Category: Guadalajara, México


More mural art.

More mural art.

What I refer to as “Midtown Guadalajara” runs east from Chalpultepec to 8 De Julio, and south from Calle Independencia to Libertad (map last below).

 

 

 

 

 

 

Older buildings like this still dot the neighborhood.

Older buildings like this still dot the neighborhood.

 

The Avenida Vallarta passes directly through its heart, but much of what’s worth seeing and doing in this eclectic neighborhood happens on its less-traveled streets.

 

2015-04-23 Guadalajara Midtown East 04 newsstand

Midtown newsstand

This is a walking experience, and ready accessibility via public transportation means ‘no car required’.

 

These neighborhoods are a great pastime during the day, but come alive in the evenings, so consider a Saturday night stayover.

 

Museo de la Ciudad (Independencia @ 8 De Julio).

Museo de la Ciudad (Independencia @ 8 De Julio).

Start with the Museo de la Ciudad (Calle Independencia 684, just east of 8 de Julio), which presents the history of Guadalajara from its founding in 1542.

 

This building housed a convent of Capuchin nuns beginning in 1761, and its courtyard is now a venue for installations, exhibitions, lectures, and tastings.

 

Sculptures in the Andador Coronilla.

Sculptures in the Andador Coronilla.

 

Six permanent exhibition rooms house artifacts of the historic, urban, ethnographic, artistic development of the city and its inhabitants.

 

Four other rooms house temporary exhibitions that invite repeated revisits.

 

Andador Coronilla café.

Andador Coronilla café.

 

From the Museo there it’s two blocks to the Andador Coronilla, a street-turned pedestrian thoroughfare line with restaurants, cafés, and studios that offer dancing, drawing, and painting lessons.

 

A cobbler works leather into footwear.

A cobbler works leather into footwear.

 

Laborers and shopkeepers occupy the neighborhoods east of Federalismo, and these streets afford a snapshot of everyday life for blue collar Mexicans.  (See also my post South Centro.)

 

A slow day at the casket store.

A slow day at the casket store.

 

Mural art abounds on neighborhood walls.

Mural art abounds on neighborhood walls.

 

From there it’s another two blocks to the Parque Revolución and the University of Guadalajara, which add its own flavor to the mix.

 

 

One of several bicycle rental racks is located in the Parque Revolucion.

One of several bicycle rental racks is located in the Parque Revolucion.

 

I posted my take on the daytime Parque last week.  In the evening other parts of this neighborhood come alive.

 

Habitat bar and pool, Parque Revolución.

Habitat bar and pool, Parque Revolución.

2015-04-23 Guadalajara Midtown East 15

Painting by Maclovio Perez Garcia at Habitat bar.

 

 

The Parque’s southwest side is home to several restaurants and bars.

 

Habitat features a good selection of craft beers, wifi, and pool tables.  It’s also home to some eye-popping art.

 

1er Piso (Premer Piso) Jazz Club interior (Pedro Moreno @ Escorza).

1er Piso (Premer Piso) Jazz Club interior (Pedro Moreno @ Escorza).

 

West of the park on Pedro Moreno is the 1er Piso Jazz Club.  The door to this walk-up location is both austere and obscure (just west of the intersection on the south side of the street), but the inside has comfortable feel of an intimate cabaret.  1er Piso had good food and a great bar.  Saturday evening performances begin at 10:30PM (reservations recommended).

 

Café Gato Negro (Pedro Moreno @ Robles Gil).

Café Gato Negro (Pedro Moreno @ Robles Gil).

 

Cafe Gato Negro has an inviting atmosphere and serves specialty coffee drinks and a modest menu from 2:30 PM.

 

Next up on the walking tour of Guadalajara’s engaging Midtown:  The Templo Expiatorio and the University of Guadalajara’s Museo Bellas Artes.

 

 

 

 

Interior, Café Gato Negro.

Interior, Café Gato Negro.

 

 

To reach Midtown via public transportation:  From Ajijic or Chapala, take the bus to Guadalajara’s Central Viejo bus terminal (around USD $3.50). 

 

From there it’s a short taxi ride, or you can catch the macrobus a couple of blocks east on the Calzado Independencia.   Take it for the short ride to the Tren Ligera station at San Juan de Dios and ride it two stops to the Juarez station (each about USD$.50).

