Our Apartment and Neighborhood

Our new apartment was unfurnished, so our first task was to buy all the essentials you need when just starting out.  The mattress was delivered first, so we could at least move in on November 29, the day before we started work, even if the mattress was sitting on the floor!  Thanks to our new neighbor, Arturo, who is an IT specialist, we established access to a wireless internet server in the building, so could immediately communicate with coworkers and friends by e-mail and even listen to WETA-FM in Washington via the web. 

By the end of our first week in the apartment, we got a small refrigerator and stove in excellent condition that had been used by previous Peace Corps volunteers.  We also had delivered the other things we ordered — a wooden support base for the mattress (box springs are not common here), as well as a rustic style dining room set, sofa bed, bureau, and a small piece of furniture that holds the garrafón, or five-gallon bottle of drinking water that everyone uses in their homes.  We were able to stay within the budget the Peace Corps gave us to purchase such items.  As for towels, sheets, cleaning products, we found some of what we needed in the shops in the downtown area, but did what everyone does to get the rest, which is head for the WalMart on the outskirts of town. 

Our neighborhood is a mix of small businesses, private homes, and small apartment units like ours.  There are a couple of convenience stores that sell a limited selection of groceries, drinking water, snacks, juice, soft drinks, beer, and liquor such as rum and tequila.  We don’t have a washing machine, so we take our dirty clothes to a laundry service across the street that charges 12 pesos per kilo, or about 50 cents per pound, to wash and fold clothing.  An average weekly load costs us about $5.00.  There are also places that sells fruits and vegetables, a butcher shop, a stationery store, a florist, and, best of all, a stand where the owner, Josefina, makes liquados or smoothies from fresh fruit and yogurt of your choosing.  If we can’t get what we need from these merchants, we take a bus on weekends to one of the large supermarkets outside of the city center.  Most common food items (bread, juice, milk, and of course, tortillas) are cheaper in Mexico than in the U.S., but most imported or specialty items are more expensive.  One exception is Chilean wine, which costs about $6 or $7 per bottle.

 We can walk to the office where we both work in about 15 minutes through neighborhood streets.  After several days of our walking commute, we began to greet and chat with some of the neighbors who commented that they had noticed us going back and forth.  They were curious about what we are doing here, so we explain about the Peace Corps and our work.  One couple invited us into their yard and house to see the intricate crèche and Christmas decorations that they were setting up.  Another woman told us that she had been the landlady of an earlier Peace Corps volunteer.  Everyone is extremely friendly and welcomes us to Mexico and Querétaro.

 Finally, here’s an anecdote about the queretanos (the inhabitants of Querétaro).  They love dogs.  There are lots of dogs here, of all sizes, which live behind the gates or doors of almost all the houses and bark as you walk by.  A few weeks ago the weather got a bit cool here, by local standards, with morning temperatures in the low 40s.  The queretanos all commented about how cold it had become.  By the second day of the cold spell, most of the dogs were wearing sweaters!


2 Responses to “Our Apartment and Neighborhood”

  1. Catherine Brousseau Says:

    I so enjoy your journal and pictures. It sounds like you both are doing well. I am off to India a week from today. I’ll be there for 4 1/2 weeks, in and near Mumbai, and then via train, to Dehli. There I’ll meet with 13 others associated with the Barre Center for Buddhist Studies for an 18-day pilgrimage to Buddhist sites. Blessings, Catherine

    • bendgold Says:


      Thanks for your message. The trip sounds great and I’m sure it will be a great experience. Please send some photos and your reflections on what you learn. Take care and keep in touch.

      Charles Goldsmith

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