So the swine-flu standfast was lowered on Thursday, which meant that we could take trips outside of our sites--freedom! The cities actually started coming back to life around Wednesday, as the Méxican government also lowered its alertness level. I believe that after the primary and secondary schools re-open on Monday, everything will be back to pseudo-normality.
Friday night we had the First (Annual) Peace Corps Pretty Night--following groups now have the burden of raising the bar! Some of the other volunteers who are going to rural areas felt like they were never going to be able to use their formal suits and dresses, and so they organized a fiesta for the occasion. Our country director graciously hosted the event at his amazingly beautiful house. Some of the staff also showed up, and it was a great time. One of the volunteers formally graduated with her MPA yesterday (she was allowed to leave her program early for Peace Corps), so we had a surprise mini-ceremony for her since she couldn´t be at her actual ceremony.
Since things have loosened up, on Saturday I headed out to San Miguel de Allende, the American retirement mecca of México. The city is famous for its hot springs, and somehow it has become the go-to place for American retirees to live. I saw license plates from Texas and Florida, and I heard more English on the streets than anywhere else in México so far. It was a bit hot out to really enjoy the hot springs, so I went to the Jardin Botánico El Charco Del Ingenio outside of town. It is a giant reserve for native flora and fauna, and it is famous for its cacti.
San Miguel has several central plazas with churches, which are architecturely very beautiful. Here is their most famous one, the Parroquia de San Miguel Arcángel.
Once I returned to Querétaro, I also finally made it into the Alameda, a nice, shady park in the southern part of the city. The park is surrounded by a fence with a rotating exhibit. Right now the exhibit includes photographs from the Sierra Gorda, the famous biosphere in México, to help raise awareness of environmental issues. The rumor I heard was that a Peace Corps volunteer was involved with this project.