Written by El Gallo on 02 Oct, 2000
If you come to Guadalajara from the coast or the North you almost have to come through Tepic, Nayarit. Which means you will pass through Ixtlan, famous for the Carlos Castaneda title. Don't get too excited (much less jump bus and start asking…Read More
If you come to Guadalajara from the coast or the North you almost have to come through Tepic, Nayarit. Which means you will pass through Ixtlan, famous for the Carlos Castaneda title. Don't get too excited (much less jump bus and start asking for peyote) it's just one more drab little Mexican pueblucho. But hey, you can say you were there. By the way, the place everybody does go for peyote is Real de Catorce, which is a joke. You jump off the bus with your big flashing "GRINGO" light on and buy buttons from some Indians at the roadside stands, and guess what, the cops come over and take it (and you) away. Hell, you're better off just drinking.
Which works out, because your bus will also go through the little town of Tequila, which you've probably heard of in some connection or another. This is a funny place. After driving through all these dusty little towns, suddenly you hit Tequila, bright and prosperous and covered with fresh paint. Because every building in town (or at least visible from the highway) is painted with advertisements for noted Tequila distilleries. Even one of the smaller churches. My favorite slogan, "Orendain: The Family Tequila." This is where it originated of course, and most of the major brands keep a token plant here, although these days most tequila is made in big factories in Guadalajara. But you can stop off and buy it here. In fact you can get stuff not available elsewhere, like unlabeled plastic water bottles full of green, unaged, vintage-last-night tequila--white lightning with barbed wire implications. Guadalajara kids stop by and pick up a six pack of this stuff on their way down to the beach to court wrack and ruin. If your interest in tequila extends past the margarita level, you can learn a lot about its manufacture here, more colorful and complicated than normal booze. And you will pass through field after field of Weber's Blue Agave, from which tequila is made. (Sorry: it's not made of cactus, and does not contain worms. Deal with it.) The fields all have fences made of piled up rocks, since this is tough country and there isn't any wood around, just dirt and rocks. Much of this is explained (or at least befuddled) in the cool article, "Tequila: Medicine, Myth, or Menace"
By the way, if you go down to the coast the "other" way--to Manzanillo--you'll pass another nowhere little town called Autlan. No big deal except it's the birthplace of Carlos Santana. I always wave or toss a flower.
Written by El Gallo on 03 Sep, 2000
Behind the Cathedral, at the north end of Plaza Tapatia, is the Plaza de la Liberacion, with its huge fountain and statue of Father Hidalgo freeing the slaves in 1810 (the emancipation was actually signed in the Hospicio Cabana--seen at the south end of the…Read More
Behind the Cathedral, at the north end of Plaza Tapatia, is the Plaza de la Liberacion, with its huge fountain and statue of Father Hidalgo freeing the slaves in 1810 (the emancipation was actually signed in the Hospicio Cabana--seen at the south end of the Plaza Tapatia). The Plaza is lined with museums and public buildings decorated with murals by Jose Orozco, Guadalajara's answer to Diego Rivera.
The 400 year old Cathedral itself is certainly worth a look: it's a classic Mexican cathedral and contains some very nice sculptures and details, especially in the small side chapels.
The Palacio de Gobierno dominates the south side of the plaza and contains two Orozcos, one hovering over the delegate's chairs in the Congress Chambers and depicting the freeing of Indian slaves. You can go up on the roof of the Palacio, by the way, for a great view of the downtown.
On the north side of the Plaza is the Regional Museum, which is a sort of perfect little museum. It has a dinosaur skeleton, for one thing. It has a really comprehensive history of the area from the creation of the universe to present, with much relics and dioramas. Upstairs is a collection of modern paintings by important Mexican artists, many local, like the scandalous Zuniga.
At the other end of the plaza, the cupola'ed Hospicio Cabanas is now a cultural center with everything from concerts to lectures, to shows of film, photography and sculpture. The most impressive attribute is the ceiling mural by Orozco, the 'Four Riders of the Apocalypse'--a wild, violent work full of distorted figures and a brooding, blazing sense of justice and destruction--Orozco's masterpiece. To keep from straining your neck, they thoughtfully provide benches to lay down on while viewing the ceiling--and if you want to be more mobile, they have little mirrors for that purpose. Which is more than you will get in the Sistine Chapel.