 

There are a number of boutique hotels in this area, but I rate experience as good at the Hotel Portobelo, and the Casino Plaza, which offers free in-and-out parking.  Find great weekend rates on Hoteles.com.

 

Guadalajara Midtown map

 

See also my related posts on Guadalajara Midtown’s Parque Revolución and Guadalajara’s South Centro neighborhood, or browse the complete portfolio of my Guadalajara posts.

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Mural on a Pemex station wall, adjacent to Guadalajara's Parque Revolución

Mural on a Pemex station wall, adjacent to Guadalajara’s Parque Revolución

For those who have sated themselves on Guadalajara’s high profile tourist attractions, the neighborhoods of the city’s midtown offer a change-of-pace urban experience that invite the visitor to return again and again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Tren Ligera's Juarez Station, Parque Revolución, Guadalajara.

The Tren Ligera’s Juarez Station, Parque Revolución, Guadalajara.

 

 

 

From working-class neighborhoods on its eastern edge that offer up colorful mom-and-pop shops, newsstands, and street food vendors to the stately boulevards and historic mansions on its west end, midtown is a great weekend experience.

 

 

 

Students on a break in Guadalajara's Parque Revolución.

Students on a break in Guadalajara’s Parque Revolución.

 

 

 

 

A nighttime stay-over is a must, because while daytime browsing is great fun, it’s in the evening, that these neighborhoods really come alive.

 

 

 

 

 

Street merchants line the entrance to Guadalajara's Parque Revolución.

Street merchants line the entrance to Guadalajara’s Parque Revolución.

A weekend stay-over is made even sweeter by bargain rates on hotels that cater to businessmen during the week.

 

Doing homework in Guadalajara's Parque Revolución.

Doing homework in Guadalajara’s Parque Revolución.

 

 

 

Midtown is home to museums and monuments, sidewalk cafés, bookstores, bars and clubs with live music, and a checkerboard of eclectic and sometimes funky shops.

 

 

 

 

Flower merchant, Guadalajara's Parque Revolución.

Flower merchant, Guadalajara’s Parque Revolución.

 

 

 

 

 

At its heart is the Parque Revolución, located where the Avenida Juarez becomes the Avenida Vallarta at the intersection of Calzado de Federalismo.

 

 

 

 

 

Student relaxing in Guadalajara's Parque Revolución.

Student relaxing in Guadalajara’s Parque Revolución.

 

 

 

It’s hard to miss.  An ever-changing mural which covers the billboard-sized wall of a Pemex station is visible from blocks away.

 

 

 

Taco stands about in Guadalajara's Parque Revolución.

Taco stands about in Guadalajara’s Parque Revolución.

 

The Parque Revolución is only a 20 minute walk from the Centro Historico, or two subway stops from the San Juan de Dios Market station, which is located adjacent to the market on the side facing the Plaza de los Mariachis.

 

Hanging out in Guadalajara's Parque Revolución.

Hanging out in Guadalajara’s Parque Revolución.

 

Here the lines of the Tren Ligera subway system converge just blocks from the University of Guadalajara.  While there’s no question that the concentration of students fuels much of this neighborhood’s ambiance, it’s a also convenient place for workers from nearby shops and offices to grab lunch.

 

Students hanging out, Guadalajara's Parque Revolución.

Students hanging out, Guadalajara’s Parque Revolución.

 

 

Here you can enjoy a street taco, buy indigenous art and crafts or a bouquet of flowers, and get a haircut or shoeshine.

 

 

Heading to class at Guadalajara's Parque Revolución.

Heading to class at Guadalajara’s Parque Revolución.

 

 

Or you can just order yourself a paleta, pick a shady bench, and soak up the atmosphere.

 

Barbacoa (barbecue) taco stand in Guadalajara's Parque Revolución.

Barbacoa (barbecue) taco stand in Guadalajara’s Parque Revolución.

 

 

 

 

 

On a weekday afternoon, students on their way to and from classes – or just in between classes, study and congregate on the Parque’s north side, where a collection of street vendors holds permanent court.

 

Hanging out in Guadalajara's Parque Revolución.

Hanging out in Guadalajara’s Parque Revolución.

 

 

 

The mood here is nothing if not mellow, and has the familiar feel of parks near universities worldwide.

 

 

 

 

 

Getting a haircut in Guadalajara's Parque Revolución.

Getting a haircut in Guadalajara’s Parque Revolución.

