Mexico 2017 Part Seis


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Miercoles 27 Julio

Today was the big day! The day my bespoke hand tailored pantalones were to be ready.

I eagerly skipped next door (literally) to the tiny tailor shop and had to wait outside while another patron took up the only remaining space inside the shop.  It gave me a chance to reflect on the freshly washed sidewalk outside, a daily practice of all the shopkeepers (likely government mandated as well).

Sastreria IBarra

Javier Ibarra – Master Tailor and proprietor

Tarjeta de Visita (“Business Card”

Finally it was my turn.. I stepped inside, and yes, my pants were ready and hanging regally right in the number one spot.  The tailor removed them from the hanger for my inspection… omg.. now I’m not one to wax poetic over a pair of pants.. my closet being provisioned  almost exclusively by Costco..but these are without doubt the most beautiful pair of pants I’ve ever laid eyes on!

Luxuriously lined inside, double (buttoned) rear pockets, deep, deep front pockets, crisp pleats front and rear, and a real brass zipper instead of those crappy plastic ones so prevalent these days.

Conveniently, he had left ample material both in the leg cuff area as well as the ass-seam for the likely event these pants (and fitting) may very well outlast the current configuration of my dulces-fed estomago!

The best part though, was when I went into the little changing room just behind the counter and actually tried these babies on.  Honestly, based on the 5 minute or less initial measuring process, I was fully expecting some discrepancies before these pants would conform to my time-altered shape, but no… the fit was just absolutely perfect!  If the waist had been 1/4″ larger it would have been too loose, and conversely too tight if 1/4″ smaller.  The pants fit beautifully around my butt, and the leg length seemed just perfect.  I just couldn’t find fault.

Mis Nuevos Pantelones

Pleased beyond belief, I cheerfully paid the remaining balance (pitifully small) and thanked the tailor profusely.

Back home (next door), I tried on the pants a second time for Dorothee’s benefit, who was equally impressed, then walked out into the sunlit interior courtyard to admire the incredible colors of the 100% pure lana (wool).  The pants are a dark blue with subtle pin stripes of dark grey and slightly lighter blue.  Magnificent!

I sat there a few minutes, basking in the pleasure of my new purchase, and then decided the tailor’s “precio” was just TOO barato (cheap), so I went back next door and gave him another $200 Pesos!  I was seriously considering just ordering another pair, but given my very limited need/use for dress pants (mostly for chauffeur duty), that prospect seemed overkill, and would negate the true bargain I had received on the first pair.

Moving on from revealing my true nature as an unabashed capitalist consumer:

The previous day, Martes pasado,  was the day after our all-day marathon tour to Guanajuato with Uriel.  During that tour, I discussed with Uriel my surprise at finding he has no website for his tour business, just a Facebook page.  I know that I have clearly fallen out of touch with the millennial mode of Facebook-centric communication, but my on online-marketed business (Austin Classic Limo) proves that some 95% of my inquiries come from my website, and perhaps a mere 5% are generated from my Facebook page.

I convinced Uriel that his business could greatly expand by having a full website to complement his Facebook page, a place where he could represent the various tours he offers in an organized fashion.  The more I talked, the more eager he became, to the extent that he agreed to come over to our house the next morning and discuss the structure of his new website, which I offered to create for him pro bono (I respect and admire an eager young entrepreneur who works 7 days a week, and would like to see him succeed).

The next morning we sat down at the table, and I had previously sketched out my vision of the pages for his website.  Uriel was eager, to the extent that while there, I guided him through the process of choosing an available domain name for his website (biketourQueretaro), and then further to actually going online, paying for his domain name, and signing up for hosting on the same host I use for this blog, GoDaddy.

I guess my brain was in need of some healthy exercise, so once Uriel left, I immediately set about getting his website installed and operational.  I sat down at my little tablet and worked until well after midnight before stepping back and reviewing my work.  The entire website had been created, populated with a handful of my own photos from our tour trips (to be supplanted by Uriel’s own stock of photos later).

All that is left now is for Uriel to actually fill in each page with content, descriptions in his words and pictures, and he is up and running. He is already showing that he his quite capable of grasping the procedures for maintaining and updating his new website.

Here is the bare website skeleton:

(Together we nabbed the sister domain name  a common construct in Mexico, to prevent that falling into the hands of his competitors, and I linked it to his parent website so either query will land on the same spot.

I was pleased to be able to help him get to the next rung on his ladder of success.

Wednesday was also the day our good Austin friends, Dean and Elizabeth Mericas were scheduled to arrive for a 2 day/night stay with us.

We were eagerly awaiting their visit, both because we like hanging out with like-minded souls, and as a welcome change from our now-routine daily walks to familiar locations.

