Last day in Guadalajara

It was my last day in this wonderful city so I spent it wandering around my hood, the Colonias of Centro and Americana just people watching, sitting in cafes listening to music and having some mindful moments.

A few people I had met before I came said that they loved Guadalajara and now I can really see why. It’s cool, funky, friendly, genuinely warm and welcoming, unpretentious and unselfconscious. Guadalajara rocks!

Here are just a few random snaps that I took while wandering around.











Jiri Kovanda exhibition at MAZ

Here are some images from the Jiri Kovanda exhibit at the Mueum of Art in Zapopan.  
Yes… That’s right… These photos are of the exhibits. The division of the space where the exhibit was, was part of the exhibit but I wasn’t able to photograph that.

 I didn’t really know how to take it all.  

Diarrhea in Zapopan

It was just a matter of time really. I had been tempting fate and who was I trying to kid that the probiotic yogurt I was guzzling was going to save me from the copious amounts of spicy street tacos, beer and tequila breakfasts I was consuming? I had been punishing my stomach. It was inevitable it going to happen… It was only a question of “when?”
The answer to that question is “today on the bus on the way to Zapopan” .

Today was originally going to be a stay at home rest day as my intention was to go clubbing on Saturday night and do all the Sunday morning after parties and then sleep the rest of the day. But Friday ended up being HUUUGE and so on Saturday night I was in no shape to go out. I party like a 20 year but, sadly, recover like a fifty year old. 

Anyway, so I was up early on Sunday morning and didn’t really want to waste the day anyway so I headed out to Zapopan… BY BUS!!! It seems the forces were against me again and just didn’t want me to get on that bus bound for Zapopan. Clearly, they were signs that I should’ve heeded. The information I had found on the Internet was wrong. It took me ages just to find the right bus stop and while looking for the stop I saw the Zapopan bus pass me by but I couldn’t catch it. Then it took ages for another bus to come.

As soon as I don’t do Bikram for a while, I quickly find myself becoming victim to psychological sways and negative patterns of behaviour. I didn’t need to get a bus in the first place. I could’ve easily afforded a cab. I have all the time in the world at the moment. I didn’t need to go to Zapopan at all, let alone be there at a certain time, yet I found myself getting angry and wound up that my information was wrong and that it was taking me such a long time to go. I was becoming “loss averse” and “committed”!

I always think of Eva Peron’s words when I think of Bikram…
“I found my salvation
In Bikram, may the nation.

Let him save them,

As he saved me.”

OK, so she didn’t actually say that. It was “I found my salvation in PERON, may the nation”. And well actually, they weren’t even her words… They was Andrew Lloyd Webber’s. But hey…

I digress. Back to the bus. So eventually the came and I got on. I assumed it would be a fairly short ride and that the Basilica would be an imposing structure on a large plaza on the main street and I would see it from the bus and so would know when to get off. The Basilica was indeed like that but unfortunately the bus didn’t go anywhere near it. And of course I went way past the Basilica. I knew once I started to see overpasses and highways, I was in trouble.
It was a very long bumpy ride and suddenly I get those horrible pangs in my gut. We’ve all had them. That feeling when you know suddenly it’s a race against the clock to get to a toilet. At this point I’m stuck on a bus. All I could do was clench my buttock cheeks tightly and pray that we’d reach the Basilica soon. Surely there’d be toilets there. Of course we didn’t but I had to get off the bus anyway, because I knew I had gone too far and, well, I was desperate by this stage.

I got off the bus and started to do the “mercy dash” with buttocks clenched tightly around the streets of Zapopan (it’s a big place!) in the hope that I’d find some bar or restaurant where I could relieve myself. After a while, I came across this little hole-in-the-wall place blasting 80’s American Rock…

Even though I was on the verge of sel-destruction by this stage, I was too embarrassed just to bolt straight for the toilet so as I entered I quickly grabbed a menu and ordered the first thing I saw. “Lonche de Jamon y agua natural por favor… Now, where’s the toilet???” She shows me the toilet and I’m so grateful and relieved that I can now go and that this whole scenario didn’t end in tears. I go in the toilet, which could best be described as “developing”. It was tiny, there were no windows and no lights so it was pitch black. Not a big deal, I can live with that so I proceed with my business. After I do it, I realise there are more serious plumbing issues and amongst other things, I can’t flush! So here I am, in a tiny hole in the wall place, having taken the dump of a lifetime and now I can’t flush it away. I just wanted to escape but now I had to wait for that stupid ham sandwich that I didn’t want anyway. All I could do was pray that at least no-one else needs to use the toilet while I’m there. But as soon as I was out, another guy was in. Oh God! How embarrassing! But strangely, he came out of toilet and didn’t even blink. Maybe he was being polite or maybe that’s the usual thing there. Who knows?

