Vamos a AFRICAM

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This is Africam Safari

Africam Safari is a drive-thru zoological park about 30 minutes outside of the city of Puebla in the municipality of Tecali de Herrera. Africam is a fantastic zoo, and in fact the first to be accredited in Latin America by theAssociation of Zoos and Aquariums. It has very high standards of animal care, and protects numerous endangered species. Recently the park has welcomed 9 new elephants, which were rescued from Africa. Thousands of animals are able to roam freely without being confined to cages. The drive-thru enables you to get really close to the animals (with windows down depending on the area). If you don’t have a car, the park offers a guided bus tour around the park which leaves every 15 minutes or so. The bus company Estrella Roja, offers an all inclusive deal which includes bus tickets there and back and the entrance fee to the park (this only costs about 30 pesos more than the entrance ticket so is a very good deal). Check out costs at the bottom of the post!

Mr Camel

As you drive through the park, you enter different sections according to the animals and the danger they pose. There is only one section where you have to wait to be let in, which is for the white tigers that are absolutely stunning, if you are lucky you will get to see them moving around, but often they are snoozing (though still incredible to look at!).

About half way through, there is a rest area, where there is a souvenir store, and also places to buy refreshments (including beer) and snacks/fast food. This area also offers restrooms/toilets. In addition there are also boat tours available on the nearby lake. Once you continue on the safari, there are two subsequent walking areas, where you can park your car and walk around. The first is where the lions, monkeys, hyenas, turtles and hippos live, and the second is the ‘adventure zone’, which is more like a traditional zoo where you can get close to animals in more confined areas, these include reptiles like crocodiles and snakes, kangaroos and many more. This zone is also where you can pay for additional activities such as a zip-line, and also where they offer an animal show. The shows are free and start at 2.00pm and 4.00pm. This is the last stop before you leave the park, so if you want to buy any gifts or souvenirs this is the place to do it.

baby elephant

I suggest getting to the park nice and early when the park opens at 10 am, which gives you loads of time to really enjoy the whole place. The park stops entrances at 5pm, and closes completely at 6pm, so don’t leave it too late in the day to get there.

The list of animals in Africam Safari is very long, so don’t worry, all the ones you will be hoping to see will be there. Personally, this is the best safari/zoo I have ever been to, and exceeded my expectations completely (and they were pretty high given all the great stuff I had heard about it). Even if you aren’t a huge animal lover, you will still have a really fantastic day out, and its a great one for families and children.

Don’t miss out on visiting this fantastic place, and if you needed another reason to go to Puebla, this is most definitely it!

Hey Zebra!

Cost (all prices are in Mexican Pesos):

Entrance to the Park : Adults- $232 ; Children $225

Estrella Roja Bus Deal [to and from the park from CAPU (11.00am) or el Zocalo (11.30am)] with entrance included:

Adults- $290 ; Children-$260

Giraffes

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Mercado 5 de Mayo / Mercado de la 18

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This is El Mercado

Welcome to one of Puebla’s markets, officially known as Mercado 5 de Mayo but most commonly known as el mercado de la 18. Both names are due, I presume, to 5 de Mayo being historically important to Puebla and its location on Avenida 18 Poniente.

The market, which is located near el centro historico is vast inside, and also has numerous stores, fishmongers and butchers surrounding its perimeter. You know you are nearly there as you begin to smell fish as you approach the area.

Outside the market

On the outside wall of the market, it is written ‘Mercados Poblanos – Lo Mero Nuestro‘ which translated means ‘our very own’. Really the expressions means that it is a place of pride, and its what they excel at (in this case being the markets of Puebla). And from what I saw the statement can not be argued with. Inside the market, and outside it too, is filled with hundreds of stalls divided up into sections of meat, fish, seafood, vegetables, fruit, flowers and that’s not all…

