2004-09-03 - 3:21 p.m.
So from Oaxaca, it was on to Queretaro (north of Mexico City), on an overnight bus. Queretaro was nice and untouristy and I stayed in the cheapest place I've ever stayed - a small hostel attached to a sports complex, giving me the mistaken impression that people who live in Queretaro are the healthiest people in all of Mexico. I paid 30 pesos (less than two dollars) for two attached rooms with four beds each (I was the only occupant in the entire hostel), and every morning I was woken by the loudest, most energetic aerobics class I've ever had the misfortune to try to sleep through. If I didn't know how to count to ten in Spanish prior to staying in Queretaro, I certainly have it down by now.
I didn't do much in Queretaro - walked around and ate and went to a few museums and saw Godard's Une femme est une femme in a museum on a rattly old film projector that reminded me of elementary school. I tried to meet up with my friends Stuart and Araceli, who were just down the road in San Luis de la Paz, but my bad telephone Spanish made it difficult to get the message across - first, I couldn't seem to pronouce Stuart's name in a way that Araceli's father could understand, and then I couldn't figure out if her father was saying that they were in Queretaro, or if I was in Queretaro. I found out later that Stuart and Araceli actually were in Queretaro for the day - later, Stuart swore that we were probably a few blocks away from each other for most of the day.
But at this point, I was weary of traveling, and decided not to wait around until I heard from them - after two days in Queretaro, I boarded a bus for San Miguel de Allende. I'd heard good things about San Miguel, and indeed it was very beautiful...but it was almost too beautiful. Too easy. Too many nice restaurants, too many nice stores selling Mexican handicrafts. It was like Mexico Lite. The fact that many many Americans come to San Miguel to retire did not help matters - at some points, I felt like I was in Florida. That said, there was quite a nice library, with a decent collection of both Spanish- and English-language books, and a cafe and a theater and a children's activity center. But I just couldn't stay there for very long, and knowing that I was a bus ride away from Austin didn't help. So the next day, I hopped the 5:30 pm bus back to Austin, for what turned out to be a 23-hour bus trip home, made even longer by the fact that the television on the bus was broken and that my iPod had mysteriously failed to charge the night before.