From the Hospicio it's only a few steps to the Libertad Market, from whence you can cross Calle Mina on an elevated walkway and visit the Plazuela de los Mariachis. Sit for a beer and the roving bands of musicians will approach you to sing for an amount to be determined (you should be able to get them down under 30 pesos, around $3 US). If you like mariachi music, this is where it all started and is THE place to hear it--sort of like the Grand Ol Opry.
They usually work in Plaza Laureles, right across from the Cathedral. They aren't exactly mimes, though they keep silent and often paint their faces white. And they aren't really clowns, but they will crack you up--no Spanish required, they are a universal idiom.…Read More
They usually work in Plaza Laureles, right across from the Cathedral. They aren't exactly mimes, though they keep silent and often paint their faces white. And they aren't really clowns, but they will crack you up--no Spanish required, they are a universal idiom. The are also interactive artists that use strangers as their medium, psychologically controlling people and manipulating into entertaining others--often in spite of themselves. Those who refuse to participate in the papaso's schemes quickly become tools for merriment and even shy girls get dragged out to perform.
A warning: foreigners, particularly gringos, are ripe targets for tormenting, so keep a low profile. But if some maniac bores through the crowd to get you out there for some diverting entertainment, you best go along with the show.
It's an art form that you see around Mexico's larger cities, there's even an academy. Here's what: the 'payaso' (clown) gathers a crowd, mostly just be being there with a white face, maybe a tuxedo or something, and blowing a whistle or horn, or just cutting up. As the crowd gathers, the payaso may do some mime stuff, generally mocking the crowd. Then he moves into serious, one-on-one mocking. He will select people from the audience to come out and participate, often just dragging them out in spite of protests. Pretty young girls are popular, macho guys, anybody the honed instincts of the payaso thinks can be used to make funny. Once a troupe of innocents is assembled, ususally 4 or 6 people, half of each gender, the routine consists mostly of modeling behavior, such as flirting with others, browbeating the subjects into copying the payaso's behavior, then making fun of their performance, all without words, but with a find command of gestures, whistles, and expressions. As the victims get used to their status, or start hamming it up, the behavior gets a little wilder--I once had a payaso snatch a blushing young girl up and toss her into my arms. Looking up at the bearded face of an older gringo in whose arms she was helpless caused her to do some pretty priceless facial antics. The crowd just loved it. I didn't want to be there in the first place, The girl was mortified--but went home a hero with her buddies.
It's really a scream, and the people are the stars of it all, directed by the machiavellian payaso--whose payoff comes at the end with a passed hat. It's a pretty painless way to get into show business.
Guadalajara seems like such a plain, flat town, but it is suddenly interrupted by a very abrupt plunge into La Barranca de Huentitan, a deep gorge that sort of discourages expansion to the west. There are several good vantage points to see the canyon,…Read More
Guadalajara seems like such a plain, flat town, but it is suddenly interrupted by a very abrupt plunge into La Barranca de Huentitan, a deep gorge that sort of discourages expansion to the west. There are several good vantage points to see the canyon, which is fairly spectacular--green and wooded with horses and cattle grazing way the hell down below. In the wetter seasons, the river drapes the north end of the barranca with a pretty waterfall known as the Cola de Caballito (Ponytail).
You can see the canyon well from the zoo--the Zoologico Guadalajara, way the hell and gone out Calzada Independencia ($1.50 US admission). There are buses.
Or continue past the zoo to the end of the line and enter a park with an open air restaurant looking directly down into the maw of the canyon. This is a great place to eat, sort of like a big barbecue that goes on all the time and serves anybody. Women cook over open fires and you sit on benches to look over the low wall that separates you from free fall.
Another great approach to the canyon is where the Amigos de la Barranca hang out, especially for the exercise-addicted. The Amigos' clubhouse is at the top of a unthinkably long set of stairs and paved paths leading to the bottom of the canyon (from which there is nowhere to go but back up that insane Stairway to Cardiac Arrest). And, you guessed it, they run down and back up. If you think you're hot shit for running marathons, try this vertical one and see how you do. If you make it back up, step over for a beer and some 'barbacoa.'
