Sunday, July 29, 2012

Starting our Goodbyes

 The farewell dinner was at the same place as the welcome dinner and I've been looking forward to it since we finished eating there the first time.  It was sad to say goodbye to the students but none of my photos of them turned out very good.  Instead all I have to document our friendship is a bunch of pictures of the food.
But seriously, I will miss the students and I appreciate them because they were good and stayed out of trouble which made it so Brandon could spend more time with us.  They were super sweet with our kids and a lot of fun.
And the food.  I decided that just to be safe I should eat enough churros to hold me over until the next time we are in Mexico.  I did that, and then I ate a couple more just to be safe.
Daisy helped me out in this pursuit.

 Rocky drank enough agua de jamaica to fill the city's fountains.
 I'm not sure what all of this is called, but I am positive that I will miss it.
 After eating more than I should have we went out to do more exploring.  We saw another amazing cathedral.  I'm thinking that everyone is probably getting tired of all these pictures, but think about how I feel.  I had to look at all this stuff with my own eyes and know that I would never be able to remember it all.

We also took a bus to an area on the outskirts of town where there were tianguis.  It is like a traveling mall that goes around to different areas and sets up shop for a weekend.  I hoped that we would see something interesting but it mostly consisted of an overwhelming maze of junk and pretty tasty looking food carts.
 There were booths and booths of the same things we've seen everywhere.  There were clothes, pirated DVDs, dollar store toys, tons of underwear, statues of saints, and all kinds of knick-knacks.
In between the perfumes and pots there were also a few surprises, if you could find them.  These little crabs for instance were for sell as pets.
 I thought this was cool that there was a whole booth just selling blender parts.  My friend Rosy in Eugene asked me a few months ago if I knew anyone who was looking for old blender lids.  She had saved 4 of them but it took me all this time to find the guy who would want them.
 And of course, the candy...I will never get sick of candy booths.

It was also the only place where I have seen luchador action figures.  Brandon knew most of their names.
 We finished the night by popping some popcorn and watching the London Olympic Opening Ceremonies.  I think they showed the full thing earlier in the day but we only got to see the highlights which lasted about 15 minutes, mostly which was fireworks.  The Mexican athletes were the only ones shown and they looked really cute in their sombreros and bright colors.  They showed Paul McCartney singing Hey Jude and Rocky asked, "Why does that guy keep screaming?"
The highlight overall was the popcorn.

On Saturday we took our last trip up to the Templo de la Cruz and the girls ate paletas while they pretended to be locals selling their wares.  The guys who were really selling the stuff were sitting back by the wall trying to stay in the shade.  I think they were happy to have someone sit in for them for awhile. 

 We wanted to remember the fountains that were so amazing.
This one is called the Conchero and is often used as a symbol of Querétaro. 
 We always have to stop and admire the dress shops.  There are hundreds of places selling unbelievably fancy dresses.  The girls wear them to weddings and to quinceñeras.  Every weekend there are limos that go by with a bunch of teenagers dressed to the nines standing up through the sun roof and blasting music. 
 Crazy Daisy wouldn't come down from this fountain until she saw the proof that I had taken a picture.  I was reluctant at first because out of all the awesome fountains this was probably one of the most dull, but she went ahead and spiced up the picture with her tongue.
 And I had to include a picture of Brandon's favorite street food.  He said that he has never in his life had a better hamburger.  Two of these monsters had the whole family stuffed.  I have no idea what made them so delicious and I have a feeling that it is better if I never know.
Tomorrow is our last full day here and then we fly out on Tuesday.  I am sad to leave but I feel like we are all so exhausted that we probably wouldn't last any longer anyway. 

