Back to Oaxaca to catch a bus to Puebla. Puebla is a small town with colonial buildings and has a pleasant atmosphere. Volkswagen has a major factory here. Elias takes me to his place in the centre, a large studioflat which looks like it could have been restored about 60 years ago. He wants to go to a party, but I have very little energy and only stick it out for an hour so I take a cab back. I hardly see Elias over the next days, due to a family emergency. We have one long conversation about the state of the country and the treatment of minorities. He is an anarchists, cannot stand Americans (gringos) and is part of the Zappatista movement. I explore the city on my own and on one of my wanderings I find myself on a square which houses several mariachi bands. I spend some time with them, it is basically a song-drive in. People drive by and request songs and pay accordingly.
I also meet up for dinner with the couple met at the excursion. I also invite a couchsurfer who I know will be going to the same rafting event as me. The couple is impressed with all the stories of meeting strangers and having a good time together.
I then visit Cholula, attached to Puebla. It used to be an important place in the old days. It used to have a pyramid which is considered the largest in the world. In 1519 in order to scare the Aztecs, Hernan Cortes, the main Spanish conquistador, massacred a great part of the population. To show the power of the Spanish crown and the Catholic church, he built a big church on top of the pyramid.There is little left of the pyramid, it is pretty much a big hill.
. He then continued to build about 50 more churches in Cholula. There is defintely no lack of churches in Mexico, in any remote corner you will find one. People are very devout; most people have a cross or pictures of Jesus in their house and the same can be found in public places such as busses. The conquistadores (Spanish colonisers) might not always be looked on favourably, but there is no negativity towards the Spanish, the religion and language are too strongly adopted and most people are probabaly mestiza (a mix of indigenous and Spanish). In order to make Catholicism more acceptable, the crucifixion of Jesus was emphasised (compared to human sacrifices that existed in the aborigen culture). Within indigenous groups there is still a lot of influence of original traditions mixed up with the Catholic one. For example in the north the Tarahumara wear traditional clothes and masks and dance all night during Semana Santa (Easter), where they put the emphasis on 'evil' (faces painted white, like the Spanish) and 'good'.