 

 

There’s more to see here than can possibly be covered in a single post, so my next posts will take you on a walking tour of midtown, where you can enjoy the Guadalajara that tourists rarely experience.

7 Leguas tequila distillery, Atontonillco El Alto, Jalisco, Mexico

7 Leguas tequila distillery, Atontonillco El Alto, Jalisco, Mexico

The Siete Leguas tequila distillery is located in Atotonilco El Alto, about two hours’ drive east of Guadalajara, and this family-owned distillery drips with tradition and pride.

 

Although most well-known tequila brands are now owned by multinational corporations, more than 100 distilleries still make nearly 1,000 brands of tequila, ranging from including boutique brands and others available only domestically.

 

Atontonilco El Alto, Jalisco

Atontonilco El Alto, Jalisco

Tequila has a long history.  The Aztecs fermented beverage called pulque from the agave plant long before the Spanish arrived, and when the conquistadors ran out of brandy they began to distill agave.   Today’s tequilas are typically 75-80 proof.

Agave plant window detail, 7 Leguas distillery

Agave plant window detail, 7 Leguas distillery

By law, tequila can only be produced only in the state of Jalisco, where it’s so popular that it often accounts for half of liquor store shelf space.

Just as with wines, regulators police tequila’s Appellation of Origin label to assure the purity of the product.

Harvested agave piñas are oven-baked

Harvested agave piñas are oven-baked

 

More than 300 million plants are harvested in Jalisco each year, and also as with wine, terroir is critically important.

 

Baked agave  ready for  further processing

Baked agave ready for further processing

 

Agaves from the highlands are larger and have a sweeter aroma and taste than lowland agaves, which have a slightly herbal fragrance and flavor.

Plants grown in the highlands typically yield sweeter and fruitier-tasting tequila, while lowland agaves produce tequilas with an earthier flavor.

Baked piñas are milled the old-fashioned way

Baked piñas are milled the old-fashioned way

Antique engine on display

Antique engine on display

Planting, tending, and harvesting the agave plant remains a manual effort that relies upon know-how passed on through generations of the jimadores who harvest it.

Modern piña mill

Modern piña mill

Ripening of the plant is promoted by regular trimming of the stalk which grows from the center, which prevents it from flowering.

When plant is ready to harvest, jimadores trim away the leaves to reveal the  pineapple-like core of the plant – the piña, which can weigh up to 250 pounds.

Shredded piñas are loaded into distillery vats

Shredded piñas are loaded into distillery vats

Once harvested, piñas are oven-baked to break complex starches down into simple sugars before shredding or mashing.

Distillation vats

Distillation vats

Extracted agave juice ferments for several days in large vats to produce a low-alcohol wort, which when twice-distilled produces silver tequila.

Aged in oak barrels

Aged in oak barrels

Some tequilas are aged in wooden barrels to mellow the taste and lend color.  In recent years, regulators allowed the creation of a new tequila category called “extra añejo,” which must be aged a minimum of three years.

Distillation vat

Distillation vat

Many growers believe that increasingly hot and dry summers resulting from calentamiento – global warming – are causing agave to mature more quickly, at the expense of sugar content.  It typically takes eight to twelve years before an agave plant is ready to harvest.

Now it’s on to the tasting!

Note:  While 7 Leguas maintains an office within the city, the distillery is located on the outskirts of town nearer to the agave fields. 

Visit the web site here.

Tantalizing Tlaquepaque

There are countless galleries and artisans' workshops here.

There are countless galleries and artisans’ workshops here.

I’ve been traveling around Mexico since the mid-’70’s, when the local arts and crafts market was a lot like shopping in the former Soviet Union:  All of stores carried much of the same, mundane merchandise, and selection was limited.

A bookworm metal sculpture awaits the rainy season.

A bookworm metal sculpture awaits the rainy season.

 

 

 

 

In the years since, Mexican artisans have responded to cheaply-made foreign knock-offs of their work with new and original designs, materials, and fabrication techniques.

Their efforts have taken Mexican artisanship and artistry to a new level and made it highly sought after  in the global market place.

 

El Jardin Hidalgo plaza, Tlaquepaque

El Jardin Hidalgo plaza, Tlaquepaque

 

 

San Pedro Tlaquepaque – known to most simply as Tlaquepaque – is one of five municipalities (think NYC boroughs) that make up Metropolitan Guadalajara.

 

A vendor sells sugar cane treats.

A vendor sells sugar cane treats.

