Puebla is one of the main colonial-era cities in México, situated 90-minutes by car to the southeast of México City, on the way to the coast at Veracruz. We went to buy Talavera ceramics. We were successful in this project. Very expensively successful.
We’ve been living in México City since last August; I have only traveled to two other cities (or towns) in México during that time: San Miguel de Allende, and now Puebla. We live in an upscale area of México City, where there are plenty of foreigners around, and lots of well-dressed, well-autoed, rich people; San Miguel’s population is reputed to be fifty percent expat, and one sees as many gringoes on the streets and in the restaurants as Mexicans. Puebla was the first time I felt like I was in México. While we were there, we saw only two flocks of foreign tourists — although there did seem to be quite a few Mexican tourists. Most of the people we saw were obviously local … Mexicans. I had almost forgotten that I am living in México.
Puebla was founded in the early years of the 16th century, 1530-something, I think. There was a somewhat decrepit, obviously poor, church across the street from our hotel. Construction began on that church in the mid-16th century, or about the time the town became populated. Since then it was been a continuous place of worship. This sort of age thing fascinates me. Americans are inclined toward the new. Shortly after Columbus bumbled into the northern part of what would become the Americas — named for some other intrepid wanderer , and indigenous North American Indians were living in huts made of twigs and bark, there were people building cathedrals in Mexico.
And decorating with ceramic tiles. Like this.
And filling the city with public buildings like this.
Sitting around the central plaza, called the Zocalo, and kissing, seems to be the most popular activity there, even on a chilly, drizzly day.
Jesus is all over the place. Not only in every church — usually represented half a dozen times in various poses of suffering and death — but you can buy various Jesus things in many shops, including your own personal statue (like the one below), where Jesus looks like he got his ass kicked in some alleyway, and imitation Jesus burial boxes; of course the usual photos and drawings of Jesus and those in his personal circle.
I’m not going to waste time writing about now nonsensical religions are, but one particular contrast has always interested me — how gaudy and rich churches are, how fabulously wealthy most high-ranking church officials are, compared with the desperate poverty endured by almost all the worshippers. Below is a photo of one small part of one of the most gaudy churches I have ever seen. And below that, a not atypical photo taken through an open door along a street just outside the church.
The price of just one small gold pillar in this church would feed this woman and her family for the rest of their lives. Doing the family laundry in a public sink.
Finally, in a fancy restaurant where we had chicken mole poblano that will always be the benchmark for judging all other mole sauces, note the bandaid on the forefinger. Result of a knife that was not capable of distinguishing between my finger and a loaf of bread. Dumb ass knife.
Puebla is a famous city in México. If you’re curious, it is easy to find extensive information about this, the fourth largest city in México … and if you see a Volkswagen in México, it was probably built here. Puebla has one of the largest VW factories outside Germany.
It was unusually cold and rainy during our weekend there, limiting the amount of time we spent walking around. I suppose we’ll have to go back.
Next time you come to dinner at our place, you will be eating off the Talavera plates we bought. Well, in a couple of months. We just chose the designs we liked, now they have to make them.