“I ARRIVED in Tlaxcala, the small capital of Mexico’s smallest state, on the Sunday before Mexican Independence Day, Sept. 16. The town was overlaid with banners and lights in the red, green and white of the national flag. At dusk, there were celebratory firecrackers and, in the morning, the cloudless sky was a piercing aquamarine.
Compared with the hazy-brown air surrounding Mexico City, just two hours to the west, Tlaxcala’s palette is almost kaleidoscopic. The low colonial-era buildings are painted in burnt umber, salmon pink and mustard yellow, and the domes of the tangerine-toned cathedral are covered with cobalt blue talavera ceramic tiles. And unlike Mexico City, where the overwhelming traffic can feel like a glue trap, Tlaxcala has a compact center that makes an easy base for exploring the big-sky beauty of the surrounding countryside.”