Puebla, Puebla, Puebla
On the mornings we set an alarm? One of the kids is guaranteed to wake up 15 minutes before it goes off. The morning we were set to leave for Puebla, Jinora decided to get up an hour and 15 minutes before our alarm went off.
About once a week Jinora decides that she would like very much to get up at 5:45 in the morning. To actually get up. Not cry or eat or just roll over, but get up. And the only way she will not get up is if you lay with her. But she will coo and fuss and pull your hair and touch your face. And all this you take, because if it gets her to go back to bed so you can get even 30 minutes of sleep more before driving for 5+ hours? It's worth it.
Except, by the time she fell back asleep? It was 6:45. Those blasted 15 minutes are the worst. So I got up and made coffee, found the clothes I had laid out and got dressed, then had a heart attack because there was a large dark flying thing up by my ceiling. Nothing like a moth the size of your hand to get your blood pumping in the morning! I wanted to make sure I gave him enough space not to feel frightened, but that guy had the wingspan of my entire hand. Pinky tip to thumb. I even woke Mark up to see him. Normally, waking Marko up before he wants to be up is a lost cause - but for strange creatures? He is always game.
So, with our friendly moth free from our apartment and coffee and kids in tow, we set off. Carpooling with the Restrepos, we went from Oaxaca to Puebla through mountains, forests, desert, and an absolutely beautiful canyon. The sights along the way were stunning. Just a few taken with my less than premium phone...
And so we finally arrived in Puebla.
Puebla (not to be confused with pueblo - meaning village or city) is the fourth largest city in all of Mexico. It is where the battle of Cinco de Mayo occured and probably the only place in the entire country that actually celebrates the day, sorry USA. Upon arriving, I was kind of unimpressed. It appeared mostly to be an industrial big city which just isn't really my scene. Our hotel was nice and we had gotten a deal so that made it extra nice. And in the afternoon we watched a deluge of rain flood the street below our hotel, under the bridge there was enough water the cover the headlights of cars.
And yet, we somehow still came to the conclusion that it was a good idea to later leave and see the Zocalo and city center.
So we ventured out, four adults and our two tinies all stuffed in a jeep. By the time we found parking, it was after 8:00pm - which meant Rory was asleep. Mark carried him and I bundled up Jinora and we walked the block and a half to the most European bit of Mexico I have ever seen. Most colonial cities in Mexico have that feel of being build by the Spanish, but they more or less are still very Mexican in style. This Zocalo was straight out of Spain. We very well could have been magically transported to some small city center in Espanya for all I know, because other than the obnoxiously loud clown show happening in one corner of the square, there was nothing remotely Mexican in the area (and Spain might have similarly obnoxiously loud clown shows, I have only ever been to Barcelona).
The cathedral was magnificent with intricately carved wood doors and colored tile. The Zocalo was beautiful with tall trees and a small fountain and installation art that didn't make me want to gag. We wandered around. I thought about how much I miss Europe and how Puebla might not actually be all that bad. We had tea and small pastrys for dinner, which Rory woke up in time for and he was able to play on the small playground inside the coffee shop. We got directions to the Autopista and said goodbye to el Zocalo.
Then. Oh and then.
We found the Autopista only to be spontaneously kicked off again. Confused and thinking we must have done something wrong, we stopped and asked for directions. A very kind man explained that the Autopista closes each night at 10:00pm for construction of the new overpass. There is no detour. It was 10:05pm. Baffled, we tried to get through again, thinking maybe, just maybe, that Mexican sense of time would be true of construction work as well. But we ended up going in very large circles and never being able to get any further than the time before. Eventually we attempted to make our own detour. Which landed us in a neighborhood. So we asked for directions. One woman attempted to give us very lengthy and very specific directions. We made it one block.
Then we asked for directions again. This man led us to the local park to hire a taxi to show us to our hotel. Except, when we arrived, there were no taxis. So he offered to go get his car and lead us back to our hotel. So we followed him. The way back was insane. Cutting back and forth across the city, under bridges, random switchbacks, obviously secret streets that normal humans cannot see but this man was a wizard, and several times as we bumped down dark abandonned alleyways each of us thought - "There is a 50/50 chance we are going to be murdered and our car is going to be chopped up and sold for parts." And as strangely as it began, we turned a corner and found ourselves suddenly in front of our hotel.
"Hermano!" Mark shouted as he leapt out of the car to give the man a handshake hug (you know how men do). We gave him some cash for gas and thanked him. And in all our excitement and relief, we forgot to get his name or a picture with him. Seeing as he was basically our saviour, that was a grevious mistake on our part. We pulled into a parking slot at 11:30pm, what should have taken 15 minutes on the Autopista took just under 2 hours (our hero only took 20 minutes of that to lead us back to our hotel).
Quite the adventure.
Part of me loves Puebla for it's lovely city center and the amazing kindness of strangers - the other part of me still thinks it's too big of a city and who the @*&$%* closes down an entire highway without a detour?! I will say I am not jumping at the bit to return. I think Puebla and I need some time apart... for now anyways. ;)