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Puebla State

Tecali de Herrera- Mexico’s hub of all things onyx

One of the amazing pieces of onyx used as a coffee table surface, accompanied by a bowl that looks a bit like Casper the Ghost.

We took a day trip on Saturday to Tecali de Herrera, which I understand to be the hub of onyx (and marble) production in Mexico (or at least one of them). Tecali de Herrera is located about 47 km southeast of Puebla in Puebla state, and it took us a little over 2 hours to get there (with some traffic slowing us down). This was the second small town in Mexico we’ve visited that is known for making all sorts of things with one material (the first being Santa Clara del Cobre in Michoacan that is hub of copper), and it did not disappoint!

Tecali de Herrera is a sleepy little town that we found to be clean, quiet, and laden with sidewalks made of marble & onyx (definitely nonstandard for middle-of-nowhere, Mexico!). It exceeded our expectations by actually having one cool tourist attraction (besides all the onyx shops) that was totally worth seeing: the Ex-Convento de Tecali. I know what you’re thinking– “Seriously, Julie, I think I’ve seen enough churches here in Mexico.” But you’re wrong! This one is much cooler because it is the ruins of a convent– covered with grass, missing ceilings, crumbling stonework, but still offering soaring arches and massive columns. I momentarily felt like I was back in Scotland instead of a dusty pueblo in Mexico. :)

The entrance to the Ex-Convent of Tecali

Note surprising signage in well-written English! A rarity for this neck of the woods. :)

A close up of the massive wooden door that's attempting to still guard the entryway. Apparently the wooden roof was scavenged many moons ago to be used in the building of a bull ring.

A view of the remaining pillars among the grass, surprisingly green for this far into the dry season

Here I am in the center of the ex-convent action

One of the orange trees growing within the inner chambers to the right of the nave.

A view down the zocalo towards the ex-convent entrance

After our 30-peso convent visit, we clucked approvingly at the well-manicured zocalo filled with greenery and began our quest for onyx. John & I have been eyeing a style of floor lamp created out of squares of creamy-colored onyx, and decided we may as well travel to the source in order to save a few pesos. Needless to say, there was no shortage of lamps for us to consider! (As well as anything else you could possibly imagine being made out of onyx.)

Our new lamps! For any regular blog readers, yes, we have officially reached the point of total awkwardness w/r/t how many "groups of three" we have when it comes to Mexican handicrafts. I don't why everything is sold in threes; it just is.

This was just a smattering of the number of floor lamps you can choose from...

If only we had a massive space in our townhouse back in VA awaiting a friggin huge amorphous onyx bowl...

Here’s a list of the stores I got business cards from, where you can purchase all the onyx you could ask for.

  • Mezher’s Onix, Avenida 25 de Agosto #111, Tel. (224) 271.4142, ventas.nacionales@mezhers.com.mx www.mezhers.com.mx (website seems worthless, but store had some very unique pieces)
  • Flores Navarro, Avenida 25 de Agosto y Rafael Cortes, Tel (224) 271.4058, onix_fn@yahoo.com.mx, www.floresnavarro.pue-mx.com (also some unique pieces & prices seemed competitive)
  • Mariam, Avenida Rafael Cortes Oriente #5, Tel. (224) 271.4037, marmolmariam@hotmail.com (prices seemed very competitive & was only place we saw cool onyx cheese plates shaped like cheese)
  • Artesanias Marquez, Avenida Rafael Cortes #6, Tel. (224) 271.4467
  • El Dorado, Carretera Tecali-Tepeace km 1.5, Tel (224) 271.4384, onixneolitico@yahoo.com (located basically across from the Pemex station; they had some cool onyx sinks)
  • Tellez Onix Marmol Diseno, 25 de Agosto #403, Tel (224) 271.4199, tellezonix@prodigy.net.mx, www.onix-tellez.com (this is the largest, most heavily advertised place, and the prices reflect as much. worth visiting to peruse the really large selection & then finding things cheaper elsewhere)

A view of the huge selection inside the Tellez onyx shop

We quickly gathered that anything made of stone that CAN be lit from the inside, WILL be lit from the inside.

Emily reaches for a credit card to buy as many new kitchen counters as we can fit into our car. (ok, not really...but tempting...)

For eats, we were starving by the time we got to Tellez so we ate at Las Bugambilias, which is right next door. However, we also saw a cute place near the Zocalo that looked worth a shot. Bugambilias had traditional Mexican food at reasonable prices (try the enchiladas pipian verdes or the flautas de pollo).

All told, we arrived in Tecali around noon & departed about 5PM after all our tortuous purchasing decisions were made. If you’re interested in making the same day trip from Mexico City, follow the toll road towards Puebla. Stay on the toll road towards Orizaba/Oaxaca as it skirts north of the city of Puebla. You’ll pass a toll booth shortly after Puebla (Caseta de Cobro Amozoc). Keep going until km 155, and you’ll take the exit for Tepeaca as shown in the photo below.

This will be your cue to exit off the Mexico-Oaxaca toll road!

In general, follow the set of blue signs like these:

Our confidence was bolstered by the reaffirming Tecali de Herrera signage.

Once you get into Tepeaca, there is one Y-intersection that’s a little confusing, but in general go towards Tepeaca centro instead of Tehuacan. There is a general map on the Tellez website here. Tecali de Herrera is a bit of a drive for a day trip from Mexico City, but it is certainly doable. Alternatively, it would be a great side venture if you’re in Puebla for a couple days. Happy shopping & convent-viewing!

Those aware of my pork obsession will be impressed that we managed to leave Tecali without the acquisition of even ONE of these many little stone piggies!

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