Tag Archive: Retire in Mexico

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.


Ferris wheel looms over the municipal Delegación building

The Tuesday sun is not long risen and there’s a slight chill in the air as I walk into the village over cobblestone streets.

On other weekdays I would be passing workers headed to their jobs and schoolchildren on their way to class, but this day is different.

Carnival ride awaits the start of Fiesta

Here in Ajijic it’s the day before the beginning of the fiesta patronale – the patron saint Fiesta de San Andres, and as I turn toward the plaza the street is already blocked by waiting carnival rides.

Band member rush to meet the parade

It’s also the 112th anniversary of the start of the Mexican Revolution… the Dia de la Revolución.

A trio of bass band musicians passes me hastily, rushing toward the Revolution Day parade assembly point, which stretches for several blocks at the eastern end of the village.

I follow them through the plaza past a mural that celebrates the Revolution.

Wall mural of Revolutionary heroes just off the Plaza

Costumed children awaiting the start of the parade

Milling about the parade’s starting point are hundreds of children in costumes ranging from drum-and-bugle corps to heroes of the Revolution, and parents everywhere are making last minute adjustments to fidgeting ninos.

A mother makes last minute costume adjustments

The scene gives me pause for reflection.  American independence, the American Revolution, and the framing of the U.S. constitution unfolded as a virtually unified event spanning only 13 years.  In Mexico these events occurred separately over more than a century, the outcome of each many times cast into doubt.

Two costumed boys pass time before the parade

There’s a case to be made that the Mexican Revolution is still a work in progress.  Its memory is still fresh; the parents of the children in today’s parade grew up at the feet of grandparents who survived it.

Sweeping the street on the parade route

Sweeping the street on the parade route


Today education and information technology are giving their children the tools to better practice democracy and hold their government more accountable for the promises made by the Revolution.


The parade participants have begun to queue up in marching order. Along the route women are sweeping the cobblestones.

Waiting for the parade to pass

Families are collecting in windows and doorways in anticipation.


The last census pegged Ajijic’s population at around 10,000 persons.  At least 1,500 are children participating in today’s procession and easily twice that number line the streets to watch them.

Little drummer girl

'Franciso Madero' pauses along the parade route

‘Franciso Madero’ pauses along the parade route


Bands and drum corps keep the procession moving as teams of gymnasts pause at every block to build human pyramids.

Other teams wave bandannas, hoops, or batons in synchronized drills.

It has the look of small town patriotic parades all across North America except for the setting… and children in traditional Mexican costume dressed as miniatures of the heroes of the Revolution.

Youngsters perform a traditional folk dance

Madero.  Zapata.  Villa.  The youngest ride in the ever-present pickup truck float, arranged in tableaus that recall historical events.


Costumed children create an historical tableau

A charro-in-training astride her mount

And because Ajijic is undeniably Jalisciense, the parade would not be complete without the charros, whose horses amazingly dance across the cobblestones to the sound of traditional Mexican tunes.

A charro puts his dancing horse through its routines

In the morning 10 days of fiesta begins, and there will be no need for an alarm clock, because the boom of fireworks, clanging church bells, and blaring brass bands will do the job before sunup!

The artisan as art

Mexico’s folk art is at risk of becoming an endangered species! Industrialization and urbanization – not to mention cheap Chinese knock-offs – are driving local artists to leave their villages and forsake their craft for work in the cities.

All natural fabric dyes are made from plants and insects

The good news is that there is a strong antidote in Ajijic’s Feria Maestros Del Arte, which this weekend celebrates its eleventh year.


A ceramic octopus in fanciful colors

Painstakingly painted detail

The Feria is a standout among area venues for artists and artisans not only for the quality, breadth, and originality of its work, but for its single inspired purpose of protecting and preserving Mexico’s community of indigent artists and their artistic traditions.


Artisans in bright traditional garb

Artisans in bright traditional garb

A potter stands chest-high in his work


The Feria is also philanthropic capitalism that showcases this art and these artists to the expat community and to visiting art merchants.

The outcome is an opportunity for these distinctive works to fetch the fair price that promotes their economic sustainability.


Clay iIguana at perpetual rest

Clay iIguana at perpetual rest


The philanthropy, though, goes well beyond simply bringing sellers and buyers together.

The merchants – more than 60 of them – are charged no fees for exhibit space.





The Feria is the brainchild of locally resident gringa Marianne Carlson, who each year travels the length and breadth of Mexico seeking out new talent.

