October 29, 2014
Pablo and I start the day off right with a visit to Escuela Internacional. The kids are younger here, and their English is excellent. By the time I finish, around noon, I feel like a friend of the family. Our trip to the school takes us out of the historic district and I’m able to see regular, day to day Querétaro, a city of about 2 million, according to our taxi driver. I catch sight of an embankment where, months before, someone planted vegetation for just this holiday season, The Day of the Dead; the plants form the shape of a skull. (More on this holiday in just a bit.) En route to the school we passed the aqueducts of Querétaro,designed in 1723 by Juan Antonio de Urrutia y Arana, Marquis of Villa del Villar del Aquila, apparently at the request of a nun he had fallen in love with. Nothing says romance like an aqueduct.
Once Pablo and I return from Escuela Internacional it’s time to head out and see the sights. And boy there are plenty of them. All over Mexico people are celebrating Day of the Dead,Mitecacihuatl, Queen of the Underworld. Everywhere people have constructed “ofrendas” to honor the dead. Each ofrenda is designed for the person it honors. People leave favorite foods, pictures, flowers, tobacco or anything special that the deceased particularly liked. In this district the founding fathers of Querétaro have been honored with ofrendas set up at plazas throughout the town.
We see many paper butterflies hung around the ofrendas. It is said that on November 1, children who have died in the previous year are transformed into butterflies, a lovely thought.
Everywhere there are paper hangings with cut out designs. These hangings are supposed to be so light that they can be moved by the breath of the dead. When you hear them rasping it is the sound of the dead breathing.
Of course we are taking in the less seasonal sights of Querétaro as well. Plenty of beautiful old churches here.
With exquisite carved doors.
Theses places are old.And I do mean old. Mexico is a country with one of the longest histories in the America.
Here in Querétaro, for example, the Americas saw the very first clock tower of its kind built.
The streets and houses are lined with beautiful flowers.
There are plazas and statues everywhere
including one with dogs (this one’s for you Dougie!)
and a cellist.
I am particularly enchanted with the use of the Laurel of India which appear all over the city, usually are sculpted a la topiary into quadratic blocks on many of the plazas.
The mixing of Aztec and Christian traditions is not limited to the Day of the Dead. We see blends of the two cultures everywhere.
Wednesday night we take in a concert by the percussionist, Oscar Salazar. A fine performance using percussive instruments from all over the world. And it was free!
Then we wander the streets where we bump into some street theater, a troop of actors spoofing the history of Querétaro,
Grab some very tasty treats that belie the old song (here you put the coconut in the lime),