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.
The Guadalajara Cathedral.
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.