I will always remember the last leg of my flight into Querétaro, Mexico for the spectacular night display that played out as we blasted through the heavens. The sky was so incredibly brilliant I realized I had forgotten stars could be so dazzling. I dozed off well into Mexican territory since it was difficult to detect much below, with only long sporadic stretches of darkness. Occasionally I’d snap to and peer out my window. Finally, nests of twinkling clusters started sprouting up and I could see small isolated communities bound together by their shared light.
As we approached Querétaro, to my left the full moon floated above the eastern horizon; and to my right there were wide swatches of twinkling lights: nightlife so brilliant they reminded me of diamonds set into a regal crown. It was quite the welcome.
This morning flew; by time I had sorted myself out it was late and I was in serious need of coffee and a light breakfast. After a failed start at my own mesón, I headed toward one of the major zocalos in search of a café.
It was still mid-morning, but by the time I settled at a table I had abandoned the idea of a light meal altogether. Instead I opted for Enchiladas Queretanas, a local specialty of tortillas fried until soft, then dipped into a heated chile sauce and filled with various items; mine had chopped potatoes and grated local cheese. And the food kept coming: a basket of fresh chips and bread, more of the warmed salsa, and a plate piled high with tropical mango, pineapple and melon. Welcome to Querétaro!
Intermittently the server and I tried to sort out the coffee con leche issue: first take was a cinnamon flavored pre-sweetened drink similar to coffee in the Bahamas. On a second try he brought warm milk and presented me with a jar of their best Nescafe. One more time; I simply asked for more hot coffee to add to my flavored warmed milk. Okay, I was difficult and still grappling with US mentality: bad gringa. I need to get over myself and embrace the local customs. Since he was so patient, I tipped him extravagantly.
The downtown El Centro area seems be peppered with beautiful tree lined plazas; the zócalos feature a fountain with benches all surrounded by shops and cafes. Each one reflects the people who frequent it the most. By the time I discovered the Convento de la Cruz and its plazas, I had sufficiently gorged myself enough that I passed on the incredible food these locals were offering.
One woman had her specialty organized in a series of colorful woven bags. A fresh stack of deep blue tortillas cooked flat and crisp first caught my eye. In another bag, the main topping looked to be pumpkin or squash; when asked, she explained it was potatoes,colored by a red chile sauce. It looked similar to my earlier Querétana sauce, which must be a local specialty. I find out and get back to you on that!