Saturday, November 26, 2011

Puebla Part 12: Puebla's open-air markets

Puebla abounds with open-air markets. Carole and I differ as shoppers. She has a very utilitarian approach and seldom shops unless she is looking for something specific, and never buys unless it is at just the right price. I, on the other hand, enjoy browsing, particularly in places displaying unusual goods.  I don't necessarily intend to buy anything, I just enjoy the sights, sounds, and smells of these places. I particularly fancy them as subjects for my photography, with all their color, movement and variety. In Puebla there are multiple opportunities to experience these open air mercados (markets). Some are temporary affairs, only held on particular days of the week. Others are semi-permanent, like the one above where vendors set up canopies and booths every day along the same stretch of sidewalk. Still others are permanent markets with concrete stalls consistently occupied by the same vendors. The sites of some of the permanent mercados have been used for that purpose for hundreds of years. In this posting, we'll look at mercados within all these categories.

Barrio del Artista

Statue at the north end of the Artists' Neighborhood. The center of the Barrio del Artista (Artists' Neighborhood) is one of Puebla's pedestrian-only streets. The north end begins with this lovely statue of nudes peering into the distance. Mexico possesses an astonishing amount and variety of public art, freely accessible to all.

Artists' cubbyholes are combination studios and sales rooms. The area was once the site of textile mills, but in 1941 it was renovated. Fortunately, the architects appreciated the colonial aspects of the area and retained them. One of the most interesting features of this street is the long row of tiny artists' studios. Each of the doors seen above leads into a space not much bigger than a large walk-in closet. In them, the artists paint or sculpt, and meet with customers. Open-air concerts and performances are sometimes hosted in the area in front of the studios.

Opposite the artists cubbyholes are shady sidewalk cafés and restaurants. On this side of the street are galleries and sidewalk cafés, shaded by huge old ficus trees. Barrio del Artista is a great place to while away a warm afternoon, browsing the art studios and people-watching.

Students enjoy lunch at a Barrio Artista café. We stopped at this small café to sample the local fare. Soon, the two students above grabbed a table across from us where they could munch on the inexpensive food and ogle the pretty poblanas (girls of Puebla) walking by. The sign in back of the student on the left advertises Exquisitos Chiles en Nogada. This dish is one for which Puebla has become famous and consists of chiles stuffed with pork, onion, and garlic, covered in nogada (walnut sauce), and sprinkled with pomegranate seeds. Chiles en Nogada was invented by the people of Puebla to honor the saint's day (August 28, 1821) of Agustin de Iturbide. He was a Royalist army officer who defected to the insurgent cause near the end of the War of Independence. He was considered a hero at this point, and the Poblanos held a feast for him. All the dishes were in the colors of the new Mexican flag: green (chiles), white (walnut sauce), and red (pomegranate seeds). All this apparently went to Iturbide's head. He proclaimed himself Emperor of Mexico, but he was soon deposed and a republic established. The popularity of Chiles en Nogada has outlasted that of Iturbide by almost 200 years.

Angel of Death beckons. While lunching at the café, we noticed this ominous, black-clad figure standing across the street. On his back were large, black-feathered wings. Most of the time he remained motionless, but occasionally people would approach him and he would engage in a rather obscure ritual. We were intrigued and I decided that some photos were in order.

Carole takes her chances. I enticed Carole into engaging the Angel to see what would happen. The routine involved dropping a few coins at his feet, at which point he came to life. With a sweeping gesture,  he silently offered a tiny strip of paper from an old cigar box. The paper contained a sort of fortune, but not the bland kind one finds in a Chinese restaurant. It was an eloquent quote from a famous Mexican poet. Unfortunately, we misplaced the paper and I don't remember what it said. However, the encounter itself was certainly memorable.

