Exploring Guadalajara while staying in our motorhtome in nearby San Jose Del Tajo RV Park
Moving On 1
Spending another Winter in wonderful Mexico
Follow along with our adventures in Jennie the RV and Willie the Jeep
Things we've done and places we've been on this trip - Mexico 2009
From Ajijic we drove back to Guadalajara (about 35 miles.) Took about an hour. We went across the Periferico Sur to A. Lopez Mateos then west to the San Jose del Tajo RV Resort where we stayed last year. This year we found it with no problem. We stayed in the smaller of the two sections and had 30amp electric service, water and sewer. There is a man who lives in this section of the park who lets travelers use his Internet service for a small fee. The road in is still cobblestone with big trees hanging over it. And getting out onto the highway requires a very sharp right turn. But last year we brought the Alfa in here soÖ.
We spent a week in Guadalaraja - after saying we werenít going there because it was "just a big dirty city." Well we ate our words. We really enjoyed our time there and ended up staying a week. Even then we only saw a portion of the things to see. We both remembered the city as a hard place to get around in and lots of smog. Well the smog is still there but a lot of the construction on roads has been completed and the traffic moves pretty smooth. As long as you watch the one-way signs that is. One trip into town we were on a road that was impossible to make a left turn off of. The only way to go left was to go right, right, right and straight. The traffic is still heavy no matter what street you are on. But now we kind of know our way around and have found easier ways into and out of the Centro district. Also know where there are a couple of convenient parking garages.
Right down town are several Plazas, government buildings and old churches.
Guadalajara is the second biggest city in Mexico with over four million inhabitants. It was founded in 1532 and has always been a religious center of Mexico so there are LOTS of churches. We visited several and didn't even scratched the surface.
The weather has been good, cool at night and in low 80s during the day. The altitude of 5300 has bothered us some days, especially when the smog is heavy. Also discovered - if we eat and then walk around it bothers us more, get somewhat out of breath. So now we eat when we get back to the motorhome.
Our first day there we walked around the main plazas [found parking right under the main plaza]
for awhile then hiked down to the old, big Mercado Libertad better known as San Juan de Dios
- this is where we went shopping in 1978 and didnít get any shopping done as Gil got a bloody
nose and we had to leave. Thatís my story and Iím sticking to it. The place was impressive then
but now it is mind boggling. It takes up three city blocks and is three or four stories high.
According to the guide book, ďHere one finds everything that the soil produces plus that which
manís fancy and needs can devise with his hands.Ē Like things for sale seem to be clustered together.
Some how we ended up in the section selling leather goods and cowboy stuff. The saddles for sale
were magnificent. And very inexpensive. Every thing you would need if you had a horse. Boots, belts,
chaps, hats - from plain straw to great big decorated sombreros, spurs - fancy and plain, bits, and
again the saddles. There were all kinds of leather clothing. In fact Bill found something he has been
looking for for years - a Shearling Coat. The kind that is suede outside and lined in sheepís wool. They are so expensive in the US heís never bought one.
In another area there were clothes from plain jeans to fancy Mariachi suits both for men and women. And in all sizes. Some small enough to fit a one year old. And the dresses for the women - for the dances - wow - so beautiful. Decorated with lace and all colors of ribbons.
Then we found the sweets area - yum. All kinds of strange -to me- candy. Did buy some Dulce de Leche and some dulce de leche candies.
And electronics - stall after stall. Got a couple of good movies for about US$3. Want to go back and get some more.
Then in the open area there were chicks and fighting cocks, pet birds of all sorts and a couple of sorry looking puppies - made me want to buy them to give them a good home. The Driver drug me away from that area.
On the outside edges of the open area were produce stalls. Inside were stalls selling all types of meat and poultry. You could buy everything from beans to pigs legs. Colorful produce, open bags of seeds, bean, and dried chilis. Meat - beef, pork and chicken - all kinds of cuts. It was either sitting out on ice, in refrigerated cases or hanging on hooks. That was the only area that didnít smell too good.
There were lots and lots of small places to eat throughout the inside areas. It has to be visited as I do not have the words to describe it.
