In the interest of avoiding traffic-induced death, we made the easy decision to bypass Mexico City and instead reroute to nearby Puebla. This part of central Mexico is choked with highways and suburbs, and despite our efforts to avoid busy roads the way into Puebla was one of our more nerve wracking days on the bike, with heavy truck traffic and a conspicuously absent shoulder. At least the adrenaline rush helped us make good time and, unlike the road in, the city itself was a joyous surprise.
We began our stay with a beeline to the nearest bike shop, which turned out to be a slam dunk. Due to some jostling of the bikes at the border and really unfortunate rivet placement, Alex’s Brooks saddle had been causing persistent pain in the booty area ever since we entered Mexico. Four months later, we were still looking for a solution and Alex’s patience was wearing thin. As a portent of good things to come, we only had to consult two bike shops in Puebla before we finally found her a new saddle! The winning bike shop was a breath of fresh air in that it carried several brands of bike gear, whereas most Mexican bike shops have a relationship with a single manufacturer. The owner was incredibly helpful and spoke enough English that we could muddle through explanations of butt pain and seat rail length with minimal pantomiming. He insisted on taking a photo with us after we bought the saddle, and promised to help us with any other issues that came up free of charge.
Unfortunately, there seems to be no market for used Brooks saddles in Mexico.
Tom and I recently spent a week in Puebla, a colonial Mexican city that charmed us with outgoing people, Parisian-inspired architecture, a low key vibe, and above all – food. After growing accustomed to a fairly narrow spectrum of culinary choices, the sheer abundance and diversity of cheap street food in Puebla kept us eating…and eating…and eating. So much so that we began to draw skeptical looks from our CouchSurfing host Alma and fellow guest Markus. Before long, we were warmly christened “the crazy fucking cyclists” and met with a resigned shake of the head each time we scampered over to the next food stand to sample any novel nibbles on display.
Unsurprisingly, our bike adventure has served to unlock (or perhaps just encourage) our natural eating abilities. Had we stayed in Seattle, the prevalence of artisanal goat cheese and ironic cocktails would surely have continued to lure us towards the endemic legions of foodie aficionados. In Mexico on the other hand, one can’t help but embrace a sort of food egalitarianism. The sheer multitude of dishes that the beloved market grannies routinely concoct with corn, beans, and chiles alone stand as a testament to Mexico’s proud culinary history.
Like good cyclists, we are doing our best to support said market grannies by eating anything and everything we can. The pesos we save by camping and avoiding the big tourist attractions are inevitably spent on eating ourselves into a food coma at every opportunity. Accordingly, the following is an overview of our week in Puebla, as told by our stomachs. Enjoy!
Corn, most often in tortilla form, is the basis for all Mexican food. White corn, blue corn, yellow corn, red corn – you name it. According to the locals, more than 200 varieties of corn are grown in Mexico. We regret to inform you that we have only tried a handful. The slap-slap-slap of corn tortillas being made has been called “the heartbeat of Mexico,” and a rolled up tortilla and a spoon are considered the only two utensils you really need.