Mercado Jardin Analco

Flower stall at Mercado Jardin Analco. Above is a scene from the fresh flower section. Mexicans love flowers of all sorts, and there were many varieties available. This mercado is held every Sunday in Jardin Analco, a park on the eastern fringes of the Centro Historico. It is similar to the open-air tianguis familiar to those who live in Mexico, but is quite a bit larger than most I have visited, and easily 5 times as large as the one held on Wednesdays in Ajijic, where I live. The word tianguis (tee-an-geese) comes from tianquiztli in the Nahuatl language of the Aztecs. It means "market day" or "harvest." The roots of the tianguis go far back into prehispanic history and their ruins have been found in Chichen Itza and other ancient sites. To locate Jardin Analco on a map of Puebla, click here.

Masks, warriors, and talavera plates. You can usually find almost anything you want in a tianguis. However, what is offered is generally oriented to the sort of customers the vendors expect. The ones at this market know that Puebla's Centro Historico is a tourist magnet, so they offer various handicrafts as well as more prosaic fare. This stall offered carved wooden masks, small statues of conquistadors and Aztec warriors in combat, and brightly painted talavera plates.

Home decorations in riotous color. An indigenous vender pokes around in the back of her stall, searching for the item a customer has requested. The barrio, or neighborhood, in which Jardin Analco is located has an interesting history. Puebla was a city constructed from the ground up by the Spanish, and had no prehispanic history. Nearby Cholula, however, was one of Mesoamerica's greatest and most ancient cities. In 1531, the conquistadors recruited workers from Cholula to build their new city, and gave them the Barrio Analco to live in while the work progressed. The Cholulans divided the neighborhood into sub-units called calpullis according to their clan affiliations. Later, the Spanish brought in workers from Tlaxcala to help, and these took over some of the former Cholulan clan areas. The barrio still retains a geographic layout that reflects these early arrangements.

Mercado Jardin Analco offers necessities as well as knick-knacks. As I mentioned, you can get almost anything you want at a mercado. Right next to fine craftwork, I found a huge pile of individually wrapped toilet paper rolls. This rather casual display was pretty much the entirety of this vendor's merchandise.

Dressed in her Sunday best. A pretty poblana proudly displays her Chihuahua. The little dog is dressed, as my south-Texas-cowboy father used to say, in "Sunday-go-to-meetin' clothes." It was a bright day, so perhaps the dog was grateful for the shade her bonnet provided. Or not. Chihuahuas are enormously popular in Mexico, and there is evidence that the breed may have originated here. The Toltecs of the 9th Century AD kept dogs called techichis who may have been the progenitors of today's Chichuahuas. Dogs resembling Chihuahuas also appear on artifacts found in the ruins of ancient Cholula and at Chichen Itza, both of which have connections to the earlier Toltecs.

El Parian

El Parian specializes in clothing, crockery, and crafts. In contrast to the Analco market, el Parian is permanent, open daily, and almost exclusively sells tourist-oriented crafts. The vendors keep the same stalls on a long-term basis. The term "parian" comes from the Philippines. The word means "market", and was used throughout colonial Nueva España to describe a meeting place for commerce and trade.  Spain first visited the Philippines in 1521, claiming it for the Spanish King but not building any settlements until 1565.

Talavera pottery is everywhere. The vivid, intricate painting that is typical of talavera pottery can be seen above. You can purchase pottery like this in scores--perhaps hundreds--of locations in Puebla. The first parian was located at Plazuela San Roque, a plaza which has since disappeared. Then in 1796, Mayor Don Antonio Flon established a site for el Parian in the area which later became Barrio del Artista. In 1941, el Parian was moved just south of Barrio del Artista where it has remained ever since.

Plaza de los Sapos

Charming little toad fountain is the emblem of this plaza. Sapo is Spanish for toad, thus the name of this little mercado is Plaza de los Sapos. The San Francisco river used to run close by here, and the river banks were full of toads. Later the river was re-channeled, but the memory of the toads remains enshrined in the name. At Plaza de los Sapos permanent antique stores and galleries around the perimeter share space with temporary stalls set up by crafts vendors in the plaza itself.

