Arriving in the afternoon and having completely blown the directions to the campground, we decided to try a "five star" hotel from the guide book, which has cheap rates on weekends. Good move on our part. Hotel Aristos was a nice change with actual hallways, a king size bed (very unusual in Mexico), no low door jams for me to crack my head against and a very nice bilingual staff
. (Note: People in Mexico are not very tall. I have numerous bumps on my head to prove it.) After cleaning up from two nights of camping (we had camped nearby Teotihuacan) we hit the streets to see Puebla and find some Mole Poblano.
We immediately noticed a big difference in the buildings as many exteriors showed off beautiful tiles, the local specialty. We caught a quick pre-hispanic museum tour (at the Museum Amparo) which filled in some answers to questions about mis-shapen skulls we´d seen at the ruins the previous day. (Prehispanic communities "manipulated" the skulls of infants to have special shapes...and you thought your parents were mean!) Following our museum tour, we walked to a recommended place to try out the Mole Poblano. This will be the first thing I learn to make when I get home. Rich, chocolaty and a little spicy, the sauce has it all. Sort of like Nutella, you could just eat it without the meat. Crackers, tortillas, whatever you need, just dip it in and EAT IT! With full stomachs, we called it a night...well sort of we did watch a really cheesy movie (because we had cable TV...in English!) which shall remain nameless.
The next morning we ate breakfast and decided to explore the hotel a little. We set off for the sixth floor which boasted views, the gym, spa, and what we thought was a bar
. We exited the elevator to find an ongoing remodel in progress. ¨No problem¨, we said, we´ll just look around a little and then head back down. After checking out the views, Laura pressed the elevator button......and there was no response. Paul pressed the elevator button...and there was no response. Yes, it´s true, we were stranded on the 6th floor of the hotel with no elevator, locked exit doors, and coffee cooking through our sytems. No bueno. After a few minutes of panic (me mostly, lots of oh s··t!...Laura, of course, started to giggle), Laura wisely started yelling down the breezeway "ayuda!" "ayuda!". We both cried out, "Hola! Hola! Ayuda Por Favor!" After more than a few nervous minutes we heard a faint "Donde?" Whew! "Aqi, la pisa seis!" One of the helpful staff appeared from an exit door (laughing) and released us from our prison. Crisis averted. I do like the casual atmosphere of Mexico. Or as Laura calls it..."random!" Open construction pits on streets, exposed wiring, kids running loose on busy streets, dogs running loose in packs, really all the things that Americans sue each other for on a daily basis...Mexico just lets it ride. If you fall in the pit, too bad!
We set out to explore the rest of Puebla, and toured the
Talavera tile factory. I was skeptical as this totally sounded like a Laura activity. Tour a tile factory??? Just throw me in a dentist chair and start the root canal without the gas
! But I will admit when I´m wrong..... it was totally worth it. Our guide was the fourth generation owner who recently sold a majority stake, but still works giving tours to people. Ever wonder why a Talavera vase costs hundreds of dollars? Look at it like this, if it were made in the U.S. at minimum wage, and that much time were spent, it would cost over a thousand. A six step process involving multiple fires, and 100% hand work creates the finished product. Lots of it never hits the shelves as it´s sold in the "bazaar" section of the factory. I suspect that alot of rich people have paid their decorators top dollar for these factory seconds. So anyway, with a four hour drive ahead to the coast, (Ah...finally! The Beach!) we hit the road. More photos due to this entry, next available fast connection!
Puebla is home to two things we found to be very interesting. The first is Talavera tile. The second is it is the alleged birthplace of Mole Poblano, a sauce for meat made with chocolate, chili and a bunch of other stuff. Puebla is also the first city which we´ve visited with a "real" Zocalo. It was very nicely decorated for "Feliz Navidad." Sunday night, there were entertaining clowns and a Christmas play in the Zocalo. The cathedral is the entire southern block of the Zocalo. While the architecture was not as impressive as other cathedrals we have seen, it does house the highest bells in Mexico. The interior was also fairly amazing.