clothes. Not the most sanitary approach to living, but some people must do what they must do.

It is one of the sadder aspects of living here — seeing the homeless and disabled people begging on the streets. We try to keep change handy for when we pass them. Just like in Boise, sometimes we walk on by and send up a silent prayer for them.

Our Anniversary

Yesterday was a very significant day for us. Our 20th Anniversary. I am so lucky to have found someone who makes me smile every day and gives me such joy. (I think he feels the same. I HOPE he does, anyway!)

Lyn at AlioliTo celebrate, I chose what looked to be an upscale restaurant for dinner. Alioli is located on one of the more touristy streets downtown. It is a lovely setting with comfortable seating and a beautiful view of the alley where so many locals sell their wares. Unfortunately, the food was a bit disappointing.

The cheese platter was lovely, with five different varieties of cheese, fruit and candied nuts. The menu had a wide variety of unusual items, such as barbecued octopus, etc. I’m not that adventurous when it comes to food, though.

My disappointing dinner at AlioliFor the main course, Lyn ordered the short ribs, which he liked immensely. I ordered the Creamy Chicken, which would have been more appropriately called Creamy Chicken Bones. There was absolutely no meat on it! The waiter told me it was because it was a small bird. So? You still have to have something to eat and you can’t eat bones.

Lovely view from AlioliUnlike in the US, the restaurant did nothing to compensate us for it, so we paid the check and left. I don’t think we’ll be going back there anytime soon.

The Interview

Among the other highlights of the day was my job interview at the International School of Querétaro. The school has a large campus in a town called Juriquilla, which is about 5-6 miles north of the center of the city. They have upwards of 1000 students and more than 170 teachers and staff, sports fields and a swimming pool.

The position I interviewed for was to teach English in the Middle and High Schools. I loved the two women I interviewed with. The first, Blanca, is the director of the school. She was having a tough day due to the death of one of their teachers over the weekend. It was her job to tell the students and teachers. My heart went out to her!

Marcela, the second, was the Academic Director. She was very nice and very professional. She asked me a lot of questions and seemed to like the fact that I had a marketing background and good computer skills. My lack of experience was also seen as a benefit, since it meant that I would bring fresh ideas and energy. A lot of the teachers there have been there for more than 10 years. That, I thought, was a good sign.

The next step will be for them to arrange for me to give a demo class. They will let me know when and what topic. Yikes! I will be quite nervous, however, that usually passes once I get in front of the class.

Cars

One of our dilemmas is that we have to return our rental car today. Yesterday we spent a lot of time looking for a car to buy. They are less expensive here, but the process is more complicated than in the US. Once you pay, it can take 48-hours for them to deliver the car to you. And, it appears we may have to get additional visas in order to buy a car.

I’m not quite ready to do that yet, so we are going to Uber for a while.

Lyn and I agreed that the process we should follow is 1) get jobs, 2) find a place to live, and 3) get a car. So that’s what we will do.

Querétaro

Querétaro

OMG, we´ve been here three days so far and are just loving it. It is so different from Boise, but so quaint and lovely. Our house is small and right downtown. We walk everywhere, except when we have to go to the store. Then we drive.

Our rental car is a MiniVan. The streets here are so narrow, with people parking on the sides. It is very scary to drive here, but drive I must.

Today, for example, we took a drive out to where my interview will be on Tuesday. It is in a suburb called Juriquilla, which is supposed to be a very nice place to live. It isn´t far by distance, but the traffic makes it seem light years away. Juriquilla is a lot more modern locale, with several malls, a WalMart, a Petco, and some interesting restaurants. Today we ventured to the Office Max and ate at a little taquerilla. Had something called ¨conchas.¨Delicious. Couldn´t tell you much about it, but the meat was very tasty.

The school itself is surrounded by a wall and looks like it takes up about a block with several buildings. I will let you know more after my interview on Tuesday.

Food

Seems like all the restaurants are outdoors. Tonight we ate a Restaurant Bar 1810. Not sure why, but I´ve been gravitating toward Italian and ended up with the Salmon Ravioli. Lyn had the lasagna, but it wasn´t to his liking. The restaurant isn´t really an Italian place, its just what we ordered. One of the dishes on the menu was ¨sauteed grasshoppers,¨ apparently a local delicacy. We passed on that one. We were able to have flan, which was delicious.

Since it is Friday night, the plazas were full of vendors, entertainers and people milling around. There were hundreds of small booths with local handicrafts and, of course, the occasional person begging. I´m amazed at how industrious people are here. Today, in fact, there was a man who went into the street when the light turned red and juggled these huge knives. It was very impressive.

