Life and Travel in Puebla, Mexico

Monthly Archives: April 2014

Since it’s only two hours from Puebla, I’ve been to Mexico City many times. I went during Semana Santa (Holy Week) to see some places for the first time, and to revisit others. I found that it is definitely a myth that the city “empties out” during spring break, as there were tourists from all over Mexico and also other countries everywhere we went.

We went to the Bodyworlds exhibit at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), which was incredible, but we were not allowed to take photos. From there we headed to the Palacio Nacional for a temporary exhibit on the Mayans. The next day was spent at La Fería de Chapultepec, which is like a cheaper and less-crowded version of Six Flags (and thus very enjoyable!). We also went to the Castillo de Chapultepec, but since it was packed with tourists and we’d already been there before, we didn’t spend much time at it. Lastly, we wandered around downtown and went up to the 42nd floor of the Torre Latinoamericana for a different view of the city.

Bellas Artes as seen from the Torre Latinoamericana.

Bellas Artes as seen from the Torre Latinoamericana.

The view of Mexico City, including the Zócalo, from the 42nd floor of the Torre Latinoamericana.

The view of Mexico City, including the Zócalo, from the 42nd floor of the Torre Latinoamericana.

The lavish decoration inside the Castillo de Chapultepec, which the Emperor Maximiliano made his home.

The lavish decoration inside the Castillo de Chapultepec, which the Emperor Maximiliano made his home.

"Chapultepec" means "hill of grasshoppers."

“Chapultepec” means “hill of grasshoppers.”

Chapultepec Park, as seen from El Castillo de Chapultepec.

Chapultepec Park, as seen from El Castillo de Chapultepec.

Good tacos and beer at Salón Corona.

Good tacos and beer at Salón Corona.

El Palacio Nacional. There are some very famous Diego Rivera murals under the arches.

El Palacio Nacional. There are some very famous Diego Rivera murals under the arches.


Without a doubt, it’s “Pollos Mazatepec.” While there are now several branches, I always go to the enormous one that’s on the federal highway to Atlixco, across from the exit for Chipilo.

Why do I love it? Mainly, it’s because of the salsas. There are six of them, plus slices of lime and pickled chiles, and what I like best is to start my meal with a salsa and handmade tortilla taco. Later, the smoked meats (chicken, sausage, pork, ribs) arrive, and they also pair wonderfully with all the sauces. But I still eat yet another purely salsa taco just to finish the meal.

 

For the best taste, you should combine 3 or 4 salsas at a time.

For the best taste, you should combine 3 or 4 salsas at a time.


From my friend Nick, who is from the US.

  1. How long have you been in Puebla?

I have lived here since August, 2013, but since 2008 I have been back and forth in the city, studying and visiting for short periods.

  1. Why did you decide to move here?

I decided to move here because the people are very nice and I wanted to increase my knowledge and fluency of Spanish as I was/am planning on higher studies in Spanish.

3. What are you doing now?

I teach English at a private high school in Puebla and take classes in Nahuatl in order to fully immerse myself in the culture of Latin America and to be a better teacher, not just here, but in the US if I decide to return.

4. What do you find difficult about living here?

I think the most difficult thing is trying to balance all the things I would like to do with all the things I have to do. It’s frustrating knowing I would like to try to go somewhere or try something new, and then to have to work. Also, it’s not difficult to find people to talk to, but it can be difficult to find people to do things with as the city is quite spread out.

5. What do you really like about it?

The people are great, friendly and very helpful and patient. And the food is delicious.

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

Research the area, the culture, and think about yourself, too.  Many people when they live abroad get homesick and thus don’t enjoy the experience as much as they could or should.

7. Favorite food here?

Tacos, memelas, tostadas, enchiladas, mole, pipián, bread from Zacatlán (sugary bread filled with sweet cheese),  and tlayoyos.

8. Favorite drink?

In terms of alcoholic drinks, Xtabentún and Pox are quite good, as well as numerous drinks I’ve had in Zacatlán (the apple pop is good, and I don’t drink pop very often!)

9. Favorite activity?

I like to just walk around the city center. It really is a beautiful city. I also like to travel within the state of Puebla and the country of México to get to learn new things, new places and new people.

10. Favorite place?

  Zacatlán, Cuetzalán, Chignahuapan, a bunch of others I can’t remember.

11. Favorite holiday?

So far I would say Day of the Dead, but there are quite a few left to experience!

At the beach.

At the beach.


In Veracruz towns, they fall from trees by the hundreds. In Puebla markets, they sit in crates by the hundreds. There are yellow Ataulfos, palm-sized Mangos Niño, and others types whose names I don’t know. They are all delicious! My favorite ways to eat them are in banana smoothies or covered in lime, salt, and chili powder. You can even buy them on a stick in the street!

Ready to be devoured.

Ready to be devoured.


