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A Place Called Puebla

TEPIC, MEXICO – Every trip is different, even if you planned the same route, things happen and you respond. Yesterday we woke up in Puebla instead of Mexico City and today we woke up in Tepic instead of Mazatlan where I would have been steps from the ocean. It was something I was looking forward to experiencing again as on our first trip, the cool Pacific water on my feet under the soft Mazatlan sand that stretches as far as the eye can see. I always yearn for the ocean and the heat, it’s where I feel most at ease.

In my life I’ve learned that there is nothing you control, even the illusion of controlling things is something so far out of your reach. Having realized that we can travel by night on the autopistas, we’ve pushed more of our driving time well into the night because we’re so exhausted from our 12-15 hours days of driving. We blame this pattern on the autopista closure down by Suluya, but really there’s nothing or anyone to blame. It just is.  I think of a quote from Buddhist Ming-pen: “Who cares whether it takes twenty or thirty years; you’ll be naturally at peace, without the slightest bit of doubt or confusion. How can there be any obstruction again after spontaneous acquiescence? How can anyone arrive by way of externals?”

So we rolled into Puebla around midnight after a dangerous foggy stretch with the tractor trailers through the mountains. Puebla is a city I’ve heard much about, but never visited. I planted the seed in Brad’s brain while we were driving the foggy road. “If I was getting paid for this I could see myself driving through fog right now, but honestly, what is the point of getting to Mexico City just to say we did?” Puebla, I whispered, Puebla. As the clock pushed 11 at night on our dashboard, Brad surrendered the detonation for the journey.

Puebla at night was magical, like a one-way journey into Mexico’s colonial past from autopista to Centro Historico which was empty, well-lit, impeccably beautiful and had the feeling of a luxurious home where no detail had been left untended. We gawked at every building and quickly found our way in Puebla’s downtown grid where every street had a sign and a lamp post. We took the long way around to see this lovely city by night and then found the two hotels we were looking for right next to each other: the Gifford and the Royal Palace.

Of the two, the Royal Palace which rented us a room for M$420 with parking and fast wi-fi and actually had someone waiting with a smile at 12:30 at night is the option we went with. It’s really in Puebla that I started to appreciate our journey as a time of discovery. We woke up late, had a leisurely breakfast, got me a Mexico SIM card for my phone (for $45 I could have unlimited pre-paid data on my cellphone for 30 days, a bit pricey, so I only got the line for calls) and just enjoyed watching Puebla’s picturesque hustle and bustle almost like we were on a movie set. Appropriately enough a news crew showed up with cameras to film the morning voice on the street.

We left Puebla at noon knowing we had a 10-hour drive ahead to Tepic and then another 11 hours to Hermosillo the next day. The present too is part of what has happened. Yesterday we were in driving hell and today we were in paraiso and our experience was complete. “It was a good place to recharge our batteries,” Brad said.

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