They arrived shorted after noon, so, after getting settled in, the first order of the day was to walk the 8 blocks or so to Plaza Armas, always teeming with local peatones, to one of our now-favorite outdoor cafes, El Chucho el Roto.

We had previously learned that the name apparently comes from a mythical Mexican Robin Hood-esque character in local folk lore.

Afterwards, it was back to the casa for the traditional and eagerly desired by all, siesta time.

That evening found us at another now-favorite haunt of ours, Hank’s, at Plaza Independencia.  It is a cajun style place, admittedly, and embarrassedly mostly patronized by gringo tourists.  But, dammit, the food is sooo good, and prices so incredibly reasonably.  Our 4 person meal, complete with appetizers, multiple drinks, and dulces tallied up to around $100 US on la cuenta.

Another reason for choosing Hank’s is that Wednesday night is the night our guide Uriel, and his band perform there.  This time, we were in position to hear the entire three sets of music, and to be even more appreciative of the skill and range of styles they have mastered.  The video below is the group performing the Stones tune “Miss You” (The lead guitarist, who also plays a killer violin on most of their repertoire, is worthy of close attention.  I did also find Uriel’s skills on the drums to be very natural and well beyond what one would normally expect of a 23 year old musician)

Our time with Dean and Elizabeth was filled with further strolls through the various plazas, visits to museums, and of course, great meals!

Other photos from Dean and Elizabeth’s stay:

Museo de Arte

Courtyard – Museum of Art

Dinner on the Andador (pathway)

At Oliva, our fav place for breakfast (if only this was in Austin!)

Our street.. Calle Mariana Escobedo

We visit a hand made guitar and violin shop

Concert goers line up for boletos (tickets) to an upcoming latin band concert.. the line went completely around the block and more

On the last day that the Mericas stayed with us, Dean wanted to visit a bank to exchange some dollars for pesos.  I had been just using any one of the number of available ATM machines around the city, using my bank debit card to directly withdraw pesos, but Dean had a pocketfull of greenbacks he wanted to put to good use, so we decided to actually vist a bank.

Were we surprised to find, at all three banks we visited, waiting lines of unbelievable numbers.  Each bank had a take-a-number dispenser, then some 25-30 clients waiting patiently in rows of chairs in the lobby, looking all the while like a California DMV office!

Furthermore, after a struggling discussion with the young “crowd monitor” at the entrance, we learned that, NO, currency could NOT be exchanged at any of the bank windows, nor at ANY place within the bank.

Instead, we were directed (by at least 2 of the banks) to a privately operated “Caja de Cambio” currency exchange joint down the street, which, of course, offered exchange rates a bit less favorable than I had been getting from my ATM transactions.  Go figure!

Living in Queretaro?

For those viewers who might harbor visions of living in Queretaro, either permanently, temporarily, or as a second home.. some thoughts:

Our own accommodations, sturdy and functional, yet quite basic we have learned, would command a value of approximately $150,000 US.  I would guess the entire 3 bedroom 1 bath and courtyard place to be approximately 1200-1500 sq feet.   This relatively “muy caro” value reflects its close proximity to the center of the city, as in any locale.  Homes further out can be had for significantly less.

However, the rental value of this property would only be about $250 US/month, or roughly 1/4 the monthly rent-to-home-value one would expect in Austin.

This makes renting, vs buying significantly more attractive from an economic standpoint.

Maricarmen y Casimiro Gonzales

Maria y Casi are long time friends (dating back to college days) of our Austin friends and fellow Queretaro travelers Dean and Elizabeth.

In a previous blog “episode” I described a visit to the  scrumptious restaurant “Casa Pibil” owned by Maria and Casi’s son Miguel.

Dean and Elizabeth have now transition to stay a few days at Maria and Casi’s house, so this afternoon (Saturday) we were invited to join the 4 of them along with son Miguel and his lovely girlfriend Esme for early afternoon lunch.

The Gonzales’ live in a beautiful upscale neighborhood on the northeastern outskirts of Queretaro.  It is a whopping $3.50 US for the 30 minute Uber drive there.

The entire Gonzales family are delightfully cheerful and personable people.  And, fortunately for us, all speak fluent English,  although Casi challenged me to an English/Spanish round robin of communication so we could each perfect our own weakest language!

Dinner was incredible, with a nopales (catcus) salad, two varieties of enchiladas, including a mole/chicken presentation that could have been worthy of a food write up, accompanied by many appetizers and side dishes, as well as copious quanties of tequila, cerveza, and Anis, amongst others.

Soon the wonderful day was over, and the next Uber driver arrived some 5 minutes after summoning, this time for an even lower-priced fare for the return home.

Images of our afternoon:

The entry gate to the Gonzales home


Maricarmen meets us at the gate





yum, yum. Wonderful food


Enchilada con pollo y mole


The reluctant departure


Hasta Luego .. Dorothee and Casi


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