Sábado // Puebla ➸ Cuetzalen

We got up bright and early Cuetzalan. Cuetzalan is about 3 hours up a mountain from Puebla. It took us about 5 because of some traffic as we headed up a one way street. We were literally stopped in a 12 person van in front of people’s houses. There were mules and horses passing us on this road. It was an interesting experience, to say the least.

As soon as we got there, we headed out for a waterfall tour. The waterfall was absolutely amazing. We hiked up / down stairs for about 20 minutes to finally reach the place where we could swim. After adjusting to the cold, I paddled against the waves to the center of the waterfall. I was only under the falling water for a few seconds before I became entirely overwhelmed. I could not see or hear anything and my body started to panic. I quickly pattled out of the cascada and all was well. But it was weird!

Audrey and me at the cascada.
La cascada

In the evening, we went to have a Mezcal Bath. This was an unique experience that I would have never thought to seek out. We were ushered into a small / round hut by a lady wearing traditional Mexican attire. Inside the “bath” there were 6 of us sitting cross-legged around the edges of the building. In the middle of us we’re sauna stones that were piping hot.

This is a terrible picture but hopefully you can at least get an idea of what I’m talking about. You can see the little concrete hut / bath on the left side of the photo.
The area outside of the bath. There was a restaurant and some other businesses in the area.

The lady that was with us led us through the ceremony entirely in Spanish. We chanted, sang, and let out grititos (little screams). The ceremony was all about respecting Mother Earth and our elders, loving one another, being patient, tolerant, and knowledgeable, etc. Our ceremony leader would occasionally pour hot “herb” water on the rocks. It was a really cool and rejuvenating experience.

We went to dinner later that night and swam in our hotel pool.

What a great day. Sabado was truly amazing.

Viernes // El Ballet

We didn’t have class until 2PM and boy, was it a treat!

El programa del ballet.

Tonight we went to la “Gala de Estrellas del Ballet Elisa y Amigos.” Elisa Carrillo is the #1 ballerina in Mexico. She put on a ballet with 13 other amazing dancers from all over the world. The performance was absolutely phenomenal. We got to sit surprisingly close the stage. We had a great view of the dancers and the Governor del Estado de Puebla (who was sitting not too far away from us). How cool!

As you can see, the ballerinas were from all over the world! They had some amazing pieces.
Audrey y yo al ballet.

 

El Segundo Jueves

Last night, we went to the bougiest movie theatre that exists (I’m pretty sure). It was inside the Centro Comercial Angelópolis and was rather grand. There was a lounge and a bar before entering the theaters. And they brought us food that we had previously ordered to our seats. It was nice! We saw Spiderman, which was a solid película, if you ask me.

Today we got up early for our cooking class, which started at 9AM. Our cooking class usually ends at 1PM, but today it ended at 2:30PM. Today was different because we were making Mole Poblano. Mole is an incredibly complex dish that is a specialty here in Puebla. Mole itself is a sauce and it is usually served with some type of meat or rice. The flavor of the sauce is very hard to describe; it has both rich chili and chocolate flavors. In class today, I was astounded when we were given an ingredient list of about 24 items. How could so many spices go into a single sauce?!?! I was soon to find out.

It took us several hours to collect and prepare all of the ingredients for our Mole. We had to fry various kinds of nuts, chilis, plantains, dried berries, and spices before we could even prepare the sauce. Here is what the ingredients looked like:

Fried nuts, bread, onions, tomatoes, plantains, spices, and chilis waiting to be turned into Mole.

As soon as we had all of the ingredients prepared in our bowl, it was time to head to the metate. Here, we ground up all of these materials to make a paste. This paste was combined with chicken stock and simmered on the stove to make the final product: a wonderful Mole.

Our cooking instructor with the metate.

Lunch was delicious! I love Mole and honestly thought that ours was one of the best that I’ve had while here. We had boiled chicken and Mexican rice with it.