I relaxed a little after that and now that I had to wait anyway I thought I’d ask the guy behind the bar if he knew where the Musem of Art of Zapopan was. Well, he looked at me as if I was hallucinating. Maybe I’m not even in Zapopan I thought to myself so I had to look like an even bigger loser and ask him, “Where am I?” Yes I was in Zapopan but a long way from everything

To cut a long story short, I eventually walked the rest of the way to The Basilica of Our Lady of Zapopan and then to Museum of Modern Art and the to Plaza Andares to do some shopping. It was a loooooong walk! But hey, it’s about the journey and not the destination, right? I left home at 11.30 am and arrived at the Basilica about 2.30 pm. Had I walked the whole way, it would’ve only taken me two hours!

It was all well worth it… The area around the Basilica is gorgeous…
And the Basilica itself was a stunning 17th century Franciscan piece of architecture brimming with artworks… 

And there was a “feria” going on outside with music and all sorts of street food stalls.  

 And even a cute dog…

The Museum of Modern Art was great although small with an interesting exhibiton by a Czech artist by the name of Jiri Kovanda.  

Then to do some shopping and then back home. I felt a bit like Colombus discovering the new world!!

Anyway, off home now but this time BY TAXI!!!

Rainy days and buses (always get me down)

Totally rained out today!
I woke up feeling quite energised… The jet lag is gone and the weekday nightlife hasn’t cracked up to be all that much. There are a lot of really cool places around, especially in this street, Priciliano Sanchez and seem to stay open late… The only problem is that they’re empty most of the time! 

I went to one club last night a few blocks down the road. It’s a big club with three floors housed in a colonial style building but again it was almost empty. When I walked inside there were only about 8 people there and those eight people were 8 of the roughest, butchest looking women you’ve ever seen in your life sitting around a stage watching a drag queen called Candy attempt to twerk and do the splits on stage while lip synching old Mexican classics. It was either lesbian night at the club or a truck drivers’ private Christmas party. I reluctantly sat down with the “girls” (I use the term loosely) in front of the stage and the “no fuss” waitress came up and took my drink order. I could’ve done without any drink but I got the impression it was obligatory to order at least one. “Un Tecate, por favor!”… She replied, “40 pesos”, which I thought was odd since the going price in a bar or club seems to be about 20 or 25. A couple of minutes later she comes back with two. She had a very stern “don’t mess with me” look in her eyes so I took the two beers and said thank you. I don’t know if it was just a case of “take advantage of the gringo” or they were so desperate for business and she figured I’d be out the door after one so she’d better sell me two quickly.

Anyway, I hurriedly guzzled my two beers and made a swift exit and sprinted down the road to the nearest late night taqueria. I wolfed down 6 “pig marin” tacos (beef marinated in chillis and pineapple and other stuff) and went off to my rooftop hideaway and went to be bed.
It was grey and drizzling this morning when I woke up so I went for a coffee in the next neighbourhood, Colonia Americana. So named, I’m guessing, because the American Consulate is there.

This whole area, Centro and Americana has a really funky retro feel about it, reminiscent of inner city Sydney like Glebe or Chippendale about 40 years ago. There are a lot of what seem to be derelict or abandoned buildings and that have been reclaimed and people are turning them into funky eateries and shops.

It wasn’t raining too heavily, but heavily enough to make wandering the streets sightseeing really not fun, so I opted for a shopping day and made plans to go to “El Palacio de Hierro” an upmarket department store. In DF, there are a few of them but the only one here is in Zapopan, a good bus ride from the Centro. Zapopan, like Tlaquepaque used to be a town in it’s own right but eventually got swallowed by the urban sprawl and is now a suburb of Guadalajara. Anyway, the Museum of Modern Art is there which I want to see so I figured I could kill two birds with the one stone.

Taking busses in foreign cities is always a nuisance, especially Latin American cities. The stops and routes and not clearly marked and it’s difficult to know where you have to get off. Catching a train is far less complicated and stressful.

