Friday, June 5, 2009

Spending some time in Tlaxcala....

Had a combination of "events" I guess you could call them which made us make alternate plans and "get out of Dodge" for the weekend.... The local water company (Soapap) announced it would make repairs on the net and cut off water for 2 days (we have a cistern so we could have made it), then the water pump sprung a leak and had to get maintenance work done (plumber took it and there might be water in the cistern but no way to get the water from the cistern to the water tank), and the prospect of being without water is not workable (you kidding?....) AND it all decided to happen on a weekend which means nothing until next week! AARRGG!!!!!!

This gave us the idea of not dealing with the situation at all and making for the hills.... in this case it's the hills of Tlaxcala state, our neighboring land and the smallest state around but full of history and tradition (as I explained in another post)..... so we drove from Puebla to Tlaxcala using the old highway (the free one) and we ambled over. Took about an hour passing through the smaller towns of Puebla and then in Tlaxcala until we made it into the capital city of Tlaxcala.

On the road, nice drive I have to say as we all enjoyed seeing clean towns with friendly people and a magnificient view of Don Goyo and the sleeping woman (I'm referring to our most prominent volcanos in the area: Popocatepetl and Iztlaciuhatl and you can read about their leyend in yet another informative post... I'm full of information, huh?) until Tlaxcala city appeared.

Such a nice, clean, Colonial city with bright colored buildings and lots of vegetation to provide much needed shade in a sunny day. We drove around the main square looking for a parking space, the Zocalo is small enough to permit you to walk around in comfort and enjoy the city, so we managed to find a spot in front of the Postal Office and walked all over.

The Zocalo has a couple of "sides" (Zocalo's typically are a square with arched areas all around), usually containing restaurants you can sit on the sidewalk and people watch (a very popular pastime), or stores, museums, galleries, municipal buildings, etc. and all these offerings are here an more. We walked around enjoying the lovely Colonial buildings, got to go into the Parroquia de la Virgen de Ocotlan and notice the interior has the loveliest ceiling and detail work, a very nice Church. The bells were calling the faithful to midday services and people were coming into the cool interior for Mass.

Went down the street and noticed a most elegan building which was our hotel, San Francisco, and by the looks of the entrance and lobby area we had picked the right one. Large, elegant and very attractive, with all the services you'd expect (especially water!!!!! and lots of it! YAY!) so we were happy about this....

We took a break and then decided to go on with our walk around the cente of town and we came upon a very nice, smiling lady with her daughter, selling crystalized fruits she had made at home; we talked with her for a while and my husband couldn't resist and bought some peaches and figs to take along for when the "munchies" hit. She was quite personable and witty and we had a nice talk with her. Definitely "good vibes" here, plus the fruit looked freshly made and really appetizing. We bought 1/4Kilo for $40 pesos...Mmmmmm

Crossed the street in spite of a "chirping" walk sign on the crosswalk (really bugged me since it chirped constantly while you cross the street) and came onto Xicotencatl Park with it's two twin fountains and statue of Xicotencatl himself, more trees and benches to sit and rest and plenty of couples taking advantage of the cool breeze. We walked all over this area and got to see some souvenier stores (with nice wares), some restaurants and a Topolino Gelatto store and we got some ice cream to walk around with.

We got to talking with some of the local and asked them to recommend a good restaurant with local regional cooking (Tlaxcala is known for some wonderful food like: Gusanos de Maguey (Agave worms), Escamoles (ant larvae), Mixchiotes (lamb stew in agave pockets) and other specialties), and we were directed to the "Fonda del Convento" which was at the end of the park, diagonall up the hill going towards the old Franciscan Convent and the Church of the Asumption with it's bell tower.

Had no trouble locating the restaurant and as we walked in the tables seemed small and too close to the kitchen so they told us we'd be more comfortable downstairs where we found live music and a very cool area (it was very sunny outside so he cool was nice).... we had nice meal there, reasonable and good service. The food was very good and the regional specialties were appreciated by all of us.....

Quite full now we continued our walk up the hill to visit the Convent and were greeted by a lovely garden patio area with tall trees and a great view of the city below. You could also get a fantastic look at the bullring below which is worth seeing (Tlaxcala is very into bull fighting, as we are, but no bulls where running so another time)

The bell tower is lovely and the church of the Asumption is amazing. Artwork is excellent and the separate chapels are incredible! Carved wood mouldings covered in gold leaf make for wonderful decorations. The church with thick walls was so cool, we were tempted to sit a while and take in the entire area, quite lovely. There is also a crucified Christ in the side chapel all made of corn masa which is very unique since you don't find something like this every day.

As we came out of the far end of the convent courtyard we noticed yet another chapel up some very numerous and steep stairs which I only took pictures from below (no way I'm climbing all those stairs after eating....) and then saw the street down from here leading us back to the city below. This street was one of the nicest I've seen anywhere, just lovely....

By this time we were ready for some serious relaxation and decided to go back and "veg out". We walked back past the main square where music was being set up around the gazebo for everyone's enjoyment while you sit on the benches all around. We've always enjoyed the city life that comes from living in Mexican towns and cities and allows you to come to meet and know the locals in an easy manner, sometimes you can dance under the moonlight or walk arm in arm or hand in hand down pathways where the night flowering jasmine blooms to enhance your evening walk (except for the incessant "chirping" cross walk noice, I swear I'm coming back to disconnect this...)

Tlaxcala is a lovely setting which only got lovelier as night set in and antique lights softened the colors and gave everyone a warm glow in the cool evening. A sweater would come in handy as nights are cool. What a nice change of pace from large, busy Puebla- you'll love it!

Tlaxcala is only 37 Km from Puebla and has about 70,000 inhabitants. There is also the town of Apizaco where expats live I'm told and another lovely area. Close to the center of the country, rich in history and traditions, fantastic food and a great climate... what more could you ask for? (My husband is ready to move..... )

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