Galeria Tierra Verde is covered with very old talavera tiles. The talavera tiles seen above are of a very old style, indicating that the structure containing this gallery is early colonial, as are most of the other buildings along both sides of the plaza.

Antique shop is packed with fascinating old objects. I love old things, as you may have guessed by now if you are a follower of my blog. Antique shops can be even better than museums, assuming they contain real antiques and not just overpriced junk. At such a shop you can actually pick up and handle the objects, and come physically in contact with history. This shop was closed, but I was able to take the photo through the barred gate. Most of the objects seem to be colonial-era and many are religious in nature, such as the angel and the monk seen at the lower right. The antique shop was one of several at Plaza de los Sapos.

Baptismal font was one of the many antiques for sale. This large, carved-stone baptismal font was on sale for the US equivalent of several hundred dollars. I couldn't help but wonder about the babies baptized in it, who they became, and what role they played in Nueva España.

Mercado La Victoria

Mercado la Victoria lies at the end of Calle 6 Oriente. The far end of 6 Oriente is crossed like a "T" by Calle 5 de Mayo. Seen at the head of the T is the entrance of Mercado la Victoria, which stretches back a whole block. At the other end, Calle 6 Poniente begins. Calle 6 Oriente is known locally at the Street of the Revolution, because the Casa Achilles Serdán is located on the right-hand side, about 1/2 way down to the mercado. The house is now a museum dedicated to the Mexican Revolution. The shooting part of the Revolution began with an assault by police and soldiers on the home of Achilles Serdán. He and his brothers were part of the underground movement organized to support Francisco Madero in his effort to oust the dictator Porfirio Diaz. The Serdán brothers were killed to a man and are today heros of the Revolution.

The central atrium of Mercado La Victoria is covered by a stained glass ceiling. Above, a young woman walks by a candy stand with a cell phone glued to her ear. Cell phones, for better or worse, are ubiquitous in Mexico, as they are in many other countries. The mercado was built in 1914 on property that used to be the garden of the Convento Santo Domingo, located next door (see Puebla Part 11). Designed in the French style with glass and steel, la Victoria soon became the most important mercado in Puebla. Eventually security and sanitation became a problem. Finally, in 1986, the mercado was closed for renovation. In 1994, it reopened and seems to have become very popular with poblanos of all ages.

This completes Part 12 of my Puebla series. The next two postings will feature two ancient sites named Cacaxtla and Xochitepetl, which lie about one hour north of Puebla. Creating this posting was a lot of fun for me and hope you have enjoyed it. If you would like to comment, please do so in the Comments section below, or email me directly.

If you leave a question in the Comments section, PLEASE leave your email address so I can respond.

Hasta luego, Jim

Monday, November 21, 2011

Puebla Part 11: Convent of Santo Domingo & its fantastic Baroque-style Capilla del Rosario

Retablo behind the main altar of the Church of Santo Domingo. This old Dominican monastery is one of the must-see places in Puebla. Much of the monastery, or convento, was expropriated during the period of the Reform War in the 1850s. However, the church and its Baroque-style Capilla de Rosario (Chapel of the Rosary) were so spectacular in their time that they were once considered the 8th Wonder of the World. There are many beautiful old colonial churches in Puebla, and I could use weeks of postings to show them all. However, I will settle on this one as the finest example of Baroque architecture in Puebla, and probably in Mexico.

Calle Cinco de Mayo runs along the east side of the church. This is one of several lovely pedestrian-only streets in Puebla. The church is behind the iron fence on the right. Notice the man with the crutch. I see many people in Mexico with missing limbs who don't possess prostheses, probably due to the cost. Convento Santo Domingo is located about 2.5 blocks north of the Zócalo on Calle Cinco de Mayo (5th of May Street). For a map showing the area, click here. The complex is open daily from 7:30 AM to 2 PM and again from 4 PM to 10 PM. On Saturday and Sunday, it is open from 10 AM to 12 Noon and 4 PM to 6 PM. There is no admission fee.