It’s long been the home of talented artists and craftsmen, and today their work is sold here in boutiques that would fit in nicely among the shops on Fifth Avenue, Rodeo Drive, or Magnificent Mile.

 

Find pottery in every imaginable size, shape, and color.

Find pottery in every imaginable size, shape, and color.

It’s not surprising that Tlaquepaque is best known for its fine pottery, since the town takes its name from indigenous Nahuatl words meaning “place above clay land”, but its artisans also produce elegant blown glass.

Shops here also sell work from all over Mexico including ceramics, wood and bronze sculpture, wood furniture, paper-mâché art, and embroidered cloth.

The variety of materials used to create these works is amazing

The variety of materials used to create these works is amazing

Tlaquepaque was a village in its own right long before the Spanish Conquest, but today retains its Spanish colonial character, and much of its architecture dates back to the 19th century.

It holds a special place in Mexican history, for it was here in a house on the corner of Independencia and Contreras Medellin Streets that the Plan de Iguala, which granted Mexico independence from Spain, was signed.

 

A mare awaits her next trip.

A mare awaits her next trip.

A statue of Miguel Hidalgo, father of Mexican independence, towers over the central El Jardín Hidalgo plaza.

During the San Pedro patron saint festivities in June, many street stalls and art sellers set up their wares in the plaza.

 

 

 

El Santuario de Nuestra Señora de la Soledad, Tlaquepaque

El Santuario de Nuestra Señora de la Soledad, Tlaquepaque

Adjoining the Jardin are the Santuario de Nuestra Señora de la Soledad (The Sanctuary of Our Lady of Solitude), and the Templo de San Pedro Tlaquepaque , which dates from the 1600’s.

A herd of while horses in metal explodes onto the street.

A herd of while horses in metal explodes onto the street.

Several of the main streets are closed to all but pedestrian traffic, which makes for unhurried strolls through cobblestone streets and alleyways, and plazas and gardens.

 

 

Work of Guadalajara artist Sergio Bustamante

Work of Guadalajara artist Sergio Bustamante

One of my favorite galleries is that of Sergio Bustamente, a Mexican artist and sculptor and a Guadalajara resident area since childhood.

 

First exhibited in Mexico City in 1966, his early work was done in paint and paper mache, but by the mid-1970s he was creating works – many reflecting animal themes – in wood and bronze.

 

He began designing furniture in 1979, and creating ceramic sculptures into the ’80’s.   Latest among his creations is a line of limited edition jewelry in which each piece is hand crafted and bears a certificate of authenticity.

 

Photography is prohibited in the gallery, but you can browse the full catalogue of Bustamante’s work  here.

Furniture and decorative items in wood are abundant in Tlaquepaque

Furniture and decorative items in wood are abundant in Tlaquepaque

 

Just down the block from the Bustament gallery you’ll find the Museo Regional de la Cerámica (Regional Ceramic Museum), which gives a great historical overview of this craft.

There are plenty of great dining choices here. Catty-cornered from the Jardin, the El Parián pavilion is home to a number of restaurants and bars.

You’ll also find a number of cafes and restaurants – many with patio seating – scattered throughout the district’s. Among these, I recommend Casa Fuerte.

El Abajeno, which has another location in Guadalajara on the Glorieta Minerva and had been serving locals for almost 50 years, is also popular.

Be advised, though, that breakfast offerings are limited, and restaurants here are most crowded on Sundays, when many of the shops are closed.

Sculpted metal mariachis silently serenade

Sculpted metal mariachis silently serenade

Expect at any of these to be serenaded by one the mariachi bands for which Tlaquepaque is well known.

 

Since many cultural activities here are schedule in the evenings, it’s worth making your visit  an overnight stay here.   

The area’s hotels are a short drive from Guadalajara’s city center, and there are a number of delightful B&B’s (click each for TripAdvisor ratings and photos ) including:

The new Plaza Forum Rio Nilo mall is located about 3 kilometers from El Jardin Hidalgo at the intersection of Avenidas Rio Nilo and García Barragán. 

Stores there include the Liverpool and Suburbia department stores, Best Buy, Office Max and a Cineplex.  Nearby you’ll also find Home Depot, WalMart, Auto Zone, Radio Shack.

 

Glorieta Chapalita 02

Some of Guadalajara’s most memorable public art, like its monumental Minerva Fountain and the Niños Héroes statuary, are centerpieces for its traffic circles (glorietas).

