Religious Candlemas and Rich Chocolate Mole in Puebla

This past weekend I traveled to Puebla and Cholula.

Getting there:

The bus from Queretaro costs around $35 and takes four hours to get there. The bus line, Futura, was very accommodating. In addition to music, games and movies on-board, everyone got a nice bag lunch for the ride. It even came with a headphones and an inflatable neck pillow. 🙂IMG_8872

Puebla: 

While driving toward Puebla, you pass the active volcano Popocatépetl. Rising almost 18,000 ft high, it is the second highest peak in Mexico.IMG_8875The city of Puebla, is also located in the state of Puebla. It is one of the top five Spanish colonial cities of Mexio and is known for its Mexican baroque architecture using gorgeous talavera tiles. For this reason, it was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987.

Here are a few shots of the historic city center:IMG_8954IMG_8955IMG_8958IMG_8953

Where I stayed:

For this trip I stayed at Hostal Santo Domingo in the historic city center. The hostal was $10 per night for a dormitory bed, plus it included continental breakfast. Not too shabby. 🙂IMG_8957IMG_9040While at the hostal I met a girl named Maria from Moscow, Russia. We decided to do some sightseeing together. Our first stop was a rooftop deck to the view the sunset.  What a gorgeous view of Puebla!IMG_8965IMG_8966IMG_8973IMG_8972After, we went to an event called Night of the Museums. From 5-10 PM, the museums are open with free admission. We decided to visit Museo Amparo. The museum is actually a restored 17th century hospital, and includes various pieces of pottery and sculptures from pre-Columbian civilizations.

In addition to the artifacts, their temporary exhibition was by artist named Gabriel de la Mora. It included a mix of re-purposed garbage from landfills that had been constructed into art pieces. Maria and I had a good laugh as we walked out into the courtyard. I initially thought this was another exhibit, but it turned out to just be a construction site. Hah.IMG_8996

Gabriel states, “…art is not created nor destroyed; it is only transformed, just as energy is.”

After viewing some very thought-provoking pieces, we headed up to their rooftop terrace to listen to this beautiful orchestra and take in the view. Incredible!
IMG_8997 IMG_9001 IMG_9002 IMG_8998The museum is located next to Zocalo, which is the main plaza in Puebla. At night the city comes alive with various cafes and restaurants encircling the plaza’s immense Cathedral. Multi-colored fountains and illuminated buildings sit among the cobblestone streets lined with trees and antique street lamps. The combination of the modern and traditional makes for a truly spectacular atmosphere.IMG_8989 IMG_8988IMG_8990 IMG_8987 IMG_8986IMG_8993 IMG_9005

Attractions: 

In addition to the churches and museums, Puebla has the Palafoxiana Library, which is the first library in the Americas.
IMG_9043IMG_9047It has over 40,000 books, which are mostly antique and historic in themselves. I learned that to check out a book at the library, one must make an appointment. The book is read in a special room and you need to wear gloves to turn the pages, since they are so delicate.IMG_9049
This is a 16th century book wheel that was used to save important pages for scientists to reference and compare different texts.
IMG_9050

Day Trip to Cholula: 

A short 30-minute ride from Puebla is the Pueblo Mágico of Cholula. They are known for having 365 CHURCHES, which means a celebration for every day of the year. 🙂
IMG_8882 IMG_8880 IMG_8878I also like finding bizarre attractions, like this tree house in the middle of the historic center. 🙂
IMG_8912The most impressive attraction is the Grand Pyramid of Cholula. 
IMG_8884Based on its dimensions, Guinness Book of World Records has named this archaeological ruin the largest pyramid in the world!
CaptureIts construction began in 300 BC and continued to grow through Olmeca, Tolteca and Chichimeca reign. It now spans over 25 acres and stands almost 200 feet tall. As each empire was overtaken, part of the pyramid was destroyed and built upon. The resulting pyramid is layers and layers of pre-Columbian history. Finally, when Hernán Cortés arrived in the 16th century, the Spaniards massacred all the Cholulans and placed a Catholic church on top of the ruins to show their dominance.

