The Bridge at Tequisquiapan | Mexico | Living in Mexico

The Bridge at Tequisquiapan

Tourists with the time and inclination to venture out into the Bahio beyond San Miguel may discover the spa town of Tequisquiapán (Teh-kees-kee-ah-PAN), in the state of Querétaro. Reputedly it's a place where wealthy Mexico City residents of go for weekend getaways—sort of a Mexican Sonoma, right down to the wine and cheese tasting.

This post is not about that place.

It's about another Tequisquiapán, this one in the state of Guanajuato. An entirely different kettle of goats.

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Tequisquiapán, Qro. has a beautiful church and plaza, fine hotels and restaurants and restorative hot springs. Tequisquiapán, Gto. has more poverty than you'll ever want to see.

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The town square is the nicest place in town, but that's not saying much. Bordering the basketball court cum soccer field is general store; to its left is a place that sells cement—and judging from appearances, not much of that.

Opposite the general store stands the church...

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... or what's left of it. Looks like some deferred maintenance here. See where the Cholos have tagged it? The hick kids who live here have picked a totally uncool name. Cholos indeed. That went out with Cheech and Chong.

Ruined churches in small villages often are still used for services, but not this one. The floor of the sanctuary is heaped with rubble from the collapsed roof. There's no place to sit.

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The chapel's last link to the mother church is a fading image of La Virgen de Guadeloupe, now sharing wall space with an old advertisement and more graffiti.

It never was much of a place. Tequisquiapán has been going downhill for the last fifty years. Back in the '30s, a railroad came through here. Railway maintenance workers lived in blocky company-built houses.

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These are the most durable buildings in town. My friend Paul Latoures asked a woman if she owned or rented this house. She told him the railroad had "loaned" it to her. Translation: Her family (and her pig) are squatting there.

Hers is one of a row of identical houses lined up along what once was the railroad right-of-way. The tracks and cross ties are long gone, but the raised roadbed remains, providing a superbly-built unpaved road leading to Adjuntos del Rio. Some might call it a road from nowhere to nowhere.

The woman is one of the lucky ones. Many people here live in more modest houses.

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No electricity, no water, no sewer, no washline. That's laundry hanging on the bush to the left. Cooking is done on open brush fires. This kind of living is not much better than camping.

Departure of the railroad left residents with two options: Go north to the U. S. or fall back on subsistence farming. They did both.

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Everyone here raises animals. Chickens scuttle across the road. Flocks of sheep and goats wander through town. Boys gather dried cornstalks for fodder, hauling them out of the fields on horse carts. Lose the red baseball hat, the stylish haircut and the rubber tires and this could be a scene right out of the 19th century.

The most direct route to this place is a feeder road from the Delores Highway. Several years ago a flood of the Rio Lata which runs through the middle of town, carried away the bridge connecting the two halves of Tequisquiapán. The state replaced it with a suspension bridge for pedestrians, I guess on the principle that most of the time, vehicular traffic can ford the river, and when it's flooded, at least people still can walk over for groceries.

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There's not enough people left to justify rebuilding the highway bridge. But no highway bridge means Tequisquiapán is dying. In the modern world, if you can't drive there, it doesn't exist.

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Nobody comes to live here anymore. A crumbling bus stop on the Dolores Highway marks the access road to Tequisquiapán. If you wait there, you can catch the Flecha Amarilla bus to San Miguel. Probably not a bad idea.
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