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Monday, March 30, 2015

Guadalajara continued

Instituto Cultural Cabañas or The Hospicio Cabañas a World Heritage Site, is one of the oldest and largest hospital complexes in the Americas.

The complex was founded in 1791 by the Bishop of Guadalajara in order to combine the functions of a workhouse, hospital, orphanage, and almshouse. The chief attractions of this site are the murals by Jose Clemente Orozco, one of Mexico's most iconic muralists and a native of Jalisco. I'll devote an entire post to him. The buildings have their own charms.

Needing a break and feeling hungry, I went to the Mercado Liberdad for lunch. This place is reputed to be the biggest mercado in Latin America. I'd seen enough giant mercados so went directly to the restaurant section in search of a good, inexpensive lunch and was immediately set upon by viciously aggressive restaurant touts who all but wrestled me into a seat. I resisted their charms and found a quiet, unassuming seafood place where I ordered camerones del diablo, spicy shrimp, that were disappointing and expensive. Sigh. My restaurant choice pattern was staying consistent. (I have a habit of spending an inordinate amount of time selecting a restaurant in a new city and invariably making a bad choice)

After lunch and a beer I went back to the Instituto Cultural Cabañas to see more, then wandered slowly homeward.

Father Hidalgo breaking the chains of colonialism with his Grito, cry for independence.

The two buildings on the left are devoted exclusively to the sale of jewelry, a staggering amount of jewelry.

Back to the airbnb for a shower, check the email and off again.

Another long walk to a site not worth visiting and my usual protracted search for dinner. I finally wound up at Tomate again for more tacos al pastor driven largely by an ever increasing need to pee. Not a good experience this time. I ordered my tacos but they were out of the kind of beer I like and, sorry, the bathrooms are out of service. Oh dear. I expressed my urgent need to the waiter and after about 15 minutes he let me in. I just rushed in, leaving my iPad and other belongings figuring I'd just be a sec and there were a lot of staff around, a calculated risk. But when I came out, I was accosted by a young Mexican woman who scolded me quite vehemently about leaving my stuff. "Never, never do that here!!" I suppose it was well intentioned but I was really not in the mood and was quite put off by it. After six months of travel I feel like I know what I'm doing for the most part and, in any case, I just wasn't in the mood for being scolded. But I had my lovely home to look forward to. So it was with dampened spirits that I returned there to get through the night. It seemed a bit quieter there at first but just as I was starting to nod over my book, a loud conversation commenced in the kitchen just outside my door. That went on periodically for a while and finally quieted for good around midnight. I was very happy when the time came to leave in the morning. That was the only time I saw Luis Enrique and I had to call him to get him to come for the key handover.

Sunday, March 29, 2015


I'd been to Guadalajara once before on my first visit to Mexico. My impression of it at that time was marred by being ill, a leftover from the previous stop, and by the atrocious accommodations that I had. Though I wasn't ill on this visit, my accommodations may have been worse. It was an airbnb and I should have been suspicious of the fact that there were no reviews. In lieu of my host, Luis Enrique, his mother was there to greet me. She showed me my cell, er, I mean room and introduced me to a woman who was also a guest but spoke English and knew Guadalajara and seemed to take an almost immediate dislike to me. As I settled in I began to notice things:

the filthy rug in my room,

the filthy floor beneath the rug,


the absence of daylight, the proximity to the kitchen where bags of unemptied garbage sat festering and reeking

and where cooking looked like it could be an adventure in food borne illness.

Frank Zappa could have written "The Dangerous Kitchen" about it. In the "terrazza" outside, the table was covered in overflowing containers of cigarette butts, (what is it with all these young people smoking, usually the more hip, college student Mexicans and the majority of young Europeans I've met), beer cans, food debris, ashes, the patio around it littered with cigarette butts, wrappers and evidence of spills.

It turns out the place was occupied pretty much by a semi-permanent group of students and other young working folks, some local, some foreign, hence, the college coed dorm feel. Sleep had to be deferred to when they were done with their little fiestas on the terrazza or their loud conversations in the kitchen, both adjacent to my room. I harkened back to the airbnb listing that extolled the cleanliness of the place and admonished guests to be respectful of these young working people's need for quiet. If I'd had an easy escape hatch, I'd have bailed but I didn't so resolved to be away as much as possible and make the best of it when I was there.

The neighbourhood was a sort of student/hipster, upscale, party type place; lots of bars and American style restaurants with names like Bananas or Señor Frog. I did have some outstanding tacos al pastor at a place called Tomate.

On my one and only full day there, I set out on foot for the Centro historico. I had heard about Guadalajara's new bike system and wanted to try it but it turned out that it was a more complicated process than I had time for so could only gaze wistfully at the nice new bikes.

Probably just as well to be walking in this strange city with the usual chaotic traffic; time to gaze around and take pictures of this beautiful old city.

Founded in 1550, Guadalajara is Mexico's second largest city with some 4.5 million in the metropolitan area and is a cultural center of Mexico, considered by most to be the home of mariachi music and host to a number of large-scale cultural events such as the International Film Festival of Guadalajara and the Guadalajara International Book Fair and a number of globally renowned cultural events which draw international crowds. It is also home to the C.D. Guadalajara, one of the most popular football clubs in Mexico. This city was named the American Capital of Culture for 2005.

And so I spent the day traipsing around to all of the major attractions in the following order:

the Templo Expiatorio.

Oy vey, another migraine

The Guadalajara Cathedral.

A "scientific" exhibit of the Virgin

The Palacio de Gobierno (governor's office). The only thing of note there is the mural work done by Orozco that I'll show on another post.

Continued on next post.



Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Last of Guanajuato

Just a few more photos.

Someone asked me about the stained glass photos a couple of posts ago. I realized I hadn't taken any photos of the outside of that building so I returned and did so. Don't know anything about it other than it has galleries, cafes and a shop selling ceramics manufactured in nearby Leon.


Aside from a couple of musical events, one, incomprehensible modern music in the beautiful old Teatro Juarez, the other, some pretty good gypsyish jazz in a club, and a bit more cribbage, that was it for Guanajuato. Now I'm off to Guadalajara for a couple of nights. Slowly wending my way home.