Ride South – Leaving Puebla

It was a crisp morning in Puebla. It doesn’t really get that cold in these parts of Mexico, but if you’d ask the local they would probably have a different opinion. People were huddled up in thick sweaters.

OK, it wasn’t actually morning. We had a bit of a long night, and I got up without a sign of Stu. He eventually made it back to the hotel just in time for some breakfast — another cemita, of course — and we had a bit of a wander around quiet Puebla.

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This helmet, though:

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A new year means New Year’s markets, apparently, and the they had all sorts of interesting things to peruse:

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Also cats, which were not for sale:
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I recalled the Dutch restaurant that we ran across when stopping in Cholula and I’d reached out on Facebook to see if they would be open. They excitedly replied ‘Claro!’, so that was the lunch plan. It would give us a great chance to visit Cholula’s historic church and Aztec ruins.

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Time to get out of this beautiful parking spot! It’s a 20 minute ride to Cholula from downtown Puebla. Make it 35 when you’re hungover, hungry and a bit slow.

Today’s route:

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The two dots near Cholula are Puebla and Cholula. Tehuacán is our stop for tonight, and Oaxaca our goal!

Cholula is an unglamorous city sitting in the shadow of the giant volcanoes that separate it from Mexico City. Today, it was quiet; it seemed nobody was out and every shop and restaurant was closed.

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Not so much the church, of course! Mexicans really love churches, and today was a special day, with people all about the church and common areas. The church here actually sits on an Aztec pyramid, which has been covered in dirt and grass as the ages relentlessly buried it in time.

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I am sure building a church on top of it didn’t exactly help the situation.

Puebs_y_Pops-00724 In some areas, you can still visit the ruins and admire the incredible scale and craftsmanship of the Aztecs. A genuinely fascinating and impressive society that was completely eradicated.
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Oh, and for the Dutch restaurant? We arrived at the ruins and church only to find it closed. Just like every other restaurant and shop. A taco stand managed to cool my hangriness, but I was very, very upset.

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So I suppose after taco lunch it was time to get on the road. From Puebla we had less of a clear goal: we really wanted to just get to Oaxaca. There’s brilliant riding between here and there, but for now it was a lot of highway in some very urban areas.

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Sometimes, the volcanic nature of the landscape surprised you as you rounded a turn…

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And light played beautifully on long stretches of roadway.

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Finally, we arrived in Tehuacan as the sun was setting and angry clouds were starting to gather. It’s never a really great idea to ride at night, let alone in countries like Mexico, so this would be home for tonight.

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Did I mention we’ve been blessed with unreal weather? This was the first sign of that changing. A very orange sunset betrayed moisture in the air, and the clouds amassing on the horizon made us realize we probably wanted to avoid camping tonight and grab a quick motel.

Tehuacán was an interesting industrial town. After having a chat with the ladies that ran the motel we walked across a myriad of train tracks to a set of working-people-neighborhood restaurants that happily served up food on a day where so many other places were closed.

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Another new favorite food discovered: tacos al arabe. Kind of like a kebab meets a taco.

Tehuacán might have many redeeming, beautiful and even interesting sights but as we arrived late and it was a holiday, we’d have to skip most of it. We were on a mission to get to Oaxaca, anyway!

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When dawn broke we realized just how colorful our choice of lodging really was! Little did we know this was but a taste of things to come…

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