Friday, July 27, 2012

New Favorites

 We have a few new favorite games to play.  With our lack of toys and friends Rocky especially has gotten pretty creative with her role playing.  Since we don't really have any books for bedtime stories Brandon will tell them stories at night and the other night he told them the story of the Corregidora.  Now Rocky likes to lock Daisy in the room and since we don't have keyholes she will pass notes under the door to start the war early.
They also have been pretending that the memory cards are money and Rocky will beg until Daisy gives her some.  I didn't get a picture but they also put all their toys on a blanket and when I would go by they would try to sell them to me.  I didn't take the bait though, they were charging a ridiculous amount.
 I always notice these frozen meals because who wouldn't want to eat something called Fud?
 I think that in this photo Daisy is eating something that actually is least I hope it is.
Since we have been here I've wanted to go to the museum El Museo de la Casa de la Zapatecana.  There are a lot of the older houses that are still standing, but this is one of the only ones that is actually furnished.  It also was the scene of 3 murders.  
The Zapatecana and her husband were super wealthy and moved in to this beautiful home in Querétaro but even though they had tons of valuable art and beautiful furniture they couldn't find happiness.  The story is that she asked their servant to kill her husband and then to get rid of any evidence she went ahead and killed the servant and buried both of their bodies in the basement.  Later through some kind of revenge some guys climbed into her window and murdered her and left her body outside in the plaza.  After she was dead they found the bodies in the basement where...and this is really debatable, the skeletons are still on display to this day.  I did see the skeletons through a glass hole in the floor, but I doubt that they were real.  Despite the best efforts of the movie that they showed, the house didn't feel creepy at all.  It was just cool.  Since both she and her husband were dead and didn't have any family the house was just locked up and all their fancy stuff was in there for like 40 years.  Then they decided to make it into a museum.
 You had to pay 20 pesos to be able to take photos so I just pirated this one from the internet.  I thought that the display in her room was pretty cool.  Especially how she would look at you through the mirror.  The house was beautiful and had hundreds of pieces of valuable art and authentic decorations.  The building had the high ceilings and arches that are so amazing around here.  There was a whole room just filled with clocks and another in that every wall was covered with crosses.  I'm so nosy when it comes to the way that people live and I thought it was super fun to see all that luxury that had just been left behind.

Brandon has been talking the whole time we've been here about trying some elote.  My experience with this mayonnaise covered corn on a stick basically came from the movie Nacho Libre and looked pretty nasty.
I have noticed that every time we pass this stand it smells really good and eventually I warmed to the idea.  As he was preparing them for us I realized that it just has a little mayo and is mostly covered with cheese and chili powder.

 They were unbelievable delicious.  I've never tasted corn that was so sweet and the chili powder wasn't spicy, but just perfectly flavorful.
 I am actually really glad that we didn't try it until we were toward the end of our trip or I would have wanted to stop at that stand every time we passed.  Just thinking about it right now makes me want to walk out the door this second and go get another.  That particular elote dude only opens at night though, so I am out of luck.
 Rocky and Daisy who can be picky when it comes to trying new things couldn't get enough.  Daisy actually started crying when we threw away the cob and she couldn't keep gnawing on it. 

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Crazy Faces

 Yesterday was so packed full that this morning we are all walking around like zombies.  We tried to focus on things for the girls because they've had their fill of museums.  The fist part of the journey was to take the bus which is always an adventure in and of itself.  There are a bunch of different bus businesses and they all compete and cram themselves into the bus stop areas.  Each bus varies completely from the others.  Sometimes they are really old and nasty and some are nicer.  The drivers all have their own personalities too.  The one we were on yesterday was young and he drove like a maniac.  He would floor it and we'd take off at full speed and then he'd slam on the brakes right before we hit the bus that was stopped in front of us.  There were two times that Rocky actually kind of let out a little scream because she thought we were going to crash.  The up-side was that we got there quickly and in one piece.
We finally did eat at the Pollo Feliz.  It was delicious but I can't figure out why the chicken is so happy. 
 The chicken came with the salad bar and the girls ate their weight in watermelon. 
 I don't know if it was something in the air or the lack of naps but these two little jammers were wild. 
Our next stop was to see Valiente.  It has been out in the U.S. for a while now but it just came out here and they have been dying to see it.  Since they have a daily dose of cartoons and advertising on Disney Junior they are well informed in all the upcoming releases.
 After it was over Daisy said that it was "scary."  I thought it was really cute but for me it was a little scary too because it is about the conflicts between the mom and the daughter.  I can see myself in about 12 years with three adolescent girls who adore their dad and are driven crazy by their mom.  I'm serious when I say that I cried through the whole thing.  I'm thinking it was partly because I'm pregnant and emotional, partly because I know it is going to be hard, and partly because I know that the relationship between moms and daughters is something super special. 
It also made me think that even though it is tough while they are young I had better enjoy them how they are before they grow up forever.