Market day at the church plaza. On the day we visited, there were a number of crafts booths in the plaza area that forms part of the property. In the background you can see the dome that covers the Capilla del Rosario. The church of Santo Domingo was begun by architect Francisco Becerra in 1571 and finally finished (not by him, of course) in 1659.  

Closeup of the Capilla's dome. The dome is in the shape of the crown of the Virgen del Rosario.  The Dominicans were among the first of the Friars to arrive in Mexico after the Conquest. The Order was founded in 1216 AD by Spanish Friar Domingo de Guzman. The Dominicans were known for the opulence of their temples and conventos, and they firmly opposed the constitutional changes sought by Mexico's President Benito Juarez. These included seizure of much of the vast church properties in Mexico, and the establishment of secular education. Juarez' efforts set off the Reform War of 1855. When he won, the losers invited the French to invade in 1862 and install Austrian Duke Maximilian as Emperor. The French were finally ousted in 1867, Maximilian was executed, and the Dominicans and other elements of the Catholic Church lost their economic stranglehold on Mexico. While the Santo Domingo property is still large today, before expropriation the Convento complex stretched for several blocks.

Grey cantera stone gives the entrance a rather stern aspect, masking the splendor within. The Mannerist-style entrance has three tiers of doric columns. The bottom two tiers have 4 pairs of columns each, while the top tier has 2 pairs. Between the pairs of columns on the top is an image of San Miguel, a patron saint of the church. Above San Miguel on either side are two dogs with torches in their mouths, along with two others just above the main door. The dogs are heraldic emblems of San Miguel, who is also knowns as "the Archangel". Oddly, St. Michael is considered holy not only by Christians, but also Jews and Muslims. Catholics identify him as the leader of God's armies, so he had a special appeal for the Spanish Catholics who conquered New Spain with much blood and fire. 

White and lacy, this area contrasted wonderfully with the grey cantera. As I approached the main entrance, I happened to glance to the upper part of the wall on the right and saw this delicate plaster work. It somewhat resembles the work on the Casa del Alfeñique (Meringue House) I showed in Part 3 of this Puebla series.

Soaring main nave leads to the intricate retablo behind the main altar. The windows at the top of each wall flood the ceiling and lower parts of this nave with soft light, illuminating the painting and gold leaf work. Without the windows, much of the beauty would be lost in gloom. Since no flashes are allowed, I would have had a terrible time photographing the interior.

Retablo behind the capilla altar to the right of the main altar. This retablo is made of intricately carved wood covered by gold leaf. The Spanish word retablo means "board behind" in this case behind an altar. Retablos typically contain images, either flat paintings or statues, and both are used above. Typical images may of Jesus, the Virgin Mary, or one of the almost countless Catholic saints. 

Retablo in the nook to the left of the main altar. Everywhere I turned in Santo Domingo, I seemed to run into another fantastically elaborate retablo. The purpose of a retablo's images is to allow a personal connection between the worshiper and a holy figure. Such a connection was especially necessary in New Spain because of the need to evangelize the vast numbers of only-recently-conquered indigenous people. As impressive as the main church was, with its many retablos, the main attraction was still ahead.

Entrance to the Capilla del Rosario. The entrance is just to the left of the main altar. The Capilla was built between 1650 and 1690, at the height of the Baroque architecture movement in Mexico. The Capilla is packed with symbolism. The three main themes are the mysteries of the rosary, its virtues, and the Virgin Mary herself.  

Upper view of the Capilla del Rosario. The visual impact of the Capilla is overwhelming. One simply does not know where to focus, and I found it difficult at first to take photos. Where to start? This photo is of the upper part of the chapel, looking toward the altar.

Lower view of the Capilla del Rosario. Here, I captured the lower part of the same view as the previous photo. The walls are covered by huge paintings of scenes related to the rosary. The paintings are separated and framed by intricate carvings and plaster work, covered with gold leaf. As you can see, the dimensions of the Capilla are not large, but he cumulative effect of its decorations certainly are.

