The 5 a.m. bus to Puebla was essentially silent except for a few snoring passengers and the driver who hocked loogies from the left-hand window every fifteen seconds. There must be a continuous trail of expectorate along the highway from Oaxaca to Puebla. Once at the CAPU station, we participated in the customary scuffle with other the other passengers to claim our luggage before flagging a taxi to our discounted downtown hotel. We’re all about the bargains, and the Hotel Señorial did not disappoint.
After we dropped our suitcase in the room, we investigated the city’s historic center on foot. We learned of a train museum thanks to a handy guide in the hotel room that turned out to be closed when we approached the locked gates, but I found some great buildings and shops to photograph on the way there and back.
Since the train museum would have to wait for another day, we decided that it would be fun to get extremely sunburned on top of a double-decker tourist bus that carried visitors around Puebla’s principal attractions. Before the bus departed from the zócalo, hundreds of protestors descended upon the area around the governor’s palace, clogged the streets and handed flyers to the public that read, “¡Viva el General Emiliano Zapata!” Another disgruntled citizen yelled through megaphones that were strapped to the roof of a pickup truck. Among insults heaved at the establishment, the man with the microphone thoroughly defamed a group of people who were seated at an adjacent café.
The tour company decided it was time to begin the pre-recorded message that blitzed sightseers with various fun facts about the wonders of the capitol city. The voice of disapproval from the truck dominated the small bus speaker as the man hollered, “Instead of drinking coffee, you should be marching with us! You are part of the problem!” Thinking that we were probably part of the problem as well, we stayed on the top of the bus while waiting for the sea of protestors to disperse. It seemed that the folks who showed up in the zócalo were laborers who used the image of Zapata, one of Mexico’s most celebrated revolutionaries, to contest some of the decisions made by the current conservative state government. I can’t pretend to know all about what made them so enraged, but I think I got the general message. The demonstrators gradually eked their way past Governor Rafael Moreno Valle Rosas’s place and continued through the streets with the tour bus creeping close behind.
Soon, the multitude marched on while the bus turned right and headed for another historical site. I found it difficult to hear the facts and figures from the canned voice coming through the speakers, but I wasn’t exactly on top of this conveyance for an enriching cultural experience. My chief motive was to take photos from a higher vantage point and wave at people who mocked us as we passed. We were two of about eight people on the top of the bus, so there was plenty of room for me to bounce from one side of the bus to the other.
While lunging to the left side to snap a photo of a statue, I miscalculated the clearance of the bus and narrowly missed getting brained by a hanging traffic light. I heard Rad yell, “Look out!” at the last moment and I made an evasive maneuver. He is constantly saving me from cracking my skull or stumbling over unseen objects. Later during the tour a tree branch whacked another passenger in the face, so if you decide to be a renegade and stand up while the bus is in motion, it’s a good idea to have a spotter with you. And wear sunblock. The following photos were taken from the top of the bus.
Nothing cures nearly having sun poisoning quite like drinking alcohol, so after the bus returned us to the starting point, we strolled around the zócalo until we found the most persuasive waiter waving a menu in our faces. In the upstairs portion of the restaurant, we found a table on a small balcony that looked suitable for drinking mugs of pulque. When the pulque supply ran dry, we grabbed a few tacos arabes and found a few more photos on the way back to our economical hotel.