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Mexico’s Best Kept Secrets
by Soshana Cockrell
Soshana’s family is from Panama, but
she was raised and educated in Puebla, Mexico. She now resides in Atlanta,
Georgia, where she is co-owner of Travel with Us, Inc. Soshana founded this
company in order to share her love of Colonial Mexico. She’s an avid
collector of Talavera artistry and Mexican rustic furnishings. Soshana is a
database developer and software trainer.
She can be reached at
877-50GOMEX (toll free) or from Georgia 770-822-9596.
de Los Angeles came into existence as a result of the Spanish colonization of
Mexico during the 16th century. Prior to the arrival of the
Spanish, this area had been inhabited by various groups of indigenous people
who left behind pyramids which are still being excavated and studied. This
city is filled with legends, secrets, culture, artistry, wondrous
architecture, visual arts, history and much to explore.
is a frequently-visited vacation destination for European travelers, but it is
a gem hidden to most American tourists. When you consider the year-round
temperate climate, the beautiful colonial architecture, the welcoming and
lively local people (better known as Poblanos), the flavorful regional
cuisine, the history and the feeling of having traveled back in time, you’ll
realize that Puebla is a fabulous place to spend some time.
ambiance is felt as soon as you arrive at Mexico City’s airport – a
convenient spot for allowing travelers the opportunity to jump right in, to
start shopping for Mexican artistry, or maybe to share a shot of Mexico’s
famous tequila with an amigo.
Mexico City’s airport, deluxe buses depart to Puebla on the half hour. Most
business travelers prefer arriving at the Cuatro Poniente terminal for its
proximity to Puebla’s downtown area, better known as the “Centro.”
Reputable and affordable taxis are available.
has a variety of beautiful hotels and bed-and-breakfasts. The Meson Sacristia
de la Compañia, for instance, provides individually decorated rooms which
represent Mexico’s past. Travelers can experience the beauty of Mexico’s
antiquities as they open their eyes each morning. The restaurant found within
the Hotel Camino Real’s picturesque courtyard provides a truly authentic
Mexican breakfast in a romantic, scenic and artistic setting.
Centro (Downtown Puebla)
the “Centro” alone, you could spend a month exploring and discovering
without hitting the same spot twice. A good place to start is on the zócalo
located in the middle of the city. The zócalo is a park, about as
big as a city block, surrounded by beautiful palm trees, weeping willows and
the jacaranda, a tree common to Mexico which always blooms with purple
flowers the week of Semana Santa (Holy Week). In the middle of the zócalo
is a beautiful stone fountain where locals relax and engage in conversation.
Surrounding this park are various hotels, restaurants and shops. Among these
are the Office of Tourism, a local theater, La Casa de la Cultura, museums,
Puebla’s cathedral, churches, chapels, former convents and much more.
the end of the summer, around August, Puebla holds an international festival.
This festival usually hosts native folkloric dancers from countries such as
Spain, Panama, Argentina, Hawaii, Ireland, and also includes Mexico’s own
various regional dances. Without notice you may be enjoying an outdoor
breakfast and all of a sudden you hear the sound of a carnival of music and
dancers approaching. Breakfast has now turned into a lively parade of talented
dancers performing from the various visiting countries. The actual shows for
this event are usually held at the theater located on the zócalo.
During other times of the year check at the Casa de la Cultura for their
weekly scheduled Ballet Folklorico show.
walking down the streets of the Centro notice the various colonial buildings
with their beautiful Talavera-tiled façades. Be sure to take a peek into any
open zaguan (main gate or entryway of a building) to see the beautiful
colonial courtyard that usually lies within. If you have a guide or a local
amigo, you’ll get a true feel for the city, food, people, culture and
special places you would not otherwise see if you travel to Puebla on your
own. If you’re fortunate, you’ll be with someone familiar with Mexico’s
legends and secrets.
visiting Puebla get information about the current local events. You may just
have the opportunity to see Mexico’s famous Ballet Folklorico or witness a
Callejón de los Sapos
“the alley of the frogs,” the callejón de los sapos is a
multi-purpose area. During the day, it’s the central place for purchasing
Mexican rustic and antique furnishings. At night feel the passion of the city
as you hear the music drawing you to participate in the festivities.
you are looking for Mexican style décor for your home, the callejón de
los sapos is a great place to find what you may be looking for. Mexico’s
rustic style décor consists of a combination of dark wood furnishings,
hand-forged wrought iron and brightly colored accents. The sapos is
where the locals come to find Mexican style rustic furnishings, antique
furnishings and basically everything they need to decorate their homes. Some
of the shops are quite small, but take a peek inside – the little shops tend
to have much to be desired inside.
those who appreciate antiques, in los sapos there is a combination
bed-and-breakfast, restaurant and antique gallery named the Meson Sacristia de
la Compañia, where everything inside is for sale. If you’re staying in this
B&B and you happen to love the bed you’re sleeping in, well – it’s
for sale. You can buy it, they will pack it and arrange to have it shipped for
you. The antique furnishings of the rooms in the Sacristia often change, a
small detail that makes repeat stays at this B&B unique. Antique lovers
should not miss being at the sapos square on Sunday, which is when it
becomes an open-air antique market.
night as you walk down the callejon de los sapos, you can hear live
music and audiences singing along. Walk in and join the crowd. Be forewarned
though – don’t think that just because you may not speak Spanish you’re
not required to sing! Travelers are often asked to sing a song, even if it is
in English. The belief is that everyone should participate.
on Thursday through Sunday nights there are various mariachi bands hanging out
at the sapos. Mariachis wait to be hired by a lovesick man who wants to
serenade his woman as a grand display of his affection. In Mexico it is every
girl’s dream to be serenaded – they
see it as the most romantic expression of love.
outside of the Centro
Fuertes de Loreto is the fort where the Battle of Cinco de Mayo was fought
against the military forces of France’s Napoleon III on May 5, 1862. When
visiting the “Fuertes” it is important to bring a camera since photo ops
Time, Siesta and Nightlife
Mexico the afternoon meal is usually served between 2:00 and 4:00. It’s a good
idea while traveling to take advantage of the siesta (mid-afternoon
rest). Siesta to replenish energy needed to fiesta! Around 8:00 in the evening
plan for cena (dessert), which may include a pastry with coffee, tea or
cocktails. After cena you’ll be ready to enjoy the nightlife.
Puebla plan there is a great deal of partying at dance clubs between Thursday
and Sunday. Between Monday and Wednesday there is live music at local
restaurants, bars or pubs. One of the favorites in Puebla is a place named Café
Teorema. During the day it’s a bookstore and at night it becomes a café. The
live music at this place is called trova, which is poetry in music. It is
common to see locals joining in the romantic singing.
you a good match for Puebla?
is a walking city. Most places are around the corner or within walking distance,
so it is advisable to wear comfortable walking shoes.
Puebla is recommended for those who seek unusual travel experiences. It is wonderful for couples who want a romantic experience. It is also ideal for those who want a new and profound cultural experience.