If you were to ever see the online interaction between us Vagabundos, wether it be on our work e-mail or the various social media platforms, you would probably start asking if we ever actually discuss issues surrounding the magazine.
In between our dialog involving Brendan naming his pet lizards and losing our minds over how the last season of Breaking Bad ended, Luis (AKA Vagabundo’s head of design, AKA the tallest man in Mexico), Jackie (AKA Vagabundo’s Head of Marketing, AKA the future Mrs Pinkman) and myself (AKA Vagabundo columnist, AKA the most incredibly good looking and outrageously humble member of the VBM team) realised that it was a realistic possibility that we could all be in the same place at the same time and finally get to meet in person.
A flexible travel schedule (a concept that US customs just cant quite get their heads around – don’t get me started…) meant that quicker than I could say “Tequila” I was leaving the cold winds blowing over Michigan from Hurricane Sandy, to finding myself on a air conditioned bus to Luis’s hometown of Queretaro, Mexico.
The liquid nature of backpacking once again had me in a place that just a few weeks ago, I hadn’t heard of, let alone able to pronounce it correctly (a task that took a whole ten days before Luis wouldn’t laugh at my attempts to do so).
With previous experiences of Mexico only entailing a four-day surf trip back in 2007 to the Baja peninsular, a trip that centred on camping in a place that was nothing short of a scene out of Mad Max, Queretaro took to my pre-conceived ideas of Mexico, twisted by the usual western media headlines, with the subtlety of a sledgehammer.
Despite CNN et al wanting me to expect nothing but scenes of gun slinging cartels roaming the streets of dusty country towns, reality gave me a city bustling from significant economic growth and centred on a incredibly fascinating downtown area that turns out to be one of the most significant places of the Mexican independence movement.
Queretaro is found in the North-Central part of Mexico about three hours from Mexico City and is infamous for being the birthplace of the Mexican independence movement. In 1810, the city was the scene of a plot made between Miguel Hildago y Costilla, a Colonial Official by the name of Miguel Dominguez and his wife Josefa, to start a revolution against colonial Spanish rule in the country. After a fellow revolutionary was caught stockpiling weapons, royalist authorities uncovered the plot. This forced Hildago to bring the start of the revolution forward to September from the originally planned date of December 1810. Despite remaining in Royalist control for most of the Revolutionary war, Queretaro would again become the centre of other significant dates in Mexican history such as the signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hildago at the end of the American Mexican War and the site where the 1857 Constitution was written and published.
Today, Queretaro boasts an immaculate Downtown area that is steeped in its rich Spanish past all while amplifying the regions indigenous influences. Although the influence of Spanish/European architecture is very evident, the colours and architecture definitely has its own unique flare.
A great nightlife is found in the Downtown area, bustling with Queretaro’s beautiful people (yes, especially you Luis!), the constant flow of Mezcal ensures the great vibes and partying continue well into the night.
Hidden gems of history, new friendships and most of all paradigm shifts about other people’s cultures are probably my favourite things about backpacking and Queretaro handed me all three of these with ease.