13.08.2012 - 15.08.2012
Puebla has been on my list of places to visit for some time. Recently I read a list of top 10 food destinations around the world and Puebla was on it for it famous mole. So I definitely wanted to go. With the average mole having 32 ingredients it was something I really wanted to try in its home.
On Monday morning we set out from Mexico City to Puebla on a local bus. It only took about 2 hours to reach it. While Puebla is Mexico's 5th largest city it only has 1.5 million inhabitants. We arrived caught cabs to our hotel which was located just a few blocks from the centre plaza.
The town was very beautiful so we had a walk through the streets once we had checked in to our hotel. We found a restaurant to try the famous mole. Mole is a sauce traditionally served over chicken. Everyone has their own recipe which is normally a closely guarded secret. With chocolate as a main ingredient it makes for an interesting taste. It was very nice but wasn't really the mind blowing experience I was expecting. It was tasty but I guess I had my expectations for it set really high.
After lunch we explored some of the local markets. Puebla is also famous for its ceramics and there were some beautiful plates and dishes but alas backpacking and ceramics don't really mix. We had a wander through the main square and the beautifully decorated cathedral.
Luckily we were in Puebla on a Monday night which happens to be Lucha Libre night. So we headed down to the Puebla Arena to indulge in some Mexican culture. We decided on the ringside seats but as we arrived a little late we were a few rows back. We got settled in our seats and sat back and watched all the action. Wow it was lots of fun! The performance the wrestlers put on was very entertaining and included men, women and midget wrestlers. Combined with great sandwiches and beers brought to you in your seat it was all you could ask for. The crowd took it really seriously with apposing fans constantly chanting and playing music. There were also the round girls which kept all the boys entertained! It was such a fun and enjoyable night out. On the way out I managed to catch one of the wrestlers for a photo. It is taken so seriously in Mexico they even have to leave with their masks still on.
On Tuesday we did a tour to the nearby town of Cholula. Cholula is home to the widest pyramid ever built so we started the tour at the ruins. Unfortunately most of the pyramid is still covered and looks more like a hill so its not as impressive as it sounds. We climbed up it though to the top where a beautiful little church (Santuario de Nuestra Señora de los Remedios) was located on top. From the top we could see over 2 nearby volcanoes. We then looked through the archeological area below. Unfortunately the tunnels leading into the temple are now closed off to tourists but it was still interesting to look around and find out about the child sacrifices they use to make.
The town is rumoured to have 365 churches one for each day of the year but in reality it only has 39. Cortés the Spanish conquistador of the area conveniently built one on top of each of the temples he found in the region. We visited 2 of these churches. The first was Santa María Tonantzintla but unfortunately they wouldn't allow you to take photos inside. It was one of the most magnificent churches I have ever seen. Inside was colourfully decorated with 3D statues of angels, children, saints and Jesus covering all the walls and ceiling. As they were preparing for a festival the next day the floor was covered in unbelievable sand art and a huge amount of flowers which filled the air with a beautiful aroma. The next church exterior was covered in some of the regions famous tiles but as a service was going on we couldn't enter.
We had a quick stopoff at a shop selling Rompope which is a local creamy spirit created by nuns. It was really tasty and we were able to sample it in a number of different flavours.
That afternoon we returned to Puebla and spent the afternoon exploring the city. We had lunch and then visited Templo de Santo Domingo which has the beautifully intricately decorated Capilla del Rosario (Rosary Chapel). They definitely know how to decorate churches in Mexico.
That night I got to try another local specialty, Chiles en Nogada. It is a stuffed pepper filled with a mix of meat and dried fruits topped with a creamy walnut sauce and pomegranate seeds. It was quite an interesting taste with a real mix of sweet and sour. I quite enjoyed it but think it would taste better with less sauce. We then headed with everyone out to a bar where I had some margaritas and Alex sampled some tequila.
Next stop the ultimate Mexican food destination of Oaxaca!