Popobike is an annual cycling race in Puebla. Yesterday some friends and I decided to ride the route, which has already been marked for next weekend’s race. There are 30k and 60k routes; as amateur mountain bikers, we opted for the 30k. They turned out to be the hardest 30k I’ve ever ridden; we went the wrong way once and got lost in somebody’s crops another time, I walked my bike up and down many steep hills, my friend fell three times, and by the time we rolled back into Metepec, where the path starts, 5 hours had gone by! We were starved and had run out of water a while back, so the first thing we did was have a beer and some quesadillas! The route was beautiful and I would definitely recommend it– you can run it, too– but make sure you’re well-prepared! There are many dangerous, technical descents and it’s best to go with someone who knows the way, or, at least, take a lot of food and water and ask the other cyclists on the trail for tips (such as “don’t follow the red marks on the trees because that’s the 60k route).
It’s almost become a monthly tradition. We went up as far as we could in the limited amount of time that we had, and only made it to the treeline. It rained the whole way back down. But we all had a great time, especially the dogs, who slept like babies during the 2-hour ride back to Puebla.
From Francis, who came here from the UK.
- How long have you been in Puebla? 17 months
- Why did you decide to move here? My girlfriend is from Puebla. One of us had to make the move….
- What are you doing now? Teaching English mainly but other odds and sods as and when they crop up.
- What do you find difficult about living here? Battling with antiquated (or at least very slow) administrative systems. Worrying about personal security on a daily basis.
- What do you really like about it? Many things. Firstly, the weather. It is obviously much better than what I am used to and although there is a rainy season, the rain doesn’t usually hit until late afternoon so the days are still fine. Secondly, the days are relatively long all year round. In the UK, the sun sets at 4pm in the winter which I can’t stand. Here, we have daylight until approximately 7pm every day of the year. Thirdly, the people. They are generally very warm and extremely hospitable. I have lived in many different cities and countries but I have never really sensed a community feel like I have here. It’s nice to get on with your neighbours! Finally, I like the size of Puebla and I like being able to move around pretty easily and quickly. Having lived in London before moving to Mexico, it is definitely something I appreciate. It doesn’t take an hour anymore just to go out and meet friends!
- What advice would you give to someone wanting to move here? Go for it.
- Favorite food here? Tacos y quesadillas árabes. Stuffed chipotles. Chiles in general.
- Favorite drink? Agua de fresa from Michoacana.
- Favorite activity? Eating.
- Favorite place? Hmmmm….there are lots of fantastic places to visit, so much to see. Highlights would be Chiapas, Oaxaca and Guanajuato.
- Favorite holiday? Día de Muertos.
While my schedule is different than it would be in the US, the rest of my day isn’t all that unusual. It does take place mostly in Spanish, but of course, that could happen in some parts of the US, too!
5:25am: So early, so dark outside. When is Daylight Savings again?
5:35am: Coffee and breakfast on my couch. Wonder if I should have another cup.
6:25am: Leave for work. The good thing about this time of day is that there’s almost no traffic.
6:45am: Arrive at office. Turn on laptop and check my lesson plans for the day. Answer emails.
7am: Three classes (English). Spend a good chunk of the class making sure students are actually working and not chatting on their cell phones or laptops, to which they are helplessly addicted.
10am: Back in the office. Have a snack and answer part-time teachers’ questions as they wander in and out of my office. Complete any missing aspects of my lesson plan for the next class.
11am: Class (English Literature). Right now we’re reading The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood.
12pm: Office again. Prep classes for the afternoon and the next day.
1pm: Lunch, which means I either go to the gym and then eat at my desk; eat in the cafeteria with coworkers; run errands; or continue working and eat at my desk.
3pm: Class (TOEFL Workshop). This is not the most exciting topic or time of day, but I try.
4pm: On a laidback day, I’m in my office, prepping classes. On a busy day, I’m in a meeting or teaching a workshop.
6:30pm: Go for a run, if it’s not raining and hailing enough to warrant taking a boat home.
7:30pm: Arrive home. Collapse on couch and zone out for a while.
8:30pm: Hang out with dogs. Pack lunch for next day. Set up the magical coffee maker with timer.
11pm: Read too long and fall asleep with the book in my hands.
2am: Get woken up by a mosquito buzzing in my ear. Get up and plug in anti-mosquito device. Push opportunistic dog off my pillow. Go back to sleep. 3 more glorious hours!