There’s a message in the tiny symbols on this piece

Adding finishing touches to a corn husk blossom

Adding finishing touches to a corn husk blossom




An extensive network of volunteers and significant donations – the Feria is registered as a non-profit in both Mexico and the U.S. – assure that every dime of every sale goes to the merchant artists.


Lady mariachis waiting to go on stage


Many receive transportation assistance or are housed and fed gratis in the homes of locally resident expats.


The Feria is also nothing if not authentic.


All of the exhibited goods are handmade by native artists using materials native to Mexico, and much of this remarkable work has rarely been exhibited outside of the often remote villages in which it is created.




Lady mariachis' wall of sound

Lady mariachis’ wall of sound



Many of the artisans are but the latest in generations of family artists.

Shoppers can watch many of the artisans continue to create as they tend their market stalls while patiently explaining the symbolism of the images in their work and the process by which it is produced.





This is my first year to experience this event, and I have the good luck to do so from a front-row seat in more ways than one.

Jurassic metal sculptures

Jurassic metal sculptures

It’s located within easy walking distance of my place, which is a real bonus since the patrons’ parked cars have not only lined the curbs of surrounding neighborhood streets, but spilled out along the Carretera for a quarter mile in both directions.






Location, however, is only the beginning of the good luck because my place is also a room-and-board site for Feria artist Martín Ibarra and his family.

A leap of ceramic leopards

A leap of ceramic leopards




The son of a noted clay artist, Martin has been widely recognized for his painted clay sculptures of the Virgin and his intricately decorated eggs and spheres.





A threatening wooden image in playful colors

A threatening wooden image in playful colors





This year each room-and-board sponsor is taking a turn at a dinner held in their home for the artists and their fellow sponsors, and these gatherings add yet another dimension to the experience.






Hand-painted detail on wood and gourd containers

Hand-painted detail on wood and gourd containers

Artisans drawn from across Mexico from Chihuahua in the north to Oaxaca and Chiapas in the south, and when they come together each evening over food and drink the feeling is almost one of reunion.

Talk quickly turns from art to life and there’s lots of laughter here.

It’s a rare opportunity for expats to gain a glimpse into the traditions and lives of these master craftsmen, and for them to see their American and Canadian hosts up close and personally.

It’s also a great demonstration of what happens when people put national identities and politics aside and come together as individuals in a common pursuit.



Even for casual students of world cultures the Feria is not to be missed.


If you’re looking for items not to be found even in the abundance of artist communities in Guadalajara’s nearby Tonala and Tlaquepaque neighborhoods, this is the place to be.

A live face in a wall of masks


Fitting beadwork into a design

This 5th-generation weaver may need 2 months to produce a single work.


If you’ve ever wondered what happened to the spirit of social activism that marked the youth of many retirees you’ll find it alive and well in the spirit of Ajijic’s Feria.

Make your own contribution by buying something… and spreading the word.

For more information check out the Feria’s web site here.

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!

Ajijic’s guitar art

Artist: Teodor Lopez

Perhaps nowhere else in the Spanish-speaking world has the guitar become such an inseparable part of the culture as in Mexico.

Inside the Galeria del Lago

Here the instrument appears the varying shapes, sizes, and sounds which can be most often seen in the instrumentation of Jalisco’s celebrated mariachi bands.


At Ajijic’s Galeria de Lago on the very edge of Lake Chapala the instrument appears in yet a new incarnation:  Guitar Art.

Artist: V. Manuel G. Santillan


It all began when local artist Kim Tolleson made a pilgrimage to the town of Paracho in Michoacan.  The town has long been famous as the center of guitar-making in Mexico, but in the past generation it has produced world class maestro craftsmen and instruments sought by aficionados everywhere.


There are more guitar shops in Paracho than chocolatiers in Switzerland and each August the town hosts a festival that features and honors both musicians and luthiers.


Kim had the idea that these instruments would make an interesting painter’s palette, but soon came to the conclusion that the 30 guitars that he brought back from Paracho was ambition enough for more than a single painter.

Artist: Kathy Seaboyer


He enlisted the aid of local artists and aspirants, and soon much of the space he’d first envisioned as no more than a studio became a guitar art gallery.

Artist: Sergio Xoñu



Kim’s decision to open entries to virtually all comers made the gallery unique not only for its use of guitars as painters’ palettes, but for its diversity of styles.




The artists range from local professionals including Efren Gonzalez to some very talented amateurs.

The inclusiveness is refreshing and the artist community has clearly embraced the concept.

Artist: Judy Dykstra Brown

The images range from scenes of colonial Mexico to rock music tributes. Most are painted, but one of the more striking pieces is installed as a sculpture standing on human legs.

