Life and Travel in Puebla, Mexico

Happy Independence Day Weekend!

I'm celebrating the start of the long weekend by eating a torta de tamal (a tamale filled with jalapeños and cheese, stuffed inside a bread roll).

I’m celebrating the start of the long weekend by eating a torta de tamal (a tamale filled with jalapeños and cheese, stuffed inside a bread roll).

Vacation in Oaxaca

Santo Domingo.

Santo Domingo.

Pyramids at Monte Alban.

Pyramids at Monte Alban.

El Arbol de Tule, one of the biggest trees in the world.

El Arbol de Tule, one of the biggest trees in the world.

The biggest tamale I've ever eaten.

The biggest tamale I’ve ever eaten.

Mineral designs at Hierve el Agua.

Mineral designs at Hierve el Agua.

Mineral springs at Hierve el Agua.

Mineral springs at Hierve el Agua.

Ruins of Mitla.

Ruins of Mitla.

A tour of a mezcal factory. This is the base of a maguey plant.

A tour of a mezcal factory. This is the base of a maguey plant.

The start of the Guelaguetza festival in July.

The start of the Guelaguetza festival in July.

Botanical Gardens of Santo Domingo

Botanical Gardens of Santo Domingo

Tlayudas: bigger than your head, cheaper than a set meal, and tastier than all the other menu options. This is only half of one!

Tlayudas: bigger than your head, cheaper than a set meal, and tastier than all the other menu options. This is only half of one!

One of the markets where you can buy just about anything.

One of the markets where you can buy just about anything.

Mountain Weekend: La Malinche and Popocatépetl-Iztaccíhuatl

Dog #2, who never tires.

Dog #1, who never tires, exploring La Malinche.

Dog #1 exploring La Malinche. We didn't go any higher than this.

Dog #2. We didn’t go any higher than this.

Popocatépetl. This is about as close as you can get.

Popocatépetl. This is about as close as you can get.

Iztaccíhuatl.

Iztaccíhuatl.

Flowers sprinkled with ash from Popo.

Flowers sprinkled with ash from Popo.

Ash stuck on the park sign!

Ash stuck on the park sign!

On the way to Paso de Cortés.

On the way to Paso de Cortés.

Weekend eats

The beer we bought at Puebla's beer festival. All of the beers were local except for a few from other states. The beers, from left to right, are from Baja California Sur, Mexico City, and Puebla (the last two).

The beer we bought at Puebla’s beer festival. All of the beers were local except for a few from other states. The beers, from left to right, are from Baja California Sur, Mexico City (middle), and Puebla (the last two).

Summer fruit: Prickly pear fruit (tunas), lychees (lichis), and peaches (duraznos).

Summer fruit: Prickly pear fruit (tunas), lychees (lichis), and peaches (duraznos).

Fried grasshoppers (chapulines). They're delicious on their own or in quesadillas.

Fried grasshoppers (chapulines). They’re delicious on their own or in quesadillas.

Roasted elote, or corn on the cob with mayonnaise, cheese, and salsa. Usually elote is boiled, but the roasted kind is really tasty.

Roasted elote, or corn on the cob with mayonnaise, cheese, and salsa. Usually elote is boiled, but the roasted kind is really tasty.

Expat Interviews #5

From my friend Shaye:

1. How long have you been in Puebla?

In total, around three years. I studied abroad for a semester in college, came back to teach English for a year after I finished my undergraduate degrees, and returned about two years ago more permanently.

2. Why did you decide to move here?

Having a Master’s degree in International Development with concentrations in Latin America and Research and Evaluation, living in Mexico has given me the opportunity to continue studying, researching, and building my skill set in the region I have most studied. Additionally, my husband is from Puebla and my relocation here made the most sense at this point in our professional and personal lives.

3. What are you doing now?

I am currently working toward my doctorate degree in Political Economy of Development at the Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla with support from the Fulbright program. My research track is Public Policy, the State, and Development and my dissertation research is on higher education regionalization in rural Puebla.

