A good thing my campground was off the periferico boulevard because entering Guadalajara, the second largest metropolis in Mexico with 4.3 million people was a bit of a zoo. Thank God for Google Map to guide me because Gloria, my not so glorious GPS that day, insisted that I retraced my steps to take the paying highway (she gets all upset when I take the free road).
We settled in at the campground, a very quiet and shaded park, so I was comfortable leaving the pets in the truck during the day while I played tourist.
The next morning I took the direct bus to the old Guadalajara. It was a 1 hour ride, but there was so much to see that it went very fast. When I got there, I had plans to visit a few monuments, perhaps a museum or two, but I got infected by the vibe of the place and decided to soak it in by just wandering the streets instead. I did go to the famous cathedral and happened to be there for the noon mass. I must say there is something very special to enter a church and smell frankincense. They don’t use censers in many churches anymore and what a shame because it adds so much to the mystical experience. The burning incense, the procession, the singing and the fervor of the congregation added to the grandiose structure of the cathedral itself was breathtaking. It was a magical experience for me and I took the time to thank my angels for my good fortune to be on this amazing journey.
Religion is big business is Guadalajara. Shops and stalls selling religious objects are everywhere. Stores specializing in garments for communions, baptisms and such were numerous. I saw a young girl coming out of the Cathedral, dressed like a bride, with veil and all, at her father’s arm. I am guessing this was a first communion?
Guadalajara had many plazas with beautiful official buildings, narrow busy merchant streets, open squares with the usual souvenir vendors. It was busy without being rushed and stressful like most big cities. I guess I stayed in the touristic area, so most people were enjoying themselves.
At one point I found myself inside a covered market and realized how huge it was when I saw upstairs floors. It was crowded and busy of a different kind. This is where the locals shopped. It was a little bit too much for me, too many people in very tight spaces! I am not used to that.
I have to say that for me part of discovering a new place is to sample to local foods. Guadalajara had many treats and I settled for a large cup of fresh fruit. I passed on the chili that is usually poured over everything you order, from chips to fruit!
I had a really good time but after 4 hours of walking around I was ready to go home. I took the same bus I used to come in, but discovered that it took quite a bit of a detour into an adjacent little town before resuming its course on the boulevard I wanted. I got home at 6 pm.
Sunday market in Tonala:
I really enjoyed my time in Guadalajara and wondered if I should go back there for one more day. My guide book recommended the Sunday market in the suburb of Tonala so I decided to check it out.
After a 3 hour commute where I almost lost my cookie because of the hectic driving I finally arrived in the busy streets of Tonala.
The narrow streets were lined with stalls with awnings creating covered walkways. It was busy and relaxed at the same time. The flow kept moving making it difficult at times to stop and look at the merchandise. I was looking for the center plaza where I hoped to find a terrace for a quiet coffee and recuperate from my nausea, but there was no quiet to be found.
When I found the plaza, it too was completely covered and taken over by food stalls. So I decided to sample some of the local food. I had the “Orden” a slow fried mix of meats with onions and bacon (Amazing) served with of course Frijoles (beans) and tortillas. It was wonderful! I also sampled a meat taco dripping with juice and a large cup of fruit. The prices were very competitive compared to Guadalajara, but still more expensive than in the little villages on the side of the road. I did buy a few terracotta cookware typical of the region and new curtains for my mosquito netting.
On a hunch I checked the map and discovered that Tonala was actually closer to my campground without having to go back to Guadalajara Centro. I also didn’t want to spend another 3 hours in buses. So I tried to get into a taxi. Well, that proved more difficult than I thought. I was turned down by 3 cabs because they would make more money running around Tonala than drive me to Guadalajara! While I was negotiating a cab ride, a family harangued me and offered me a ride for M$150, instead of the $250 the cabs wanted. By the way, there are no meters in cabs, so you better agree upon a price before setting off! I hopped into the car, with Teodoro, Sandra and their teenage daughter whose name escapes me. Teodoro wanted M$200 after looking at the map. At this point I just wanted to get home and it was still cheaper than the cabs, which didn’t want my business anyway. So off we went and chatted on the way. He kept teasing his daughter that she couldn’t chat with me in English after all the lessons she has been taking! He drove in typical Mexican fashion, weaving at high speed in and out of traffic, taking a shortcut and dropped me off in 26 minutes flat, when Google said it would take 45 minutes! I was just glad to be home in one piece.
I stayed at the campground the following day as I was quite tired and wanted to write my blogs. The internet service was so slow that I was unable to post anything. This internet issue is becoming quite a problem! When you have one, it is often so slow as being absolutely useless. When on the road or boon docking I am without internet, which means that I will post a whole bunch of articles at once when I am fortunate to get a good signal. So thank you readers for your patience and understanding:)
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Au plaisir de la route!