Inside of Capilla del Rosario dome. This photo shows the inside of the dome seen in photos 3 and 4 of this posting. Every inch of its surface writhes with gold leaf-covered scrolls and squiggles and other designs. I can only imagine its impact on an unsophisticated indigenous person. Of course, those who created the incredibly complex art work found in some prehispanic indigenous temples no doubt had the same impact in mind. 

Ceiling of Capilla del Rosario. Everywhere one looks, in this case the ceiling, intricacy abounds. I half-imagined the architect and his workers consuming large quantities of hallucinogenic peyote before setting to work each day. 

Ceiling detail of Capilla del Rosario. This detail from the ceiling should give you a sense of the intricacy of the work. The figure in the center is dressed as a Spanish nobleman of the early 17th Century. He holds a large cross. I would have loved to get up on the balcony you can see above, but that was not allowed.

Retablo behind the altar of the Virgen del Rosario. The retablo of the Virgin was almost overwhelmed by the Capilla around it. The Virgin is placed, like an exotic butterfly, in a glass case framed by corinthian-capped pillars. Above her are several more figures, including one on top who may be Jesus. I have found that figures of the Virgin are often more common, and more central, in Mexican Catholic churches than those of Jesus. 

Virgen del Rosario, within her retablo. The Virgen del Rosario wears the crown from which the dome of her chapel is shaped. With her left arm, she holds the Baby Jesus, also crowned. She carries another child with her right arm. Her dress is adorned with roses, symbolizing the rosary. At the base of her dress is a crescent moon, which has both biblical and Aztec religious connotations. Catholic religious symbolism in Mexico often contains a subtext of prehispanic religious meanings. The focus on the Virgin of the Rosary (also known as the Virgin of Victory) began with a call by Pope Pius V for an annual feast to commemorate the Christian victory over the Muslim Ottoman Turks in the Battle of Lepanto in 1571. The Mediterranean naval battle saved Italy from Ottoman invasion, and was the last battle ever fought completely by oar-powered galleys.

This completes Part 11 of my Puebla series. I hope you were as impressed by this extraordinary example of Baroque architecture as I was. If you would like to comment, please do so in the Comments section below, or email me directly. 

If you leave a question in the Comments section PLEASE leave you email address so I can respond.

Hasta luego, Jim

Monday, November 14, 2011

Puebla Part 10: The colonial city of Cholula

Cholula is a city of churches. I took this shot from the Zócalo, also called Plaza de la Concordia. Santuario de Nuestra Señora de los Remedios (Sanctuary of Our Lady of the Remedies) looms over the town from the top of the Great Pyramid of Cholula. For this posting, I will focus on Cholula as the Spanish found it, leading up to the modern period. For a sense of ancient, prehispanic Cholula, check out the last 3 posts. When the Spanish arrived, Cholula had been a major religious and mercantile center for almost 2 thousand years. There were 430 temples and approximately 40,000 homes in or surrounding the center of the city. In 1520, Cholula's population was 100,000, considerably larger than many European cities at that time. For example, London's population was 50,000, Rome 38,000, Lisbon 55,000, and Seville 60,000. Only a handful of European cities were larger, including Paris at 185,000, Naples 114,000, and Constantinople (Istanbul) at 200,000.

Volcan Popocatépetl looms over the city. This photo was taken from on top of the Great Pyramid, looking northwest.  Popocatépetl, at 5,426 meters (17,802 ft.) is the second tallest peak in Mexico, and is an active volcano. Nearby Volcan Iztaccihuatl is the third tallest at 5,230 meters (17,159 ft). The existence of these and many other volcanos makes Mexico very prone to earthquakes. Mexico City (once the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlán) lies on the other side of Popocatépetl, 84 kilometers  (52 mi.) away. When Hernán Cortés and his conquistadors arrived, Cholula was a close ally of the Aztecs (known then as Mexicas). He and his small army were initially welcomed, but they suspected a trap set by Mexica Emperor Moctezuma. Accordingly, they bided their time until the local nobility gathered in one of the Cholula's enclosed plazas. Under Cortés orders, Spanish soldiers blocked off all the exits and then massacred everyone in the plaza, probably between 6,000-10,000 unarmed people. This literally decapitated the city's leadership and sent a terrifying signal to other cities in their path that any hint of resistance would be dealt with horrifically. While the Spanish later claimed they had detected a plot against them and acted in self-defense, their Cholula massacre created a pattern repeated in other indigenous cities in Mexico, Central America, and South America.

