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Practical Information


About the Symposium

For two days, international researchers working in the field of Near InfraRed Spectroscopy (NIRS) Neuroimaging will meet at the main campus of the Instituto Nacional de Astrofísica, Óptica y Electrónica (INAOE) in Puebla to discuss the latest advances in the field, with a special focus on actions and challenges for Global NIRS. The symposium is organised under the grant F002-DADC-2017-279515 from the Mexican Research Council (CONACYT). This guide provides information you might find useful in preparing for your trip and your stay. You can find any updates to the guide on the event website:

http://ccc.inaoep.mx/~bio/NIRS2017/

How to get to INAOE’s campus?

The Instituto Nacional de Astrofísica, Óptica y Electrónica (INAOE) - National Institute of Astrophysics, Optics and Electronics - is located in the small village of Sta. Maria Tonantzintla, or simply Tonantzintla, which is part of the town of Cholula on the outskirts of Puebla de Zaragoza, or simply Puebla. Puebla is Mexico’s fourth largest city, with a population over 1.5 million , and Cholula is part of its greater metro area. The postal address is:

Instituto Nacional de Astrofísica, Óptica y Electrónica (INAOE)
Calle Luis Enrique Erro No. 1
Santa María Tonantzintla, Puebla
C.P. 72840
Website: http://inaoep.mx/en/
Phone: (+52 222) 2663100

The city of Puebla and its surrounding areas are served by two airports. The first is Puebla’s Hermanos Serdán International Airport (PBC) in Huejotzingo. This airport is roughly 20km from Puebla and approximately 10km from Cholula. Unfortunately, the airport is not very well connected to the INAOE campus by public transportation and the only way to get there is by taxi, which may be expensive, or by renting a car. The other airport is Mexico City’s Benito Juárez International Airport -AICM- ( https://www.aicm.com.mx/ ) (MEX). This airport is about 125km and a 2h drive from Puebla, depending on traffic. Though it is farther away, it is often more convenient to fly there. Surprisingly, the connection to Puebla is actually easier (by coach) than from Puebla’s airport! Coaches to Puebla from the Mexico City airport run every 1/2h (see further notes on arriving by coach below).

If you are travelling from Mexico City by car, take the motorway to Puebla (road 150D, but the signs list it as Puebla Cuota). The distance is 125km. You will have to go through two tollbooths: the first about 30km from Mexico City in Chalco (the current toll fee, in February 2017, is $108 MXN), and the second in San Martin Texmelucan (the current toll fee, in February 2017, is $33 MXN), about 45km before Puebla. About 15-20 mins after the second tollbooth, leave the motorway and get onto Periférico Ecologico, the belt highway for Puebla (Watch out! The exit is easy to miss if you are not used to Mexican road signage). Once in Periférico Ecológico take the exit to “Atlixco Libre,” and then continue to Atlixco by the federal road until you reach the diversion to San Francisco Acatepec and Tonanzintla. Take that exit and turn right on the boulevard just in front of the church decorated with tiles. Then continue straight ahead until Tonantzintla. You’ll reach a sharp curve with another church on the corner on your right side. Follow the curve about 200 meters to Luis Enrique Erro Street. Take the street to the right to get to INAOE. If you are staying in INAOE’s bungalows, then you can leave your car in the parking area here. Otherwise, you will have to leave your car in the visitor parking area, another 600 meters down the road. Traveling by car from farther away than Mexico City is possible but distances get long very quickly! Some estimated times are: about 3h from Pachuca, 5.5h from Oaxaca, 4h from Veracruz, 5h from Queretaro, 8h from León, 5h from Toluca, 21h from Cancún, 15h from Monterrey, 10h from Guadalajara. In these cases, taking a coach is a better option.

If you are travelling by bus or coach from other cities, you can get your ticket to one of two stations: (1) Puebla’s main coach station (known as CAPU); or (2) if you are travelling from Mexico City and the airport you might conveniently arrive at the small terminal located at 4-Poniente using the Estrella Roja service. In Mexico transport of passengers by train is virtually non-existent, so demand is met by coach services. Please note that almost all coach operators will have services of different quality (e.g., premium, first class, second class). Prices will vary but a typical premium direct non-stop service from Mexico City airport to 4-Poniente currently costs $296 MXN (price valid as of February 2017). Once in Puebla, whether at CAPU or 4-Poniente street station, take a controlled or safe taxi; you will pay for this in advance at the coach station. It should cost between $160 and $210 pesos, depending on the rate (night rates are higher than day rates) and it takes about 30 to 40 minutes to get to INAOE. Tell the driver that you are going to INAOE or “el observatorio,” as it is also and more commonly known, in Tonantzintla. If you are staying at a hotel in Puebla or Cholula, it is also advisable to take a safe taxi. Stopping a taxi outside the station may be less expensive, but please note that taxis in Puebla do not have meters and you’ll have to negotiate the price BEFORE getting in the taxi. We strongly advise that you do not choose this option unless you have experience travelling in Mexico.