It must have been beginners luck yesterday when I went to Tlaquepaque… I went to Avenida 16 de Septiembre and found the bus stop really easily. The bus came within a couple of minutes… I got on, paid the driver, told him “Tlaquepaque” and asked him to advise me when we were there. No fuss, no problem and in 20 minutes we were there.

Today was a different story however. Supposedly, it’s the same number bus, number 275, with Tlaquepaque at one end and Zapopan at the other, and the same bus stop, Av. 16 de Septiembre. I figured it’s be the other side of the road though. The 275 didn’t come for ages and I waited for a long time as the rain got heavier. Eventually it arrived, I got on with money in hand and said to the driver, “Zapopan”. He then pulled a face like he had just sucked on a lemon and blurted out, “Que??????” … I repeated, “Zapopan”, he pulled another face and started waving his hands around yelling “No!” I gave up waiting for a bus after that. I took it as a sign that I didn’t need to go shopping and besides the rain was getting heavier and I didn’t have an umbrella.

So, it was back to my rooftop hideaway for a lazy day inside via my local pastry shop to pick up some chorizo pastries.

Of course it’s still raining and of course it’s Friday night, the best night to go out.

Hmmm… To brave the weather and go out or pay attention to the signs? That is the question.


I was determined on this trip not to go to any touristy places but already on day 4 I caved in. Last night’s so-called mini weekend was a bit of fizzer. Not too many places were actually open. Most of the bars on Priciliano Sanchez were open but very few people in them. And what people there were went home early. The jet-lag is wearing off and I wasn’t too tired and feeling a bit restless. Although for future reference, the Blood of Christ starters followed by bottles Dos Equis is not a good combination. So I decided to hop on a bus and head to San Pedro Tlaquepaque.   

It used to be a city in it’s own right but Guadalajara spread so much that now it’s just a suburb of Guadalajara. And actually, it’s very close to the city centre. Apparently the name comes from an Aztec language and means, “place above clay land”. Hence, it’s famous for pottery and handicrafts. It’s a cute place, quite small with lots of galleries around and a pottery museum aswell…


Lots of nice restaurants too…

I stopped in one and ordered one of the specialities “Birria de Ternera”. Again it was a bit of a roll of the dice. I knew ternera was veal but didn’t know what birria was. It turns out it was much the same as what I had at Mama’s Stews yesterday but Mama’s was waaaaaaay better though. This one came served with hot fluffy tortillas and some chopped raw onion on the side.

I’m so easily talked into anything… The waiter took my order and asked, “What would you like to drink? Tequila???”

And I’m like, “Yeah, ok”.

It was actually pretty good but it means that my first meal of the day was just meat, bread and tequila.

After my meat and tequila breakfast, I promenaded myself around the town and stumbled upon these guys…

Doing the “Danza de los Voladores”. It’s an ancient ritual which was created, to end a drought. “At least 450 years ago there was a severe drought that brought hunger to the people. The gods were withholding the rain because the people had neglected them. The ceremony was created, to appease the gods and bring back the rains.” Five guys climb up a 30 metre pole and spin around for a while. One guy plays the flute while the other four descend to the ground by ropes.

My next encounter was with these two lovely teenage guys, Javier and José…

They were in the central square shining shoes and persuaded me to let them clean my shoes. I was kind of reluctant since my shoes weren’t particularly dirty and they’re made of suede. But hey, you’ve got to support the local economy so I agreed.

In retrospect, I should’ve just given the money and saved them the work. I think they basically just wet my shoes and moved what dirt there was around. And because it was a cool overcast day, I ended up walking around for the rest of the afternoon with wet shoes. But they were both very well-meaning.

We chatted a bit in my pigeon Spanish. Javier (on the left) is 18 and his brother Jose (on the right) is 16. They come from Tijuana but left because they didn’t like it there and so came to Guadalajara to live with their grandparents. They come to the square in Tlaquepaque in the afternoon after school to earn money. The both need to buy new backpacks for school. The price for the shoe clean was 20 pesos but I gave them 50. I felt like I should have given more.

And that was it!!

Back to my secret rooftop hideaway!


Day 3 Guadalajara: Drinking the blood of Christ

So, it turns out that the day after the day after the day after is actually worse than the second day after! Or maybe that’s just me … The main problem is just the jet-lag. I was tired all day yesterday but held off sleeping ’till nighttime. Of course the minute I tried to sleep I was wide awake and only managed to doze off at around 5 a.m. Miguel in all his design wisdom hasn’t put any blinds or curtains on the ALL GLASS fronted ALL WHITE loft… It’s on on the roof and there’s a brick wall around the balcony so privacy is no problem… But as soon the sun comes up, it’s like trying to sleep in a Seven-Eleven. Read: IMPOSSIBLE.

