One of the best aspects of being involved with the International and TCK (Third Culture Kids) students at Hope College is that you get to meet students from all over the world with different cultures. “A country” becomes “the country” and widens your perspectives and worldview. There are more than 80 students from all over the world at Hope College – probably in your classes, in your dorm, and maybe next to you.
Gabriel came to Hope College as an exchange student from a university in Queretaro, Mexico, in the Fall of 2018. He not only enriched my experience at Hope College, but was involved with IMAGES (international cultural showcase that takes place in the Knickerbocker theater in the Fall) and became a wonderful friend to many Hope students.
This weekend, Gabriel took his time to visit me in Puebla all the way from Queretaro which is about 4+ hours by bus. He arrived in the afternoon, on Friday, and spent the whole weekend in Puebla.
On Saturday, we visited a town called Cholula.
Have you been inside a Pyramid? …well, did you know you can go inside a pyramid? I didn’t. Here I am inside of the Great Pyramid of Cholula (Zone Arqueológica de Cholula) which was built more than 2000 years ago in order to honor an ancient god called Quetzalcoatl. It is the world’s largest pyramid, and it is four times larger than the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt.
Inside the Pyramid, it is dark and humid. It smells like the porch at my grandmother’s mountain cabin during the rainy season. The uncovered steps show the process of building the pyramids. The pyramid was made with 4 different processes of adding stages on top of the previous ones. The tunnel inside the pyramid is just a little taller than I am (5’2’’) and wide enough for one person. Maybe ancient people were about my size seeing that Gabriel has to bend his neck sometimes.
Outside, the grass spreads out from the pyramid. 77 degrees Fahrenheit, just the right amount of wind and sun you cannot enjoy in Michigan during this time of the year. There are squirrels casually running up and down the pyramids. How peaceful can it be?
If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands ♪ There is a man clapping his hands like he is trying to get someones attention. Is he happy or what is he doing? I looked at Gabriel.
- Shh… pay attention to the sound
- Huh? ….oh
I soon realized that every time the man claps his hands, I can hear a sound that resembles that of a bird. It is not a normal echo. The crazy thing is that the phenomenon is not a coincidence. The ancient Aztecs calculated the sound wave and built the pyramid so that you can enjoy the echo. How crazy is that? (Gabriel said that’s because they didn’t have Netflix).
Looking up at the pyramid, there is a very noticeable cathedral on top of the pyramid. It is not only huge but is yellow, and stands out as if it is claiming their presence – which is not too far from the history behind this sight.
- Manna, we have a decision to make. An adventurous path, or less adventurous path?
- We came all the way here, of course, we can do the adventurous path!
In the afternoon, in Cholula, where the sun is shining, Gabriel and I chose the less adventurous route to finish our hike to the top of the pyramid – or to the huge cathedral. I don’t know how much energy we saved by choosing the less adventurous route for the last 20 steps, but we were both sweating when we finally got to the top.
The view is just amazing. I can try to come up with a description with my poor vocabulary knowledge, but the picture will give you a better description. You can see the entire city of Puebla. Around the cathedral, there are souvenir stores where they sell ice cream and cold beverages. There are couples taking cute pictures, groups of girls taking Instagram pictures, and many tourists just enjoying the view from the wall – including us.
Who thought about building this huge yellow cathedral, which is covered in the best quality of art and architecture on top of a pyramid? Well, yes, the Spaniards. It feels very different seeing the beautiful cathedral knowing some history. Some local Mexicans called this a “gift” of the Spaniards while some of them saw it as a symbol of the conquest. I am just amazed to be able to see part of the Mexican history from this sight.
Walking out of the pyramid park, we stopped at an open area where there were food trucks and souvenir shops. 3:00 pm in the afternoon, the sun is shining. Gabriel and I sat down by one of the food trucks.
After trying a Mexican drink called Mezcal, which is an agave-based liquor similar to Tequila, we walked around downtown Cholula and explored the city.
After exploring downtown, we arrived at a small diner where they sell cemitas – very typical food from Puebla. I have been surprised by the big food portion since I arrived in Mexico, but the cemita was way bigger than any of the sandwiches I have ever tried. My first cemita was amazing and was added to my famous Mexican food list, even though I had to take half of it to-go.
And that concluded our day 2 reunion by the great pyramid. How amazing it is to be able to reunite with a friend I met at Hope College all the way in Mexico.