We also made a Pulque drink. Pulque is an an alcoholic beverage made from the fermented sap of the agave plant. We blended this with mango, condensed milk, and celery to create an interesting smoothie. Honestly, it wasn’t quite my jam. But it was fun to eat and I enjoyed eating the fresh mango as it was being cut up (oops).

Our final products!

After our cooking class, we had our regular Spanish class (that was cut an hour short because our cooking class ran long, amen). After Spanish class, we had dance class. AGAIN!! Okay, but honestly I feel like I’m getting better. So that’s a plus. Tonight, we are going to find a cool place to practice our moves (help). It should be fun, though! (:

El Mercado de Cholula

Today we had another excision to the Mercado Municipal de Cholula. Wow! What a fun time that was. The market was full of fresh fruits, vegetables, butcher shops (okay yikes honestly), small mini-restaurants, spice shops, shoes, clothing, and so much more! The only thing that I am able to compare this market to is La Boquería in Barcelona.

Me looking generally overwhelmed in the Mercado.
El chile. At this specific shop, I got to taste Mole Paste (it is better when incorporated into the completed sauce).
La fruta

Our guide explained that these markets are important because people from smaller towns outside of Cholula / Puebla come to sell and buy goods in the market. El Mercado is said to be the center of culture / life here in Cholula. How cool is that.

As soon as we finished at the market, we ventured outside to some street vendors. I bought some swanky souvenirs that I am excited to gift.

There are vendors selling balloons from huge bundles (like this) all over the city. I love them!!!!!!!! Today I saw a vendor trying his bunch of balloons to the top of his car (he only popped two in this process). I never considered what a hassle they would be to transport.
A stand that sells various types of typical snacks (some of which were bugs). We decided to try the crickets and the grasshoppers. They had chili and lime on them and were nice and crunchy. They tasted alright (although I don’t think that I need another any time soon).

After exploring a bit more, we got on our bus and headed back to Puebla (the city). We had a quick meal at a popular place inside the UPAEP Cafeteria. I had a chicken sandwich and a mango smoothie. A refreshing meal after the many heavy / rich meals that I have recently had.

After lunch, we had class. This evening, we are going as a group to see Spiderman (in Spanish). It should be good! I’m excited! (: ¡Hasta luego!

 

El Segundo Martes

Woke up to this sunrise… YA. GOOD MORNIN’!!!!

Photo creds @ Audrey

Today we got up and ate breakfast at El Almuerzos before our field trip to the Talavera factory (Uriarte Talavera)!!!! This was absolutely my favorite place that we have been so far. This visit appealed equally to two of my favorite things: business/marketing and pretty things. The owner of the factory gave us the tour. He is from Canada and spoke to us in English. He talked about how he was a successful restauranteur in America, how he met his wife in Mexico while traveling alone, how he was an investment banker that regularly traded millions of dollars, how his other businesses are in industrial mechanics, and how he finally settled down in Puebla. I was FASCINATED. I want to be him when I grow up!!!!!!!!!!!!! He also talked about how he often has interns from OU come and work for him for a summer or a semester. I told him that he could count me in!!! Oh to work in a fábrica de Talavera, WHAT A DREAM!!!!!!

Anyways, the Talavera factory was clearly beautiful. The make everything by hand and it is just fabulous. I’ll attach some pictures and try to describe the process below. I think that I might be missing a few steps but I was honestly enjoying the visit too much to take pictures or notes. So I’ll try my best…..

The pottery has many looks throughout its completion process, as you can see here.
After the pottery is initially sculpted on a wheel, it looks like this.
The pottery is dipped in a glaze before it is painted. Then, a lady writes the origins / the order number on the bottom of the pot. As you can see, they all look exactly the same. This is true skill if you ask me.
Next, the pottery is painted. It doesn’t get its bright colors until it has been in a kiln for 10 hours. Fun fact: 15 single-moms in prison also paint these pots for the same wages as the typical workers. They were given the opportunity to apprentice painters and learn the skill. How cool is that?
This is an old kiln where the pottery used to be fired. The factory has since upgraded to a new and more modern kiln. This one is pretty cool looking, though!
DONE!!!