Glorieta Chapalita 06

In the Colonia Chapalita, the glorieta appears as far more intimate public space at Chapalita Circle, a delightful pocket park that covers the space of a small city block.

Glorieta Chapalita 04

Glorieta Chapalita 05

Here seven streets intersect at the edge of a quiet and well-established residential neighborhood.

This glorieta is a verdant urban oasis of wrought iron benches painted immaculate white and nestled among fountains, beds of roses, and human scale statues.

At its center stands a classic gazebo.

Glorieta Chapalita 01

Palm trees tower above, and rows of Italian cypress screen much of it from the sights and sounds of circling traffic.

Glorieta Chapalita 03

In some spots only the top of the 42-story Hotel Riu, a kilometer distant, reminds that this place is not far from the heart of the city.

Glorieta Chapalita 08

On a typical Saturday visitors here might include pets and their owners, couples, and parents with young children.

On Sundays, though, it’s transformed into an open-air art gallery where artists display their canvases on easels and park benches.

Glorieta Chapalita 09

Glorieta Chapalita 10

Theme, genre, and scale varies, although on the day of my visit there were lots of contemporary pieces.

Glorieta Chapalita 07

Glorieta Chapalita 11

It’s not uncommon to see some paint as they pass the time, and most are more than glad to chat with browsers about their work and their artistic journey.

Glorieta Chapalita 11-001

Glorieta Chapalita 13

This art show pairs very well with a brunch before strolling through the art, or lunch or dinner after.

The restaurants facing the glorieta are but a few of the dozens within blocks, so you can park once and take in the entire day’s experience on foot.

Glorieta Chapalita 14

These eateries range from upscale to fast casual.

You can top off your meal with a cappuccino from a nearby café or pastry dessert from a neighborhood repostería.

Find out more on the Glorieta Chapalita’s web site.

For the more ambitious visitor, a Sunday at Chapalita Circle fits well into a day including a promenade on the Avenida Vallarta,or a visit to Guadalajara’s open-air antique market.

You may also want to check out also these posts for more things to see and do in Guadalajara:

 

Few contrasts between American and Mexican cultures are more striking than the way in which each views and treats its senior citizens.

Two old acquaintances share a bench on Ajijic's plaza.

Old friends share a bench on Ajijic’s plaza.

 

America’s seniors are often cloistered in assisted living facilities or nursing homes far from family and friends.

 

Mexico’s oldest – los ancianos – seem more often vibrant alive and interactive, and are notably present in its public life nowhere more than in its villages.

 

 

 

 

A ritual gathering of viejos on Chapala's plaza.

A ritual gathering of los viejos on Chapala’s plaza.

 

 

It’s hard not to see the paradox in these contrasts.

 

American has a far superior capacity to maintain its seniors’ quality of life, and has taken great pains to make transportation and public use facilities accessible to its disabled.

 

It has also segregated its seniors from the social mainstream on a wide scale.

 

 

Two old friends await the start of Good Friday's Passion play in Ajijic

Two old friends await the start of Good Friday’s Passion play in Ajijic

The paradox is a reflection of the two nations’ cultural perspectives.

 

In Mexico, ‘family’ trumps ‘generation gap’.

 

Mexicans are far more likely to respect and cherish their oldest generation and revere it for its wisdom and life experience.

Three generations walk arm in arm along Jocotopec's malecon

Three generations walk arm in arm along Jocotopec’s malecon

 

Many among the current crop of los ancianos are the children of those who participated in the century-old Mexican Revolution.

 

They’ve witnessed and lived history as it’s unfolded through the greatest social transformation in the nation’s history.

Two generations sit in Chapala's plaza

Two generations sit in Chapala’s plaza

 

American media’s fixation on youth marginalizes its oldest save for the rich, powerful, or otherwise famous.

 

The result is that America’s aged seem more often perceived by their offspring as an unpleasant reminders that they, too, will in due time grow unfashionably old and less socially relevant.

A vieja labors over her craftwork in San Cristóbal Zapotitlán

An abuelita labors over her craftwork in San Cristóbal Zapotitlán

 

Particularly in Mexican village life, los ancianos remain connected to lifetime friends and many live within their extended families.

 

 

The artisan looks up from her work in satisfaction.

The artisan maestra looks up from her work in satisfaction.

 

There’s a lot to suggest that this lifelong connectedness affords them greater comfort in their advanced age.