4. What do you find difficult about living here?

I still struggle with all the bureaucracy here. Whether it’s visiting the immigration office or even just dealing with things at the university, I become easily frustrated with the excessive paperwork, waiting, and general inefficiency involved. I also haven’t quite adjusted to the “favor” culture, which can be related to the bureaucracy issue. Sometimes people act like they’re doing you a favor and make it seem like you owe them something for it, when they’re really just doing their job.

5. What do you really like about it?

I love experiencing all the diversity that Mexico has to offer. The regions and towns differ in traditions, food, landscapes, and culture in general, so you can always discover something new in this country.

6. What advice would you give to someone wanting to move here?

Do as much research as you can and if possible talk to people who live or have lived here before. However, in my experience, finding a place to live and work is usually accomplished best in person. Keep an open mind and give yourself a couple months to fully adjust.

7. Favorite food here?

I like pretty much any antojito – quesadillas, memelas, tostadas, tlacoyos, chalupas, chilaquiles, tacos de carne asada. Tortilla or Aztec soup is also one of my favorites and during the Christmas season I love the stuffed chipotle peppers, too. I recommend hitting up the local markets as well—there are so many fruits I’d never actually seen or tasted before, like prickly pears, pitaya, pitahaya or dragonfruit, guavas, maracuya or passion fruit, and the many varieties of mangos.

8. Favorite drink?

I like almost any fresh juice they make here, and also agua de jamaica, which is hibiscus flower soaked in water and sweetened with sugar. I also love micheladas and cheladas (beer with fresh lime juice and/or a mix of salsas). Cocktails with mezcal are becoming increasingly popular and are worth trying, too.

9. Favorite activity?

My favorite thing to do is to pueblear, or visit small towns. Puebla has a lot of pueblos mágicos, which are “magic towns” as deemed by the government for tourism purposes. Usually these places have eco-tourism (waterfalls, ziplines, hiking, etc), indigenous populations, and/or archeological ruins.

10. Favorite place?

It’s hard to pick just one place in Mexico! I’d say my favorite pueblo so far is Cuetzalan. The town is really beautiful and there are a lot of things to do nearby, like hike to waterfalls, explore caves, and see ruins. As far as cities, Mexico City is crazy in terms of the number of people and size, but has so much to offer. I also really liked Queretaro, Guanajuato, and Guadalajara during my short weekend visits there. My favorite beach places are the small towns that haven’t been over developed and commercialized yet, like San Agustinillo en Oaxaca.

11. Favorite holiday?

I really enjoy the Day of the Dead traditions. My husband and I put up an altar every year to remember loved ones.

 

At the Cascadas de Quetzalapa, which are between Chignahuapan and Zacatlán here in Puebla state.

At the Cascadas de Quetzalapa, which are between Chignahuapan and Zacatlán here in Puebla state.

Even the subway is in on the World Cup

This month's ticket for the Mexico City subway.

This month’s ticket for the Mexico City subway.

FIFA and the “puto” debate

Many, many memes have been created on this topic.

Many, many memes have been created on this topic.

Perhaps you’ve heard that the Mexican team is in trouble with FIFA because their fans shout “PUTO!!!” whenever the opposing team’s goalie successfully catches the ball. If you’ve ever been to a soccer game in Mexico, you’ll doubtless have heard that shout ten or twenty times throughout the game. It’s a word that’s become part of Mexican soccer and culture as a whole. However, it’s also a term used to refer to gay men, and when you add the fact that the word is most commonly used is to curse or offend, then you have FIFA’s problem with it.

There have been a variety of responses here: those who agree that it’s an offensive word that should be banned in soccer matches; those who believe it’s simply part and parcel of the culture; and those who defend it with humor (among many other responses). Here are a few examples:

1. “Homofobia, la porra te saluda”: A blogger’s thoughts on “puto” and homophobia.

2. “Todos Somos Putos”: A writer’s opinion that the use of “puto” is a widespread and inevitable part of Mexican culture.

3. La Familia del Barrio: ¡Puto!:  A humorous defense of “puto” and its uses in everyday life. “La Familia del Barrio” is a TV show along the lines of South Park– it’s offensive, political, and funny.

What do you think? Should FIFA ban the use of offense words (or gestures, such as the banana-throwing in Spain)  by teams’ fans?

 


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