The owner that gave us the tour also talked about how he has made this Talavera into an international luxury brand. His Talavera is in Four Seasons hotels, Starbucks Mexico, and the Drop Box Headquarters in the United States. He wants to develop a sustainable luxury brand and not just  sell a typical souvenir in Mexico. How cool. What a concept. He was really speaking my language.

After the Talavera factory, we went to a el Convento de Santa Rosa and saw the kitchen. It was cool. We were only there for about 20 minutes.

These Talavera pieces are relatively new. They were not originally in the convent.

I grabbed a quick lunch (tacos dorados) at a place right across from UPAEP before our afternoon class. Our afternoon class was 3 hours long, but we got to go to the UPAEP Art Museum for about an hour. There was an exhibit by a surrealist artist named Leonora Carrington. It was cool. We spent most of our class time describing the seemingly nonsensical works (or at least trying to).

After class was my least favorite part of this whole trip: DANCE CLASS. UGH. I feel like a carousel horse that just runs in circles. Or like a big toe that is being wiggled by its owner. Or like a giraffe whose legs are 5x the size of its body. No lo sé, I’m just not a fan. But I’m trying and having fun and giggling lots while doing so. I treated myself to ice cream after today’s class. I deserve it.

Mis amigos y yo are going to go get food / drink with some of the dancers that help teach our dance class. They actually know how to dance, jaja.

¡Comienza la Segunda Semana!

This is on the cover of UPAEP’s “manual” for foreign students. It’s pretty relatable right now!!!
WE GOT TO SLEEP IN TODAY!!! I was resting until 9:00AM and it was glorious. After hitting snooze a few times, I finally got up to finish off some homework, then headed to Los Almuerzos for breakfast. From the restaurant, we left for a walking tour of downtown Puebla.

The tour was about three hours long. It took us through the busy streets of downtown Puebla that are filled with vendedores of all types. We saw some incredible things and got to learn a little bit about them from our wonderful guide. We met our guide and started the tour at Puebla’s Tourism Office. When we arrived (after 2 cups of coffee and a glass of zumo de naranja) I had to use the restroom. I asked someone at the front desk where I could find un baño and they escorted me outside of the office and into another neighboring building. It did not take much time for me to realize that this was the Municipal Building of Puebla. After using the restroom, I began to walk toward the entrance. People were moving quickly and there were tons of police officers. They were closing / locking the front entrance doors as I made my way towards them. “¿Puedo pasar?” I asked the guard who was closing the doors. She said, “Muy rápidamente,” and quickly shoved me out of the building. When I got outside, I quickly understood her panic. A student demonstration was forming outside of the Municipal Building. I quickly found my group in the Tourism Office and we shortly began our tour.

First, we made our way to Puebla’s main cathedral. Fun fact: it is said that the Spanish mixed up the plans when building the cathedrals in Puebla and Mexico City. So the cathedral in Puebla was meant to be in Mexico City and vice versa. Really, this just means that the cathedral in Puebla is cooler than it was originally supposed to be! The cathedral is in Zócolo (city center) and is catercorner to the to both the Municipal Building and many stores. This represents the three main factors that hold the city together: government, the church, and the economy. The inside of the cathedral is decorated very similarly to the churches that I visited on my last European adventure. The cathedral was built by the Spanish and has the busts of several Spanish kings decorating the outside of the building.

I can’t get over how intense the detail is.

The outside of The Cathedral
From the cathedral, we went to a Talavera factory. This place also sold the Talavera that they made. I didn’t have time to purchase any, but I intend to go back. All of the stuff is so beautiful and CHEAP! I can’t believe that it is so inexpensive; it takes so much time and talent to make this sort of pottery.

