What to visit in Guadalajara, Mexico?… Is one of the first questions we ask to our couchsurfing host Omar. As the 2nd biggest city, Guadalajara with its suburbs or outskirts reaches a population of almost 7 million habitants, and is still one of the fastest growing cities of Mexico. It’s the most industrial city in Mexico with companies as: General Electric, IBM, Kodak, Intel, Hewlett Packard, Siemens, Flextronics, Foxconn, Gateway, SanminaSCI, Dell, Solectron y BlackBerry and is also one of the most important in the metal mechanics industry. Pioneer in production and exportation of textile on national level and for this the biggest distributor of clothing in Mexico.
With this on our mind we ask Omar: “But is there a historic center in Guadalajara? Is it worth visiting?” So Omar sends us the first day to the center, we take the bus (camion 629B) which brings us straight to Parque Revolucion, and is a one hour drive. Not that Omar lives far out the city… no… the city is just that enormous!!! Cities at this side of the ocean grow wide not high as we are used to in Europe. We walk the park to get a bit an idea how this metropolis functions. People coming and going all the time, small carriages selling whatever to try to survive the day and lots of children running around and playing with anything they can find on the streets. In one of the side streets we see the towers of the temple of expiatorio and go that way. Religions are a tricky concept in the way that: you can be pro or contra, people can believe or not, but it is undeniable that their places of worship, consecrated places are a reflection of a city’s power and greatness in history and present. They are big important well maintained pieces of history and for that an obligation visiting each one of them! In front of it we find the Rectoria de la Universidad and at the other side the Plaza del Agave. We comment the fact that we see a lot of sculptures very different than in other places we visited before. While traveling through Mexico most of the times we would see statues of important historical figures standing high on their column gaping the infinite. Here we find more modern art that really transmits feelings as both of us start to feel uncomfortable sitting at some stairs and a turtle with octopus feet but human head, sadly stares at us. It’s almost unbearable and forces us to stand up and move on.
Back on the way home the clouds get dark and as we step out the bus, Guadalajara offers us a natural shower. In two minutes we are soaked and a laughing Omar opens the door looking at us knowing he should have warren us… but it’s so much more fun not to!!! And you are wright, we loved it! In the evening we prepare him a “insalata alla Caprese” and “linguine alla matriciana”, in gratitude of offering us a place to spend some nights. We end the evening talking about sports and triathlon because our host is a multiple Ironman finisher (congrats for that!) and about Giorgia’s favorite topic: differences between languages.
After a nice night rest in our “suite” with private bathroom, we prepare ourselves for the day. Omar drops us off at the Plaza Guadalajara to start from there our walk through the center. The impressive Catedral Metropolitana shades the half of the plaza, where street performers cheer up the ambient ad people all over the square are cleaning and polishing shoes on the rhythm of street musicians. Around the cathedral we find the Plaza de Armas, Rotonda de los Jaliscienses Ilustres with its 22 statues and Plaza de la Liberacion which together with the main square gives, just like an open space in a impenetrable forest, the center a green open and peaceful impression.
Culture and history get stuck in our nose, burned on our retinas, repetitive in our ears as we, step by step, advance and pass the Museo Regional, Palacio Legislativo, Palacio de Justicio, Theatro Degollado, Palacio del Gobierno,… each and every one of them a masterpiece of architecture in their own style and from its own time in history. The boulevard we do is car free and for that stress-free, giving us a harmless impression which makes it even more enjoyable. We stop at the sculpture of the Escudo de Guadalajara having views over some water basins with fountains that divide the pedestrian area in two. Children are playing in the water, their laughs and screams are music to our ears. We look to each other and realize how intense feelings are when you realize vigorously that what you are sensing is happiness.
Just before we enter in El Mercado Libertad “San Juan De Dios” some new artistic geniality crosses our path: chair sculptures would be the most direct way to describe them but one image tells more than a thousand words so check our photos ! The market is a day experience on its own… a massive building divided on 3 levels offers us a labyrinth of 4 sqmeter little shops where you can find literally everything in fake brands: from Nike to Levi’s, from Blue Ray’s till DVD’s, from sound systems till flat screens,… Then you might take a turn to the left and suddenly you find yourself in an area of stands and minuscule restaurants offering all kinds of food from the American continent and of course some of the Asian kitchen. All are at your service and each one is cheaper then the other. We make a choice and ten minutes later get served… this is how fast food should be: fresh made, healthy and of course fast! When we try to find one of the exits it becomes clear that we entered too far in the labyrinth and during more than 20 minutes we find ourselves walking again through this very, hardly one person wide, small passages. We pass even a tiny chapel, a horse saddle sale ( The main question here is: how do you get a horse saddle out of this place?!?) and a heavy duty tools shop. Till we see day light but the labyrinth chooses not to liberate us yet and instead of the street… we cross the threshold of a vast inside patio! We enter the world of fruit, seeds and vegetables. After seeing, touching, smelling and ‘squeezing a bit’ the most strange fruits, we finally find the exit and take the bus home.
A fast shower and ready for the night as Omar called some friends ad a new couchsurfer, Christian, that just arrived in the city. Omar brings us to the bar ‘La Fuente’, a nice bar but inaccessible for us. We didn’t bring our passports and the waiter wants to check the age of Giorgia. Now here is the thing: I’m really happy that my girlfriend looks young and for sure made more than one man jealous, but supposing she isn’t 18 yet is just too much! So Omar changes planes and ‘The Black Sheep’ is our new destiny. We pass a great evening talking, laughing and sharing stories. Christian tells us he is a professional in webpages and helps us out with some difficulties we have with our blog. (If any follower from our blog has the same problems or wants to make profit with webpages… Christian is the man. So for helping us out we promised him we would help him: www.DesignStudios.Mx or you can contact him on firstname.lastname@example.org). At the end of the night Omar takes us to a taco stand on the street as it is tradition to eat some tacos after a long night. We love it and go asleep with our lips still on fire.
The last day in Guadalajara is dedicated to Tlaquepaque, one of the areas of this giant metropolis. A stunning place bit more “chique” and bit more touristic, with the streets full of art, in colonial style (of course) where mansions are transformed in art galleries and no-photos-allowed-furniture shops with astronomic prices. It’s like walking in a dream while dreaming of having a big house where this furniture fits in! As a good team we split up, so while Giorgia is asking the most interesting questions to the seller as we have the money for it and would buy something the same day, I slip away and make some photos to show our readers what we are talking about. (Click the fotopage for more fotos)
We eat later on the day a 22 pesos cheap dish each! and waiting for the bus Giorgia has a nice long conversation with some ladies about life itself. We go satisfied home with the impression that we do know a bit more of Guadalajara and its conurbations. Omar knows his city and gave us the best what it has to offer: culture, history, art and food as he cooks us a typical Mexican mole with chicken on this last evening.
But the most important is his hospitality and nice conversations. Thank you Omar!