“Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.”
After an amazingly restful evening (even after drinks with friends Tuesday night), I awoke feeling good even though I discovered that it was my “time of the month” and I hadn’t planned ahead. So this is a story about the time I mimed “flow” while trying to communicate to a clerk at a pharmacy in Mexico that I was looking for tampons.
I was staying in historic Querétaro and most pharmacies were counters in a shop that required asking someone to get something from behind a glass. Before I continue, I’ll clarify that at the time, a few things didn’t occur to me, most importantly, I had a translator aka my phone with me the entire time.
I put pharmacy into my Google Maps and decided to wander around by myself early morning before meeting the rest of the LI crew at 10 AM. As I headed out, most places weren’t open yet, and I walked the cobblestone streets watching the sunrise and the city awaken. The hustle and bustle of the early-morning commuters walking and driving around town, vendors rolling the metal bars up and opening doors, sweeping the entrance, or just reading the paper while drinking coffee. It was amazing to experience a city like this, with vibrancy, coming to life. I had my camera and wanted to capture every moment. I walked around and up and down the streets. Even though I had a hard time navigating the city, I was in Mexico, away from my boring office desk, and I didn’t care if I got a little lost.
Arriving at a pharmacy that was open, I walked up and realized that after speaking, the women at the counter didn’t understand English. This was the first time I was alone, without anyone that spoke Spanish, and I started to panic. My brain stopped working I guess, and I felt stuck like I didn’t know how to explain to her. I started to “mime” what I thought made sense, the word “flow” by sweeping my arms from my head to my feet and saying the word “flow” like she understood any of it, it was the most obscure thing I’ve ever done. Just after that, I noticed that the tampons were behind her, and started to point to them, and finally, she understood me, pulled them off the shelf, and rung me up for them. I felt like an idiot. I mean, I “mimed” the word “flow” and I still can’t get over it. Every time I tell the story to people I’m laughing at myself. So the lesson here kids, learn some words in the language of the country you are visiting, and at least use the phone, that has a translator!
Exploring Querétaro with friends
After my language faux pas, I met up with some friends and we explored Querétaro’s charming shops, indulged in some gelato, and met new furry friends along the way. My friend Melisa loves animals and meeting new pups that afternoon was the highlight of our day. We spent time learning more about the local culture while shopping and enjoying the shade offered by many of the trees in this historic plaza. Nearby is the famous statue, El Danzante, depicting traditional concert dancers. We saw colonial homes and colorful restaurants with flower-filled terraces, all of which remain well-preserved, providing a beautiful setting for afternoon excursions.
One of the best things that happened while in Mexico was that I got lost. I was walking around with one of my friends from our group, and suddenly, I couldn’t find our Airbnb, and we were going in circles. I started to panic, and freak out, my phone was dying and I wasn’t sure which direction to go. I had completely lost my bearings. Jo was calm, she helped me laugh and recognize we’d figure it out, and all was well. It made me think that even when I think I know where I’m going, being aware of surroundings is so important when traveling. I was really thankful to her for being there with me because I felt like I was having a panic attack. Thankfully we found my apartment, grabbed my charger, and a short while later, we were laughing with our friends, eating gelato, and planning out the rest of the day.
Wanting to check out art galleries, my friend Kurtis and I decided to visit the Museum of Contemporary Art of Queretaro which recently opened at the end of 2018. It’s dedicated to exposing contemporary art, which will promote different practices through processes of dialogue, participation, and research between art professionals and the community in general. The museum is located on the hill of San Gremal, one of the most important historical sites in the city. I knew I’d be doing a story for Travel Pulse of my trip and wanted to make sure to hit up this place. We made it just in enough time to do a quick tour before they closed.
As we headed to meet the rest of the crew for dinner, I created a few more photographs, capturing the evening lights and watching musicians and dancers perform in the plazas while crowds gathered. It’s so great to connect with friends who live in different places and have a completely different point of view. I was so thankful for Kurtis’s willingness to walk with me and explore into the night.
“I would rather walk with a friend in the dark, than alone in the light.” ―
As I ended my day, I was feeling vulnerable. I was scared at times, but it helped to have the support of traveling with friends. While I do want to travel alone, I also feel that I do enjoy having someone to enjoy the journey with and that was something I was pushing away from because I wanted to feel confident and walk around knowing “I got this” but what I learned about myself was that I need to practice that confidence when traveling, and the more I travel, the more confident I’ll feel about being on my own.