I began with a visit to this church at the top of the pyramid.
IMG_8893 IMG_8897The view of the city from Sanctuary of our Lady of Remedies is absolutely marvelous!
IMG_8889 IMG_8894 IMG_8908To view the ruins exterior, one must first navigate through the pyramid. A labyrinth of nearly five miles worth of tunnels built under the pyramid leads to an open field where you can view the different levels of construction.
IMG_8914 IMG_8916 IMG_8926 A truly impressive man-made marvel.
IMG_8934 IMG_8940 IMG_8943

Religious Candlemas:

In addition to its architectural marvels, Mexico offers many religious marvels as well. Yesterday was February 2nd, which is known as Candlemas in Mexico. It marks the forty day time period after Christ’s birth, when Mary and Joseph carried Jesus to the Temple in Jerusalem to be blessed.

To honor this historic moment, people purchase and dress up Christ dolls to carry around with them in the city. On February 2nd, they will also take them to the church to be blessed. This weekend in Puebla, I witnessed many people both young and old cradling dolls in their arms as they went to church. It shows extreme devotion and religious belief.
IMG_9023 IMG_9080Here are some shots of Puebla’s churches and the main Cathedral.
IMG_9061 IMG_9029 IMG_9039On the Cathedral doors reads, “To the Mother of God Almighty. This Sacred Work is Dedicated.”
IMG_9037 IMG_9052

 Rich Chocolate Mole 

After a long weekend of sightseeing, I headed over to Mercado de los Sabores Poblanos, or Market of Poblano Flavors to try some regional cuisine. This market is perfect for newcomers, since it is extremely clean and spacious. It has a very inviting atmosphere for tourists. 🙂
IMG_9085 IMG_9081Puebla is famous for their mole, which is a rich, sweet and spicy sauce prepared by layering many flavors. Ingredients may include poblano chilies, chocolate, cinnamon, almonds, old bread, parsley, oregano, pumpkin seeds and nutmeg.
IMG_9084 IMG_9095This ingredient list could potentially go on forever and every person has their own recipe, so it is very difficult to replicate. It is a true labor of love. ❤
I met up with Maria from Moscow and Marion from northern France for a lunch date. I could not decide which mole to try, so I decided to try them all. 🙂
IMG_9089The cook originally thought there was one mole for each of us, but soon realized they were all mine. Hah. 😀  He apologized for the separate plates, and felt flattered that I wanted to sample them all. 🙂
IMG_9091Heaping ladles of thick mole poblano, mole rojo and mole verde were smothered over each moist chicken drumstick.
IMG_9088IMG_9086It was honestly the perfect combination of sweet and spicy, rich and decadent. The chocolate flavor was more pronounced in the poblano mole, but the verde had a nutty combination of pumpkin seeds and almonds. Absolutely incredible!
IMG_9092We also shared a chili relleno or pepper stuffed with cheese, which was delicious dipped in the bowls of mole.
IMG_9094After lunch, I wished the girls safe travels on their next destination. Maria is headed to Guatemala and Marion is moving to Switzerland to work at a ski lodge. 🙂
IMG_9093

Why I love Puebla: 

IMG_9067Perhaps my favorite part about Puebla is their sense of community. On Sunday, I spent the morning hanging out in their Zocalo. Families gathered from all over to take part in exercise and games. They had a free orchestra concert in the center square as well. People were laughing and relaxing on park benches.
IMG_9066Children were feeding and playing with pigeons near the fountain.
IMG_9069 IMG_9072They had a lovely antique and craft market nearby.
IMG_9057 IMG_9054Everyone was interacting with each other and enjoying life. It was an upbeat and idealistic scene for this day and age. LOVE!

Another adventure in the books. Leaving happy and satisfied with great memories and full belly.

Learning Spanish:

For those of you that want to learn or brush up on your Spanish language skills, I just discovered a new computer application. Duolingo is an interactive language course that combines speaking, reading and writing, and listening. It is available for desktops and mobile devices, plus it is FREE. 🙂DuolingoThey also offer courses in Italian, French, German, Russian and many more. Feel free to check it out. Enjoy and until next time. 🙂

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5 thoughts on “Religious Candlemas and Rich Chocolate Mole in Puebla

  1. Wow, great pictures! The food looks really good 🙂 I’ve used Duolingo a lot and love it. Popocatépetl and Puebla look like incredible places to visit. I’m sure there is a lot of great hiking in the area.

    Like

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