(that should really be Querétaro, above, but I really don’t have the energy to fight the encoding and escaping war across the internet today…)
I spent 4 days working in Querétaro, Mexico last week. It’s a fascinating place. I get the impression it’s a bit of a boomtown. There are all sorts of global corporations that have significant operations there. It has the benefit of being centrally located, but far enough outside the enormous Mexico City to avoid the issues of overcrowding and traffic there.
This was my very first visit to Mexico and I'd hoped to take a lot of pictures, but it wasn’t to be, primarily for logistical reasons. Usually when I visit a city for the first time on business I try to arrive a day early so I can actually see some of the city beyond my hotel room and the office park, but I had to book this flight very late and the only flight in was a day later. The workday there is about 10-11 hours, partially to accomodate for the extended lunch most office workers take. As a result, our workday started around 8AM and we usually didn’t finish up until ~ 6:30 or 7PM, and sunset was about 7:30PM. I only shot pictures over a 90 minute stretch one early evening.
A couple of my hosts took me out to a nice seafood lunch at a place called Los Delfines (The Dolphins). On the way back, they gave me a quick ride through the old streets of downtown. The city is hundreds of years old, so the street layout has all these cool, super narrow roads with buildings that come right up to the (also narrow) sidewalks. They told me that downtown Querétaro was very safe at night, so I resolved to come back and walk around after my workday was finished.
As soon as I finished up work on Thursday, I went to my room and quickly retrieved my camera. I decided to stick with the kit lens, which was a pretty good decision in retrospect — it gave me coverage from 18-55mm IS, which was fine for all the street scenes. I debated bringing my nifty fifty, since it’s a much “faster” lens than the kit lens, and I knew I'd have very limited light, but I also knew I'd miss having the wide-angle coverage of the 18-55. I really didn’t want to bring multiple lenses as, for street shooting, doing lens changes is awkward and even a little dangerous.
Even on a Thursday, there were all sorts of things going on as I walked through the various plazas and roads. There were street vendors selling jewelry, dolls, clothing, food, and artwork. I saw a preacher conducting a service with in the corner of one plaza, while a couple of blocks away there were a bunch of older folks ballroom dancing on another plaza while an audience of folks watched.
It's worh noting that, despite all the gringo fearmongering I'd heard from various people before making my trip, at no point did I feel less than 100% safe my whole time in Mexico. Despite all the breathless certainty that I would be kidnapped and beheaded by swine-flu-infected Uzi-toting gangsters, the people I met were friendly and helpful.
I felt like I was walking through a Mexican transposition of La Dolce Vita, which is a pretty good feeling to have.
Full set of photos on Flickr.
“Spare no expense to save money on this one.”
— Samuel Goldwyn