Ever heard of Puebla, Mexico?
As those who know me personally know, I have a love-hate relationship with Mexico, the country I grew up in. Though I like going, I couldn’t live there again, and that’s not only due to the abysmal political situation or the insecurity in the country but simply because I still love living abroad. I nevertheless notice every time I go, which is admittedly not often (sorry everybody back home!), that I’d have a pretty hard time re-adapting to the country if I were to move back. That’s basically because I’ve been living abroad for the past 11 years and I’ve gotten used to other countries, cultures, and mentalities (see: integration), which was the whole point of leaving Mexico in the first place.
Paradoxically, however, it’s that very distance that’s also allowed me to view Mexico from a detached vantage point and become interested in the country again since it almost feels foreign to me after all these years away. I see every trip there as a chance to get reacquainted with the country. I feel almost like a tourist when I’m there, though I try to remember that once the bubble bursts, the distance becomes immediacy, and that dreaded routine sets in I’ll feel the need to leave again. It’s a feeling not uncommon among us expats, but I’m digressing here.
Fact is: I like going to Mexico as a foreigner (I actually do have to register as a foreigner whenever I go because I have an American passport) and see the country from a distance. Then, somewhere between the street taco-indulged bliss and the disgust at the political circus I read about in the papers, comes the realization that despite me being familiar with the country I don’t really know it all that well, and that’s something that I’d like to change at some point. This is by the way exactly how I feel about the United States too.
A few years back I spent a week in Puebla, in central Mexico. I had never been there before but had only heard positive things about the city. I have always been very interested in the history of migration to Mexico, and was very enthusiastic about going to Puebla because of the very visible role that immigrant communities played (and to an extent continue to play) in the city. LOTS of Lebanese restaurants selling “tacos árabes” (what they call shawarma), German neighborhoods, and buildings that look like taken straight out of France. All this is set against the background of Spanish colonial buildings and the traditional Talavera tiled facades to give the city of Puebla a very unique and very European character, at least in the architecture. This uniqueness earned the city its current status of UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Should you go to Puebla don’t forget to check out neighboring Cholula. The city also has a beautiful historic city center and is home to a large pre-Hispanic archaeological site.
Hope you enjoy the gallery. Lemme know in the comments what you think or what your experience was like when you visited the city! Also, please help Between Distances grow by liking my page on Facebook and following me on Instagram!