Popocatépetl Volcano

My Mexico Trip, Part 4: Popocatépetl, Puebla Cathedral and China Poblana.

Continued from My Mexico Trip, Part 3, The Archeology Museum.

After a busy day in Mexico City visiting Teotihuacán, Zócalo and the Archeological Museum, we headed east towards Puebla and Veracruz. En route, at a rest stop we saw a unique sight—a rock formation in the form of a sleeping woman and Popocatépetl, an active volcano.

Popocatépetl Volcano
Popocatépetl Volcano and The Sleeping Woman, Mexico.

Look at the picture. On the right is a rock formation known as The Sleeping Woman. From right to left you can see her head, her breasts and her feet. It was winter. She was covered with a light dusting of snow. To her left is Popocatépetl, an active volcano, with a plume of smoke from the crater rising into the still air, clearly visible from afar against the light blue sky. The name means “Smoking Mountain” in Aztec. It’s sometimes referred to or abbreviated as “El Popo” in Spanish. I thought I detected a faint, sulfurous redolence in the air. An inevitable comparison to Pompeii came to mind, but I pushed that thought aside. No point in thinking about that eventuality on such a pleasant, beautiful day.

Building with Talavera tiles, Puebla, Mexico.
Building with Talavera tiles, Puebla, Mexico.

We continued on toward Puebla with its long history, multi-culture and famous cathedral. Founded in 1531 by the Spaniards with the goal of outshining the neighboring indigenous city of Cholula, it soon became known as Puebla de los Angeles and an important catholic center. It has several well preserved colonial era buildings with colorful ceramic tiles (Talavera) enhancing the exterior. Many had Moorish patterns and colors (blues and whites). Later additions from Mexico, China and other places enhanced the color palette. Oranges, yellows and greens were added.

Puebla Cathedral.
My first glimpse of Puebla cathedral, Puebla, Mexico.

We walked toward the famous Cathedral, the second largest in Mexico, dating from 1649. The bright orange dome could be seen from a great distance. Inside, it was cool, well lit and magnificent. We sat on the wooden pews as Pepe, in a low voice, told us the history of Puebla and the cathedral. I looked around admiring the artwork on the walls, the elaborately carved wooden panels, the hanging chandeliers and stained glass windows.

Inside Puebla Cathedral.
Inside Puebla Cathedral. Note the vastness, paintings, chandeliers and carvings, Puebla, Mexico.

The nave was spectacular with its statues of angels, almost Romanesque in grandeur.

The impressive nave of Puebla Cathedral, Mexico.
The impressive nave of Puebla Cathedral, Mexico.

I then looked at the tiles paving the floor. They showed wear and tear as you might expect from the scraping of thousands of feet of the faithful over the centuries. I had noticed similar wearing of the black and white marble tiles at the Taj Mahal. I guess that is the price famous, much-loved monuments have to pay to have so many visitors.

Floor tiles in Puebla Cathedral.
Floor tiles in Puebla Cathedral and the wear and tear from thousands of feet over the centuries. Puebla, Mexico.

We stepped outside onto the Plaza admiring the outer facade as we waited for the whole group to gather.

Facade of Puebla Cathedral.
Facade of Puebla Cathedral, Puebla, Mexico.
Waiting in the Plaza outside the Puebla Cathedral.
Waiting for our group to assemble in the Plaza outside the Puebla Cathedral. Note the colors and patterns on the wall. Puebla, Mexico.

Pepe then led us through a shady park with statues of historic figures to a restaurant, the China Poblana, for lunch.

A Puebla park.
A small shady park with statues near the cathedral. Puebla.

Through the centuries, people from all over the world had settled in Puebla. Many were from China, the result of a brisk trade with the orient. One such entrepreneurial Chinese woman had designed a unique dress with Chinese and Mexican motifs for the wife of a high ranking Spanish official. It was eye-catching and became renowned as the China Poblana (pronounced Chee-na. Poblana—a female resident of Puebla, in Spanish). There was a statue of a young woman in that resplendent attire prominently displayed in the restaurant. We stood around it admiring the colorful design. It was apparent why the restaurant was named “The China Poblana”.

Statue  in the China Poblana dress, Puebla, Mexico.
The China Poblana, Puebla, Mexico.

We had a satisfying lunch in the inner courtyard of the restaurant. Then we walked to El Papian, an open air market nearby. It had clothes, ceramics, trinkets and sweets from the locality, much prized by tourists as souvenirs.

El Papian market, Puebla, Mexico.
El Papian market, Puebla, Mexico.

Soon it was time to head back to the Plaza, get on our bus and start the long drive to Veracruz where, we were told, a welcome surprise waited for us.

El Papian market, Puebla.
A section of El Papian market. Note the central fountain, statue and colored cobbles, Puebla.

#PueblaCathedral, #Popocatépetl, #ChinaPoblana

To be continued. Next: Veracruz and Palenque.

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