Our next stop was to get ice cream.  I know...a movie and ice would think that we had mutated into a completely different family.  The secret is that on Wednesdays the movies are discounted and the ice cream is 2 for 1.  When you know that it isn't surprising that the Rigbys are first in line.
I love the ice cream here.  It is a little bit more icy and really refreshing.

It was really hot and muggy outside but we thought that we could go back to the Cerro de las Campanas and play at the park for a few minutes.  I learned that the reason it is called the Hill of the Bells is that there is so much metallic residue in the rocks that you can hit them together and they sound like bells. 
 While we were headed up these beautiful stairs the first thunder started.
 We ended up taking refuge for about a half hour in the hallway of the bathrooms. 
 Here we go with more crazy facial expressions. 
 After the rain let up we were able to walk home and stopped to get tacos and tortas for dinner. 
In the U.S. we hardly ever drink soda but we've developed a habit of ordering drinks since we've been here.  This may be because the drinks and the water are the same price, and it might be because the soda tastes so much better here because it is made with real sugar.  It also could be because there is something really fun about drinking it out of glass bottles.  No matter what the reason is we are going to be in a pickle when we get home and have to break the habit.  Hopefully we can be consoled by the ability to drink from the tap.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

More Wandering

 Brandon took Daisy to school so that I could take Rocky to the science exhibit at the library.  It was all about water and had a bunch of fun activities that were perfect for her age.  The ball pit was there for kids to jump into and pretend that they were raindrops. 
 There was also a huge memory game.  When Rocky sat down to play with these kids I was kind of excited.  We only have a few toys here and one of them is a memory game that she and I play almost every day.  She has gotten really good at it and beats me all the time.  I thought that she would be able to hold her own against these other kids even though they were a little older.  I don't know if she was nervous or what but she totally choked.  Every single time it was her turn she picked the same two cards, the SAME two cards.  I think the mom of the kids just thought that she was 'special' or something and just kept encouraging her.  The kids didn't care because they were just glad to get all the matches themselves.  In the end she did finally match one of the two cards and I'm pretty sure that she had fun, which, I guess, is the point.  Maybe we had better wait a little while before we get her into any type of competitive activities.
 This isn't a great picture of this statue but I took it because Rocky loves it.  Every time we pass she has to stop and she always says that she wants to hold the lady's hand.  I'm trying to make sure and capture some of their favorite things because I'm hoping that it will cause them to remember a little of this experience.
 We went to another art exhibit and there were great photos and paintings, but Rocky and Daisy fixated on this video.  It was a yoga ball that was partially filled with water rolling down stairs and hills.  It was definitely experimental art but it was kind of fascinating.  I admit that I stood there and watched it for awhile myself.
 This photo shop has caught Brandon's eye every time we pass.  He likes the look of it.  I think it is cool because it still sells film.  This photo is also a good chance to play Where's Marci.
The shops here almost all just open up to the street.  Sometimes there are small doors like this one and other times it is just an open wall that they close and lock at night.  Window shopping doesn't exist because there aren't any windows, but you can immediately see everything inside which is an even better marketing strategy. 

