Thursday, March 27, 2014

Road Trip: Guadalajara

After the Banderas Bay Regatta we were ready for a different kind of fun so we joined our friends, Ed and Connie for a road trip up-country. We drove about a thousand miles, or perhaps it just seemed like a thousand miles throughout west-central Mexico. Here is a list of the notable towns and cities we visited on the trip:

San Miguel de Allende

That's a lot of traveling, so for this post I'll focus on Tequila and Guadalajara.  Ed has a car here in Mexico and was kind enough to do nearly all the driving so I was free to just watch the world go by from the backseat of his Isuzu Rodeo, and occasionally hang on for dear life as Ed demonstrated his high speed driving prowess on the unpredictable roads of Mexico. Actually, we only stopped in Tequila for some beer and tacos along with a couple of souvenirs from the Jose Cuervo distillery. Anyway, we blew into Guadalajara and took rooms at the beautiful old Hotel Morales in downtown.

After the high speed run into town, I was more than ready for a stiff drink and we were fortunate that the hotel had an excellent restaurant with a fairly good bartender. The next morning we began our tour of this sprawling, gritty, bustling city. With about four and a half million residents in the metropolitan area, Guadalajara is the second largest city in Mexico and is a major center of commerce and industry. It is also the capital of the state of Jalisco. It has a long and colorful history dating back to the 1500's, and if you'd like to know more about this fascinating and diverse megalopolis, feel free to check it out on Wikipedia.

Like most of Mexico's cities, Guadalajara is full of churches, and we wandered around several of the biggest ones, taking photos and people-watching. One thing I have noticed in all of the churches and cathedrals I've visited in Mexico is the strikingly beautiful architecture and sculpture combined with a musty sense of dilapidation inside them. Outside, soaring spires and magnificent bells. Inside, cracked icons and peeling paint. Never a fan of organized religion, these aspects of the churches seemed to me to be a fitting metaphor for the Church itself.

Guadalajara is also a city of music. In fact, it would be fair to say that Mexico is a country of music because almost everywhere you travel in this beautiful country, someone is strumming a guitar or singing. This is a happy country in spite of all the troubles it confronts. I think the US could learn something about enjoying the simple pleasures of life from Mexico. Anyway, Guadalajara is said to be the birthplace of Mariachi music, that distinctively Mexican musical style. We were treated to lots of this kind of music but we also experienced a wonderful classical music concert in the plaza a couple of blocks from our hotel as well.

Atrium in the Hotel Morales

Central Square with the obligatory church in Guadalajara 
Guadalajara is the commercial center of Mexico but it is also a city of music. 


Guadalajara is said to be the birthplace of Mariachi music.  This sculpture is a tribute to the genre.
After a couple of days in the city we were ready to move on. Our next stop was the town of Tlaquepaque, which is known for its artisans and craftsmen. I found it to be a bit too touristy for my taste and Ed agreed, so while the women shopped we set out on a mission to find some decent margaritas. Alas, we failed and had to settle for some watery concoctions that the waiter claimed were margaritas, but tasted like Fresca and lime juice. With that we piled back into the car and headed for the beautiful city of Guanajuato.

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