Sunday, November 08, 2009

Glory Days

The 442 area code gets some big lovin' from the Los Angeles Times today, with bonus points awarded for its snarky nod to the lust for violence that plagues so much reporting on Mexico.

There are plenty of reasons to visit Querétaro, but it's the instability and conflict and violence that finally won me over.
The instability of 1810, that is. The conflict of 1848. The violence of 1867. All set amid 18th century colonial architecture, surrounded these days by commerce and calm.

Double bonus points awarded to the writer for sharing one of our personal obsessions:

Now, the former convent houses the Querétaro Regional Museum and a certain piece of furniture I was keen to see.

In room after room, then down a long, well-polished hall, I found displays on Indian villages, Spanish colonization and city development but not the table I was after. Finally, I asked an employee whether he could point me toward the table where the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was signed.

He immediately jumped up, instructed me to follow him and led me down a hall to a locked door. Then he pulled out a fistful of keys and opened the door, revealing a long room that's usually open to the public. (It was a slow day.) Then he withdrew to a dark corner, threw a switch, and the lights came on, revealing a long table.

Facing the table, somebody had positioned a sculpture of a weeping woman -- probably not a coincidence. Mexico's leaders agreed to the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848 because American troops had reached Mexico City and were ready to ruin the place if Mexico didn't sign. Some of that paperwork was finalized at this table in Querétaro. Under the treaty, in exchange for about $18 million, Mexico gave up 525,000 square miles of territory, including California and Texas. In many ways, that land transfer at gunpoint is the move that made the U.S. the power it is today, leaving many Mexicans with a bitter taste.

But my friend the museum worker was great. He waited at a distance while I circled the table. No pen imprints on top, no gum underneath, just a wooden rectangle, held up by fancy carved legs, the top big enough for six place settings, upon which world history was rewritten.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Was that the museum that we went to?


m

Burro Hall said...

Yep. The table was out being waxed or something.

sarah said...

This made me insanely happy! Perhaps Im easily entertained but its exciting since the majority of Americans think im making it up when I tell them I lived in Queretaro. Granted they are the same people that ask if there are paved roads in Mexico.