Day 3- December 26, 2014: Puebla, Puebla, Mexico
Again we awoke unclear about our plans for the day. We knew we wanted to hit up Puebla, because Salma had a friend there and it was supposed to be a very cute city, and Veracruz because it's considered by many to be the center of Afro-Mexican history and culture. I'd seen some gorgeous photos by Tony Gleaton of Veracruz years ago so for some time it's been on my list of places in the African Diaspora to hit up. We’d decided to head to Veracruz first (about a 6 hr. bus ride from Distrito Federal), then go to Puebla on the way back, which was supposed to be about 3 hours away. Ixtzel gave us a ride to the northern bus terminal but when we arrived at around 7:50a (assuming this would not be cutting it super close) we discovered that there was only one bus company, Ado, with trips to Veracruz leaving from that terminal. The 8am bus was full and the next one wasn’t until around 1pm. Welp, change of plans. “Two tickets to Puebla, gracias.” The tix cost $184 Mexican pesos (about $13 each).
The ride was smooth but we got to Puebla fairly clueless about how to get to our destination, the center of town. We asked a gentleman at the information booth about where to go and he just supported a general sense that we’d had since we hit the airport in DF: Mexicans seem extreeeemely nice. Like in this moment we were sort of shocked. The man provided everything we needed with courtesy and respect. No dirty ogling, half-assed answers, stanky attitude. It was damn refreshing. We took a local bus outside of the bus station to the corner of Avenida de Palafox y Mendoza and Boulevard Heroes del 5 de Mayo of the Historic Center (Centro Historico) and with the use of the trusty map we picked up from the pleasant man in the bus station, made our way to the central plaza, known as Zocalo. The Puebla tourist information center was right there and they have computers with free internet and folks to help you find things. We teeechnically had no place to stay. Salma had organized something at the last minute with someone on Couchsurfing but it was a bit unclear whether he had space for us. She checked her email to see whether he was free while I looked up options on Hostelworld.com just in case. In the info center we found out that he, Omar, was in between obligations and could meet us later at his place, which a 10 min ride outside of the center. We decided to eat some Mexican chalupas and meander a bit through the town.
We explored the El Parián market, one of the most famous in Puebla. A must have item from Puebla is a piece of Talavera Poblana pottery. It's tough to carry around ceramics when traveling, as such items can add serious weight to your luggage, but these are true works of art and are supposed to be an essential reflection of Poblano culture.
While checking out the market I came across these. What's with folks representing Black girls in red and white polka dots? I've seen this throughout Latin America. And it's particularly curious in Puebla because almost no one in this area seems to phenotypically look like this. So what is this based upon and why is it for sale?
After lugging our things around the center of town we had to take a pause for the cause.
It was then time to take a taxi to the home where we planned to couchsurf for the night. During the ride I thought that there was something about the neighborhood that reminded me of an upscale portion of Quito, Ecuador. Then suddenly shit got interesting. It felt a little like one of those movies where you cross over to "the wrong side of the tracks." Now of course this is a complete exaggeration but at the time we were nervous about staying at a dude's house that we didn't know at all. He had lots of Couchsurfing references but ya just never know. We pulled up and Omar was outside with another guy (who turned out to be one of his roommates). Even the cabbie (in concerned Mexicano fashion) asked us whether we know these guys. Omar welcomed us with his roommate and extremely loving and hyper pooch. But still, we were plotting on how to get out of it should we walk in and feel unsafe. The house was empty which only made us more nervous. So is this where they invite people over to murder them? Salma had never had a truly bad experience couchsurfing and so we were like, "great, I'm the jinx." But as we started rapping with Omar we quickly felt comfortable. He was very open and welcoming. We rested and that night headed out with Omar and his two roommates to a super cute bar in a nearby city called Cholula. The music was banging but it was a bit chilly because we were basically outside. And by the time the night went out on we were all besties, drinking some hardcore Mezcal, looking like this. The wonder of travel.