We went to several other places on this walking tour…..but to be honest……I don’t quite remember them. I do, however, remember my lunch!! Which was especially memorable and yummy! We were all really hungry after 3+ hours of walking, so we dipped into a small taco shop. I had 2 tacos and tons of spicy salsa. I drank half of my Nalgene with that meal, to be honest….  But it was absolutely delicious. Probably my favorite meal that I’ve had here yet. I wish I had a picture, but I literally could not wait to eat these tacos. They came plain: just tortilla and meat. There were toppings (cilantro, onion, pineapple, salsa) that we were supposed to pass around the table and put on our tacos. Unfortunately, I was so excited / hungry that I had already eaten one of my tacos before it was my turn to get the toppings. Oops. The plain taco was still 13/10.

After lunch, we walked back to UPAEP and had class for 2 hours. 

We had a quick dinner at a little cafe before it started pouring. Yay! 

Domingo

Yesterday afternoon included a long nap and late night dinner. At about 9:30, we finally made it to a restaurant called Dominicana No. 19. I had a bagel sandwich with cured ham, brie cheese, and apples. It was on a delicious cheese bagel. I was a big fan.

After a good meal last night, we decided to try something different for breakfast this morning. Instead of going where our OU vouchers are valid, we went back to Domicana No. 19. I had some sort of toast / egg / ham dish that I don’t remember the name of. I also had some hot chocolate. And of course, I had to have a shot of espresso as well. Take a peek at the design in my hot chocolate ….. do you think that they were trying to tell me something?!?!

Were they trying to tell me something??

Okay but is not just the cutest little demitasse you ever did see?
After our lovely breakfast, we hopped in an Uber to go to the Museo Internacional del Barroco. This museum was f a b u l o s o. They had a beautiful temporary exhibit of Talavera pottery. They also had seven exhibition halls which covered themes ranging from Baroque science to Baroque entertainment. Additionally, the architecture of the museum was absolutely phenomenal. The building is full of unexpected curves and soft edges yet is still very modern. It both compliments and juxtaposes all of the Baroque exhibitions so well. In the middle of the curves building, there is a whirlpool. This whirlpool is supposed to “act as an anchor to the natural world.”

Talavera pottery (my fav). This exhibit had a really interesting map depicting where Talavera pottery originated and how it made its way to Mexico.

I can’t imagine designing / painting something as intricate as this.

The whirlpool outside of the museum.
Outside of the museum, there is a large park. The park is absolutely stunning. There are succulents, roses, vegetables, flowers, herbs, lavender, etc, all scattered throughout small ponds and wandering trails.

Photo creds @ Audrey
From the museum, we took a short Uber to a huge mall to grab some lunch and do a little shopping. Upon entering the food court, I felt right at home. Subway, Pizza Hut, McDonalds, etc etc etc etc etc, decked the halls of this massive eating area. I chose some artisan pizza place and was quite content with my meal. We did some shopping and finished off the trip to the mall with a paleta. Paletas, from what I can tell, are basically popsicles that are made from fresh fruit. Some of them have cream bases. You can also get them dipped in white or dark chocolate. I got one that was mango flavored. It also had some chili flavored salt on it. It was sweet, salty, and overall super refreshing. 12/10 for sure.

I meant to take a picture of the paleta before I started eating it…. but as soon as the guy handed it to me, I got too excited and immediately dove in …. so here is a selfie of me eating the paleta instead. My b…
I finished the afternoon off RIGHT with a 2.5 hour nap. No regretz. It was much needed, as far as I’m concerned. I woke up at around 8:30PM entirely disorientated, thinking it was morning, and hungry. Little did I know that on Sundays, restaurants typically close early (either at 6:30 or 9:00). Ooooops….. I had settled with the idea of eating granola bars for dinner when I remembered that we had passed a Domino’s earlier…. you can probably tell where this was going. This was truly the height of my culinary experiences in Puebla. Cheese pizza with cinnamon balls. In case you were wondering, it was different than American Domino’s. Our cheese pizza came with both salsa and ketchup. And the variety of cheeses on the pizza was different than what is standard in America.

