This morning we travelled a couple of hours to Puebla, a place situated at even greater altitude than Mexico City with some snow-capped mountains in view on the way. Puebla is a big city by any stretch of the imagination with a population of 4 million and is the fourth largest in Mexico. However it immediately seems so much calmer and more personal than the crazy metropolis of Mexico City. It has a really nice old town section with brightly painted colonial buildings, a pleasant art market, a bustling square surrounded by cafes and restaurants, and an amazing cathedral (rivalling the one in Mexico City) and looks even better when lit up at night.
Food-wise, everyone loved the mole here, the traditional Mexican sauce. I tried it and wasn’t that impressed. It was OK but the flavour wasn’t really my cup of tea. The afternoon walk was cut short by a downpour that started off heavy and got even heavier on at least two occasions (if that makes any sense). At one point water was shooting out of the cathedral gargoyles at a rapid rate and I got absolutely soaked after running only 20 yards.
Lucha libre, the Mexican style of wrestling was how the evening was spent. I’ve always been slightly alarmed by grown men who are into wrestling but I can justify attending this on the grounds of it being a cultural experience, which it certainly was. The arena was an old traditional venue the type of which is rarely still seen in western world anymore. Outside the tight streets were buzzing and lined with vendors selling wares, including the iconic wrestling masks. I bought one, although I’m not exactly sure why! The only logical reason to own such a garment would be to use it as a disguise while committing a crime. Also outside the area was a stall selling perhaps the greasiest sandwich of all time. Every now and again you see a news report where an unhealthy looking kebab is tested and is discovered to contains 3000 calories. Well this looks as though it would produce equally bad nutrition stats! Inside, the venue resembled what I’d imagine to be a throwback from arenas in the 1940s and 1950s. It would be highly unlikely to pass a health and safety inspection in the UK. For a start, the only way I could get to the gents would be to walk around the whole ring, between the front row and the ring itself with no fence separating the wrestlers and audience. As people were being constantly flung out of the ring I decided to go easy on the beers through the fear of being flattened on the way to the bog! That said, the arena is amazingly intimate with maybe a couple of thousand people in the steep balconied stands. I’m no wrestling aficionado but there was lots of what you’d expect. All the contests were tag team with plenty of acrobatics, gamesmanship, flamboyance and shouting down microphones. The wrestlers took delight in playing up to crowd who seemed to lap it up in a raucous atmosphere. While there were plenty of kids present, there was also an abundance of grown men getting far too involved with booing at the pantomime villains. Lucha libre seems to be taken very seriously here. Political correctness also doesn’t seem to have made its way into the “sport” with scantily clad ladies cavorting around while serving no particular purpose, as well as one of the tag team members being a person of smaller stature.
Mark’s mate Juan Carlos took us to the wrestling and showed us around. He’s a nice lad and is perhaps an exception to the rule of adult fans of wrestling being a bit odd. JC explained to me what was going on and said my new mask was for an old school wrestler, one of his favourites. On way back to hotel he took us to a local neighbourhood bar for a few tequillas. Never in a million years would we have gone to such a place without JC but the locals were really friendly, constantly asking us if we had any music requests. A fair proportion of the group stayed out until half-one. The tour group seemed to be livening up a bit.