Alternatively, upon arriving at CAPU you can choose a local bus. Walk to the local bus terminal within CAPU and look for the route “Chipilo via Tonantzintla.” The price should be about $10 pesos. The trip takes about 45-60 minutes and you will sacrifice some comfort. In this case, you will have to tell the bus driver to stop at INAOE or “el observatorio” when you are close to Luis Enrique Erro Street (see access by car).

Finally, you can find a map of INAOE’s main campus here:

http://www.inaoep.mx/mapa_acceso.php

Getting around Puebla and Cholula

Once in Puebla, you can take the metrobus towards Tlaxcalancingo to get to the INAOE campus. The current price as of February 2017 is $7 MXN. Get off at the very last stop and change to a feeding line to Tonantzintla; you’ll need to pay another $6 MXN. If in Cholula, find your way to the street on the side of the market (5th North – 5 Norte) or to the crossing between Av. Miguel Alemán and 17th Poniente. There are no bus stops, but you will see frequent buses and vans (also public transportation) passing through and they will stop by the corner when you request a ride by raising your arm. Look for one indicating INAOE or Observatorio on the front. The current price as of February 2017 is $6 MXN. Mass public transportation in Puebla is safe, inexpensive, frequent (max. 15 min waiting times) and reliable (as long as you do not expect extreme punctuality and/or immaculate units!).

There is no mass public transportation to or from Tonantzintla between 9pm and 6am (only taxis).

Visa support

The Mexican government will require visas for attendees from some countries. Check the following site to see if need to apply for a visa:

http://www.gob.mx/sre/acciones-y-programas/visas-para-extranjeros-8036

In the event that you do need to apply for a visa, the following type of visa will allow you to attend the conference:

Visa de visitante sin permiso para realizar actividades remuneradas

The procedure for obtaining the visa can be found on the following website:

http://www.gob.mx/tramites/ficha/visa-de-visitante-sin-permiso-para-realizar-actividades-remuneradas/SRE232

We recommend that you begin the process as soon as possible to avoid any bureaucratic delay. We apologize since the information in the above pages is only available in Spanish. Nevertheless, if you are in doubt, please do let us know and we will try our best to help. Please note however that we cannot interfere with your visa application.

Staying at INAOE’s bungalows?

Those staying in INAOE’s bungalows can get to the campus by following the instructions above. You can stay in the bungalows beginning the day before the symposium starts. Please proceed to the main gates, where you will find security guards. Introduce yourself as a symposium attendee and they will give you an envelope with your name and a key to your bungalow. If you are a student, please be aware that you may be sharing your accommodations with other students. If you are not arriving with your roommates it may be that they are already there, or that they will arrive later.

The bungalows are located just a few meters before the gates; you will pass them on Luis Enrique Erro Street. Those staying at the bungalows must abide by the rules:

  • If you are in an individual bungalow, you will receive an envelope with your key. You can keep this during your stay; you are responsible for it. If you are in a shared bungalow, there might be two or three shared for everyone in the same bungalow. If you are the last to leave the bungalow, please ensure that you leave one of the keys with security.
  • At the end of your stay you must return your key to the security guards in the same envelope in which it was given to you upon arrival.
  • Assignment of bungalows has been made according to a number of criteria. Please note that no request for reassignment will be considered.
  • You shall return the bungalow in the same condition that you found it.
  • Tap water is NOT drinkable.

All bungalows are equipped with a kitchenette and a refrigerator.

Tonantzintla is a small village and doesn’t have a market or a supermarket. There are only a few small shops and inns where you can get food for breakfast or dinner. Alternatively, you can get to Cholula, only a few minutes away using public transportation, but please remember that the public transportation stops at 9pm. After 9pm, you can still get a taxi.

The INAOE canteen is next to the parking area and the bungalows. It offers breakfast on weekdays from 8:00am to 11:00am. The cost is $53 MXN. Please note that internet reception in the bungalows is available but often weak.

Important things to consider during your stay

On the first day of the symposium, you will find a registration module located just beyond the security booth near the main gates. Upon registering, you will be provided with details for internet access on campus. You can find a map of INAOE’s main campus here:

http://www.inaoep.mx/mapa_instalaciones.php

Autumn in Puebla is mostly cool with morning and late evening temperatures of around 5°-10° Celsius. At midday, temperatures rise up to 20°-25° Celsius. Please see:

https://weatherspark.com/averages/32582/Puebla-Mexico

The rainy season will be almost over but you may still see some moderate rain, often in the afternoon.

Whether in a shop or a restaurant, please let the keeper know in advance if you need a bill.

Safety tips

You might have heard about issues with violence in Mexico. While this terrible news may be true, it is also true that violence is confined to very specific regions in Mexico where drug cartels operate; most of the country is as safe as rural U.S. states. You can find statistics and other information here:

http://www.howsafeismexico.com/

Moreover, Puebla is known to be among the safest places in Mexico, so enjoy your visit! Nevertheless, use common sense:

  • Avoid walking alone at night in general, and in particular on streets that lack lighting and/or appear empty or deserted.
  • Taxis do not have meters. You have to negotiate the rate in advance. For this reason, it is best to avoid getting in a taxi on the street.
  • Beware of food hygiene if you decide to eat from a street stall.
  • Try to keep watches, jewelry, mobile phones, etc. hidden from view.

Enjoy Puebla and the Symposium