On Sunday we were going to visit downtown and go to the big market again. We never even got parked. It was an important day First Communion Day for the children. The girls were all in very pretty long white dresses and veils and the boys were splendid in their white suits with vests and ties. And of course the rest of the family was dressed up too. We could not get near the main plaza downtown. There are several churches in that area and traffic was intense. All the parking lots were full. Also we found several main streets closed to automobile traffic so thousands of bicyclists, roller skaters and skate boarders could use them.
Most of the interesting sights in Guadalajara are centered right downtown - lucky for us. The huge Metropolitan Cathedral with its twin yellow tile towers was where we started. In 1561 King Philip II of Spain ordered itís construction. According to the literature I've read it has undergone several changes through the years, but mostly reflects the cultural aspect of the 18th Century. It has a mixture of styles, from neogothic to neoclassical. The renaissance faÁade was redone in 1618. The present twin needle towers with the yellow and blue tiles were built in the 1848 century after two earthquakes destroyed part of the church. Inside it is beautiful. In front of the cathedral is the Guadalajara, behind it is the Plaza de la Liberacion. There is a statue of Miguel Hidalgo in it. This is where he signed the decree to abolish slavery in 1810.
Visited the Palacio de Gobierno sitting on the Plaza de Armas to see the Mural by Orozco of Padre Miguel Hidalgo. It was completed in 1774 and has been keep in beautiful condition. This is the second building built on this site, but the first deteriorated so much over a hundred years the new one had to be built. It was started in 1759 but construction was delayed because the Spanish government prohibited the manufacture of alcoholic beverages in Mexico so the country lost the income from the taxes on Mescal and had to postpone completing the building.
About the First Communion - having children here in Mexico has got to be expensive, especially girls - first
the Baptismal clothing which is gorgeous! Then First Communion and if a girl her 15th birthday - that is a huge
function and then the wedding. The girls parents pay for everything.
Just some general thoughts. Around the main downtown area a lot of the streets appear to be walking streets only. I say appear because delivery vehicles can use them. And all the streets downtown are one way. Everything from very modern department stores to little 5 x 7 stores selling trinkets. One thing every store except the big department stores have in common - they are very dark inside. Electricity is very expensive so lights are nonexistent or on very low. Sometimes the proprietor will turn the lights up if you are interested in buying. There are a lot of stores selling Baptismal, and Communion and QuinciaŮera (15th birthday) dresses. These stores also sell lots of rhinestone tiaras. In my entire life Iíve never seen so many tiaras. Lots of yardage stores and stores selling trims for clothing and crafts. One of the biggest Michaels weíve been in is here. Two floors filled with anything you could want for crafts. It isnít called Michaels but is Miguelís -
And here there are a lot of Chinese restaurants - seems like there is at least one on every block.
We found one place almost a quarter city block and two floors in size that was full of small stalls selling electronics - lots of cell phones, cameras (even found my battery - about twice the price of in the US - didnít get it), computer parts, stereos - you name it it could be found there somewhere. And the place was packed.
In the streets were kiosks selling everything from ice cream to jewelry. Ice cream is a big seller here - seems like almost everyone is slurping on a cone - usually chocolate covered.
Lots of street musicians. Saw one group singing for a small cafť in the parking garage. The next day there was a xylophone player there. Have seen a couple of mimes - one was all blue dressed like the Mexican comedian Cantinflas. Bill was surprised Iíd recognized him.
The last day we were there we went to Zapopan to visit the basilica. There were lots of beggars - more than Iíve seen anywhere else around here. Couldnít take any pictures of the inside of the church as there were continuous Masses going on. Just remembered this is Lent. Then we visited the Huichol Museum that is next to the church. Very interesting.
In the same area is the Teatro Degollado. Again Iím at a loss for words to describe it. It was built in 1866. There is a beautiful mural on the dome and several balconies of red velvet seats. 1453 of them. We got to watch a ballet rehearsal while we were there.
Then we visited a couple more churches a few blocks away. These were built by the Fransciscans. One of them San Francisco was actually the first church built in the town - before the Cathedral. Construction began in 1580 and throughout the years there has been a lot or remodeling. Doors and windows were removed and aisles were removed. Rather simple inside.
Then we crossed the street to the Templo de Aranzazķ. The exterior is very simple but the interior is very elaborate. With golden churrigueresque altarpieces. It was built between 1749-52.
Guadalajara in pictures Click Here