So where were we? It's been a couple of weeks that feel like much, much longer.

Last I wrote I was in Mexico to wrap up a final trip for my client. A lot of people had been rotating in and out of the region, but I had been the one continuous thread and so it was that I received a call two days before Christmas (on week 3 of my month long vacation) from my client asking if I could go back one final time in January. I had not received any solid offer for a new project so reluctantly I agreed to go. Reluctantly, because at that moment I still had a new boyfriend and was very much looking forward to spending at least weekends at home. I booked the flight for the earliest possible departure, January 5, and planned to return on Friday January 15th, landing evening in Munich on January 16th. Normally I would go home on Thursday, however since I was already missing a couple of days of the first week I thought it better to stay on through the end of the second work week.

I was numb leaving Munich, imposing a kind of emotional freeze so I could move forward with the next steps. Once again, things had fallen through with A. and this time I decided to put him fully out of my life. I was somewhat sad that all that I had looked forward to in December with visits, visitors and time at home in Munich was behind me and didn't want to dwell on that either.

Twenty minutes before the taxi was scheduled to arrive to take me to the airport, I had not even started packing, as if hoping it wasn't really so that I was leaving. I got my things together, the priority being my camera gear as I had fully regretted not bringing it with me on the second trip to Mexico, hopped in the car, and watched Munich disappear once again in the rearview mirror.

While in Mexico, a kind of thawing took place. On my first day, I participated with the colleagues in the cutting of the Rosca de Reyes, a tradition on January 6th, where a large oval of sweet bread covered in dried fruit and containing baby figurines is cut by all the people, one by one. Those who find a baby figurine in their piece have to host a celebration on Candelaria on February 2nd.

The warmth of the people more than compensated for the chilly January weather. Yes, it gets quite cold in Quéretaro and since it tends to last at most a couple of weeks, the buildings are very seldomly heated. We huddled in our offices bundled up in coats and scarves as the temperatures hovered around freezing.

When the weekend came, I felt relaxed and happy and, well, quite well on the way to recovery. Everything was coming along very well at work. I had no responsibilities over the weekend and plenty of time to explore, take pictures, sample more of the delicious cuisine and enjoy the gradually improving weather. And I wasn't thinking of what's-his-name any longer. I was back in my element, traveling, exploring and making friends.

I went to dinner on Saturday night fairly late on the famous old square in town. No sooner had a I sat down when an older gentleman at the next table decided I was the woman for him. He was in his 60s and fueled up on tequila and cerveza professed his love, loudly and in Spanish, to me for the benefit of the whole restaurant. Something about the whole situation tickled me and I was giggling. It was sweet but short-lived. His friend escorted him out of the restaurant, smiling and shaking his head.

On Sunday, I spent the day strolling around town, as did many of the locals, trying to capture the look and feel of Quéretaro with my trusty camera. I spent more than an hour sitting in one square, waiting for the perfect moment of a bird in flight, content to warm myself in the sun and enjoy the slow pace of life that day.

As Monday approached of my final week, I started to feel a tug of sadness to leave this place where I felt so content. There were dinners with the colleagues from Mexico and others in town for workshops from Brazil, Argentina and Colombia. I paid a few visits to Wicklow's Irish pub where the live music is always fantastic. I particularly liked one band called Pilaseca who cast a happy spell over the crowd as we danced along while they played their hearts out. I even started to understand some Spanish.

Inevitably, Friday arrived and as I piled into the big SUV and started heading down the dusty road for the final time with the team, I wanted to pull the emergency break and stay, just a little bit longer. We said our goodbyes and then I climbed into a car with two Brazilian colleauges and our driver to start the two hour drive to the airport.

Some storms were coming through and I was regretting there was no time for photography. The mountains with the black clouds and the sun poking through looked spectacular. From time to time an enormous rainbow would shoot down from the sky and all I could think was I must come back here again!

While I was daydreaming away about moving to Mexico, we came to a sudden stop. It looked like an accident a short way up the highway and I figured with over an hour of contingency built into the trip we would be back on our way in no time. Soon enough we found out that there was no way I would be making my flight that night. I called and rescheduled for the next night and we continued on to try to get the Brazilian colleagues home. Their flight was two hours later than mine so maybe there was still a chance.

Everyone in the car was glancing nervously at me to see how I was reacting to missing my flight. I put on a big smile and said 'Mañana'. With that the mood in the car picked up and soon enough we were laughing and telling stories. It was five hours to the airport but it passed quickly and the Brazilian colleagues made it just in time to catch their flight at 11 PM.

I was dropped at a hotel in Mexico City where some other colleagues who had flights on Sunday were planning to join the next day and wondered for the 100th time in my life, how did I end up here? In the morning I took advantage of an early start and went to the supermarket across the street and loaded up on Mexican goodies to bring back to Munich. As I entered the lobby with all my bags, I saw the other colleagues who were checking in and soon enough I was whisked away to go sight seeing with the four of them.

We saw the pyramids, went to a nice lunch and then it was time for me to go to the airport. The others were planning to go see the Basilica of Guadalupe and go out to a cantina in the evening. Again, I felt sad at leaving and when they suggested I stay on one more night, I though, well....yes!

With a big smile, I said 'Airport Mañana', and there was laughing and cheering. I started to wonder if I could Mañana myself into a week, or two, or more but a new project was waiting at home so I knew I better enjoy my last 24 hours in Mexico City.

We saw the Basilica, which was a very touching place, and walked around the area watching a spectacular sunset over the city. I happened to be with four Catholics and we bought some votive candles and took some time to remember our loved ones, both here and gone. When we departed we were all deep in our thoughts and it was the most somber moment of the day, a bonding moment nevertheless.

So what else could be next? Tequila shopping because everyone wanted to bring some back home with them. After long discussions on which kind and how many to buy, we finally headed over to Tenampa, a famous Mexican Cantina, where there was plenty of tequila, mariachi, Mexican snacks to eat and red roses for the ladies. We donned sombreros and learned to drink tequila the Mexican way and soon enough the Mariachis came to serenade us with their songs.

My friends acted as translators, taking turns to tell me what the Mariachis were singing. By far my favorite was Bésame, Bésame Mucho, which I already knew but it is such a beautiful and haunting song and perfect for that weekend that was passing all too quickly, no matter how I hung on to every moment.

Sunday was no less perfect, warm and sunny and we spent 3 hours having a lazy lunch on a rooftop overlooking the main plaza of Mexico city. A last stroll and it was finally over, time to head to the airport and say goodbye for now. Until Mañana...

Posted from Munich


Expat Traveler said...

wow - looks like you've had one amazing experience and a set of amazing photos to go with it.

While you were there, I got my layoff notice so I am job hunting but in not such a good situation since there are 2 of us in the same boat...

Life goes on and I'm sure the pieces of the puzzle will fall into place as they have done for you!

Just keep those photos coming because it's my sanity while I don't do much moving around these days...

Andrea said...

You're photos are amazing. What kind of camera do you have?

Michelle said...

Thanks Andrea and ET,
I have a Canon 30D and two lenses - the kit lens (17-85, so so quality) and a zoom lens (70-200, the good stuff).

ET - I saw and left you a comment. Really hoping this leads to something great! It's not a nice feeling at the time though :-(

CanadianSwiss said...

Magnificent pictures, Michelle! This trip must have been amazing. I'm sure I would have said "Mañana!", too, had I been there!

J said...

Sounds like lots of fun and sorry to hear about A. As always, I love the photos - the first being my favorite.

J said...

Sorry, the 2nd one is my fav.

sewa mobil said...

nice photo and great shot