It’s not completely in the mexican culture to go to a supermarket though it is more and more part of daily life because of its convenience (a bit like supermarkets in France and Belgium where people like to buy their groceries from individual shops). It’s not easy to go to a market like this one which is in the historical centre. Saying that, if a mexican is making an important meal, or has the time and the means to go to a market then they will. The produce you find in markets, like this one, is impeccable. And its not only of high quality but cheaper too. Inside you will also find a lot of puestos (stands) selling prepared food , using produce from the market. Theres a few quirky things in the market as well like alive chickens for sale and one place selling stuff which I can only describe as witchcraft products…but I’ll leave you to come to your own conclusions when you visit the place…

Pollos Hermanos

This is a mexican market, a poblano market. Don’t be fooled, if you expect to find a farmer’s market like the ones back home, that’s not what you’ll get. But what you get is something so much better; a place rich in character and personality which captivates the hustle and bustle of Mexico.

Be sure, you’ll be very hungry by the end of your visit.

¡Provecho!

frutas y frutas

Crabs and Crabs

Mexican Eggnog

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This is Rompope

Rompope is an alcoholic beverage which was created in Puebla at the Convento de Santa Clara. It is an eggnog-like drink made from, not surprisingly, eggs, milk, vanilla flavouring and aguardiente. Additional ingredients can be added to create different flavours such as strawberry, cinnamon or coffee. Weirdly, no matter what flavour it is, the colour always ends up fluorescent (as seen in the picture below). Like the subjects of many of my previous posts, Rompope is very poblano, and is sold across the city and state. You can buy it easily wherever you go; for example in Cholula (see post here) and cantinas like La Pasita (see post here).

¡Salud!

Rompope Stall in Cholula

Best Rompope in the world’ available at La Pasita

Vamos a Huatulco

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This is Huatulco, Oaxaca

Soy Poblana loves Puebla, BUT Mexico is a big place full of other great places to visit too. Recently I visited Huatulco which is in the state of Oaxaca. Huatulco is a beach town consisting of nine beautiful bays, located on the pacific coast. It is also home to a vibrant town centre that has many bars, restaurants and shops. Huatulco is a welcome change to the obvious choice of Cancún, and a much cheaper one too. Though Cancún has much to offer and is worth the visit, Huatulco is far moremexican, more authentic and offers a beach resort which has not been americanised. And of course it is in the great state of Oaxaca, which has so much character and charm. Huatulco remains a well kept secretly internationally with only 20% of its tourism coming from oversees. Its high seasons are in the months of June/ July and over the Christmas/ New Year period.

All roads leading to Huatulco

There is lots to do in Huatulco, the most popular being visiting the bays.  There are daily boat trips offered my numerous companies that take you around all the bays leaving from Bahía de Santa Cruz. One of these bays is Bahía Cacaluta (protected by the national park in which it is located) which is only accessible by boat and was the filming location of the beach in ‘Y tu mamá también‘. The bay is about 1 km long and has been untouched by tourism.  These boat trips allow you to get off and swim in a couple of the bays, and also grab lunch.  Alternatively (or additionally) you can access the bays by foot or taxi if you want to spend longer at individual ones. Bahía Chahué is the most easily accessible beach and in walking distance from many of the hotels. It is home to a couple of beach clubs, and a bar/restaurant which has two swimming pools available to the public.

Playa Entrega

Bahía Chahué

Aside from the magnificent bays, which offer great snorkelling opportunities (I recommend La playa Entrega which is accesible by Taxi), boat trips, speed boats and banana boats, there are also other activities available such as white water rafting, horseback riding, or relaxing at a local spa. This is a lively town by night, with the town centre (La Crucecita) located away from the beaches, offering its own unique atmosphere and a great night out. There are also night clubs and bars by the beaches such as La Papaya.

White Water Rafting at a nearby river in Huatulco

The prices in Huatulco are very reasonable for a beach resort, you should except to be paying around 20/25 pesos for a beer (the cost of a beer is always my measure of whether I am getting ripped off or not). However if you want to drink/eat right on the beach, the prices increase dramatically. For this reason I recommend eating out in La Crucecita, and if you want to drink on the beach (who doesn’t?) then bring a cooler full to the brim with ice cold cervezas.  One beach-side restaurant which offers good prices is ‘Ve el Mar‘ located in the bay of Santa Cruz. Like many restaurants in Huatulco they offer excellent fish and seafood dishes.  Within La Crucecita, along with restaurants and bars, there is also a market called ‘El Mercado 3 Mayo’ which is a great place to grab breakfast or lunch for great prices.

