We finally boarded our flight from San Francisco to Mexico City at 1130 pm, the dreaded "red eye". As expected, neither of us were able to sleep for more than half an hour at a time but at least we were on our way!
Flying into Mexico City at 530 am gives one an appreciation for how immense the city really is. The lights of the city seemed endless. But.....we had arrived! After an airport food court breakfast, we boarded a bus to Puebla to begin our adventure.
We had booked a suite through Air B n B in Puebla and were greeted by the owners Scott & Maru, who also run a Spanish school out of their home. The suite was perfectly located within a 15 minute walk of the Zocalo (central plaza) and all the UNESCO buildings .
Puebla is the 4th largest city in Mexico, but we never felt that we were in such a large city. The city is so alive and has a great vibe. Buildings in the heritage centre are brightly coloured and colonial with typical Mexican tiles prominent. The Cathedral which fronts the Zocalo, is the most opulent and beautiful either of us have seen. That evening, we had our first traditional mole dish. Yum is all I can say!
In the Zocalo and several other spots we found electric bikes on offer for those with the secret chip or key to access. I think this is the same idea or variation as what Vancouver is working towards.
On our second day, we decided to visit the Talavera factory. Talavera is a very unique & traditional way of painting ceramics and has strict criteria for the entire process from beginning to end. Traditionally the pottery would be wood fired, but today gas fired kilns are used. However, all colours are mineral based and therefore colour selection is limited to 4-5 basic colours. These colours are brilliant though when fired. This particular workshop was founded in 1824 so the tradition lives on. We had a wonderful tour through the workshop areas and were amazed by how particular each artist/worker is to detail and process. Some of the hand painting is so detailed yet one worker is able to handpaint 8 plates a day!
As we were about to leave, one of the owners of the factory came down to greet us. He had been tipped off by our tour guide that we were from Vancouver and he too was from Vancouver. Michael took the next hour and a half to give us a private tour of some of the original Talavera pottery dating back to the mid 1800's plus a peek at a number of original art pieces done in Talavera style. These pieces formed part of an art show called 5 de mayo that Uriarte (factory) sponsored last year. We were so fortunate to view this art. Michael was incredibly generous with his time and also gave us a beautiful book that describes Talavera and the original art pieces now on tour in the USA.
Sadly, as we been delayed getting to Mexico we lost one day in Puebla. But....before boarding the bus for Oaxaca we decided (on Michael's recommendation), to have desayuno (breakfast), at a local restaurant called Los Murales. It was a most amazing experience as once again we had a private tour and explanation of the large folkloric hand painted murals in the restaurant. The breakfast was absolutely scrumptious and it kept on coming and coming and coming. Together with amazing Mexican cafe we were filled with Puebla warmth & hospitality for our journey to Oaxaca.
The 4 hour bus ride to Oaxaca took us through agricultural land, rolling hills, views of steaming volcanoes, mountain passes and finally down into the dry Oaxacan desert. Mexican buses are very comfortable and the time past quickly.
We are now snuggled into our casita in Santa Maria el Tule, a town of about 7000 located 20-25 minutes by bus from the city. We have been into the city twice already and are amazed at how European it looks and feels.