Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Safely, Softly Home Again...

I have returned from my travels. I was in Queretaro, Mexico. It is about 3 hours by car north on 57 from Mexico City.

Apparently the fates decided that the 22 hour roundtrip to Washington DC on Friday was enough to amuse them because the rest of the trip was fairly smooth sailing, especially for me.

Okay, granted the earliest I'd left work the week prior was 7:30 pm, and I finished breaking my jeep outta parking prison and returned home at 2 am Friday night and was back at work at 7 am on Saturday AND I was back at the airport by 6 am Sunday for the flight out AND the mucus-producing disease that my dear cousin gifted me with returned with a vengence but, all in all, smooth sailing.

Arrived at airport by 6 am, fell asleep in terminal, woke up long enough to board the plane to Charlotte, slept through flight, woke up long enough to leave plane in Charlotte and board plane to Mexico City, slept through flight to Mexico City.

Collected supplier, luggage and lucked into the correct *really freaking long* line at immigration. Got thru immigration with no problem, met driver, took off for Queretaro. I gotta say, I thought I was a nutso driver. Holy crap! It took the rest of the drive to remove my fingernails from the seats after careening thru Mexico City. Arrived in Queretaro, checked into hotel, went to fabulous restaurant (El Goucho, something like that) for dinner - it was Argentinian and they had delicious steak. Yum! And a lot of tequila.

Boring work stuff all freakin' day (with a time out for lunch at a chain restaurent called 'Wings' which didn't suck), back to hotel, chased a pretty blue hummingbird around with the camera for an hour, then to dinner at Chucho de Rotto - which was even better than the first restaurant. I tried the cactus salad (it kinda tastes like green pepper) and an appetizer of goat (YUCK! Goats do not equal food.) Then the main course was 'chicken carolina.' OMG. It was so good - a stuffed (with cheese, squash flowers and some other stuff) chicken breast served with veggies, rice and a yummy sauce. This was served with lots of tequila, some of it in the form of margaritas. This is a possible explaination for me forgetting how to turn off the flash on the camera and having all of the pictures I took of the beautiful, very historic, downtown area turn out blurry (neat trick with an automated digital camera) and over-exposed. Maybe.

More boring work stuff all freakin' day (except for a yummy lunch at a really cool restaurant, complete with tequila), dinner at the hotel and an uneventful evening, except for another humiliating defeat at the hands (wings?) of the hummingbird. Also, funny black birds with large tails proved quick only at eluding my picture-taking. I begin to sense a conspiracy.

All day trapped doing work stuff. Brief appearance of hummingbird at window - the same one, now taunting me?? Then a large group of us returned to Chucho de Rotto to eat and I was very adventurous in trying some ant egg dish (Ugh - crunchy. Very crunchy. Tasted kinda green.) and a ceasear salad that was prepared at the table (mash the little fish in a wooden bowl, add garlic, oil, an egg yolk, etc, beat 'till your arm falls off then individually stir leaves of lettuce in dressing). Here's the awful thing - I prefer the taste of the artificial ceasear dressing. Foodies around the world are cursing my name right now. I had the chicken carolina again. Yum! And 3 margaritas and I don't even remember how many drinks of straight tequila. Returning to the hotel is kind of a blur, but I think a taxi was involved.

Wrap up of boring work stuff. Then me starring in my own reality show wherein I am turned loose in the streets of downtown Queretaro with $US40 worth of pesos (around $480), 45 minutes to shop, a bunch of trinkets to buy and no grasp of the native language. LOL - not surprising to those who know me, I managed to outshop even the Spanish speakers in our group and successfully procur everything on my list (including a lovely carved wooden owl, a tooled leather covered wooden box, a nifty crystal, postcards to mail, mini-postcards to make up for my camera disability, silver jewelry (there're mines nearby) including earrings, necklaces and a bracelet, and a cute frog magnet, plus some other stuff - all from different stalls/stores). It was fun. I love a challenge. Then we went to a really, really cool restaurant located in what used to be a family hacienda. It was just gorgeous, but I don't remember the name. The food was good too.

The driver picked us up at 7:00 am, and we were on our way back to Mexico City to the airport. I got home around 10:30 pm. Then I slept all weekend. I've figured out how to get the pictures off the camera and onto the computer, so one of these days I'll share the picture or two that actually kinda turned out.

What I Learned About Mexico:
* They don't think about tequila the way I always have. I've always considered it a shot. They sip it, with a tasty little V8, tomato beverage called sangrita.

* It takes FOREVER to eat in Mexico. I have things to do. Feed me and let's move on. Lunch took 2 hours. Dinner took at least 4 hours. It drove me freaking nuts.

* They apparently have no rules of the road, except survival of the bravest. No one stops for stop signs. They slow down for lights IF there's already traffic in the intersection, lane lines are for losers and if your car isn't shaking from the stain, you aren't going fast enough. Just to add to the adventure, every now and then they have installed speed bumps. These things are over a foot high, a couple of feet wide with a dip in the middle and are not painted or marked in any way. You just need to know that they are there. And if you hit one going faster than 5 km/hr or so, you'd better kiss your ass goodbye 'cause it's over.

* You cannot judge Mexico by border towns or even resort towns. There is no comparison. Queretaro is beautiful and I yearn for a week or so of free time to explore at will.


Anonymous said...

Yay! You're home safe and sound! :)

Sounds like a blast - except for the whole boring work part! Lotsa liquor, speed-shopping and hallucinating about hummingbirds; sounds like a great trip to me! ;)

Really am glad to see you home again!

Thim :)

Suldog said...

It sounds like you had a really great time, excluding the work stuff. Did the cactus come with spines?

Just kidding. I spent a little time in Mexico City a few years back and thoroughly enjoyed it. Glad to hear your experiences were good.