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Published: October 26th 2010
- Sue -
Ah, Mexican taxis, an experience to live through. Taxis in big cities go everywhere at race car pace. And talk about weaving in and out, just missing other vehicles, people, walls, and anything else in their way. The operative word here is "miss", which they do. I've found that the best way to live through it is to look at everything else and block the driving from my mind. Works pretty well most of the time.
There is a special kind of taxi called a collectivo. For very little money per person, a collectivo takes its passengers from point A to point B. And when I say passengers, I mean as many people as can fit. It's like my luggage - let's see if I can get just one more thing squeezed in.
We're in Puebla now (Fri-Sun) and will take a collectivo this morning to go see a local Aztec site in the town of Cholula. This ancient pyramid, the widest ever built (or at least ever found), now takes the form of a hill. In fact they didn't know the hill covered a pyramid until after the Spanish built a church at the
top. Apparently, there are miles of tunnels that have been dug to let archaeologists and us explore. More on this topic later.
Puebla, at least in the heart of the old city, is a beautiful place full of historic building facades and churches. In fact, according to our Lonely Planet book, there are 70 churches and more than a thousand colonial buildings in the historic center alone. We walked some of the streets yesterday so we could take a look. Most of the buildings have iron balconies and many are painted in bright and colorful tones.
Mexico is celebrating their bicentennial independence this year. Of all the cities and towns we've visited, Puebla has the best display. The city center reminds me of Christmas in the city where I lived when young. Some building facades have elaborate displays, and the main streets have sparkly, lit banners running across them at frequent intervals. Mexico's flag is green, white and red, as are the banners. Thus the reminder of Christmas. I've include photos of the most dramatic displays.
Just got back from Cholula (Sun). Couldn't find any colectivos; I know our book is out of date. We did, however,
find a bus about a mile from our hotel. A policewoman in the Zocalo, the main plaza, directed us to it. That may be the first time we received the correct directions the first time we asked from a Mexican in Mexico. We usually ask several people and then see if any of them agree. Even that doesn't always work. We've found that Mexicans want to help so much that they'll make up an answer if they don't know the correct one.
I'll have to write an adventure tale about today - probably while in Oaxaca. Let me just say that I wasn't sure I had the strength to survive the bus ride back. And I thought the taxi drivers were crazy. If you've never read my bus adventure tale from several years ago and are interested, surf over to my web site at www.suebarthelow.com//travel/busted_confidence.html.
Although we had quite an adventure, Cholula was a bit of a disappointment. It turns out that some of the pyramid's tunnels started collapsing last year and they closed them. All we could see was the outside, which wasn't very exciting after having visited several great sites in the past. One of the
things that made the day successful was the Totonac people performing their voladores rite where men climb a 60 foot pole and fly to the ground upside down on ropes.
- Bob -
Went out to breakfast in Puebla morning. Restaurant coffee is always iffy, particularly in the US where bottomless cups of light brown water are poured and called coffee. Anyone who has been to our house understands what coffee is. You can't see through it, it has an obsidian shine and it will meet you mano y mano over the eggs. Thick with lots of taste and texture.
So, we went to the zocalo for breakfast and quizzed the restaurants about how good their coffee was before venturing in. Now my Spanish is fairly primitive but we insisted that the host/hostess describe their coffee. Finally we found a place that said: "we will give you a taste before you commit". It was great coffee! "You win our business" we said. We had an outstanding breakfast, finished my wonderful coffee and the waitress came over: "mas cafe senor?". "Sure I'll have another" I said. What do you think happened? You got it. She came back
with thermos and poured me a cup of light brown water and called it coffee. Needless to say I didn't drink it. We paid and took off for our day in Cholula.
You know about mechanical bulls right? Imagine one, not fixed at one point in a bar, but rather moving at 40+ mph through city traffic. Then imagine an even bigger bull with 30 people on it's back racing through town going over curbs, dodging cars, trucks and other bulls. That's the bus from Cholula to Puebla. I swear I saw a man swinging in the air; the only part of his body touching the inside of the bus was his hand which had a death grip on the overhead bar. This was better than anything Disney has ever come up with. I was bruised, abused, and amused. There was even a chica picking up the spare change flung from my pockets and returning it to me. You gotta try it.
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