Americans move further and more often from their place of birth than do those living in any other First World nation, with the result that they more often live far from the oldest among their living relatives.

A sister with walker on a sidewalk in San Juan Cosalá

A sister with walker on a sidewalk in San Juan Cosalá

Affordable senior care facilities make it far easier for American families to live separately from their aged relatives.

A vieja waits patiently for a ceremony to begin in Ajijic

A vieja waits patiently for a ceremony to begin in Ajijic

Maybe there’s also something also to be said for lifestyle when it comes to keeping Mexico’s ancianos animated and mobile.

A viejo walks a cobblestone street in Chapala

A viejo walks a cobblestone street in Chapala

 

A viejo walks his bicycle along the street in Chapala

A viejo walks his bicycle along the street in Chapala

Economic necessity and a thinly stretched social safety net keep many Mexicans working into advanced age, but the work seems to leave many no worse for wear and sometimes even to hold disability at bay.

A lifetime of meals simply and sparingly prepared has left many lean wiry.

A vieja shrouded in shawl crosses the plaza in San Cristóbal Zapotitlán

A vieja shrouded in shawl crosses the plaza in San Cristóbal Zapotitlán

 

 

 

It’s not unusual to see these ancianos navigate dauntingly high curbs and cobblestone streets to remain a daily village presence on its sidewalks, in its public spaces, and at its public events.

An abuela eyes a pinata at her grandaughter's quinceañera

An abuela eyes a pinata at her grandaughter’s quinceañera

 

In the end, though, nothing can better capture the special place that Mexico’s ancianos occupy in its social fabric than their images.

She lights up when her granddaughter enters the room

The abuela lights up when her granddaughter enters the room

Santa Teresita parish church, Guadalajara

Santa Teresita parish church, Guadalajara

What happens when the village street bazaar goes urban?  In Guadalajara the answer is ‘the Santa Teresita street market’… a tianguis.

There’s certainly no lack of ‘big box’ grocers in Guadalajara, and permanent market bazaars like the city’s Mercado Libertad serve up a homogenized version of weekly street markets throughout the week… but there’s nothing like the real deal!

Mother & child, Santa Teresita market, Guadalajara

Mother & child, Santa Teresita market, Guadalajara

 

Located on the city’s near north side at the intersection of Pedro Buzeta y Ramos Millán (about halfway between the Avenidas Del Federalismo and De Las Americas), the market takes its name from the parish church of the same name that sits at its center like a grand dame surrounded by her court.

The scope of this place is staggering.  Streets are blocked off and merchants pitch tents, set up tables, or spread merchandise on blankets curbside for something like 20 square blocks.  Market stalls crowd the church so closely that they seemed poised to climb its steps.

Young couple, Santa Teresita market, Guadalajara

Young couple, Santa Teresita market, Guadalajara

As I stand here on a Sunday morning it almost defies belief to realize that cars plied these streets on Friday afternoon, and will again come Monday morning; this entire market is a moveable feast.

This is a working class neighborhood market, short on art and crafts and long on staples from fresh produce and kitchen utensils to baby diapers and DVD’s.

This market affords a great opportunity to see a cross-section of urban Mexico in its own element; tourists are rare within the throngs threading their way along the narrowed streets.

Bicycle bakery, Santa Teresita market, Guadalajara

Bicycle bakery, Santa Teresita market, Guadalajara

There’s an energy level here that’s harder to find in the country markets.  Porters carry merchandise on their shoulders through the crowds or wheel them about on hand trucks and other makeshift contraptions.

A giant tray of pastries edges past me waist-high, propelled by a man on a three-wheeled bicycle.

Clothes on wheels, Santa Teresita market, Guadalajara

Clothes on wheels, Santa Teresita market, Guadalajara

A woman pushes a cart full of hangered clothing down the lane toward her stall, and for a moment the same image from long ago in Manhattan’s garment district comes to mind.

A vendor fishes a freshly fried churro from sizzling hot oil. When eaten fresh out of the fryer these are so good that you can skip the dusting of sugar or cinnamon!

Hot churros, Santa Teresita market, Guadalajara

Hot churros, Santa Teresita market, Guadalajara

A tejuino vendor of blends a thick mixture of boiled masa, water and piloncillo sugar with freshly squeezed jugo de limón, salt, water, ice, and adds a big scoop of lemon sherbet. The refreshing drink is as native to Jalisco as its famous birria goat stew.