Sunshine is expected for about 330 days of the year in Huatulco with an average temperature of  28°C.

Temazcal Spa

Where to stay in Huatulco? It really depends on your budget, keeping in mind that you can get a lot more from your money if you are coming from abroad, you can get high standard hotels for cheaper than you would expect.  Also there are cheaper options too. I recommend usinghotel/travel websites using the budget you have, keeping in mind whether a swimming pool is important to your trip as not all hotels offer them. Many hotels also offer beach clubs (if they are not located on a beach) which often also have a swimming pool.

How to get to Huatulco?  Huatulco has an international airport which receives flights from the USA and also Mexico City (2 hour flight) and Oaxaca (the state capital).  You can get there by car which takes about 8.5 hours (from Puebla) or by bus which takes about 12 hours (from Puebla). The bus is a very good option if you don’t have a car, with the cheapest return fair costing only 1000 pesos. The bus leaves (from CAPU) in the evening so you arrive in the morning in Huatulco. Mexico offers different levels of buses, with added things included for the more you pay (for example movies / larger seats / wifi). Though the basic buses are very comfortable and an inexpensive way to get around Mexico.  ADO is the bus line which goes to Oaxaca and Huatulco.

Anything else?  Puerto Escondido, only an hour or two away from Huatulco, is a bohemian beach town which is also worth the visit and worth tagging on to your trip if you can.

Check out Soy Poblana’s facebook page for additional posts and information about life in Puebla and Mexico!

LA CHALUPA : ORGULLO POBLANO

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Courtesy of soypoblana.com (facebook.com/SoyPoblana)

This is Chalupas

A plate of chalupas

I haven’t said this in a while, but seriously, how amazing is Puebla! After living here for a while I think we all tend to forget what an amazing city and state this really is. My admiration really comes from the vast amount of dishes that are unique to Puebla. People think they know Mexican food, but really you don’t Mexico till you go to Puebla. Just thinking about uniquely poblana dishes, a huge list comes to mind, from Cemitas,Memelas, Mole, Chiles en Nogada, Tacos Árabes, etc. The list is endless. (More posts to follow on all of Puebla’s eclectic street food).

This post is about ‘chalupas’. It is true that a lot of Mexican dishes are very similar, many of them being variations of different tortilla combinations. But that doesn’t make any one of them any less delicious.  So what are chalupas? Well what they are not are those hard shelled things you get at Taco Bell. No, no, no.  Real chalupas are antojitos. Typically you eat them as an evening snack or as a starter, and always when celebrating Mexican Independence Day. They are lightly fried small corn tortillas (a little bit crispy but still soft), which have either red or green salsa, that are topped with onion, chicken and sometimes some cheese.

This is a dish for sharing. You don’t order one chalupa, you order a plate of chalupas. And you share them and you eat them with your hands. This is what Mexico, and Puebla is all about: food that is delicious and food that is for sharing. 

¡Provecho!

Check out Soy Poblana’s facebook page for additional posts and information about life in Puebla and Mexico!

El Flamingo – Tortas de Puebla

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This is Tortas

Okay, you got me! Tortas are not specifically from Puebla, but good ones are. Too controversial? If you disagree, then please comment below, and pictures provide good evidence. So what’s so special about Poblana tortas? Well I am just basing this on DF and Puebla tortas, but first of all they are crunchier, and most definitely a different shape. For my tasting DF’s tortas are a little too soft. Yes I am a crunchy roll kind of a gal.

A torta in my opinion should be about the size in the picture (maybe a little bigger) and either an oval or circular shape. Inside the Torta, there should be frijoles (beans), avocado, onion, tomato, rajas (if you like spicy), quesillo, and a meat of your choice, if you should desire. Also a bit of mayonnaise can make quite the difference. Personally I also like my Torta toasted.

