Guadalajara, a wonderful city!
Apr 2, 2008
|Traveling "inland" has become an important part of our "cruising" travel. The coast has its appeal, but there is so much to see in the interior of Mexico. We took advantage of an open week, March 26 to 31 to go to the Centro Historico section of Guadalajara via an old Saab prop jet with just 24 passenger seats. From our window we saw in detail the transition in vegetation from coast to mountains and plateau. Guadalajara is about 5,500 feet. Fascinating for us to understand even more about of Mexico.
Leaving the tourist area of Puerto Vallarta felt a bit like throwing ourselves on the mercy of the citizens of Guadalajara. As Mexico's second largest city, with 3.5 million people and numerous universities, I'm sure there were many english speakers, we just didn't meet many of them. Most of the people we met spoke little english and our espanol is at the "toddler level" (lots of nouns and phrases, but not too many verbs and long sentences.) Everyone we met was so gracious and helpful.... even once saving me from further embarrassment.
On our second night out to dinner we decided to "dress up" rather than wear casual sailing clothes. I even brought an airy, filmy skirt and Jim had a sports coat (muy guapo!!) It was good to know that we could "clean up" so respectably. I was feeling pretty sophisticated as we came down the grand stairs of the hotel, passing the reception desk, the bellman, etc. and turning onto Jurez Boulevard. In the second block a woman came along side of me, tapped me on the arm and touched my skirt, then pointed to the back of me, speaking rapidly in spanish.
Yep! You guessed it, I had made one of those bathroom goofs where my skirt got stuck in the "half mast" position at my "stern". At least I wasn't dragging a roll of TP as a stern anchor! You can imagine the stares we got as Jim tried to correct the problem on a major street corner at 7:00 PM.
Jim thought Guadalajara felt like New York in the summer... (noise, auto exhaust, ambulance sirens, heat, humidity, masses of people on the sidewalks in the evenings).... except everywhere we heard spanish.
I felt like I was in Rome or Paris with the mix of very old buildings dating back to 1500's, 1600's and 1700's in the same area as contemporary architecture. There were at least eight huge plazas surrounding the oldest churches and government offices. I was attracted to the outdoor sculptures -- always been a passion of mine.
On our first afternoon the hotel bellman, Roberto, gave us a map and seemed a little worried about sending us out alone. We came back with tired feet, but very happy. Centro Historico is approximately a 12 square block area, very easy to explore on foot.
We thought a bus tour would help us learn about the whole city, so were "led to a meeting place" by a cute young woman who loved to practice her english. Even though there were only four of us, we still had a full size bus, and an english speaking guide because we had paid our money and they would never want to refund our money and send us away unhappy. The other couple was from Vancouver, Canada, here to see a Rod Stewart concert. They went to all his concerts, no matter where he played because the husband was a "retired" rock musician from London who had a friendship with Rod. It made for a very interesting day!
On Friday we took a taxi back to Tlaquepaque (I just love the way that name rolls off the tongue!) to do shopping for family and friends. This trip ended up becoming a very special adventure because I was able to meet Elias Regin, the ceramic artist who made the owl that I bought in Mazatlan in October 2004. I had hoped to find more of his work in Mazatlan on this trip, but very few pieces were left at the gallery.
It took three incredibly kind spanish speakers to make our meeting possible: a Tlaquepaque museum employee (where his work was exhibited), a Tlaquepaque artist and a taxi driver. Having our cellphone work in Mexico was a part of this adventure as well. The museum gallery manager wrote down Regin's address and placed the first call, another artist made a second call the next day and the taxi driver poured over the map of Tonala trying to find the address.
The town of Tonala has been a center for pottery in Mexico since pre-Hispanic times with over 400 workshops now producing high and low fire pottery. The town is so crowded and difficult to find one's way around due to all the one way roads and missing street signs. When we finally found his house, no one answered the knocking at the door....it was SIESTA TIME! The taxi driver had to use my cellphone to call again to get someone to answer the door. (I'm sure they all had a laugh about those crazy gringos who came in the heat of the day during siesta time to find an artist !!) We met the artist, Elias Regin and his adult children. No one could speak english, so I was on my own to try in my limited espanol to tell him how much I admired his uniquely beautiful hand painted ceramic animals. I think he would have sold us the entire content of his storeroom if we could have found a way to get them on the airplane.
I think he understood that he had a fan in his studio.
On Saturday we walked to the Mercado Libertad, the largest covered central market in Latin America. It covers 2 full city blocks and has three floors. There isn't much that one can't buy there and bargaining works for all items. Jim does much better at this than I do. I'll save you my descriptions and let you get the flavor from the photos # 31 to 38. Needless to say, we really had fun. ( I bet you are wondering just how much stuff we are bringing home! Jim was relieved that he could say to me, "Remember, it has to get on the airplane!"
Sunday we went to the Lienzo Charro de Jalisco, Guadalajara's "big time" rodeo arena. (Thanks to Rob and Tania on Indigo for the tip on this event!) Mexican cowboys, called charros, are famous for their riding and lasso work. Every Sunday at noon, people can watch 3+ hours of excitement for a mere 30 pesos per person. (That is about $3.00 US)
We got there early to get the whole experience from warming up the bulls, warming up the band, and pre-show hero worshipping. In Photos # 10 to 25 I tried to capture some of the main events and local color. One of my favorite events was the "horse riding skills" which included what I call the "quick-stop" with the horse sliding on his hooves after galloping pellmell and then stopping on command. We also saw precision riding for the girls, bull roping, bull riding, bucking bronco riding, horse lassoing from a standing position and also from sitting on the working horse.
(Jim explained to me exactly what they do to get the horses and bulls buck. Something missing from my education.)
The best must have been saved for last because the last 2 contestants each did 3 perfect lasso stops of a horse by catching their hind legs as they came racing by. This triumph caused all the fans in the stadium to throw down their cowboy hats (if not hats, then boots, flowers, etc.). This was a family event, so nothing was off-color. The last charro, Pancho Vasquez was no spring chicken and he did his lassoing while sitting on his perfectly trained horse as the wild horse galloped by, pulling all three horses down. Even Jim threw his brand new Chivas soccer team hat down into the ring. Of course the "hero" threw them all back into the stands to continued applause.
After five nights in a hotel room with a hot shower mere steps away, a flat screen TV with english and spanish stations, air-conditioning and an nice little outdoor cafe on a balcony over Juarez Blvd. I found our arrival back to the boat a shocking adjustment. We were happy to be back, but spoiled. Where did that EASY button go?
It seems that the EASY button isn't that far away for me --- just 4 hours on Alaska Air to SF on May 1 for me. Yes, I have decided to fly home, leaving the difficult job of doing the BASH from Cabo to SD to Jim and a delivery captain.
We will probably just do one last entry to let you know where Second Wind's home will be for the summer. We hope to find a slip in San Diego in May.
Currently we are enjoying hosting the Andersons in Paradise Village for a week. Hannah, a second grader from a spanish immersion program in Washington, has been having lots of spanish conversations with all the locals. So much fun for us!