On the way home last night Rapunzel and Eugene fell in love and held hands all the way home. 
 That is, until Rapunzel bit the dust and needed a little bit of help getting up. 
Daisy has actually become pretty darn tough after falling about 4 bazillion times.  She used to cry when she tripped but now it is such a common occurrence that she hardly even notices.  I'm wondering if she will even be able to walk normally when she gets on a level sidewalk.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

El Aqueducto

 I would think that just by accident Daisy would once in awhile put her sunglasses on right side up.  She is pretty insistent that they stay that way and when it comes down to stubbornness she wins every time.

The bird-sales on the street are always an item of interest for these girls. I'm not so keen on the chickens, but the little chickadees have won me over. 
 We went to tour the Templo de la Cruz.  Since we pass it all the time we figured that we had better take a tour of the old convent connected to the church.  Daisy was clearly thrilled with the prospect of taking another tour.
 The convent was really beautiful and had all kinds of interesting features.  At the time it was built it was extremely modern and used the water from the aqueduct for its own kind of indoor plumbing.  The water would even go through pipes in the kitchen and made a natural refrigeration system.   
It also, like everything else in this place has a revolutionary history.  It is where the revolutionaries kept their camp and it was also used to imprison Maximiliano until he was executed.
 A woman gave the girls these suckers because they are cute little güeritas.  I'm not sure if it helped or made things harder but they were certainly more cheerful...and more sticky. 
 After the tour we went into the ritzy part of town to get a closer view of the trademark of Querétaro, el Aqueducto.  I was surprised at how just a few streets over the city seemed to change.  All of a sudden everyone was wearing business attire, there weren't any people selling things or begging on the street and there was grass that you could actually play on...if you wanted to.
We had lured the girls there with the promise of a park.  They have been good little walkers throughout the trip but they are starting to get tired so we bribe them.

 The aqueduct took 12 years to build and was finished in 1738.  At that point the river that passed through the city had become so polluted that people were dying from lack of clean water so the new system literally saved the city.  It goes for about 3 miles and the water was collected at a cistern right by the convent we had just visited.  From there it was pumped to all the fountains throughout the city for people to collect and use.
 Of course it isn't used anymore, but it is really beautiful to see. 
 While we were over there we found some other less historical but also interesting things to see.  Brandon was excited about this movie poster.  Batman doesn't come out here until this weekend so it is still being highly anticipated.
 Also, underneath the arches in the grass there was an exhibit of sculptures that were made completely of water bottles.  They were super cool.

This one is Quetzalcoatl.
 This one is la Catrina but Rocky always calls her La Llorona.
 More proof that slug bugs are an important national treasure.

We had planned to eat at el Pollo Feliz because it seems like something that everyone should do if they go to Mexico, but it was already closed when we got there.  We have been having a little trouble with restaurants because they are usually either open early in the day or later at night.  It seems like when we are ready to eat it is always in the between time where the earlies are closing and the lates haven't opened yet.
We picked a random road to walk and hoped for something good.  While we haven't had great luck in the past we hit the jackpot this time.
This restaurant didn't seem to have a name, and to tell the truth wasn't anything but a garage filled with awesome food.  It seemed more like being at a potluck than a business.
They were making tortillas right there and when we first peeked in we weren't sure if they were just having a party.  They were super nice and invited us in.  I think they were a little curious about us, but just like any good Mexican cook she had the look of challenge in her eyes.  I could see that she really wanted us to try her food because she knew that we would love it.  Brandon ordered a little tentatively at first, but once we had sampled it we had to go back and re-order a second helping of everything.  She nodded with a knowing smile as if she had expected it all along.
 The girls were especially taken with the Christmas Winnie the Pooh tablecloths.
 We had sopes with mole verde and tacos with some kind of spicy chicken.  We also tried the chiles rellenos and gorditas.  It seemed funny to me that we set out to go to one of the biggest chain restaurants in the country and ended up at the complete opposite.  What could be more local than people who cook the food in their home and serve it from their garage?