Saturday, January 23, 2010

MEXICAN BASEBALL ROAD TRIP (Stop #17): Puebla, Puebla

This week, our Road Trip takes us southeast from Mexico City on Highway 150D to Puebla, a city of 1.4 million people and capital of the state of the same name. Although Puebla is not high on the list of most tourist destinations, perhaps it should be.

This city was one of the most important in Mexico for centuries of Spanish colonialism as a staging area for cargo going between the capital in Mexico City and the nation's leading seaport in Veracruz after being founded by the Spaniards in 1531. Puebla has been the site of some important military skirmishes in the past, one of which included a fight on May 5, 1862 in which a motley and badly-outnumbered band of Mexicans courageously fought off attempts by well-armed French invaders to take Puebla. The Battle of Puebla is credited by many for giving Mexicans a sense of unity for the first time ever, and the subsequent celebrations across North America marking "Cinco de Mayo" over the years are often observed by millions of people who have no idea why it's so important.

Puebla is as quiet as Veracruz (our next Road Trip visit) is noisy. Colorful Talavera tiles are a major part of local architecture, which is very reflective of its colonial past with many ornately-decorated buildings marking Puebla's strong European influences. Many building were damaged during a strong earthquake in the late 1990's, but most have been restored to their former grandeur. Unlike many popular waterfront cities among tourists in Mexico, Puebla is landlocked in a valley surrounded by four volcanoes. This is a place for travelers interested in seeing a slice of Old Mexico in a classic setting.

Puebla is also one of the country’s many culinary arts centers and home of Mexico’s national dish, Mole Poblano, cooked turkey meat covered with a dark mole sauce consisting of a highly-addictive combination of chocolates, nuts, chilis and other spices.

Puebla is home to the Mexican League’s Pericos (or "Parrots"). The city has seen three Liga pennant-winners with the Pericos taking the title in 1963 and the old Angeles raising the flag in 1979 and 1986. The team plays at the 12,000-seat Estadio Hermanos Serdan. Puebla was 62-43 last year and defeated Yucatan in the first round of the playoffs before falling to Quintana Roo in the Southern Zone championship series.

NEXT ROAD TRIP STOP (#18): Veracruz, Veracruz

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