If that sounds good to you, and you like the look of the picture, then check out ‘El Flamingo’ which is in ‘El Centro’. I recommend these tortas, as they make them just as I mentioned before, and a bonus is that the ‘Milanesa’ isn’t greasy. ‘Milanesa’ is either pork or chicken covered in bread crumbs that is fried (similar to Escalope Vienes/ Wiener Schnitzel), so sometimes if not done correctly can be a little greasy. That is certainly not the case at ‘El Flamingo’. They also serve delicious juices, licuados, and aguas. More on types of drinks to follow in another post!

¡Provecho!

El Flamingo is located on Av. 2 Poniente between 3 Sur and 5 de Mayo.

Tacos al Pastor

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This is Tacos al Pastor

Let the taco education continue. Previously I have written about tacos de asada which are one of my personal favourites, but now it is al pastor’s turn. Heavily influenced from shawarma, Tacos al Pastor are slightly different in that the meat is cooked on a standing spit (the same way in which kebab meet is cooked) however the meat is pork rather than lamb. If you are in downtown Puebla around 10am you will see the meat being prepared at every taqueria in sight. Layer by layer the meat is marinaded in spices and layered on the spit, where it then takes hours to reach the tasty meat, which is used in the tacos. Don’t be surprised to see gigantic spits of taco meat before lunch/dinner begins.

What’s that on top of the spit, in the picture below? It’s a pineapple! A crucial part of tacos al pastor is the pineapple. The pineapple, if done correctly, should stand atop of the spit, so it gains the heat, and then pieces of it are cut off and added to the already prepared meat. Being a ‘taquero’ (like the man pictured below) is a real skill, one that you can see in this video. I recommend watching right to the end where you can see how the taquero skilfully cuts the pineapple and catches it with his other hand, that has a taco in it.

Tacos al Pastor vary considerably, in how much the meat is cooked. Some taquerias cook their meat so it is crispier than other places. Now once you have your tacos, which come with cilantro, onion and pineapple, you need to add lemon and green salsa. Tacos al Pastor are always served with a unique green salsa, which takes the flavours to the next level.

Tacos al Pastor are traditionally made using corn tortillas, though you can switch it up and ask for flour tortillas and/or added cheese. ‘Gringas‘ are a flour tortilla, with melted cheese, pastor meat and closed on top with another tortilla.

Where do I go get some delicious tacos al pastor? Well they are not hard to find, especially if you are downtown, but if you are looking for a recommendation then please send me a message through our facebook page.

When should I eat tacos al pastor? Like every type of taco, these are more popular at night but also make for a delicious (all be it a bit naughty) lunch!

¡Provecho!

two tacos al pastor prepared with pineapple, cilantro, onion and salsa

The Star of Puebla

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This is ‘La Estrella de Puebla’

La Estrella de Puebla by day

At the end of July. 2013, La Estrella de Puebla opened. It is now a very present feature in Puebla’s skyline and a truly fantastic way to see the city.  Let’s not forget that Cholula offers a great view of Puebla too, but the view from this ferris wheel puts you right in the heart of the city. Pick a nice clear day and you will have a great view of the entire city and beyond including Cholula and El Popo.  A great plus is that this a cheap ride! It takes 30 minutes to go completely round only costs 30 pesos per person. It’s a fantastic piece of (german) engineering; just to look at it up close is worth the visit. Each cabin seats about 8 people and is very comfortable. If you want you can upgrade to VIP which gives you a more luxurious cabin (leather seats) which has 6 seats, it costs 300 pesos for the entire cabin, so if you are 6 people that comes to a very cheap 50 pesos each.

View from the wheel

Now to get some facts straight. La Estrella de Puebla which means ‘The Star of Puebla’ is actually not bigger than the London Eye. Puebla’s star is 80m high whereas the London Eye is 135m high. However ‘La Estrella de Puebla’ is the BIGGEST MOVEABLE/PORTABLE FERRIS WHEEL IN THE WORLD. And it is also the biggest ferris wheel in Latin America.  What implications does this have? Well it seems that it is in the works for the wheel to move location eventually to nearby Cholula and even Atlixco, so a very clever investment indeed.

German Engineering, in Mexico