A church for every day of the year. Cortés recognized the importance of Cholula as one of Mesoamerica's greatest centers of indigenous religion. The Spanish, for religious but also political motives, felt the need to supplant the native religions with Christianity as soon as possible. Cortés decreed that there should be a Christian church built in Cholula for every day of the year, 365 in total. If possible, they were to be built on top of the soon-to-be-demolished ancient temples. In reality, only 159 churches and chapels were actually built. Still, that is quite a large number for the relatively small city Cholula became after epidemics in the early colonial era wiped out most of its population. The church above was photographed from the top of the Great Pyramid. There is another church visible in the upper left.

Yet another of Cholula's many religious edifices. Notice how it looks like a fortress, with high, thick, stone walls. Many of the early churches were built in this fashion because of numerous revolts by local indigenous people and raids by nomadic Chichimeca tribesmen during the first couple of centuries after the Conquest. The styles of the churches mirror the architectural eras in which they were built, from Gothic, to Renaissance, to Churrigueresque, to Neoclassical. The early churches were constructed by newly-converted indigenous craftsmen. Often they left ancient symbols representing the old gods hidden in their work. One of the earliest chapels, San Miguelito, was dedicated to the Archangel Michael. However, there was also a small demon carved in the interior of the church. While many came to venerate the archangel, after a while more came to pray to the demon, who could be asked for things Archangel Michael would never grant. Eventually, because of the growing popularity of the demon, church officials began to blame earthquakes and other local disasters on him. Finally, the images of both the archangel and the demon were taken away and have since disappeared.

Franciscan Monastery of San Gabriel dominates the Centro Historico. The photo above, taken from atop the Great Pyramid, shows Cholula's Centro Historico. The Monastery of San Gabriel is in the center of the picture. It was built in 1529 on top of the destroyed temple to Quetzalcoatl, the ancient creator-god. The complex we see today was begun in 1540, with the main church begun a decade later in 1549. The main purpose of the complex was evangelization, an urgent need in the early days when Spanish control was weakest. The first stone of the complex was laid by Martin de Hojacastro, Puebla's 3rd bishop.

Entrance to the Monastery of San Gabriel. The Monastery complex occupies the whole east side of the large Cholula Zócalo. Within the complex are numerous chapels and atriums. Overall, this is one of the largest Franciscan monasteries in Mexico. The pointed white structures that line the top of the wall surrounding the complex are called merlons.

The Gothic-style main church of the monastery. The Baroque-style bell tower was added after the church was built. The main entrance, seen above, was made from sandstone in Renaissance style.

The cloister area of the monastery. This is located just to the right of the main church and still houses about 15 Franciscan monks. This section also contains a library with 25,000 volumes published between the 16th and 19th Centuries, a joint project with the University of the Americas. The cloister section was built directly over the old temple of Quetzacoatl.

The main church shows the classic elements of a "fortress church". With its high walls topped with crenelated battlements, and high, second-story windows from which muskets or even cannon could be fired, the monastery provided a military as well as spiritual refuge.

A multi-domed building extends to the left of the main church. Today, this part of San Gabriel Monastery functions as a school. I had to take multiple photos to show even a part of this huge complex. I tried to imagine the old days of the late 16th and early 17th Centuries when evangelization was at its height. The area would have been thronged with Franciscans in their cassocks, hurrying on errands for the abbot or preparing for another mission to the wild Chichimecs of the north country.

Closeup of the San Gabriel monastery school. The multiple cupolas give the building a Moorish feeling. Classes had just let out and children were beginning to pour forth, exuberant at their release from classes on a beautiful sunny day.

