It was cold when I headed out to load the bike from the hotel, probably 50º F, but by the time finished it had warmed up a bit. I hadn't expected much cool weather in Mexico, but I was happy to have it. The trip previous had been terribly hot and I'd braced myself for similar conditions. Pinching my few remaining pesos and skipping breakfast to save a little money for gas "just in case", I rolled out for the city of Queretaro and a better chance of banks with ATM's. I'm always a bit paranoid with ATM cards in foreign countries - sometimes they work and sometimes they don't!
The terrain was flat and the air cold but in 45 minutes I was searching for an ATM in Queretaro. Of course, the GPS was wrong about ATM locations, but I found a bank and withdrew about $10,000,000 dollars worth of pesos just to make me feel better. I'd been seriously stressed at the previous day's lack of cash.
The streets in the old section of the city were being torn up and redone, so the direct ways to the Centro were blocked. After meandering for what seemed ages and passing church after church, I found a parking spot next to a small plaza and grabbed a jamon y queso torta for a late breakfast. The streets around the plaza were littered with vendors selling Mexican Independence Day souvenirs, and I figured any additional Mexican bling on the bike might be a good thing, being a gringo and all. I'd spent 3 months in Mexico just after Trump's inauguration, and got a few anti-Trump words and the cold shoulder a few times, but overall it wasn't bad. Usually it was explained that they hated Trump, not Americans. Still, I figured it wouldn't hurt and bought a stick-on set of Mexican flags to grace the windshield along with my standard set of Mexican flag decals on the bike.
Previously, I'd only passed through Queretaro heading south in blistering heat, the stop and go traffic making the experience torture. It was nice to see the city under different circumstances. There was a good vibe, especially in the older section. I’d read somewhere that it’s a good place to live as a Norteño if you need the supports of a big city.
That said, after the previous 4 days in the mountains and quaint villages, my senses were assaulted by the clamor of the big city and quickly I tagged Tula de Allende as my destination for the day.
Taking the slower free roads to save some cash, I wound slowly through village after village, tope after tope, pothole after pothole. As I entered the highlands north of Mexico City, the elevation was around 7500 feet and the air was cool. The rolling hills were covered in flowers and cornfields, many, many cornfields. There was an odd sense of timelessness, hard to put it into words, maybe triggered by thoughts of the ancients living and growing corn in the region. No matter, I enjoyed the sense of being lost in the moment.
I reached Tula around 4 pm, home of an archeological pyramid site from the era of the Toltecs. I circled the central part of the town until finding a parking spot. Some handmade tacos were in order. From my little table and chair at the doorway, I watched as people strolled past and stared, the sight of a big, long haired gringo not very common.
This dude made delicious tacos. Three tacos and a Coke for $2 US equivalent
A $28 deal for a hotel was found. It was nice, clean and quite colorful, despite feeling a bit expensive after some $12 hotels. Once unloaded and settled in, I decided to climbed back on the bike and head back to the downtown area.
I walked a few blocks and ogled the medieval fortress-styled church, eventually perching at a coffee shop to do some people watching before retiring to my mobile hacienda.