San Francisco Cuapa is a small rural town within the municipality of San Pedro Cholula, Puebla. Cholula is located in the center west of the state of Puebla, in central Mexico. Located on flat plains of the Valley of Puebla, Cuapa is surrounded by beautiful landscapes such as the volcano Popocatepetl and the high mountain Iztaccihuatl. Recently named as a Magical City for its cultural heritage, Cholula is deeply rooted in tradition and its native origins. As a Pre-Hispanic city, Cholula is one of the few regions in Mexico where Mesoamerican and post-colonial cultures still co-exist.
The native Mesoamerican language, Nahuatl, is still used mainly in more rural areas amongst the elders in everyday conversations as a combination of Spanish and Nahuatl. The name Cuapa itself means 'water of serpents' in Nahuatl while Cholula refers to the native tribe of the Cholultecas. Cholula also references the Mesoamerican geographic region of Cholollan, meaning 'place of the fugitives' in Nahuatl. Through hundreds of years of coexistence with the Spanish language, many Nahuatl words have been incorporated into Spanish and now even in English such as words like: avocado, chayote, chili, chocolate, coyote, peyote, and tomato.
Throughout the city are buildings with post-colonial architectural origins and structures of Mesoamerican cities such as burried pyramids and ceramics. The city of Cholula is very well known for the Great Pyramid, one of its most popular tourist attraction with a Catholic sanctuary temple built at the top of the pyramid. Cholula is also famous for claiming to have 365 catholic churches, each one with a patron saint and festivities all year round celebrating and honoring the various saints. The architectural styles of each catholic church is unique varying from Gothic to Renaissance to Churrigueresque and Neoclassical. A common and popular decorative element in Puebla are Talavera tiles often applied to the interior of buildings and ceramics.
The gastronomy of the state of Puebla is one of the most popular in Mexico with mole as its most traditional dish. Mole is a chocolate-tinged sauce that takes dozens of ingredients and days to make often prepared for specials events. In Cholula you will find food with Mesoamerican origins as well as dishes with influences from post-colonial gastronomy. The surrounding neighborhoods of Cholula are rich in crop fields with numberous diverse vegetables and fruits, allowing for some of the most delicious and authentic dishes. Poblano cuisine often involves mixiotes, meat wrapped in fragrant leaves and roasted underground or braised in tomatoes and tomatillos. Dishes often involve a mixture of various indigenous herbs such as epazote, papalo, pipicha, and alaches. The state of Puebla also offers a sophisticated French-influenced bread culture allowing for some of the most authentic Mexican sandwiches. In the most traditional neighborhoods of Cholula such as Cuapa, families tend to have two seperate kitchens, one is refered to as 'smoke kitchen' which is used to cook traditional Mesoamerican dishes on a comal lit with wood while the other kitchen is used for modern cooking usually involving the use of a refrigerator, stove, blenders, and even microwaves.
With festivities year round, music is a deeply valued performance for special events. Music, instruments, and bands are very specific to traditions and events such as religious processions, burial ceremonies, weddings, and holidays. One of the biggest events in Puebla is the Carnival of Huejotzingo which celebrates the famous Battle of Puebla with richly decorated costumes referencing soldiers who participated in the historical independence battle. Music is a main component of the Carnival consisting mainly of brass instruments such as a drum, snare drum, cymbals, trumpet, trombone, alto horns, and sousaphones. In more traditional and rural parts of Cholula, musicians still use Mesoamerican instruments such as the Teponaxtle of Aztec origin, an instrument similar to a drum made of wood.