It’s the strange and confusing travel experiences that are simultaneously hilarious and fun that make for the best memories. They are the kind of experiences that you love to tell people about although you can’t quite explain them, because you were never really sure what was going on in the first place.
This was the case with our night out at Lucha Libre in Puebla, a beautiful colonial city located about 3 hours southeast of Mexico City. We’d spent our afternoon exploring streets lined with buildings coloured in pastel pinks and greens and blues, and visiting the city’s 17th century cathedral, before getting drenched during a sudden but torrential downpour characteristic of Mexican summers.
That night we met with the group and headed out to the arena, a little unsure of what to expect, having only been told that Lucha Libre was ‘sort of wrestling but not really.’ Outside the venue we crowded around vendors frying pork in huge pans of oil to make deliciously fatty and cheesy cemitas, which we ate on the crowded street. The atmosphere was lively – people gathered round to eat, drink beer, and listen to the band playing inside the nearby convenience store (fun but odd) that was selling drinks to Lucha Libre patrons.
When it was time to enter, we found our seats close to the ring, and settled down to take it all in. We were surrounded by people of all ages – everyone from elderly grandmothers to young men to families with toddlers in toe had come to enjoy the show. There were a lot of announcements being made in Spanish; women were walking up and down the aisles, yelling to advertise the beers and snacks they had for sale; members of the audience were jumping out of their seats and jeering at the various wrestlers who donned brightly coloured masks and tights and bodysuits as they made their way into the ring. Periodically we would give each other the ‘I-have-no-idea-what’s-going-on-but-this-is-hilarious’ look. The best way to describe it would be a Mexican WWE, complete with crazy outfits and dramatic choreography. The fact that we were completely lost made it all the more fun.
There were numerous rounds, with both men and women taking part at various times, entering the arena to music via a catwalk to the boos or cheers of the crowd, who loved some of the wrestlers but hated others, for reasons unknown to us. The real standout was Máximo Sexy, who donned a singlet with the printed words ‘Kiss Me’ and periodically pecked the other wrestlers on the lips, which continued to draw wild cheers, whistles and shrieks from the crowd.
When it was all over, people spilled out onto Puebla’s pretty streets, now bathed in the yellow of the streetlights, and we made our way along the quiet road to a small bar nearby to share a bottle of tequila with our new friends.