Sunday, May 30, 2004

Cholula, Mexico--Day 120

Today I braved the public buses in Puebla and took a bus over to Cholula, which is about a 30 minute bus ride away and has the coolest archeological ruins and the largest pyramid (by volume) in the world, called the Teneapa Pyramid! The man at the tourist center told me last night that I would have no problem getting a bus, I would just have to walk myself over to the bus station and hop on one. Sounded simple enough! So I walked and walked and finally made it to this Cholula bus station and paid my 4 pesos (40 cents) for my ride over to Cholula.

The buses in Mexico are great because as I found out, you don’t really have to be standing at a bus stop at all for it to pick you up. You just have to wave it down and it will come to a screeching halt or swerve over to pick you up, all of which is very frightening but also exciting to watch as people jump on and off. I was thankful that I got on the bus when it first departed and didn’t have to worry about having to jump onto the bus before it took off again.

Once in Cholula, I got off at a place where I thought would be near the center of town and luckily it was. I found myself pretty much near the zocalo and walked around it for a bit and visited some of the very cool churches around the main square.

Then I headed up to the top of this hill just outside of town to the top where there is a beautiful church (there are actually 37 different churches in Cholula!). Now this isn’t just any old hill, but its actually the Teneapa pyramid, which is underground and actually three pyramids built with one on top of the other! So cool. The hike up the pyramid (its hard to believe that it is a pyramid when just looking at it) was a little bit of a walk but it was great to get a view of Cholula from up top. I then walked down and bought a ticket into the tunnels in the pyramid and wandered around those for a bit, which was really amazing but also a tad creepy. Then I walked around the ruins surrounding the pyramid and church.

Afterwards I walked around a bit more and sat on the grass for a while watching a clown street performance, then decided it was time to catch a bus back to Puebla. I got a Popsicle and flagged down a bus and hopped on. This one was going to take me back to the Puebla bus station (the main huge one) but at least I was going to get back to Puebla! Once I got to the bus station I decided that I could manage a local bust o get me back to the center of Puebla, rather than getting a taxi. So I followed the directions in my guide book and made it to the other side of the street and flagged down a bus taking me to the Cento. This bus was old and very rickety, and every time it turned I had to hold on--tight. Hot and sweaty and forty-five minutes later I got off the bus sort of near the center (at least I knew where I was today) and I walked back to my hotel and the central plaza.

In the central plaza there was sort of a dance exhibition going on, but this time it was older couples all doing the meringue and stuff--more like a dance showcase. Apparently on the last Sunday of every month people father here to show of their skills, with anyone being allowed to join in! How cool! So I stood there and watched for a while when a girl came up to me. She looked just about my age and definitely not from around these parts, and asked me if I was here by myself.

We started talking and it was funny because she was from Switzerland and could only speak Spanish and French, and I can only speak English and Spanish, so we had to talk in Spanish. She had been here for 9 months so her Spanish was just unbelievable and I kept making mistakes simply because I was intimidated by her Spanish skills. Anyways, we decided to go to the market and get something to eat for dinner but first I had to go make a phone call to Raul, from Hippolotofus, whom I was going to meet with the next day.

Laura said that she would wait for me and watch the dancers so I went back to the hotel to call Raul. After talking with him, the minute I hung up the phone it started to POUR with rain. Like, a torrential downpour if I have ever seen one myself. I thought of Laura waiting outside for me and grabbed my umbrella to go see if she was still there and raced out. I got to the center square where the dance was and found it absolutely deserted of dancers and the stage taken up by the clowns given a performance to all of those lucky ones who were stuck in the middle of the square under a giant tarp. No sign of Laura.

I was absolutely soaked and felt really bad that she potentially waited for me for a while, and that now I had missed her. I walked all around the square trying to find her but eventually gave up because I was absolutely drenched myself. I thought the rain might let up, so I raced back to my hotel to change and warm up. No luck, it continued to rain like crazy and I never made it back out of my hotel or to meet with Laura again.

(c) 2004 Sarah Galbraith. All Rights Reserved.