Querétaro City, and points north

Recently a good friend Marc, who blogs at An Alaskan in Yucatan, helped facilitate my presentation for ¬†doing some volunteer work in Mexico’s altiplano (highlands). ¬†It was a refreshing change from the heat and humidity of Merida. The visit opened my eyes to other charms of this dynamic country. ¬†I hope to return with my wife during the hottest part of Yucatan’s season, next year. ¬†This blogpost will share some of the sights I encountered.

The city is a walker’s paradise, which is deeply appreciated, when compared to Merida. ¬† ¬†Driver’s here have a deep respect for pedestrians, and patience; ¬†sidewalks are level and wide; ¬†overhanging meters, air conditioners, and awnings are at an elevation that does not endanger tall people’s heads. ¬†Shade trees abound. ¬†The historic center is wisely and fairly restricted to traffic so that pedestrians also have accommodation. (Merida, I do still love your many fine qualities!) ¬† ¬∂ ¬† I flew to Mexico City and took a three-hour bus ride to get here.

Being a country boy, it was fun to get a close-up look at Mexico’s dairyland. ¬†Corn and cows were ¬†everywhere. And the landscape was dramatic, with deep ravines, volcanoes and waterfalls amply distributed. ¬†Below, basalt oozed from upwelling hot lava to cool, forming a natural dam and waterfall.

We took a hike into a deep ravine behind the house, and visited an ancient-but-still-functioning pottery facility carved into the cliff face.  The studio specializes in producing comals which are large griddles for toasting tortillas.  Nobody was working the day we dropped by.  I wish I could have watched these thin, flat ceramic pans being formed.  We saw them for sale in the village, but I doubted that a 24-inch pan would have survived the journey back to Merida.

Below we see the staging area for drying the clay pan, before baking it in the kiln, foot for scale:

“Me, all thumbs:” of Marc, peering into the kiln, which is fired with scrub oak harvested from the ravine.

Interior of a kiln, showing shards of broken comal pottery.

The ravine reveals much about the underlying stratigraphy of the rocks, which are an important construction-materials resource in the region.

Here we see rock blocks (instead of concrete blocks) being sawed from a quarry.

Rock blocks for sale, roadside.

And more quarry stone from which they were cut.