My time abroad in Querétaro is quickly coming to a close, though I was lucky enough to sneak in one last adventure with my friend Nicky. With the official end of the semester and all of our final exams completed, we stuffed our backpacks with a few changes of clothing and booked bus tickets to Mexico City.
It all started with bad molletes. Molletes are a Mexican dish that consist of a bolillo cut in half with each side smeared in refried beans. The beans are then topped with a coat of manchego cheese. You put them in the oven to melt the cheese and then serve with pico de gallo! Sounds simple enough, right? Ask McDonalds. I was intrigued when I saw “McMolletes” offered on the Mexican McDonalds breakfast menu and I suppose my curiosity (and my aversion to eggs) got the best of me. Thankfully, the McDonald’s in Mexico also have salsa bars, so I was able to drown these poser molletes in salsa verde.
Arriving on a Monday afternoon, our first stop was at the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe. The Basilica is huge, much bigger and more modern than I had pictured! Entering the sanctuary, there was a mass going on, though tourists still buzzed about. I had the chance to see the famous painting of Our Lady and joined the other tourists and locals alike in prayer as the conveyor belts zipped us around the painting in an attempt to control traffic flows. Afterwards, Nicky and I ventured into the immense gardens outside of the church. We climbed numerous sets of stairs that led to different sanctuaries and even little shops that sold images of Our Lady and scapularies with her image that you could get blessed.
Finishing up a little after 1:00, Nicky and I grabbed an Uber to a restaurant a family friend had recommended called Pizza del Perro Negro. I was so excited to try this place, as they transform traditional Mexican dishes into pizzas! After careful consideration, Nicky and I decided to split a pizza and get half cochinita (topped with red onions) and half chorizo (complete with potatoes, lettuce, and crema!) The menu also included options such as chilaquiles or even mac & cheese!
Leaving everything at our Airbnb, we set out to see el Palacio de Bellas Artes and explore the Zócalo. Most of the museums are closed on Mondays, so we decided to do a bit of sightseeing instead! I’m always breathless when I see the Zócalo. After years of learning about it and seeing photos in my Spanish classes, I couldn’t believe the iconic sight was right in front of me!
The next morning, Nicky and I set our alarms early to catch an 8am bus to the famous Aztec pyramids at Teotihuacán. I was proud of us as we arrived at 7:50 and were able to find the tickets in the crowded bus terminal, purchase them, and run to catch our bus. A quick hour ride dropped us off at the entrance of the pyramids and our Tec student IDs got us free entry to the landmark. I’m still in disbelief about the sheer size of the pyramids. I can’t even imagine the man power they must have required! Nicky and I were pretty amused to see some stray dogs scaling the pyramids effortlessly as we gasped for breath during the steep climb. Thankfully, there were some guide ropes to help keep balance, but sometimes the steps were almost completely vertical! I’m proud to say we made it to the top of the Temple of the Sun and the Temple of the Moon!
Catching another bus to Mexico City, our day was only beginning! We ubered south to La Casa Azul, or the Frida Kahlo Museum. We had heard that the line could be insane, but thankfully on a Tuesday afternoon, we probably only stood in line for about 10 minutes! Our Tec IDs once again came in handy, as we only had to pay a 45 peso ($2.50) entrance fee instead of a 230 peso ($12.00) entrance fee! The house was absolutely lovely. I loved getting to see all of the artwork and wandering through the rooms, each nicely decorated and incredibly artsy. My favorite room was the kitchen, where the counters were covered in decorative tiles and small painted terracotta pots were hung along the wall to spell out “Frida” and “Diego.” While I’m certainly glad we got the chance to visit, I also felt slightly intrusive as I read about Frida’s life and passed through her bedroom. The tour of the house concluded in the gardens outside, where one can take a moment to sit by the pond and reflect.
Afterwards, Nicky and I decided to venture a little further south to see the iconic UNAM library. Arriving on the enormous campus, I immediately felt at home. The huge green spaces reminded me of camping out in front of the tower with my friends at UT. I always thought I went to a big school studying at UT. Come to find out that UNAM has a student population of just over 340,000 students. Nicky and I plugged in the northernmost and southernmost points of campus into Google Maps and realized it would take an hour just to cross the entirety of campus. UNAM had been dubbed “CU” for “Ciudad Universitaria” (University City) due to its sheer size! CU even has its own bus system! Nicky and I passed the late afternoon napping on the lawns in front of the library.
On our last morning in the city, I finally got my redemption molletes at a cute cafe near our Airbnb. Nicky and I decided to Uber down to Bosque Chapultepec to enjoy the coolness of the morning air before we returned to Queretaro, where the weather had recently changed from hot to sweltering.
Our last stop was at El Ángel de la Independencia, the famous statue in Mexico City surrounded by the roundabout that always bustling with traffic. Upon arriving to the famous roundabout, Nicky told me that there weren’t any crosswalks. I scanned the streets and saw that she was right, which is funny because there are steps inviting people to come view the monument across the street; it’s not like you’re supposed to view from afar. We saw a man that looked like he knew what he was doing and made a run for it when he started crossing the street. After making it to the base of the Angel, we were able to enjoy one final moment in the city before heading home to Queretaro.
This post was contributed by Paige Johnson, a 2019 Global Ambassador majoring in International Relations and Global Studies.
Don’t get left behind. Read more about Paige’s experience in Mexico>>