Thursday, November 15, 2007

Mexico: On the heels of the Pope in Puebla, 1979

I had just arrived in Mexico City in mid-January 1979, the first time I had left the United States. I had studied Spanish for 5-1/2 years total but could barely speak it. The International Department at the Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City offered a series of day trips for us foreign students during the semester, and the first one that I recall was to Puebla. Shortly before, I had heard a radio broadcast in Spanish of Pope John Paul II's arrival in Mexico City and all I recall understanding were the words "The Pope" in Spanish: "El Papa....El Papa....El Papa...." and so on.

The school's trip took place roughly around the same time as the Pope's visit. I was taking in everything I saw. The signs for the toll road from Mexico City to Puebla had the words "Cuota" (meaning toll) on them. The road passed close to the twin volcanoes Iztaccíhuatl and Popocatépetl, which were about midway between Mexico City and Puebla. By the time we got to the downtown of Puebla, we noticed that it resembled a typical Mexican town much more than the bustling capital did.

My mind is foggy regarding the sequence of events, but among them were visiting Puebla's cathedral (pictured on the right) and its magnificent golden interior, eating at an outdoor cafe, observing the activity in the public square, walking down a few side streets, and seeing a blind man who was by the street playing guitar and hoping to get some coins from the bystanders.

See my webpage on Mexico at

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