Language School on Our Street

On our way home from walking the dogs, we stopped by a language school about 10 doors down from our place. Lyn ended up taking a private Spanish lesson for an hour and plans to return tomorrow for more. I´m so proud of him! I know it is hard to be in a place where you don´t understand the language.

I´m having an ok time with my Spanish, although when I´m tired it all goes to hell.

As we explore more and more, we are finding many beautiful places so close to us. We are right in the center of the old city. Here are just a few pictures from our outings today.

It’s Friday!

It’s Friday!

So sorry I was not able to write this post yesterday. It was a very long day, starting with early morning teacher observations, three hours of class and lesson planning for next week’s new activity — teaching!

Trying new things

Lyn and I decided to try eating at the little place where we usually go for coffee during the class break. Bubble Waffle. How do you describe a bubble waffle? Think about the reverse of a waffle, where there are indents in a waffle, bubble waffle has filled bubbles. Inside the bubbles you can have Nutella, chocolate, etc. On top they add fresh fruit (we had strawberries), whipped cream, ice cream and chocolate syrup. I have to say, this was the most decadently delicious lunch. Much more like dessert.

Today, Lyn and I went to another small restaurant in the shopping center where our classes are held. La Canasta specializes in breakfast. We had freshly squeezed orange juice, the most delicious coffee I’ve ever had, and pancakes. OMG. My mouth and stomach were in heaven! I have largely given up coffee since I started drinking Spark, although now I think I will start up again, just for the taste of that delicious brew at La Canasta! The woman there showed me the secret: she adds a curl of fresh cinnamon on top of the grounds when she brews it. So simple. So wonderful!

Friday night outing

Originally, our class planned to go downtown for drinks last night. Plans changed when Andrea told us about the Sea Turtle Camp. This camp — quite literally — is in a town called Boca de Tomates, about 30 minutes north of where we are. We went together to get an Uber (35 pesos for three people!), which left us down this long, dirt road in the middle of some type of nature preserve. The road was fenced on both sides because of the crocodiles and ocelots. Ok! So when is the last time you saw a crocodile up close? These are salt water crocodiles that also hang out in the marina area and will come out of the water to snatch some tasty food. The mosquitoes already like me way to much. I’ll stick with those flesh eaters, thank you very much!

We didn’t see the ocelots, but I am sure they are there.

Despite having gotten a ride to this point, it was another 5-10 minutes of walking to get to the beach. Those of you who have traveled to Mexico before know that there are surprises around every corner. This was no exception.

Once around the bend, there were a number of open-air restaurants along the beach. We had to walk another 5-10 minutes down the beach to get to the Campamiento de Tortugas. There were a couple of “guides” there who spoke about the sea turtles and why it is so important to ensure their preservation.

Baby sea turtles at Campamiento de TortugasThen the fun began! First, we were introduced to the baby turtles in a big bin. There were probably close to 100 of them. So cute!!!!

Donna and her baby sea turtlesSecond, each of us was given a small bucket with three baby turtles in it and instructed to name them and make a wish for each. Mine were Ralph, Rosita and Ignacio. Rosita was a tiny thing, but determined! We all set our babies free at the same time and encouraged them to get to the sea quickly so they didn’t get eaten by birds. A couple of the babies needed a little help. You see, they never stop trying to get to the sea, even if they are in a container. This wears them out entirely, resulting in sluggish turtles.

Our class

All of this activity took about as much time as it takes to watch the sunset, so we got to do both, making for the best 15-minutes of the day and the week.

A welcoming people

Sorry to disappoint you Mr. Trump, but the Mexican people are the most welcoming and warm people you will ever meet. Last night was just more proof of this. You see, after we finished with the turtle release, we walked back to one of those little restaurants on the beach. There were six of us students and another couple who joined us. We ordered fresh fish, shrimp quesadillas and more and sat chatting for almost two hours! I had a quesadilla and a Pacifico for 50 pesos ($2.50!). We were the only customers, which meant that the four or five people working there had to stay until we were done.

Let me just say that it was PITCH BLACK by 8 p.m. Remember the walk down the dirt road? We were looking at having to do that in the dark. But rather than leaving us to our own devices, the woman there offered her brother to drive us back to the main road where we could catch the bus.

Not only did they give us a ride, but they made sure we got on the right bus and didn’t pay too much for the fare. A whopping 10 pesos each. That is about 50-cents U.S. Most of the time we’ve been paying 7.5 pesos each.

Our new friendsThe ride back to the main street

Every day we meet more wonderful people here. People who don’t mind our poor Spanish and who try their best to help us when we are lost or can’t understand something. I am so glad we are doing this! I can’t wait to have an actual home here!