From my friend Isaiah, who is from the US.

  1. How long were you in Puebla?

I was in Puebla from February 2006 to August 2006 and have returned to visit a couple of times (2007 and 2009, I believe).

  1. Why did you decide to move here?

A friend of mine—a certain blog proprietress—were hanging out at our alma mater while I was visiting and she mentioned she was moving to Mexico. I wasn’t particularly thrilled with my job at the time and basically figured “Why not?” I was young and inclined to foreign travel, wanted to improve my Spanish, and have always loved Latin America, so it just made sense to jump on this opportunity.

  1. What are you doing now?

I live and work in New York City, providing sustenance and lodging through job-related payments for my wife and child.

  1. What did you find difficult about living here?

There were a lot of things that were annoying or hard to adjust to, like public transportation’s nonexistence or general differences in cultural values (especially since Puebla is fairly conservative and I was—and am—fairly liberal), but it wasn’t particularly difficult. At least “difficult” isn’t the right word. As I mentioned, I was young and rather flexible. I didn’t have a significant other, didn’t have anyone but myself to provide for, and I was interested in seeing and learning about Mexico, so it was mainly easy to exist. Certainly being an adult in a foreign country is difficult from a social perspective unless you have a particular in with a variety of groups (this is true where ever your home country is as well, of course, but at least in that instance you are fully communicative in your native language and probably have some family or friends somewhere that are able to provide a level of support that may not be available abroad), but it was a pretty care-free time for me given my particular situation. If I were to narrow it down to one particular thing that annoyed me the most, I’d say that it was the constant lateness of nearly everyone for every occasion. That, I understand, is cultural and personal, but it definitely drove me batty!

  1. What do you really like about it?

Well, the food is pretty extraordinary, but I think I just liked it for being itself. It was different, it was new, it was constantly showing me things I didn’t understand or didn’t know about and that was fascinating. I’m assuming that would have worn off if I’d stayed for longer, but I was only there for 6 months, so it remained capable of surprising me throughout my stay.

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

If you’re fair-skinned, take a lot of sunscreen!

  1. Favorite food here?

Quesadillas con chorizo. Mmmm. They were good just about everywhere, but I particularly liked the ones from the woman near the craft stalls in the center of town. They were delicious, if never quite as big as the ones you found farther from the zocalo.

  1. Favorite drink?

Non-alcoholic: ice cold horchata on a burning hot day.

Alcoholic: Palomas (tequila and grapefruit soda)

  1. Favorite activity?

I’m not even sure. I was there during World Cup 2006, so I was pretty into that, but for regular occurrences, I guess going to see the variety of things around town, like the mini volcano or Chelula’s pyramid, was pretty fun. Traveling up to the forts was interesting, if somewhat overgrown and strange if no one else was around. [Note: The Fuertes have been rennovated since Isaiah was here, and are no longer overgrown or rundown. The area now features wooden walkways, scenic overlooks, an artificial lake, and even colored lights that pulse inside the fountains].

  1. Favorite place?

The Zocalo. Shade and people watching is an amazing thing. I spent a lot of time there given the whole “everyone is late” thing…

  1.    Favorite holiday?

            I visited for El Grito once and that was pretty fun given the downtown festival and the general party atmosphere. I’ll go with that, though the Cinco de Mayo festival was pretty neat too.

 

Isaiah, remembering the time he spent in Puebla.

Isaiah, remembering the time he spent in Puebla.


I’d like to start posting interviews with other foreigners and expats living here. For the first one, I’ll start with myself:

  1. How long have you been in Puebla? Since 2007.
  2. Why did you decide to move here? Because I had studied abroad here, I already had some job contacts, so I decided to see if I could start my English-teaching career in Puebla.
  3. What are you doing now? I teach English and English Literature.
  4. What do you find difficult about living here? Getting anything done that involves paperwork, but especially anything that involves the bank (and paperwork).
  5. What do you really like about it? The laidback attitude, the family culture, the food, and the sightseeing.
  6. What advice would you give to someone wanting to move here? Make sure you’ve got your important documents apostilled and notarized, and that you know where you’ll live and how you’ll be getting your visa. Also, brush up on your Spanish.
  7. Favorite food here? Pretty much all of it except anything made with sheep or goat meat.
  8. Favorite drink? Rompope is really nice. And non-alcoholic “Rusas,” which are made with Squirt, lime juice, ice, chile powder, and a stick of candied tamarind, and “tepache,” fermented pineapple juice that is best served ice cold with chile and lime, will taste like glory on a hot day.
  9. Favorite activity? Sightseeing
  10. Favorite place? The mountains of Popocatépetl, Iztaccíhuatl, and La Malinche
  11. Favorite holiday? Day of the Dead and Christmas
Walking my dogs at a park.

Walking my dogs at the Ecoparque Metropolitano.