Thursday, June 19, 2008

San Luis Potosi

A quick and healthy breakfast of caldo de borrego (soup of lamb with chopped tomatoes, cactus and topped with chopped onion and coriander leaves) and fresh carrot juice, at Querétaro, marked the beginning of our roadtrip to San Luis Potosi. We had to wear the car tires for 200Km to reach our destination, San Luis Potosi a.k.a San Luis a.k.a SLP. However we seldom like taking paths straight to the destination ignoring the beautiful Mexican countryside enroute.

Almost at the midway between Querétaro and SLP we deviated towards Pozos, a tiny village known for it's silver mines. We went there in search of the famous furnaces used for silver smelting, los hornos, but to our dismay we couldn't locate it. Nevertheless that didn't disappoint us much for there was an artists' expo which made the visit worthy. Artists from various surrounding states were displaying and selling their artwork. It ranged from beaded keychain to colourful flutes to rustic metal art to clay art. We wandered around the village for sometime and took leave.

SLP was about an hour more from there. SLP is the capital of the state with the same name. The state is surrounded by Nuevo Leon and Tamaulipas in the north, Zacatecas in the west, Guanajuato, Querétaro and Hidalgo in the south and Veracruz in the east. SLP is well connected with major Mexican cities with flights and buses. It is located inbetween Matahuala and Querétaro if you're driving from North towards Mexico city. The taxis are cheap and frequent in the city, but the historical center is best explored by feet.

SLP was a lot more tougher than Querétaro to navigate for the colonial part of the city huge and as a consequence one-ways are omnipresent. It took nearly half hour to find the hostel La Marquesa, where we recieved a warm welcome from Señora Lety. It's worth mentioning that this particular hostel is THE best hostel I've ever stayed. The hospitality in the hostel brought back to me the memoirs of Dodda mane and the host Kasturi akka, in Agumbe. It was extremely well maintained, the hostess was very kind and friendly. I would strongly recommend this hostel to anyone who visits SLP. After getting refreshed, Lety showed us the restaurant which serves the typical food of La Huasteca, SLP. We had delicious tamales and chilaquiles for lunch. We returned to hostel and relaxed in the backyard, listening to the stories of Lety.

We set out to see the Centro Historico (Historical Center) at about half past four. SLP has a colonial center with gigantic and grandiloquent cathedrals showing off the architectural splendour. Plaza San Francisco, Plaza de Armas, Templo de Nuestra Señora del Carmen, Teatro de la Paz, Universidad Autónoma de San Luis Potosí (UASLP) and the regional museum are few of the must see places in the center. La Ciudad de Los Jardines (The city of gardens) is the moniker of San Luis Potosi, there are numerous gardens and fountains decorating the city. The plazas are normally very crowded in the evening with children crying for candies and balloons, couples romancing, musicians playing, dancers rhythmically moving their bodies, tourists expressing their awe at the architecture, peddlers selling sundries and photographers like me exhausting our camera batteries. There are cafes and art galleries in the narrow streets connecting the aforementioned edifices.

The center of SLP is much larger than that of Querétaro with taller and higher monuments. Though it's best explored by feet, we were exhausted by the time we traversed the entire centro. We were lucky to get a glimpse of La Estudiantina, the traditional music group of the university. La Estudiantina, like we had seen in Guanajuato, were a set of university students who wore black attire and played various instruments like acoustic guitars, tambourines, mandolins, violins and acoustic bases. It was dark, our legs were tired and our stomachs were craving for something to eat. As said earlier, centro is so crowded that it's almost impossible to find empty taxis and we decided to walk back to hostel.

My quest for photography was not yet over, I thought of getting a couple of long exposure shots after the city was illuminated. After dinner, we hitched a taxi to Centro again. I mounted the camera on tripod and started shooting all the glorious plazas and cathedrals which we had seen during day light. They appeared doubly magnificent adorned by colourul lights and it was delight to my camera for seeing such sight. We didn't have enough energy to click every edifice, every street; we returned to hostel and dozed off.

Next morning Lety had made the most delicious Huevos Rancheros, I had ever tasted in my life. The eggs were perfectly and delicately cooked sunny-side-up and served with home-made salsa, frijoles (bean paste) and lettuces. My mouth waters every time I think of it. All good things had to come to end, but for us better things were waiting. We packed our bags and bid au revoir to unforgettable Lety and headed towards Real de Catorce.

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