The Ups and Downs of Puebla

After leaving the hustle of Mexico City, we were pleasantly welcomed by the more relaxed atmosphere in Puebla. As soon as we arrived at the Spanish Institute of Puebla, we had a brief orientation to the Institute, then if was off to our new host families. In contrast to our host families in Guatemala, we were 2 or 3 students to a family. This helped to ease the transition, and took some pressure off of our Spanish skills.

We are spending our mornings in two very different types of Spanish classes. The first is with an individual conversation partner. With these “guides”, we have visited museums, explored the black market, and toured centuries old churches. We get a new guide each week, so there has been a good mix of meeting new people and being comfortable enough to make Spanish mistakes and be corrected. This time with the guide focuses on conversation and vocabulary. The second type of class is a formal classroom setting, with 2-3 students and a teacher from the institute. These are more focused on grammar and application of grammar to conversation.

One exciting thing here was the Puebla vs. Leon fútbol game at the local stadium. It is quite the experience to be surrounded by 42,500 soccer fans. It was also exciting in a not so great way when a bucket of glass beer bottles was accidentally dropped onto two of the students by a vender. The medics were quick to arrive and after some glass shard removal, we were able to enjoy the second half. Puebla managed to score a goal, which is quite an accomplishment for them as they are far from the top of the league. It was very impressive to hear the stadium go into an uproar just after they scored. Everyone instantly jumped to their feet, and the volume went from a 7 to an 11.

We have all appreciated the increased freedom. It is much safer to go out at night, which is a big contrast with our time in Guatemala. We also have the afternoons unscheduled, which leaves time for exploring the historic center where the Institute is located. There is a central plaza, called the zócalo, which is only 5 blocks from the institute. Surrounding it are restaurants, coffee shops, small tiendas, newspaper stands, shoeshine chairs, and balloon venders. We have all enjoyed getting a coffee, coke, or just sitting and watching people go by.

This past weekend, we toured Africam Safari. This is a driving safari where you can see animals from all over the world right out of the bus window. Following the bus tour, we went to the adventure section. There was a reptile house, a butterfly conservatory, a high adventure circuit, and a very popular opportunity to have your picture taken while holding a lion cub.

We are looking forward to another weekend packed with activity. This coming weekend we will be going white water rafting and zip lining. As we are winding down our time abroad, we certainly have no shortage of activities to occupy us.

-Andrew Kniss