It's been a year of numerous losses of people near and dear to us for both me and Dave, but without a doubt the worst for me was the loss of my father. I can't bring myself to write about him yet. For Dave, it was the loss of his brother, Rod.
Both of us were so beat up that when he got a last minute business trip to Guadalajara and asked if I'd come along, I didn't hesitate. "Yes!" was out of my mouth so fast it made my head spin. So without further ado, I bring you a whirlwind four days in the beautiful capital of Jalisco.
I'm a 'when in Rome' kinda gal, so I try as much as possible to do at least some of the things locals do, which includes taking buses.
Jesus ALWAYS has the driver's back, and if you look reeeeaallly close, you can see Dave in the little round mirror.
Street art is always good, but in Mexico, where the tradition of murals runs deep, I found this pretty whimsical.
Who doesn't like a good cow on a wall?
When we first landed, we hit the bus to El Centro Historico right away, but the bus route near our hotel dropped us about 20 blocks shy of the plaza mejor in front in the Parque de Revolucion near this gothic edifice.
It's the Templo Expiatorio, and at 9AM and 6PM, the doors of its German clock open up and the 12 apostles come out.
We weren't there at 9AM or 6PM, though, so I can't swear on it. Had I been guaranteed a little apostle dance or something, I'd have OF COURSE hung around, but we had some Christmas shopping to do. So we sat across from the church in the Plaza del Agave...
...and, no, we didn't drink any aged and fermented agave. Instead, Dave did some orienteering & got us pointed & aimed. We walked the 20 blocks (they were short) to the Plaza Guadalupe, and saw these in SO many stores I just had to take a photo.
God, I loved these things when I was a kid!
As you get closer La Cruz de Plazas, you can see the twin spires of the Catedral Metropolitana rising up to lead the way.
And not a moment too soon. There was a rain storm and people tucked themselves in the doorway of the cathedral to avoid a soaking.
As my father, the former altar boy, would say, "Now, THAT'S a church!"
But at some point we had to leave the sanctuary and head out into the lluvia because we had some IMPORTANT shopping to do at the Mercado Libertad, better known as Mercado San Juan de Dios. And you must know that I AM my father's daughter, and haggled like a good Hungarian, in remedial Spanish, por supuesto.
I can't really show you much inside because you might be getting a Christmas present from there and I wouldn't want to spoil the surprise, but I was happy to see that the cart horses had little raincoats.
The next three days, Dave had to work, so I shopped and wandered and saw sights and art and lived by my 'when in Guadalajara' rule, which includes eating at lunch stands that most gringos won't touch. And no, I don't get turista, because I always drink Coke or cerveza or aqua mineral sin hielo, por favor.
Since Guadalajara is only a couple hundred miles from Puerto Vallarta, I did a sampling of ceviches for most of my lonches, and they were ALL great, but this one in San Juan de Dios I KNEW was gonna be amazing. How? The cops were eating there too.
Note that the owner of the loncheria is looking up. EVERYONE in the Mercado was watching the Copa Mundial game between Alemana y Brazil. And if you think the Guadalajarans were rooting for Brazil, think again.
In 1864, a second tier German royal - (The younger brother of Franz Joseph I) - came and declared himself Emperor of Mexico. Maximiliano I. He didn't last long. In fact, he was executed by Juarez in 1867.
But he left behind a love of accordion and tuba and that polka-like music you hear in Mexico, Norteno.
Let's look at some art, shall we? In front of the Instituto Cultural Cabanas is La Sala de los Magos, an installation by the artist Alejandro Colunga. Here are a few images of that remarkable work.
And yes, people most definitely hang out with these extraordinary creatures.
The Instituto de Cultural Cabanas is housed in an old hospicio, or orphanage, and while it has installations by contemporary artists -
It's mostly known for the monumental work "Man of Fire" by Jose Clemente Orozco.
The piece is so vast you could spend days and weeks and still not take it all in.
Oh look! Another church!
This is the Templo del Carmen, where I sat my butt on a bench in the plaza and took a breather.
Guadalajara is singularly blessed by not one, but two major works by Orozco. This one, depicting Hidalgo, a great leader in the War of Independence, freeing the slaves is in the Palacio de Gobierno. In fact, Hidalgo signed the emancipation decree in the Governor's Palace in 1810.
Yeah, Orozco is not for the faint of heart. But imagine WORKING in this building. Yes, it's still a working office with another art gallery inside. And some of the historic salons are open for viewing too.
A nice crystal chandelier takes away some of the sting of all that blood and fire.
As always in Mexico, I saw my share of stray dogs, but not a single stray cat, except this one, which I saw all over town.
Gang Gato, perhaps? Anyway, by Thursday afternoon, Dave was done with work and could join me on a little side trip to the town of Tlaquepaque, which has basically been absorbed by the sprawl of Guadalajara. But it's known for the work of its potters and weavers and artisans, and it and the next town, Tonala, are famous for their festive Sunday markets.
Alas, this wasn't Sunday, but it WAS the last day we had to complete our Christmas shopping, so we went at it like...nah. Not really. We wandered around & went where our feet carried us. This house was decorated by its owner in what I recognize as something akin to Southern Folk Art from the Deep, DEEP South.
Then we wandered into the Jardin Hildago and witnessed something extraordinary - El Danzo de los Voladores, or the Dance of the Flyers. You can look up a deeper history of it, but they believe it started among the Nahua, Huastec or Otoni people of the mountains of Veracruz, though now it's associated with the Totonacs of Papantla, Veracruz. The 4 dancers on the cuadro represent the 4 cardinal directions plus earth, fire, air and water, and the priest atop the pole on the caporal playing the flute and drum represents the 5th sun. The 4 dancers each make 13 revolutions, which, if you do the math, equals 52 - the number of years in the Aztec Round Calendar.
It was a privilege to see it.
But the day finally came to an end and with it our much needed trip to somewhere else. Salud.
Hasta la pues, Guadalajara, y muchas, MUCHAS gracias.