It's all in the Name According to history; Guadalajara comes from the Arab word "Wad-al-hidjara", which means "River that runs between rocks". The city is named after the native city of Nuño Beltrán de Guzmán. This city was capital of the kingdom of New Galicia. On February 14th 1542, the first city council of the actual Guadalajara was established. The Emperor Charles V of Germany and I of Spain, granted it the title of City and gave it its Coat of Arms that up until today is represented by it. Such an interesting history ignited my imagination of old architectures. My girlfriend, Marlen, began to read to me from guide book about all there is to know about Guadalajara.
Impressive, I thought. Upon our arrival, and to our way to our home stay in Tlaquepaque, learning to say Tlaquepaque became a challenge to my tongue.
Upon our departure from San Francisco, I began to wonder what Guadalajara was going to to be like. I have always envisioned a city where mariachis, horses, and people drinking tequila were everywhere. I thought of the city as a perennial site filled with traditions and Mexican traits. The flight took about 5 hours with a quick stop in Durango. Though Durango was not in the itinerary, I was surprised that the city of Durango was in the middle of the desert! The landing strip was surrounded by cacti!
La Llegada: From the view right before the landing, the city looked huge, immense. I the city landscape was diverse. Hills adorned by big, expensive houses, down to flat populated areas where I could tell that the city also, like San Francisco, or LA, suffers from heavy pollution and traffic.
The city hosts 1.5 people, just within the city’s jurisdictions, there are other small cities around, cities or municipalities. One in particular: Tequila; the city that gave its name to the popular drink. Marlen and I had plans to visit Tequila, as well as the Plaza de los Mariachis, the Minerva, Tlaquepaque, Tonala and so on. So, pretty much, everywhere where we could visit. We arrived at our place for the stay in Talquepaque, a city/municipality that was surrounded by the essence of the Jaliquense spirit. People in Guadalajara are very polite in general, very traditional and extremely respectful of others. From my previous travel experiences I would place GDL (short for Guadalajara) in the top as the most polite city I have ever been.
The first outings: Our first outing was to the plaza in Tlaquepaque, a small plaza that every evening would draw people to its merchants and events. Along the way, on Avenida Hidalgo, we found our way to an immense variety of "puestos ambulantes" or movable carts of people serving anything from tacos, pozole, to menudo.
The smell was irresistible, the price, out of this world. 60¢ per taco! or I as kept calling them, delicious tacos. A meal would run for about $4 including drinks. When it came to decide where to eat or what to eat, marlen and I never even discuss it we would just say we eat wherever we feel hungry. The Discovery So, even though I would eat most anywhere, in one of our outings, we found gold! I little food cart, parked in a affluent neighborhood, ironically, the price per taco was really low, about 70¢!Though I would paid $4 per taco because the tacos have been the best, by far of any taco stand anywhere, her in the US and Mexico. The stand is parked between Hidalgo and Justo Sierra near Minerva. Check them out. You will be surprise that even though there is an Outback, Chillis and Chevys near by, the tacos are worth standing in line for.
La Vida Cosmopolitan: Our first outings was mainly focusing on setting coordinates, getting familiar with our surroundings and getting a feel of what the city was like. We loved it. Our second outing was to "El Centro" or downtown GDL.
Super delicious tacos
We took bus 626 from Tlaquepaque to downtown area. The fee was 5 pesos! The first thing we noticed was the styling life GDL residents have. Let's see, let's start with hair, it's all about the hair. The men looked like they just had got a hair cut. Most styles mimic the ones from soccer player Ronaldo and Beckham, nonetheless, stylish. The jeans, apparently jeans are a must have, must look really good item, among GDL people. Marlen noticed. The clothing, as though it was hand picked from the runway. Wow. People, specially the young, take care of their image. I felt out of place with my regular jeans and billabong shirt sleeve shirt. GDL is by no means a place for the surfer, sport jockey or the hippie. So, if you are in GDL bring some nice clothes and take time to look good. :)
The Architecture: The architecture in GDL is fascinating. Old colonial buildings, Gothic churches and convents stand out in a city that is no different in emotion to that of any major city in the US.
Busy streets, busy people, busy merchants seems to be quite used to the relics and the architectural structures that adorned the city's landscape. I loved it. The minute you enter El Centro, your eyes began to move back and forth according to the contrast that the buildings give to the city's facade. The architecture dates back to the 1500s in what looks to be a mixture of Roman, Gothic and Persian styles touches that are visible in most buildings. La Plaza, just across from the main Cathedral is the center point for most people. Calle Independencia will take you to most architectonic marbles in GDL.
Getting around: Getting around GDL can be confusing at times or while you figure it out since there are a few street that have the same names in different neighborhoods. For example, you will find that "Hidalgo", "Independencia", Revolucion" are very popular street names. We took public transit to get to places, and the first trips were adventures. One time we took a bus hoping to a ruins site; instead it took us somewhere else. It took about an hour to loop, but hey, it was a cheap way to circle around the city seeing most of GDL.
TIP: There are two transit systems, I don't know why, but there is public and there is private.
Ladies and gentlemen...Mr. Orozco
Public will cost around 5 pesos to get to most places while private will cost you double to get to most places. Private bus lines run on similar routes but are cleaner and faster as they have their own stops. These private buses limit the capacity to seating capacity, there are no people standing, once full, the bus won’t make any stops until people get off and seats are available. Another notable feature is the LCD screen on each bus that displays local news and weather updates for passengers. Quite the luxury, I thought and GDL people seemed to like this bus line. The bus drivers were more helpful when it came to ask for directions. It is worth the extra 5 pesos! To differentiate, public transportation buses are mostly white while the luxury line buses are navy blue.
La Leyenda Orozco I have always embraced art, in any form, and have always admired those artists who stood for something.While I was in college, I became fascinated with William Blake, Salvador Dali, Goya; artist who spoke through their art.I knew little about my encounter with José Clemente Orozco. Marlen told me about him on the way to GDL, and we made plans to visit his museum or murals.My first glimpse at his murals were enough to get my mind at full speed, recollecting all that I had learned in college, art movements, forms, shapes, etc, to put in prospective what Orozco was all about.Within minutes I realized Orozco was on his own train, somewhere along a movement, argument, a determined force of voice; a silent leader, a silent hero; Orozco’s art was ahead of his time.
His complex forms, simple enough for the people he spoke for, yet complicated to those of the higher class.The more I saw the more I wanted to learn about him.Orozco played with light, perspective, angles, colors, shapes and history, Mexican history.He was a remarkable artist.We visited the museum on a Tuesday, it was a free day.Otherwise the entrance fee is 50 pesos ($5.00) to our surprise, there were guided tours, free as well.Guided tours are available in English, French and of course Spanish.
Lol, every foreign people has told me the same to me, "Tlaquepaque" is unpronounciable. I have the same impression that you do, people from over here is extremely polite, but on the other hand, not so welcoming for other people. I mean that most of them are superficially polite only.