Dateline: San Luis Potosí/Puebla
It’s about 10:30 AM. I’m barreling down the autopista at 110. The scenery passes by in a blur of agave, cactus, and open space. My little truck is purring like a kitten. The stereo is blasting a pirated CD of narcocorridos.
¡Traigo pechera, también un cuerno!
¡Traigo uniforme, no soy gobierno!
!Traigo charola para la plaza para que sepan,
The federales are far behind me, and I’m singing along, pretending I’m a narcotrafficante, feared by all, giving my inner bad-boy free rein as I head south. ¡Viva México, Cabrones!
Of course it’s a bit of an illusion. I’m driving 110, yes, but kilometers per hour, about 69 MPH, and just at the speed limit. Audis, Infinitis, and VWs hurtle by at a good 20-40 MPH faster than I’m going, and I keep to the slow lane for fear of being rear ended. Suddenly I see a cop, and I instinctively slow down to about 60, well below the limit. The guy in the red Audi behind me roars by at about 90 MPH, and the cop appears not to blink an eye. I guess they’ve got bigger fish to fry.
I’ve just left San Luis Potosí, on my way south. Yesterday I didn’t get far, about 117 miles. But I left late, and there really was no good place to stop beyond San Luis Potosí. So I headed into SLP Centro, and parked my car along the Calzada de Guadalupe, which was mentioned in the writeup I did on SLP here and here.
It was surprisingly easy to find my way around. F and I visited almost exactly a year ago, and that, along with the fact that I wrote my post as a guided tour around the city made me feel like I really knew where I was going. As it turned out, across the street from where I parked, was the mercado. And in the mercado, was a small restaurant serving comida corrida, mariscos or seafood in this case. Though that sounds a bit risky, it was off-hours and there was still a good crowd. It was also run by an nice, older couple who were entertaining their daughter, son-in-law, and 9-month-old grandson. How could such people give me anything bad? Well, they didn’t, and the food was wonderful, one of the best shrimp soups I’ve ever had, along with fantastic tostadas de camarón.
From there, I strolled up Calle Zaragoza, the pedestrian street that leads to the Plaza de las Armas. There, I hung out and took a few photos, ate an ice cream, and then sought a hotel on my phone, using the WiFi in the square. Though I would have liked to stay somewhere in the Centro Historico, practicality won out, and I ended up staying in the One Hotel, right off the giant glorieta (rotary/traffic circle/massive overpass thingy). This put me on the highway to Querétaro for a straight shot out of town in the morning. Since F and I had spent a few days here a year ago, I didn’t feel the need to really spend any time, and I prepared for an early departure.
As I write, I’m sitting in The Hotel Imperial, 3 blocks off the Zócalo in Puebla. It’s in a very old building, but it’s VERY clean, has free parking, and at 400 pesos a night ($31 USD), the price can’t be beat. Did I mention that the location is fantastic? When you travel in México, if you just show up at the front desk, it’s quite common for them to offer to show you the room. I had already scoped out this hotel via Expedia, but thought I’d show up in person and try to negotiate a better deal in cash. Once they showed me the room, and told me they were running a special that was lower than Expedia’s price, I said “Sold!” and went to fetch my truck.
Puebla will be interesting. There’s a lot to see here, and I’m already impressed by the plaza, the buildings, and the general vibe. I’ll leave you with one shot right off the Zócalo before I post this. I’m about to drop dead with hunger. Saludos!
* Lyrics from “Soy Pistolero“ by Los Buitres de Culiacán, Sinaloa. Don’t try Google Translate on this; the result is completely ridiculous. Here’s a rough (non-poetic) translation. I’ve got a bulletproof vest and an ak-47. I’ve got a uniform, but I’m not with the government. I’ve got a badge for the smuggling route, so they know I’m a gunman.