Tejuino vendor, Santa Teresita market, Guadalajara

Tejuino vendor, Santa Teresita market, Guadalajara

For me this market is far more about urban culture than shopping, so I extend the experience by arriving and leaving on foot, making my way through city neighborhoods on this mellow Sunday afternoon.

Santa Teresita may be a destination in its own right, but it fits well into a larger Guadalajara Sunday afternoon itinerary.

If you’re not shopped out by Santa Teresita, drop in on Guadalajara’s nearby Sunday antique street market for a totally different street shopping experience.

The Santa Teresita market is also healthy walk or short taxi ride from the Centro Historico, or to the Avenida Vallarta’s Sunday promenade, which is as worthwhile a sidewalk cafe sight as an urban walk.

Dias de los muertos

Peace catrina, Guadalajara, Mexico

It’s about this time each year that I lament the creeping encroachment of America’s shallowly commercial Halloween tradition upon Mexico’s deeply spiritual Dia de Los Muertos observance.

Peace catrina, Guadalajara, Mexico

In the States, trick-or-treat decorations may have been replaced by Christmas decorations and candy now relegated to discount bins, but a month-long event in Guadalajara’s Centro Historico proves that Dia de los Muertos is not only alive and well, but ably adapting to fit itself into the twenty-first century.

Peace catrinas, Guadalajara, Mexico

Peace catrina, Guadalajara, Mexico

 

 

 

For the third consecutive year, Guadalajara’s secondary school students have built upon the traditional image of the catrina – the elaborately decorated skeletons that are the holiday’s trademark – to make a timely plea for peace.

Peace catrina, Guadalajara, Mexico

Around 100 of these larger-than-life-sized installations can be seen on the plazas that mark each of the primary compass points around Guadalajara’s signature downtown Catedral.

Peace catrina, Guadalajara, Mexico

The work is remarkable not only because it ably links Mexico’s past with its present and because the artisanship is of such high quality, but because it demonstrates these young artists’ surprisingly mature grasp of how violence begins and spreads through a culture.

Peace catrina, Guadalajara, Mexico

For Mexicans, peace is not an abstract ideal or a wished-for outcome in some far-off country, but a heartfelt hope for change in their everyday existence.

Peace catrina, Guadalajara, Mexico

Peace catrina, Guadalajara, Mexico

In this fifth year of the government’s war on narcotics traffic and narco-terrorism, fatalities have now passed the 50,000 mark. While the violence is largely confined to combatants and limited to a small part of the country, only a few degrees of separation lie between the casualties and an increasing number of civilians.

The theme of peace in the face of such violence necessarily lends a somber note to many of these works, but most of them still manage to deliver their weighty message with the same wry fatalism that has always marked the catrina tradition.

Peace catrina, Guadalajara, Mexico

Photos don’t do these catrinas justice.  Almost all of the standing figures tower over the spectator by a foot or two, and many others lean lifelike against poles and fences or sit on park benches as city pedestrians and traffic stream past.

Peace catrina, Guadalajara, Mexico

There are several Gandhi catrinas and one of the Dalai Lama, but it’s the more traditional images which are often the most compelling.

Peace catrina, Guadalajara, Mexico

While catrinas are an expression of pre-Colombian concepts of the relationship between life and death, the catrina image itself is barely a century old, the invention of a Mexico City newspaper’s political cartoonist.

Peace catrina, Guadalajara, Mexico

The catrina was nearly relegated to history until rescued by the resurgence of pride in Mexican heritage following the Mexican Revolution.

Peace catrina, Guadalajara, Mexico

Like Argentina’s tango, it began as a working-class tradition and grew in less than a generation to become a symbol inextricably woven into the national identity.

It’s possible to walk all 100 or so of Guadalajara’s Catrinas de la Paz in less than an hour, but you may – like me – become caught up in reflection upon one or another that particularly speaks to you and linger longer.

Whether you browse this exhibit quickly or deliberately, don’t pass it up!

Guadalajara’s antique market

Antique markets afford a window into the lives of each treasure’s original owner, and Guadalajara’s antique flea market is loaded with artifacts that look like they once graced the drawing rooms of the gentrified west side neighborhoods built around the turn of the 20th century.

