Hangin’ in Puebla

I shaved today. It was the first time in about a week. With the combination of travelling, late nights and not shaving, I was starting to look less like a well-worn traveller and more like a vagabond that had just climbed out of a dumpster. I felt it was the right time. That’s another one of the cruelties of getting older. If you’re young and you don’t shave, you’re a hipster. If you’re Latin American and you don’t shave, well… you just look Latin American. But if you’re middle aged and don’t shave, you just look homeless.

I went down for breakfast and had a chat with Andres. He proudly announced that as of Monday, the Sacristy of Solitude will be a full house!! Woohoo… THREE GUESTS!! Rock the house!! Anyway, I just ended up having a coffee and no food. I usually lose weight when I go away overseas… But it ain’t happenin’ in Mexico! I thought I’d better ease up on the enchiladas and chilaquiles and just have some fruit when I go out.
As it happens the word “papaya” (as in the fruit) is also slang for “vagina” here in Mexico. I headed down to the Zocalo and you can imagine my delight when I came across this guy…

Suddenly… The only fruit I wanted to eat was papaya and all I wanted to do was practice every Spanish sentence I knew using the word “papaya”…
“I want papaya… 

Please, give me papaya… 

Lots of papaya…

I want a very big papaya…

I love eating papaya…

Papaya is delicious”

It’s the small things in life.

I spent most of the day just hanging around the hood. There are a lot of school kids in Mexico learning English. It seems the standard English lesson is to get the kids to write a whole bunch of questions and then send them out on the streets to go and find gringos, interview them and video the interviews. It’s an easy lesson for the teacher and judging by the amount of grammatical mistakes, they don’t even check their work. I noticed them in DF when I was there last year, but here in Puebla there are swarms of them. I was happy to help but I ended up answering A LOT of questions. One of my interviews was with these star students…


They had prepared a very extensive list of about 17 000 interview questions including an in-depth sub-section of “What’s your favourite..(insert anything and everything imaginable) ?” They’re destined to become talk show hosts I think. I gave it my best shot but towards the end of it my favourite things just became “what”, “God” and “fuck”.

What’s your favourite shoe? … What?

What’s your favourite decoration? … Oh, God!

Whats your favourite bean? … Oh fuck!

But don’t worry… I don’t think they actually understood any of my answers.

These guys had written a conversation about organising a party and wanted me to help them with pronunciation. Another easy lesson for the teacher… “Teacher please help me with pronunciation.” “What?  Go get a gringo to do it.”


After that I went to Puebla Cathedral and had a look around. It’s certainly a stunning piece of architecture. The exterior is not that amazing but the interior is. Apparently it was the first Baroque Cathedral built in the Americas. It’s the second largest in Mexico but the bell towers are the tallest.
Still not feeling Catholic enough after my stint in the Cathedral, I thought I’d better have a look at the exhibition of the 500th anniversary of the birth of the Saint,Teresa of Avila.  

They had volunteer guides in there and a very knowledgeable gentleman took me around. I lot of the talk involved the names and numbers of bishops, popes, cardinals and saints and so largely went in through one ear and out the other. I thought it was odd though when we were looking at paintings and sculptures of Teresa, that about three times he said, “Look she has no pimples.” Like… Is that a criteria for being canonised? 

There was one sculpture … well, actually, just a photo of the sculpture, the original is in Florence… which depicts the moment that Teresa was stabbed with a flaming arrow. The guide’s English was very good but I thought it was funny when he described this moment. He said that “Teresa had felt so much pain and so gay.” … Huh? What? Of course he meant pain and happiness but I got a giggle out of it for about a second.

Next it was off to another first, The Biblioteca Palafoxiana, the first library in Latin America. It’s right behind the Cathedral. You couldn’t look at any books, obviously, but the interior was stunning.

A bit of street food next… I couldn’t quite catch the name of this one but it was corn kernels and chicharron cooked in a bit of a light broth with chilli and lime. It was sensational!!

The rest of the time was just spent wandering around taking some happy snaps and soaking up the atmosphere of this beautiful city… and then back to the Sacristy of Solitude getting ready, preparing myself to take on Puebla’s nightlife!

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