The longest arcade in Latin America. Plazas with arcades lined with arched portales are common in Mexico. This one, which borders the entire west side of Cholula's huge Zócalo, is unusual because it is the longest of its kind in Latin America. The arcade is 170 meters (560 ft.) long, with 46 portales. Mexican plazas also typically contain a government building, whether it is the vast Palacio Nacional at Mexico City's famous Zócalo, or the tiny Delegacion next to the plaza in Ajijic where I live. Cholula is no different. The area just behind the arcade above is occupied by its government building. It is built on the ancient site of the Xiuhcalli (House of Turquoise), used by Cholula's prehispanic nobility as a council house.

The Zócalo, or Plaza de la Concorda, looking north. The long line of portales leads to yet another church, the Parrochia San Pedro, built in the 17th Century with a mixture of styles. These include Baroque, Renaissance, and the large Churrigueresque-style cupola seen above. The city of Cholula is made up of two different municipalities, known as San Pedro Cholula and San Andrés Cholula. Although the present names are in Spanish, this division is actually very ancient, going back to the period when the invading Toltec-Chichimecs partially displaced the Olmec-Xilancas in the 12th Century AD. It was the Toltec-Chichimecs who shifted the city's religious focus away from the Great Pyramid to a new temple for Quetzalcoatl. Three hundred years later, the Spanish destroyed the Quetzalcoatl temple and built the San Gabriel Monastery. In Cholula, a stroll through town involves walking over layer upon layer of history.

A line of restaurants fills the arcade. Restaurant followed restaurant under the long arcade. The furniture was equipale, a style found throughout Mexico. Equipale is made with rough branches and strips of wood woven together. The seat and back are of rawhide leather, sometimes padded, sometimes not. The result is attractive, light, and compact, making it very popular for both restaurants and home furnishings. However, unless well-padded, it is not terribly comfortable for sitting any length of time. The equipale style is very old. Cortés and his conquistadors left detailed descriptions of equipale-style furniture they observed in Moctezuma's palace in Tenochtitlán.

Harpist from Vera Cruz entertains restaurant guests. It is almost inevitable that an open-air restaurant in Mexico will attract street musicians. It is up to the guests whether they agree to his terms to play. The nice thing about it is that guests a little distance away also get to enjoy the music. I usually contribute a little, even if I am not the one to whom the music is directed. In Mexico, life always has a musical soundtrack. The jarocho-style harp and his dress identify the musician as Vera Cruzano.

A shady park fills part of the immense plaza. Even though the ambient air temperature was not overly warm, the sun was intense. At 2,200 meters (7,217 ft.) the air is filled with a luminous glow that makes a shady spot like the park above a welcome relief.

Finally, back to Puebla. After a delicious lunch on Cholula's Zócalo, we decided to head back to our hotel. The bus trip back to Puebla takes about 30 minutes, and has a convenient stop at the southeast corner of Plaza de la Concordia. However, as we traveled through the confusing streets of Puebla, we were baffled as to where we should get off in order walk back to our hotel. As we puzzled over our map, several of our fellow bus-riders came up, one at a time, to consult with us (in Spanish, of course). They were all very concerned that their foreign guests should be able to find their way. Eventually, even the bus driver got involved, making a special effort to point us in the right direction. When we alighted, still another of the bus riders awaited us. The young fellow seen above walked us four blocks to a plaza we recognized and made sure we were clear in our directions. We were charmed by this spontaneous display of concern and hospitality. But then, that's the Mexican attitude we have found wherever we have traveled in this lovely and friendly country.

This completes Part 10 of my Puebla series. Next, we will visit some spectacular Baroque churches and later look in on some of the local markets. I hope you have enjoyed this posting, along with the previous three on Puebla's close neighbor, Cholula. If you would like to comment, please  do so in the Comments section below, or email me directly.

If you leave a question in the Comments section PLEASE leave your email address so I can respond.

Hasta luego, Jim