Written by pflory on 13 Jul, 2003
1. On a bus tour to the town of Tequila, we traveled through the charming small towns and blue agave (related to aloe) farms (of volcanic ash soil) from which tequila is made. Mt. Tequila, a volcano, is in the background. We toured the…Read More
1. On a bus tour to the town of Tequila, we traveled through the charming small towns and blue agave (related to aloe) farms (of volcanic ash soil) from which tequila is made. Mt. Tequila, a volcano, is in the background. We toured the Sausa distillery and partook of free tequila tasting in the beautiful historic hacienda. After the five-hour bus ride, we walked across the street from our hotel to the Plaza del Sol, a large upscale shopping plaza with three or more fountains. It was filled with people socializing, shopping, eating icecream products, children playing in the fountains, etc. We were told the umemployment rate in Guadalajara is 5%. That evening we walked up the street for a late dinner in a restaurant that features live Mariachi musicians.
2. Sunday, 10am, we saw the Ballet Folklorico de Jalisco (the state where Guadalajara is located). The costumes and dances depicted the culture of Guadalaja fom colonial times and featured beautiful and colorful costumes as well as mariachi musicians. Then we went to the Metropolitan Cathedral for Sunday Mass.
3. We took the car tour through the wealthy and poor areas of Guadalajara, and after four hours, the driver dropped us off at Plaza Tapatia, an area of upscale crafts shops. After lunch, he took us through the Palacio de Gobierno where we saw our first Orozco mural.
4. We took the car tour to Lake Chapala (in the Sierra Madre Mountains) and Ajijic, a beautiful little town on the lake, where a large colony of Americans live.
5. We took the taxi to Hospicio Cabanas, site of the Orozco murals where an English speaker offered to give us a tour at no cost. (We tipped him.) We took the taxi to Costco and found it to be exactly the same as in the States.
6. We took the taxi to the Tonala outdoor market place. What an interesting shopping place. Lots of ceramics, art, food, tapestries, etc. We estimated it covered four or five large city blocks.
Written by katiemustard on 25 Mar, 2004
I was not entirely looking forward to my stay in the second largest city in Mexico. The smell of cow manure as I exited the plane did nothing to change my mind either. To top it off, I was suffering a server allergy attack…Read More
I was not entirely looking forward to my stay in the second largest city in Mexico. The smell of cow manure as I exited the plane did nothing to change my mind either. To top it off, I was suffering a server allergy attack that was more than likely provoked from my mildewy and grimy hotel room in San Jose. Through a constant bombardment of sneezes, I managed to take a bus into the center of town and check into another crummy hotel. I mustered up the energy to have a look around the city. For the most part, I have continually disliked Mexico. From Tijijuana to Cancun to Cabo San Lucas to Mexico City, I’ve had very few remarkable experiences outside of fun induced from the novelty of underage drinking. And on first impressions, Guadalajara appeared to be no different: It is a poor and dirty city in the middle of the desert. And when I say dirty, I mean really dirty. I spent a few hours walking through the town, gagging on the atrocious smells of overflowing sewage and hurrying past wrecked and vandalized buildings, massive junkyards, and gangs of teenagers in dirty t-shirts.
Yet, as the mildly hallucinogenic allergy medicine began to wear off, and as I spent more time asking for directions, sitting in cafes and generally hanging around the town, Guadalajara actually began to grow on me. Once I got past the giant smog cloud, I noticed a natural bustle in the city that breathed life into its one of a kind mariachi bands, bull fights, and Mexican hat dances. For the first time, I suddenly saw what was truly Mexican. I relaxed in places where ordinary Mexicans spent their leisure time, sitting in magnificent plazas and enticing parks along side talented guitarists, laughing ladies, authentic cowboys, and naked babies. More so, I discovered a rural charm when I ventured outside the city to the suburbs of Tlaquepaque, Tonala and the town of Tequila (where the liquor gets its name sake). In these places, I found Mexico’s finest traditional crafts and folk art set within impressive outdoor bazaars, historic colonial houses on cobblestone streets, and the most unique blend of Indian and Spanish traditional and modern culture that make up the complex country that I soon began to admire.
