Last Monday (17th) we took a side trip to a small town called Ayometla in Tlaxcala state where Mex’s brother-in-law is from (Sofia’s husband). We drove thru Puebla city and had some great views of the volcanoes Popocatépetl and Iztaccíhuatl, Mexico’s 2nd and 3rd highest peaks. The drive was only a little over an hour on the toll road and the city of Puebla seems like the nicest large city we’ve been in. All the roads were well-marked and the areas we saw on the south side were very clean. There are lots of modern malls there. We did not have time to go downtown and see the plaza (zócalo as they call any city’s central plaza.
We had lunch with his brother-in-law Jose’s family and it was tasty; these gordita looking things that had a very hard name I can never remember, bean tamales and wonderful green salsa. They
had this sauna-type structure that looked like a cement igloo. We did not go inside because I can’t imagine the need to add extra heat to yourself here. It was also in the pig pen so I was unsure exactly what would be inside. Tlaxcala state is higher in the mountains than Mex’s town and it was probably at least 10 degrees cooler there. A very welcome relief since Saturday and Sunday (15th & 16th) were at least 95 degrees with little shade and no AC.
After lunch we drove about 45 minutes north to Tlaxcala City which is fairly small for “big city” standards at around 90,000 people. Most of the city is in a valley and very near the volcano La Malinche. Just to the northwest side of the zócalo, called Plaza de la Constitución, is the pinkish orange stucco and brick Parroquia de San José with many fountains in front. The zócalo, is surrounded by 16th-century buildings with very European architecture. These include the Palacio Minicipal and Palacio de Gobierno on the north side, and the Palacio de Justicia on the north-west side. If you look around the doorway you can see a two-headed eagle, the seal of the Hapsburg monarchs who ruled Spain while these buildings were being built.
We were there with our nephew Ernesto, Mex’s sister Sofia and her sister-in-law, Carmella. We took a short walk around the Plaza Xicohtencatl, which adjoins the zócalo, looking at the talvera pottery, hand-woven rugs, and other items in the perpetual craft market. We walked past a chapel (Capilla Abierta) with three Moorish style arches and a 19th-century bull ring. We walked past a former monastery called the Ex-Convento Franciscano de la Asunción, and the Museo Regional de Tlaxcala, both of which I would have loved to enter, but Mex’s family is not in to “tourist” spots. Then we wound through the streets pausing for Sofia to look in furniture shops
finally, climbing the 300 stairs back up to the car. There are fountains all the way down the center of the stair case but unfortunately they were turned off for cleaning.
After a quick stop at a market we made our way back to Ayometla where they generously fed us another meal before our trip home. Unfortunately we got a little lost going through Puebla city but we ended up getting out of the city limits before dark. We had to drive the hour back to his town in the dark but we made it all right.
I would definitely recommend Tlaxcala City as worth a trip from either Puebla or Mexico City. It has a “small town” feel compared to either of those two and lots of interesting architecture.