I got out of bed around 10 a.m. but without my usual morning bucket of Japanese green tea followed by a celery, carrot and beetroot juice chaser I was feeling pretty rough. So an excursion to Tequila Town was out of the question. It’s about two hours by bus. Apparently the busses are good but the roads are not! So it was another low-key kind of a day just hangin’ ’round ma ‘hood for me.

At about 11 a.m. I downed a handful of “magic beans” a.k.a raw organically grown Peruvian cacao beans and hot-footed it down the road to go and brunch. I made sure I packed two packets of beans… I think it’s a sure sign you’re getting old when you start travelling with your own food, like all those old Japanese people who travel to Paris with a suitcase full of cup ramen.

There are a lot of really funky eateries around here with simple down to earth home-cooking made with lots of “amor”. I went straight “Mama’s Stews” to get me a heapin’ helpin’ of mama’s love…

You could feel the love as soon as you walked in and mama just radiated pure love!

And here is my plate of “amor”… A delicious plate of stew served with refried beans, a paella-esque rice and salad.

It’s always refreshing to travel in non-Australian parts of the world. I get such a kick out of the lack of rules and regulations. I always make a point of walking down the street swiggin’ a can of beer at any time and going to a club completely wasted… Just because I can! It was interesting to see Mama sloshing about in all the sauces and rice with her bare hands. Cleanlinss is good but I think we sometimes obsess over it and “use by” dates and the such a bit too much. Having said that though, I have been guzzling probiotic yogurt by the bucket load… Just in case!

After mama’s love, I went and explored the other end of my street, Calle Priciliano Sanchez…

As luck would have it, stumbled upon this scene…

This was it! This was my opportunity! Time to roll the dice again! I really love the humble down-to-earth uncomplicatedness of Mexicans. I went in and in my basic Spanish pointed to my hair and said, “Short here, here and here and here short also but a bit longer.” No problem! And wham bam, thank you MarTAN, I was in and out with a big smile on my face and looking fabulous!

I’m sure in the Sydney the same haircut would have been served up with a huge helping of attitude and there would have been tears before bedtime.

That was about it. I spent most of the rest of what was left of the day trying to find an automatic teller machine… Or “any time money” as my students like to say. They’re few and far between here it seems.

And now I’m back in my secret hideaway drinking “Blood of Christ”.

Yes, that’s right… Drinking Blood of Christ…

It’s ok. It’s sweet wine (not my preference)… I guess it’s intended for communion. I bought it just because I wanted to try Mexican wine and be able to say that I went to Mexico and drank the blood of Christ!

And now I’m off to see if what they say about those Wednesday mini-weekends here is true.

Day 2 Guadalajara

The day after the day after…


You always feel worse the second day after something than the first day. You’re usually still buzzing from the event the night before so you feel ok… But it’s the second day when everything is out of your system that you come crashing down. I can only guess it was the thrill of Delta flight 573 that kept me going all day yesterday. Today was a vastly different story. Absolutely no energy what-so-ever. I spent most of the day vegetating in my bed listening to music in my little secret rooftop loft hideaway. I made about 27 attempts at getting up and was eventually successful at around 2.30 pm. That’s the latest I think I’ve gotten up since the nineties. But I keep telling myself: IT’S OK… IT”S A HOLIDAY!

By the way, this is what my cozy rooftop loft looks like..

I got up and went downstairs and had a chat to Miguel, the architect who designed and built this place…

He’s a really nice guy and like all Mexicans, very friendly. Even though he says he’s unemployed, he seems to be continually running around doing one thing or another. Amongst other things, he said that for the past three years he and bunch of mates have been working on a proposal which they hope to sell to the government on how to centralise and improve Guadalajara’s public transport system. I may have misunderstood but from what I did understand, it’s just an idea that they’re hoping to sell. They’re not actually designing or proposing to build new subway lines or bus routes. They’re just coming up with an idea. Hmmm… Three years just to come up with an idea. I don’t know. Make your own judgements on that one.