Guadalajara’s antique market

 

 

 

 

 

Held on Sundays from 9AM-5PM at the intersection of the Avenida Mexico and Chapultepec Norte in front of the Bodega Aurrera, this outdoor market unwinds over several blocks and the scope of the collection is mind-boggling.

Guadalajara’s antique market

 

 

 

 

The stalls are chock full of collectibles from statuary to silver and crystal, furniture, and books and records.

Guadalajara’s antique market

There are also plenty of personal items and memorabilia that often leave the shopper with the sense that the aura of their original owners is somehow still present among them.

If you’re expecting a flea market that requires you to sort through a ton of junk to find a few gems, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by this place.

Guadalajara’s antique market

Much of the merchandise appears to be in museum piece condition, and it’s clear that the vendors know their artifacts intimately and take great pride in their displays.

Guadalajara’s antique market

Here you’re stopped by an item caught out of the corner of an eye and find yourself still browsing the same stall half an hour later, unraveling threads into the past.

Guadalajara’s antique market

This market, though, is not just a window into Guadalajara’s past, but also a snapshot of its present.

Guadalajara’s antique market

The vendors are of all ages, and it’s clear that these folks have come to know each other well over years of Sundays spent here together.

Guadalajara’s antique market

 

 

 

 

The shoppers are also diverse, but the crowd includes a healthy mix of young urban professionals that the visitor is unlikely to encounter at the city’s more classic tourist sites.

Guadalajara’s antique market

You don’t have to be a collector to appreciate this place, and you don’t have to buy a thing to have an enjoyable day here.

Avenida Chaputepec

Afterwards take a walk down Chapultepec and join the Sunday promenade always in progress on a traffic-free Avenida Vallarta.

See my related posts:

Guadalajara’s Abastos

There’s no better way to get a crash course on any culture than from watching the street theater of buyers and sellers as they shop and haggle in an open market. If Guadalajara’s Mercado Libertad is the Wal-Mart of mercados, then Guadalajara’s Abastos is the Trader Joe’s.

Here you expect great prices as much as you expect best quality merchandise and items that you just can’t buy anywhere else.

Sign outside Abastos

As I enter I see covering the entire side of an adjacent building a faded sign. I can’t help but think about the many stories that must certainly have unfolded beneath it.

The midway

It’s hard to tell where Abastos ends, because its warehouses and shops cover more than 30 city blocks.

 

The intersection of Lazaro Cardenas and Mariano Otero is a good place to begin.

Within eyesight is a parking garage which offers a view of the area that can give you a much-needed lay of the land before you plunge in.

The Foodie in me can’t help but be impressed by the fact that this is where the pros in the restaurant and grocery businesses come to shop… and that it’s also open to the public!

Pick o’ the crops

The heart of Abastos is its aisles lined with booths selling fresh produce, meats, and seafood, but in adjacent shops it’s possible to outfit an entire restaurant from tables and chairs to china, flatware, uniforms, and kitchen hardware.

Squash blossoms

 

The produce is, well, almost too beautiful to eat.

Brilliantly colored and symmetrically shaped, it’s too perfect for a still-life.

Everything here is offered in the giant commercial size. Meatcutters disassemble entire cows.

Major meatcutting

Ribbons of sausage

There are cheese wheels the size of spare tires and sweets the size of paving bricks.

Monster cheese wheels

Sweets by the case

 

Never, though, did I see a merchant refuse to sell a smaller quantity.

Acres of grilled chicken

 

This city-within-a-city needs to be fed, and while the eateries are not fancy you can find just about any kind of meal you desire somewhere in one of its pots or on its grills.

Abasto fresh fish

 

I snap a shot of some great-looking fish on ice and amble slowly down the aisle only to be halted by the sound of someone calling out behind me.

Fish and fishmongers

 

I turn to find that the fishmongers are following me down the corridor hauling a whale of a fish, inviting me to get a better shot. That’s the kind of place it is.

 

When you come, drive a big SUV and bring the largest ice chest you can find, because there’s no way you’ll leave here empty-handed!

To get to the Abastos from the Ribera de Chapala:

 

  • From the Chapala highway exit left on Lazaro Cardenas and drive about 7 kilometers. Abastos is on the left just before the intersection with Mariano Otero.
  • From the Jocotopec highway turn right off Lopez Mateo at Plaza del Sol onto Mariano Otero until you find the Abastos on your right, just before the intersection with Cardenas.

    See also my related posts:Fishy in GuadalajaraGuadalajara’s Mercado Libertad