Before you hate on me for eating Domino’s for dinner while abroad, please know that I at least had to put a little effort into it. It’s amazing how different Mexican addresses are from those in America. Having to decode that enter it into the Domino’s website was a struggle. It was kind of an #adventure in itself. 

Alright, that’s it. Hope this post finds you well!

El Primer Sábado

A memorial statue outside of the Museo de la No Intervención

Today was the start of our first weekend (!!!!) in Puebla! We don’t have class on the weekends, so we get to do some of the more touristy things that most people do when they visit here. First, we went to the Museo de la No Intervención Fuerte de Loreto. This was where the famous Cinco de Mayo battle took place. This battle was against the highly-decorated French, but the Mexican army pulled out an unexpected victory. In the museum, there was some beautiful art and other war relics. The museum is in the location that the battle actually took place. It was a beautiful location with many old buildings. The colors in this area were amazing.

The entrance to the Museo de la No Intervención
A painting in the Museo de la No Intervención.
A cute pot outside of the Museo de la No Intervención

At the museum, I learned that Cinco de Mayo is not celebrated regularly in Mexico. Although it is unknown why it is so vastly (and often inappropriately) celebrated in the states, many conclude that it is because the General (Ignacio Zaragoza) was from an area near the border. Also, many activists during the Chicano movement in the United States wanted their culture to be recognized. I thought this was interesting.

Next, we went to the Amparo Museum. This is a beautiful museum located in the historic center of Puebla. It is located in two separate historical buildings and used to be a “refuge” for married women (haha). The museum had hispanic, colonial, and modern art. There was also an area that was decorated to imitate homes in the colonial period. It was very cool! However, I will say, the modern art that they had in their temporary exhibit was very … modern. To be honest, rather confusing as well. There was a whole wall dedicated to photos / sketches / drawings of PORTA POTTIES. It was strange.

The Porta Potty art…
Talavera pottery in the Amparo Museum
More Talavera pottery in the Amparo Museum. I love Talavera pottery. On Monday, we get to visit a factory that makes it!! Yay!!
A little puppy!! This dog was most likely sacrificed. He was then sculpted and buried with his owner so that he could “lead” them to whatever comes next. Yay ancient civilization.
Me on the balcony of the Amparo Museum. It had a great view of all of the cathedral domes!!

We just got back from the apartments. We had to Uber (again) because it was raining (again). What else is new…??? We ate lunch at a Japanese restaurant. I had a sushi roll and some sweet and sour chicken. I know what your thinking, Japanese food in Mexico?? Sí. And it was delicious, muchas gracias.

Hola Cholula

A sign at the restaurant Green Me.

Today we got to come to Cholula to explore. Cholula is about a 20 minute drive de la ciudad de Puebla (Puebla is also the name of the estado, it is un poco confusing). We climbed a pyramid and saw an awesome view from the top. We were also able to walk through the pyramid, as archeologists have dug a tunnel through the pyramid within the past 100 años.

The view from the top of the pyramid
Audrey and me in the tunnels of the pyramid.
A building by the pyramid. People were selling fresh fruit in this area.

We also visited a beautiful Mexican-style cathedral. It was like nothing that I had ever seen before and it smelled of many flowers.

For lunch, we ate at a healthy restaurant se llama Green Me. The owner came and talked to us about his goals of having an eco-friendly, healthy, and delicious restaurant. I can tell you right now that he achieved the delicious part. I had a sandwich and a salad, and it was refreshing and yummy.

We had dinner, as a group, at a Mexican restaurant back in Puebla (the city of, which is also the capital of the State). It was very nice and the food was delicious. I had lasagna with beef and more mole!