A Long Weekend in Mexico City and Puebla: Part III
Updated: Dec 21, 2019
Day Three: A Day Trip to Puebla City
The next day I was startled awake at 7am by a huge explosion. It sounded a bit like the explosion that I had heard the day prior that I had chalked up to being canons as a part of the performances that were taking place in the zocalo. About a minute or so later, another explosion, and a minute after that, another. My heart was beating fast-- there’s nothing quite like awaking to the sounds of a war zone...however, the rest of Cholula stayed quiet. No dogs barked, no one else in the complex or neighborhood stirred. I soon texted my Airbnb host as well as another expat in the neighborhood who I’d been in touch with and asked what in the world that sound was. They seemed unfazed and told me that they were probably just fireworks, a common occurrence in Cholula and elsewhere in Mexico. The other expat had me laughing when she mentioned that the fireworks would occur at all hours of the morning and night, and that sometimes she’d even be awaken by marching bands first thing in the morning. Lovely. Just lovely.
After getting dressed, we attempted to visit a nearby Montessori school so that I could ask questions about potentially putting my son there later that year. Just before we arrived, there was another random loud explosion from the fireworks. Nope-- don't think I can get used to that! The school was enclosed by large locked doors with a huge playground, grassy area, and courtyard on the other side. Everything was flawlessly clean, and you didn’t hear a peep through the windows of the classrooms. We didn’t see a way to call anyone to let them know we were there; however, we eventually saw a staff member walking around who informed us where the front door was, and that the director typically only took appointments. She was right. Unfortunately it was one part of my trip that wasn’t successful, but made me feel so much better just to see how large and clean the grounds were. I certainly look forward to returning with my son at some point to see whether it will be a good fit.
As we walked down the street to find breakfast, we noticed that the city workers had blocked off the street so they could clean. The funny thing to us was that there was no trash to clean off of the already pristine streets, but that they were cleaning debris from the trees. I’m telling you, this place was flawless. I looked up and noticed a large waterpark on the other side of the street, which had me curious as to when it would open considering the weather supposedly never got that hot in Cholula. We ended up at a beautiful cafe that one could consider “upscale”. The decor and overall environment was very modern and trendy. They served us delicious pastries and fresh squeezed juice to start. The food was perfectly presented and delicious. For a moment, I forgot I was in Mexico and instead thought that I was somewhere in upscale New York. We found the price to be a little higher than some of the other places, but it still cost us less than $20 USD for two meals plus tip.
The plan for the day was to spend some time in Puebla City and to seek out some cemitas and tacos de arabe, two foods that Puebla is known for. Of course my first instinct was to call an Uber, but my friend stopped me: “No, let’s take a bus instead. Let’s get lost...that’s the only way you’ll learn your way around,” he said. He was right...and I may as well do so while I have someone who is fluent in Spanish with me. After asking a few people for directions, we ended up taking a collectivo to the end of the main road and walking a few blocks before spotting a direct bus to Puebla. We ran to catch the bus, which was already packed with passengers. From my previous trips to Cancun, I learned that when it came to the buses, the more the merrier. So we squeezed in and stood-- very closely to others-- just about most of the 20 minute drive to Puebla.
We didn’t have a specific plan for Puebla, so when we arrived we headed toward the zocalo and went from there. Puebla City was busy with locals and tourists, probably more tourists than I had seen all trip. American tourists, French tourists, and other Mexican tourists. There were vendors with huge bouquets of balloons catching the attention of all of the children. There were tour buses lined up ready to take tourists around the city and to all of its attractions. Families were out feeding the pigeons near the statues. A group of young high school students asked to interview me about my experiences in Puebla as a part of a tourism project they were doing, and I happily obliged, using my friend as my translator. Where Mexico City hadn’t quite captured my attention, Puebla City definitely did with its historic architecture, charm, and overall good vibe.
We found a small restaurant run by one woman that sold both cemitas and tacos de arabe so although neither of us were hungry at ALL after the large breakfast we had just an hour or so before, we still took a moment to stop and eat...and it was worth every bite. I had yet to be disappointed by anything I had in Puebla. After we finished our meal, we continued walking around taking in all of the sights around us.
Just around the corner we noticed several streets lined with street vendors selling everything from clothing, to spices and peppers, to seafood, to fruits and vegetables. We stopped to buy some fresh cut pineapple for only $0.50 USD. Hands down, it was some of the sweetest, juiciest pineapple I’ve had. We continued down the street passing by vendors cooking tacos, chalupas, cemitas, and everything else that my mind wanted, but my stomach couldn’t handle. Everywhere I looked, there were large quantities of colorful fresh fruits and vegetables being sold for only $0.50 USD. It was after seeing a large basket of fresh strawberries for $0.50 USD that I had to shake my head in disbelief knowing that we paid at least 10 times as much in the states for the same thing, most of which was imported from right there in Mexico.
We walked around a little while longer before taking an Uber back to Cholula. We drove through other beautiful, upscale neighborhoods such as La Paz, and drove by super affluent neighborhoods such as Angelopolis (which we were told by our driver was where-- although very safe-- many of the cartel descendants lived).
After spending some time in the Airbnb relaxing and packing for the next morning’s departure, we took a walk down the main road to find a place for dinner. The streets were MUCH livelier than they were the night before, with all of the shops open for business and people out everywhere. We eventually stumbled upon a place called Karma Bagels and decided to stop there since my friend really wanted a bagel-- according to him, something that you rarely come across in Mexico. It ended up being the perfect place, with a cozy environment, bagels, salads, and WINE!! While we sat waiting on our food, I was surprised to see a sign for Uber Eats. Considering it was still fairly new to the market, I certainly didn’t expect it to be up and operating in Cholula. Even more surprising was the fact that the restaurant took credit cards. Up until the, everywhere we went was cash only.
The sun had set by the time we had arrived there, so I knew that when we returned to the room it’d be freezing cold. Much to my surprise it wasn’t as cold...it was actually bearable (as long as we wore socks on the cold tile floor). As I went to bed early that night to get some rest before my 4:30am wake up call, I knew it was time for me to pull together my final thoughts on Puebla and Cholula. Was this the place for my son and I? Little did I know just how much my experience the next morning would affect my entire thought process.
How does the trip end? Stay tuned for the last and final update, Day Four: Reflect and Return Home.
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