Dispatch, Puebla: Spotting 'El Popo'


Mexico editor Gay Nagle Myers is covering Tianguis Turistico in Puebla from March 17 to 20. The event at the Exposition Center is nonstop trade show activity, but Puebla's reputation as a colonial must-see city is sure to pull Gay off the conference floor and out into the historical sites. The two-hour bus ride from the airport in Mexico City to Puebla did afford some springtime previews. Her first dispatch follows.

The countryside southeast of Mexico City is parched and brown at this time of year, still wearing a dull winter mantle. Spring is not yet in full bloom, although Mexico's beautiful jacaranda trees added touches of lacy lilac against the blue sky as the bus passed small towns, full of neighborhoods with laundry lines strung on rooftops and families out enjoying a Sunday afternoon.

I got an eyeful of another beautiful sight as we rounded a curve. Suddenly the snow-capped Popocatepetl volcano came into view, Mexico's second-highest peak, affectionately called El Popo by the locals.

Conversations stopped for a moment as we all took it in. Unfortunately, the driver did not, so the photo op was a blurry vision through my window.

El Popo's last major eruption was December 2000, its biggest display in 1,200 years. As recently as last April, however, its rumblings hurled superheated ash fragments into the air, its ash clouds disrupting flight patterns for a few days due to poor visibility.

Closer to Puebla, traffic increased. Street entertainers took advantage of the traffic jams as costumed, face-painted clowns danced and pranced at intersections to amuse drivers and passengers.

Fire eaters popped what looked like flaming barbecue skewers into their mouths with no ill effects, and flower vendors proffered lone sunflowers wrapped in green cellophane (maybe as a tip of the sombrero to St. Patrick's Day).

An interesting bus ride, to say the least. And typical of what a visit to Mexico usually has in store for me -- surprises and discoveries.

Follow Gay Nagle Myers on Twitter @gnmtravelweekly.

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