To read the rest of this story, please go to my website:
Written by viajero333 on 21 Mar, 2002
El Lago de Chapala, Then and Now
Lake Chapala once boasted beachside hotels and dining pleasures. Then came the drought. I first visited the "lake" in 1990. Imagine walking to the end of a pier and still not able to see…Read More
El Lago de Chapala, Then and Now
Lake Chapala once boasted beachside hotels and dining pleasures. Then came the drought. I first visited the "lake" in 1990. Imagine walking to the end of a pier and still not able to see the shoreline clearly. Approximately 300 yards of exposed lake floor stretched from the beach to the shoreline. Abandoned boats remainded moored or anchored to the crusty floor. To reach the shore pickup trucks shuttled tourists back and forth. That was in 1990.
The following year, in 1991, I returned. I described to my fellow college buddies the ecological disaster that awaited them in Chapala. I told them they could go horseback riding for miles where the lake once rested. I told them they could find shells and dried fish skeletons on the crusty lake floor. I tried to prepare them for the sadness I felt for the people whose lives depended on the lake. I did all this only to discover the rains had returned. The water level stood near it's original level once again. The lakeside hotels were again booming. I was amazed! Jubilant for the people who worked there and the thousands of American retirees that live in the Chapala/Ajijic area.
After 1991 I did not return to Chapala for many years; in fact ten years passed. I returned last year, 2001. Again, the water levels had dropped. I researched the situation a litle more. Drought was a problem, but so was water theft. Local farmers were illegally diverting the water to irrigate their fields. I plan to return to Chapala in June/July 2002. I hope the situation has improved...I'll let you know.
For more information of what to do in Lake Chapala, see Lago de Chapala I
Written by viajero333 on 11 Dec, 2001
Located in the northern outskirts of Guadalajara is La Barranca, a gorge with winding, rocky footpaths curving to the valley floor. This gorge boasts an athletic adventure for everyone. Descend slowly and enjoy the lush green landscape, or trot down quickly in order…Read More
Located in the northern outskirts of Guadalajara is La Barranca, a gorge with winding, rocky footpaths curving to the valley floor. This gorge boasts an athletic adventure for everyone. Descend slowly and enjoy the lush green landscape, or trot down quickly in order to reach the bottom. Either way you'll forget you're so close to the city. Bring water because the hike up can be strenous. This spot is a weekend favorite, so to avoid the crowds go early or during the week.
I like to go during the summer afternoons, but since it often rains around 4PM, you have to be careful. To get to the bottom and back will take at least a couple hours, so be prepared. If you make it to the bottom you must wander through the little village. You'll feel like your trespassing on private land, but the road is public. It's very safe, but I wouldn't go alone. If you don't have the time or energy to reach the bottom, a nice turning point is about 30 minutes down. You can't miss it. The trail will bend hard to the left. The look out point has a railing to prevent people from getting to close to the edge. The picture with this entry is from that spot.
If you go on the weekend, it will be crowded, but still fun. The advantage of lots of people is there will be more vendors, even on the trail. And when I say on the trail, I mean literally on it. You'll have to go around them. If you decide to go between 8-11AM don't be surprise to find hundreds of caterpillars dangling from the trees. They're cute until one lands in your mouth. (Hey, what's a little extra protein. :) )
To get there
Take a bus or taxi to La Barranca de los Oblatos. The easiest way is by taxi. Tell the drive you want to go to La Barranca. He might want to take you to El Mirador, which, as its name suggests, has a great view, but tell him you want to hike down into the gorge. If your Spanish is rusty tell him: Quiero bajar hasta el fondo de la barranca. The trailhead is also the final destination for the buses that go to La Barranca.
Written by jlo142 on 30 Jul, 2006
Driving through the streets of Guadalajara, we got a sense of Mexico's aesthetic beauty. We were told that Guadalajara is considered one of the most beautiful cities in all of Mexico, and after just a drive through the city, we were convinced!…Read More
Driving through the streets of Guadalajara, we got a sense of Mexico's aesthetic beauty. We were told that Guadalajara is considered one of the most beautiful cities in all of Mexico, and after just a drive through the city, we were convinced! Close
just roaming through the streets of Guadalajara can evoke a sense of festive musicality - especially mariachi music, which brings any person to his/her feet.…Read More
just roaming through the streets of Guadalajara can evoke a sense of festive musicality - especially mariachi music, which brings any person to his/her feet. Close