Ogling Onyx in Mexico’s Tecali

It’s been too long since my last Pueblo Magico outing, so I decided to start 2019 with a place that really rocks. No seriously, Tecali de Herrera is all about rocks, specifically onyx and marble. Even the name “Tecali” itself means “Place of Stone Houses”, and still today the town has more than its fair share of houses full of rocks. To the casual visitor, it seems like every man and his dog here is an accomplished stone worker. Without a doubt, the highlight of a trip to Tecali is a stroll down the main street to peruse the locally-made marble and onyx creations. We’re talking everything from shiny onyx paperweights to a life-sized Tyrannosaurus Rex made of carved stone. While some of the larger stores feel more like warehouses, many of the smaller places have a real artisan feel. Some are rather professional, while others are more eclectic than refined. The best part is having absolutely no idea what’s coming up next; a showroom full of glistening marble bathroom supplies, or a living room full of petrified anacondas – presumably made by a stone worker who just really loves snakes or something.

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As with many small towns in rural Mexico, the best time to visit is the weekend. On Saturdays,the town gets relatively busy when home owners from Puebla and Mexico City drive out here to stock up on snazzy kitchen sinks, marble columns and onyx homewares. Afterwards, the hordes head over to the open air municipal market on Avenida Rafael Cortes for barbecue and tacos. Unfortunately, once the shoppers from the big smoke start turning their trailers full of marble to the highway, Tecali quickly closes up and nods off for the night. There’s basically nothing to do here after dark, and even the restaurants on the zocalo closed around mid-evening.

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If you do find yourself struggling to fill up time, then I’d highly recommend setting aside some time for the Ex-Convento de Tecali de Herrera. This former colonial era convent is today a stone skeleton of a ruin that makes for some fun photography opportunities.

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The easiest way to reach Tecali is from central Puebla, where you can catch a regional bus from 7 Sur and 21 Poniente. The trip takes around an hour and a half, with buses running regularly until around 5pm. The entire trip can comfortably be done in a day from Puebla.

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