Up to our room and we all took long, luxurious showers prior to going out for the evening. None of us were really up for a large, restaurant meal. We had stopped at Tlaxcala, outside of Puebla, at McDonald’s. Normally it would not even be on our list of places to stop, but we were starving and wanted something fast. We were already so far behind our schedule.
After discussing our options, we all decided that we weren’t really hungry yet, but we certainly were thirsty! L then led us over to the vast town square, which is bordered on one side by the imposing cathedral and its’ 225' twin towers, the tallest church towers in Mexico.
One side is very similar to Veracruz. There is a block long area of restaurants and coffee shops, all protected by a roof covering the sidewalk. We stopped at one of these restaurants and had a relaxing drink. Afterwards, we walked around the square and surrounding area for awhile, admiring the architecture of downtown. The use of tile was everywhere you looked. Some of the buildings are no less than stunning. (again I am hating the burglar who stole our computers and all my great pictures from this trip.)
After a bit of this, L asked if we were ready for a drink. He may as well have asked if the Pope is Catholic because the answer was a resounding yes! Here we go sounding like alcoholics again! L led us to an area known as Callejon de los Sapos, or Alley of the Frogs. It is an area popular with artists and backpackers. It is a wide pedestrian street with bars and small restaurants lining each side. Each establishment has a line of tables extending outwards towards the middle of the street. Music blares from each one and it is at times a cacophony of sound. L led us to his favorite one, who knows the name. They are all so similar. But I was in for a surprise. L has heard the story of my search for Sol Negra many times. He knew that this particular bar sold it! I was in heaven, getting to drink my favorite beer again to my heart’s content. And beer was two for one! Now what could better! Puebla was becoming more dear to me by the swallow!
We sat there for a quite awhile, observing the moving crowds, watching the various vendors, listening to the music, talking about life and especially the trip so far. All in all, it was a very enjoyable end to what had been a very stressful day!
The next morning, Friday, April 29th, and we went to a Mexican breakfast buffet. They are so interesting. A few things you would expect, like bacon and eggs, but lots of stuff you would not. Like three variations of beans! But the food and coffee were excellent and we left feeling like we had gotten our monies worth.
Our next stop was going to be the one I had been most looking forward to.....the tour of the Uriarte Talavera factory. It is one of the few remaining showrooms that actually still makes the talavera on site. We paid for a tour and waited in the showroom area for our English speaking guide to show up. After about ten minutes, the salesman returned with a very old looking gentleman who was to be our guide. We were delighted beyond belief when he introduced himself as Pablo Uriarte! (I forget his real first name so I just made up Pablo!) The owner and oldest surviving member of the Uriarte family. He had lived in the US, Wisconsin no less, during the 1930's and his English was still very good. He later told us very proudly that he had just turned 86! I hope I am as spry as he was when I am that old!
The tour was more than fascinating. It would have been great under normal circumstances. Getting the tour from the owner allowed us into areas that are not normally open to the public or part of a regular tour. He must have liked us. We got to see the actual forming of the pottery, how the stencils are made and applied and how each piece is painstakingly hand painted, among other areas. At one point he walked over to a little corner area and picked up a tile and paintbrush. He explained that he still likes to paint the occasional tile, just to keep in practice! It takes three months from green pottery to finished product. All still made by hand. No wonder it is so expensive!
We finished the tour, which had taken a lot longer than we expected, and Mr. Uriarte deposited us back in the showroom. What a delightful character he was! I started to shop. It was horrible at first. Almost everything I saw I wanted to buy. By process of elimination, I finally ended up with a few tiles, a coffee mug and a plate. One of the tiles, which we found quite by accident while going through stacks and stacks of them, was actually one hand painted by Mr. Uriarte. Even though it was a bit more costly, we felt we had to have it as a suitable souvenir of the shop and tour. I walked away feeling that my expectations and long anticipation had been well rewarded!