I am Leslie. My whole life I have lived in La Libertad, a neighborhood by Galerias Serdán. It is a nice place, where all the bus routes pass by, there are a tianguis every Friday, and food stands on every corner. Next to the Cuexcomate market, finally, is the smallest volcano not only in Puebla, or in México, but in the entire world. Who knew?
This is something I recently discovered nearly one year ago. I was taking the bus to my home, which passes by the Cuexcomate, or volcano, and some foreigners were there too. The only Mexican that was guiding them asked me: Hey! This bus leaves us by the Cuexcomate right?”
I confirmed. I didn’t know it was a touristic place. I mean, I always thought that it was an interesting thing to see and visit, but as it was always an underrated destination as it was treated just as a giant rock where homeless people spent the night. But the last governor changed the place, and made it a cultural destination. Now the place is clean, respected, and even has the decorated letters that every touristic place in Mexico has.
Since it has been reopened, I haven´t visited it. But it was something I used to do when I was a little girl. I remember several times, where my mom took me and my cousins outside and take us to the “park” that was just the wasteland around the Cuexcomate. We played and could go inside. We used to look for human faces in the rock formations. The smell was a combination between sulfur, from the volcano’s natural minerals, and pee from homeless people. There was also a slight smell of humidity, as the volcano still had some leaks of water because it is actually a crater of the Popocatepetl, I even remember the metal spiral stairs that the place used to have in order to go inside.
This place may have no meaning for most of the people, but for some reason it represents the place where I live. When people ask me where I live, I usually give the Cuexcomate as a reference, even if I know that they have no idea where it is. As I was writing this, I noticed that it is something that takes a little part of my life, but it has been a long time since I was there, so I gave it a chance, even if it looks different now. Today it is actually a park, where the kids go after school. Here they can play, there are slides, swings,etc.
At the beginning it was a totally different vibe, but as I was going down through the “snail” stairs and the sulfur smell go stronger, a smile in my face started to grow. I felt I was inside some kind of natural destination. I know what it is!! But it didn’t felt like I was two blocks away my house. It felt like a portal to a lost place in the jungle, but with a familiar feel. When I was inside there I felt that it was smaller than I remembered, but I think it was obvious, as the crater is only thirteen meters high, and I was not a kid anymore, but a grown up. There was no pee, no graffiti, but the strong smell of sulfur was still there. I started to stare at the formations of rock, looking for faces and other type of forms as I used to do when I was a kid. A lot of memories came back, memories I didn’t have before going inside–even not Cuexcomate memories related, I felt some kind of nostalgia, and looked at it as a portal to my childhood; once I was going out I felt the air and saw the kids playing in the games outside, I was back in the present.