Upon entering the Zocalo the sun rays shine on the windows of the City Hall and create a pleasant shade in doorways with beautiful columns holding the rest of the buildings that frames the entire square. Under the arcades, many shops and restaurants look at the gardens where the huge and majestic Cathedral of Puebla is located. In the center of the gardens and with her eyes lost in the towers of the Cathedral, our friend Mariana seems curious fantasizing with past times of the city in her imagination. Mariana is one of those people who have always been there when you need her and can say with certainty that will always be. She is the one to share and laugh and the perfect guardian of those secrets that only those who get the difficult status of best friend know. Due to all that, the strong intensity of the encounter results into mix of emotions, hugs and loud laughter surrounded by the curious eyes of a hundred angels scattered throughout the plaza, defenders of the Cathedral from the gates that surround it and also the fountain that at our side commemorates San Miguel, the angel who defeated Satan.
Still imagining the flavors of Mexico, our eyes are diverted to the decoration arranged with a multitude of guns and national flags on some streets. Realizing that, Mariana reminds us one of the main reasons of our visit. Each May 5th, Puebla celebrates the victory of the Mexicans in the battle against the French army in 1862. During those war events, Puebla fought to defend their territory against the French invasion with Ignacio Zaragoza as a Mexican leader. He got an army of citizens with sticks and knives that actually triumphed against the French rifles. After doing so, general Zaragoza sent President Benito Juárez a sentence that remains in the memory of all the poblanos: "The national arms have been covered in glory." The official name of the city, Heroica Puebla de Zaragoza, we finally get its real meaning thanks to our friend.
Continuing our route the road gets even more beautiful thanks to the multiple colors , flowers and the smell of cut wood and churros freshly made. In this area the pretty colonial buildings with its doors and balconies made of wood and decorated with typical ceramic talavera (heiress of the one in Talavera de la Reina in Spain) offer a beautiful picture of the city and its stone floor. We walk surrounded by local crafts and antiques in gold, gemstone ear rings, colorful skulls and other curios objetcs culminating in the famous Square of the Toads, the Antique Market that during weekends surprises every visitor. Mariana then stops us when we get to a corner with roses hanging on its windows, one of the thousands of details unexpected in this area. There, the gate of the Cafe Milagros awaits us with its blue walls.
Among the huge variety of sweets from Puebla, the tortitas de Santa Clara are the chosen ones to accompany Mariana's latte and our espresso and cappuccino. Surrounded by Mexican skulls and Mexican artists' quotes our friend explains us the story of those kind of pancakes, one more within the culinary mixture produced when the indigenous mixed their own ingredients with recipes from the colonizers. The tortitas were specifically made in the convent of Santa Clara where a nun, in search of new flavors, mixed some sweets with cookies. These stories are common in the popular culture of Puebla due to the large number of monasteries and churches throughout the city (more than 70 in the Historic Center) highlighting among them the Church of Santo Domingo for hosting the famous Chapel of the Rosary, an impressive baroque building from the 17th century also known as La Casa de Oro or the House of Gold. The Church is in fact located in the 5th May Street, which commemorates the event that these days takes place in the city. This is actually a civic event and the shops are closed all day for citizens to attend the annual Cinco de Mayo Parade. As it will be our first time, Mariana recommend us to go directly to the final area where the governor of Puebla closes every year the parade and do it early because it is a massive event, it is estimated that about 6,000 people are participating in it. The parade starts at 10 am on this street, May 5th, in the heart of the city and extends itself to the forts of Loreto and Guadalupe, which is actually the place of the historic victory of Puebla. The parade includes children, women and men who are preparing all year for the event.
While leaving the Cafe Milagros we realize that the clouds have covered the sky, although the pleasant temperature continues inviting us to get lost in the colorful streets. The last walkers hurrying their steps in the center looking for the way back home to finish the final preparations for the May 5th and shops are closing their doors to join the celebration. Within hours Puebla will again become the epicenter of a national event in which Mexico will show proudly the green color of hope, the white of unity and red for the blood of the national heroes that form their national flag. Mariana has prepared us to live it but before that we can not help but continue walking the streets to get carried away by tequila while laughing of the past with a toast for the future. As the night goes slowly taking the sky in Puebla, we gradually get lost with the colors of the streets lit by yellow streetlights to end up being one more element of the legendary atmosphere of a city whose colonial magic enters the eye and conquer the heart.