Thursday, May 17, 2018

Puebla Trip Part 2

 Our next stop was to see the Cantona ruins about an hour out of the city of Puebla. The drive up had breathtaking views! The pictures don't give it justice.

A spectacular Mesoamerican archaeological site, the largest pre-Hispanic city yet discovered in Mesoamerica. The site comprises a road network with over 500 cobblestone causeways, more than 3,000 individual patios, residences, 24 ball courts and an elaborate acropolis with multiple ceremonial buildings and temples

These impressive buildings were constructed with carved stones (one atop the other) without any Stucco or cement mortar. Its population is estimated at about 80,000 inhabitants at its peak. It is believed that trade was an important activity. It certainly was built with a definite urban design and walkways connecting each and every part of the city. The "First Avenue" is 563 meters in length. Cantona was contemporary of Teotihuacan.[

View from on top of one of the many pyramids.

 Taking a break. This archeological site was huge!

A panoramic view of the site

It was a long day, but well worth the trip!

The next day we were able to get a tour of one of the local Talavera factories.
First they showed us how they get the right consistency for the clay then they took us to a worker who molds it into different shapes. It was very interesting.

After they mold the clay they stick it in ovens like this to dry and harden. 

A worker putting a design on a plate.


 Final product!

 Courtyard at the end of the tour.

Beautiful peacock design with Talavera. At the end of the tour we purchased a couple of decorative plates and a platter.

Another interesting place we visited was the Biblioteca Palafoxiana.which was founded in 1646
It was the first public library in colonial Mexico. It has more than 45,000 books and manuscripts, ranging from the 15th to the 20th century.

Very ornate!

The next place we visited was a city that Gary served in called Ajalpan which is a city located southeastern part of the state of Puebla. When we got there and toured the city a little we decided to get something to eat. This taqueria place smelled good so I suggested we eat here. Unbeknownst to us one of the waiters was someone who Gary baptized back in 2001!  Her name is Loren.



 Beautiful Bougainvillea!!

On Sunday we went to church in Ajalpan which is amazing, because when Gary served here there was no chapel in the town! There was just a handful of people attending, but I think because of New Years a lot of people were gone. Gary was asked to share his testimony which was beautiful even though I couldn't understand all he was saying I could feel the spirit and know what he was saying was true. It truly was a humbling experience. The members here though few have very strong testimonies of Jesus Christ. After the meetings Gary got to visit with a couple of families in the ward who he knew and we got invited for lunch with Brother Miguel and his family. We followed them home and ate and chatted with them in their very humble home.

In the evening we were also invited to another member's home to celebrate the New Year with them. Brother Gonzalez was very humble and so ready to give his shirt off of his back for anyone. He was so kind and generous! We learned that he was a bishop for I think about 6 years and according to Gary lived in a shack until about 6 months ago! The home he built for his family is nice, but still a concrete house with not much dressing. It made me appreciate all that I take for granted everyday. He not only invited us into his home, but then drove us over over to his parent's house where they were having a big celebration. We got to meet all of his family, eat a delicious meal and enjoyed great company. I we just amazed at how even though we were pretty much strangers how welcoming everyone was towards us. They just treating us like family it was such a wonderful thing to experience! Especially to me who still didn't speak Spanish very well! 

Brother Gonzalez also treated us with some free popsicles and helped us take some photos with all the beautiful Christmas lights!

A Special New Year's Tradition
In Ajalpan, they have a tradition to create an "old man" which is basically a scarecrow dressed in everyday men's clothing with a mask and beard. He is said to represent the old year. At the beginning of December each year the little old men will start to pop up on every street in town. They sit around in front of people's houses for about a month before the celebrations begin on New Year's Eve. Then as the sun sets, the old men are taken out to party. Some people drive them around town in their cars or in the back of their trucks. Some people dance around with the old men in the streets complete with DJ or traditional singing. Finally, once they have let the old man have his fun and on the stroke of midnight, they toss him into the middle of the street and LIGHT HIM ON FIRE!

Here's where we mention, that not only is the old man built like a scarecrow (full of straw and newspaper), but he is also full of something else....FIRECRACKERS!

So across town, at least one per block, you will see giant bonfires where the townsfolk are burning the old year to welcome in the new. And each of these bonfires is a swirling maelstrom of chaos, for from the belly of the fire emerge quickly erratically and without warning all of those firecrackers. Some shoot for the sky, some fly along the streets, while others whirl about unpredictably as onlookers scurry to avoid joining the immolation party. All throughout, people are lighting their own fire works, firecrackers, etc and lobbing them into the streets. Some people even light twirling sparklers mounted on paper maché bulls that some bold fellow wears on his head while running around the street like a lunatic!

It is loud, chaotic, bright, terrifying, and oh so amazing.
It is an fabulous tradition you truly have to experience first-hand.

Dancing with the old man!

"They set me on fire!"


The Bull! We didn't get to see this be set on fire, but I'm sure it was spectacular!

Once the music started they whisked Aurora away and started dancing with her until a loud explosion went off and scared her.

Big family gathering! The party was only starting and it was already 11pm! They literally party ALL night long!

Gonzalez Family!

Extended Gonzalez family!

It was a wonderful experience to be so welcomed into this family and we can't wait to come back and visit Ajalpan again!