Read previous: Adventures–planned and unplanned–in Mexico City
July 7, 1968–Bullfights
Our last day in Mexico City before going to Puebla, we have only a couple of things on our schedule after getting breakfast at a smorgasbord restaurant called Shirley’s. Still looking forward to every meal, we posit that we’re so hungry all the time because the meal schedule is different than our regular routine of breakfast, lunch, and dinner. We need an excuse.
Although we would not entertain the idea today and would be embarrassed to talk about it, we were truly excited about going to a real live bullfight! Told we would need to hire a guide to take us, that’s just what we did, setting out with one other couple for the bullfights. The plan was to spend the entire afternoon at the arena.
Despite rain all afternoon, we were awed by the spectacle of the bullfights. We didn’t know whether the rain was a bad omen or not, but it seemed that things just didn’t go as planned during the bullfights. For example, a bull jumped the high fence to chase a matador’s helper; a picador stuck a bull and was unable to remove the pick, so the poor man was fined; a matador’s cape was caught on a bull’s horns and it looked as if the bull was teasing the matador rather than the other way around. Most disturbing was the fact that three matadors were gored and had to be taken from the arena. We couldn’t say we “enjoyed” the bullfights, but we were certainly intrigued and enlightened about a sport that was completely foreign to us.
The only other plan for this day was to have one more night in the Zocalo, enjoying the lights and sounds of the city with others.
July 8, 1968–Puebla
The next morning, we drove around for two hours before finding the highway to Puebla. Finally arriving in the late afternoon, we checked into the Senorial Hotel. It was not our first choice, but we were happy to find a place since we had no reservation. With nothing to do before dinner, we shopped for onyx since we heard that the city was famous for the quality of the stone here.
We decided to have dinner at the hotel restaurant. Sitting near a large showcase window so we could see outside, instead we seemed to be the main attraction for those passing by. We surmised that the people of Puebla had not seen many “colored” people like us. Entire families would stop, scrutinize us, and talk amongst themselves.
We felt a little like we were back in the United States, especially at the behavior of a White man in the restaurant. When we arrived, the man had just been served a beer. He looked at us with what we interpreted as disdain, to put it mildly. He muttered something under his breath and his neck actually began to bleed. His face reddened and he paid his check without drinking his beer and left the restaurant. Now, he could have been bleeding from a nick when shaving and just lost his taste for the beer, but we couldn’t help but think that he left because of us. We laughed after he left and said that he probably came all the way to Puebla to get away from ‘Negroes,’ and here we were.
We thought we would have steak for dinner. What a mistake! The meat tasted like liver to me, and I couldn’t eat it. Because Charles ate his steak, I teased him that he was eating some of the bulls that we had seen the day before. I think that “bull meat” must have been the cause of Charles’ sleep disturbance that evening. From his sounds and movements, it seemed that he was fighting bulls most of the night, though he never awoke while I barely got any sleep.
Our restless night might be the reason we forgot Charles’ camera when we left Puebla the next morning for Oaxaca. When we discovered that the camera was missing, we turned around and prayed all the way back that it would still be there. Our prayers were answered. After we fetched the camera, we set out again.
July 9, 1968–Oxaca
The drive to Oxaca was long and tedious because of bad roads and many curves around mountains. Charles drove all the way because I could hardly keep my eyes open after not getting much sleep.
We arrived in Oxaca at 2:30 p.m. and were unable to get a room where we had planned to stay. Our second choice was the Hotel Marguerita. We were just in time for a lunch that provided what we called “bulk” but not much flavor. After lunch, we drove to the marketplace. As in Mexico City, there was an abundance of food and colors to excite the senses.
Oxaca is known for the quality of its black pottery. We bought a few pieces for ourselves and added to our load of gifts for friends and family. I bought a nice tote bag for my sister, as well. After driving and walking all around town, we returned to the hotel where we entertained ourselves with a game of Gin Rummy.