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.