Tag Archives: United States

viva mexico

6 Mar

Our plan to begin this trip in Mexico was generally received with disapproval & advise to skip over the country completely, related to it’s dirty & dangerous reputation. We brought a healthy amount of suspicion along for our initial immersion into the Mexican culture, carefully choosing the roads we first explored & the time of day we left the safety of our tourist fortress (hostel guadalajara is a safe & convenient place to overcome Latin American doubt). I dove deep into current Mexican news stories, the US bureau of consular affairs travel warnings, drug wars journalism, & my own intuition- trying to wrap my mind around the fear I felt obligated to keep as close as my passport. However, starting with our first stroll down the lively pedestrian strip leading to the Plaza de los Mariachis in peaceful Guadalajara, we felt nothing but at ease. The locals filling the streets were too busy adoring each other, snacking, & playing to pay mind to the Americans freshly planted in their midst. Our smiles were reciprocated as we wandered the golden streets of Guadalajara, taking in our first taste of Mexican culture. It quickly became clear that there is far more to Mexico than the picture being accepted into popular opinion back home. As I feel is often the case with many America´s extremist perception of travel- the focus on the negative has forgotten all of the beauty that exists. I won’t get too tangled in my own stance on the current messy situation, as I anticipate it may evolve as I learn through experience. But it is safe to say that we are happy to accept the challenge of traveling with awareness through our beautiful neighboring country.

Curious? click here.

Guadalajara’s charming streets are cobbled & lined in the happiest of lush green trees bursting with limes & plumerias. Families dominate the population & endlessly fill the four lazy plazas which surround the city’s 400+ year old twin-towered cathedral. These grand spaces, which form the heart of the Centro Histórico, groove day & night. During the day, locals (tapatíos) stroll under the shadow of 16th century buildings, stopping for an old fashioned shoe shine, a little bag of chili powder dipped candies, or to gaze into one of the many gushing fountains. Once the sun has set, the plazas come alive with yellow lighting & children without bedtimes. Giant telescopes offer a glimpse of the heavens while bubbles, flashing toys, & smothered Mexican corn provide ample entertainment on the ground. On Sundays, one of the wide main city streets is blocked off for a good chunk of the day to encourage everyone to grab their bicycle & cruise the stretch, a new tradition being spread across the country. Mexicans know how to stretch their time, & seem to move to a deliberately low key beat.

For excitement, & culture shock, we became intimately acquainted with the Mercado San Juan de Dios, a three tiered marketplace crammed with color & everything from a seriously authentic food court to the most assorted of knicks & knacks. We hopelessly fell in love with street food at first sight – cheap bags of fresh fruit, tortas ahogadas (chili soaked pork sandwiches known to cure-it-all) & iced cold horchata (one of Mexico´s “aguas frescas”- a milky drink made with rice, cinnamon, & vanilla) have become daily cravings which are easily satiated at every turn. With the maps ripped from our travel guide, & an introductory spin atop a double decker tour bus, we memorized Guadalajara’s streets & made our way to her sweet suburbs for the full picture. In laid back Tlaquepaque, we window shopped past trendy boutiques artistically created behind old pastel walls & took in gorgeous churches as they lit up beside the picturesque & bench-lined Jardín Hidalgo. Mexico’s dusty artisan capital, Tonalá, was experienced on a Sunday, the streets bursting with an endless street market that trickled into larger warehouses full of ceramics & inventive furniture at it’s edges. While more refined, Zapopan offered less congested historical sights & clean plazas perfect for un poquito  Spanish practice. As the second largest city in Mexico, Guadalajara´s outskirt otherwise seem to keep with tradition & tend to stretch from the city´s historic well-manicured center full of enormous architecture & sculpture outwards towards progressively bustling, tightly packed, & only lightly developed neighborhoods. Gluttons for wanderlust, we found the roads less traveled to ironically be pretty well trodden.

Tlaquepaque

Tonalá

In our time in Guadalajara we began to settle into a backpacking mentality- slowly relaxing our already ambitious pace (or considering doing so) & honing in on our travel interests & priorities (once our minds began to melt from normal to alive). We{ve considered our next moves with the help & fresh experience of fellow nomads, are actively seeking a comfort level with the language & local bus systems, & have begun to accept how gigantic this country is (not to mention how much space lies ahead of us). Our next stop will be Guanajuato, a former silver & current college town. A well-weathered traveler passed on a magical rumor about the city´s beauty, & our first bus awaits.

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