Tuesday, 13 April 2010


This seems to be the gist of the message on plaques outside museums and sites of historical interest in this area. 2010 is the bi-centenary of Mexican independence. It's raised for us the issue of how history is recorded, whose history it is and how it is used.
Yesterday, we took a bus to Santiago de Queretaro. En route we watched a DVD of Vinnie Jones in a Spanish version of the vicious film, 'The Condemned'.
From the bus terminal we took a local bus across the sprawling industrial and business sectors of this large bustling city set against the gentle hills of the Sierra Gorda. The city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The tourist information leaflet describes it as 'an exceptional example of a colonial town whose layout symbolizes its multi-ethnic population...also renowned for its outstanding buildings...'  So we headed for the historic area. It was here, in a meeting under the guise of the Literary Association, that the Independence conspirators laid their earliest plans. Later in the century, The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was signed here. This ended the Mexican-American War by handing over almost half of Mexico's territory-Texas, New Mexico, California and more to the US. In 1867, Emperor Maximilian made his last stand. He was defeated, tried by the court and finally condemned by firing squad on the 'Hill of Bells' nearby.
This was also an Aztec town and many Otomi still live here. In the tourist information there is lots about the churches, the plazas, the museums, the Viceroyalty houses, which we strolled by, entered, admired and enjoyed. But, there's nothing in the leaflet about the Otomi people. In walking around the little alleys full of craft stalls we came on a beautiful sculpture of an Aztec Indian. At that moment, ironically, my camera's battery gave out so we couldn't even get a digital image to remind us of their history. It may not be the intention of the local tourist agency but we couldn't help thinking that the Otomi of Santiago de Queretaro have been condemned to near invisibility. Or perhaps we just picked up the wrong leaflet?
All this activity made us hungry as usual so we searched out a kind of workmen's cafe over a shop that did a three course special lunch with a drink of lemonade for 40pesos, about £2.30. It wasn't the best meal we've ever eaten but it beat the showy tourist restaurants for local authenticity. We like to think that the friendly owners were Otomi. Who knows?

No comments:

Post a Comment