After that I decided to give the dice another roll and go and find a hair dresser to get my hair cut. I know what you’re all saying… “Martin, you’ve been disappointed more times by foreign hairdressers than fat women have been disappointed by Jenny Craig. And yet you keep trying. Why do you continue to do it to yourself?” I know but I was desperate. I suddenly hated my hair and couldn’t live with it any longer. Hair, be gone! But actually, one thing that really stands out here is what gorgeous hair all Mexicans have and that all Mexican guys (well, most anyway) have REALLY COOL haircuts. So I figure the odds are in my favour. Anyway, I went for a wander ’round my ‘hood, ’round the downtown area and the Centro Historico but couldn’t find any hairdressers. Eventually I gave up (took it as a sign) and just plonked myself down in front of the Guadalajara Cathedral and watched the world go by for a while.

A lot of places in the downtown area pipe out music. It’s all really cheesy, old style romantic, Latin music but strangely I loved it!

Next, it was time for lunch. A deliciously comforting pozole verde…

And that was my day!!  Back to my rooftop hideaway for more hibernation and contemplation.

I’m toying with the idea of making the pilgrimage to Tequila tomorrow for the day (the town , that is, not the bottle. Although I’m sure the bottle will make a starring appearance) … But it involves early morning wake-ups and busses so we’ll see.

Stay tuned!

So, just how fabulous is Guadalajara anyway?

Pretty darn fabulous is my first impression!

The home of Tequila? Big tick in that box! Home of mariachi? Hmmm … Take it or leave it. The Mexican capital of money laundering? Adds a certain “je ne sais quoi” to the flavour of any city. The most attractive people in Mexico? Hmmm… I’ve heard that one before! There’s a pattern emerging. It seems to be a “second city” thing… But anyway, if it’s true, then a HUGE tick in that box! Who wants to be surrounded by fuglys? And… They have “after-parties” here and a mini-weekend club night on Wednesdays! Big, big tick!
In all seriousness though, I only just arrived this morning so I can’t say too much but my first impression of the city is really positive. While it lacks the visual first impression punch of Mexico DF, it’s got a really nice mellow, friendly, low key vibe to it. And the people here are super nice. I just bought something in a convenience store and as I approached the counter, the cashier said “hello” and asked me ever so earnestly, “How are you?” Like Sally Jessie Raphael interviewing a woman about her mastectomy. I’ll pause here for a minute so you young kids can go and Wikipedia Sally Jessie Raphael. That was a blast from the past!

The night flight to here on Delta was interesting. Vastly different to the night flight on Aeromexico to DF I took last year. Whereas Aeromexico felt quite calm, the flight attendants were serious, I didn’t look out of place and it could have been a flight anywhere in the world, Delta was … well, er… Let’s just say, if there had been chickens running down the aisle, it wouldn’t have looked out of place. I stood out like a sore thumb and the flight attendant responded to every passenger request with, “What’s up, baby?”.

I don’t understand why they always board people with disabilities or who need assistance first. To me, it would make more sense to board them last so they can sit outside where it’s more comfortable for longer. I guess it depends on the flight and the airline, but Delta Five-Seven-Three from LAX to GDL was certainly no joy ride.

Anyway, as luck would have it I had two specially assisted people sitting next to me. Let’s call them Mama and Papa. I don’t know what Papa’s problem was… Probably just that he was married to her. Mama, amongst other things, looked like she had just fled from the set of the Mexico’s The Biggest Loser in a wheelchair. It had taken all the flight attendants to lift her up and pour her into the seat and wedge her between the arm rests. She now formed a human barricade in that row of seats. Then when I arrived and tried to get to my seat, Papa and Sonny-boy couldn’t wedge her back out. I stood firm though. I was getting my window seat whatever it took. Mind you, there weren’t actually any spare seats anyway had we not been able to un-wedge mama. But we did and we eventually took off and got to Guadalajara.

I’m staying in a kind of loft apartment… This young architect by the name of Miguel has designed and built four small loft apartments on the roof or a building. I’m not exactly sure what the business is down below but the apartments are pretty cool and so is Miguel. This a view from the apartment…

And this is the building from the street…

I didn’t really do much today. I’m going to explore and take more photos later. I spent most of the day just lounging around eating tacos and drinking Tecate beer. From what I’ve seen of the area where I’m staying… And I’m in Centro… Actually a little bit left of Centro… It’s got a kind of Surry Hills-before-the-property-developers-and-yuppies-moved-in vibe to it. I like!

More tomorrow.