Artists: Daniel Palma & Sergio Xoñu

Artists: Hugo & Carlos Villalabos

Part of the Galeria remains a working studio.

On the day I was there Emily Allen had set up her easel there to catch the light flooding in from off the lake, and I stood for a while with my face pressed against the window watching her work.

Artists: Hugo & Carlos Villalabos


Even though the regular gallery hours are Saturday/Sunday, 1-6PM, visitors can browse on many weekdays when the artists are in residence, and the work is readily viewed through big picture windows at any time of the day.

Artist: Jesus Lopez Vega


Galeria del Lago is located right on the lakefront between the Old Posada and Yves Restaurant, within eyesight of the Ajijic Pier.


No surprise, then, that the subject of many currently featured paintings is the white donkey that seems perennially tethered just a few yards away on the beach.


Galeria del Lago

Galeria del Lago



Photos don’t do the work justice, so drop by and see the real deal. It’s guaranteed to bring a smile to your lips!

You can also see photos of work no longer on display when I visited on the gallery’s Facebook page               


Read more about Paracho, Mexico’s guitar capital, here.                              

For more on Ajijic’s unique character see my related posts:

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:

Ajijic’s mural art

Mexican art is blessed by the rich muralist tradition of Rivera, Orozco, and Siqueiros, and even today murals remain a prominent feature of Mexican public art.


Murals are so commonplace in Ajijic as to be taken for granted, but they’re as much a signature part of the village’s character as spring blossoms or street vendors or views from the malecon.



It’s hard for anyone on the Ribera not to pass at least one daily, and each image indelibly anchors the memory of everything that happens beneath it to a single spot.


Murals made perfect sense as a way to present ideas and to perpetuate sense of history throughout Mexico’s illiterate past, but the art form is as fresh today as ever.


As similar as some murals may seem at first glance, their form is far from formulaic.


The topics may be patriotic or otherwise political, and they’re often historical.


Sometimes, though, the primary object seems to be only to create pleasant diversion for the eyes and to adorn an otherwise unmemorable spot.


Their forms are remarkably diverse, ranging from dayglo-bright ribbons to simple black-and-white images.

Ajijic mural art 05

Ajijic mural art 06







Some borrow their style from Europe and others are purely indigenous.


Some are painted and some in relief.


Some have a commercial agenda.









Many – but not all – are outdoors. The one below adorns the interior stairwell of the Cultural Center.












They all, however, have a couple of things in common.


One is that each is an original work of art.  Some are permanent – or at least as permanent as paint on stucco can be in the Mexican sun – and others only long-lived enough to commemorate a passing event.


Another is that they all tell stories.  Some are short and simple.  Others are like scrolls unrolled, so panoramic that each new look uncovers some detail earlier unseen, like the three panels of the mural below reading left to right.


There was a time when billboard painting was an art north of the border. These days billboards are created in Photoshop, digitally printed by the dozens onto vinyl, and stretched over the frames of boards that were once signpainters’ canvasses.


One thing’s for sure.  It’s impossible to visualize Ajijic without picturing its public murals! For more about Ajijic’s unique character 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

    Street vendor walking on Colon

    It’s nearly a century since pushcarts plied the streets of most American neighborhoods; sidewalk vendors of nearly every stripe went out of style when the nation traded Main Streets for malls.

    Fresh watermelons on the Carretera

    In Mexico street merchants are alive and well.  It seems as if wherever in Mexico three or more people are gathered a fourth will show up with something to sell them. Retail here is up close and personal and the store often comes to you.

    Ajijic’s street merchants are not the annoying chachki vendors of the coastal resort beaches, but a retail subculture that’s baked into Ajijic’s endearing DNA.

    Nuts & snacks on the Plaza

    More people gathered attracts more sellers, and in Ajijic the Plaza and the Carretera rarely lack for either.

    Baskets & brooms on the Carretera

    The variety of merchandise and services offered by these “no-store stores” often surprises.

    Freshly-squeezed juices on the Plaza

    Food vendors sell everything from frozen treats and freshly-squeezed beverages to prepared foods (taco stands warrant a blog post all their own!), home goods, and flowers.

    Chicharrón in the making

    Shoe shine on the Plaza

    Street merchants will also dupe your keys, shine your shoes, sharpen your knives and wash your car in less time than it takes to find a parking spot at your average Stateside Safeway.

    Basket vendor on the Plaza

    Walkabout vendors are the salt of the street merchants.

    They carry their entire inventory on their backs, often walking miles every day.

    CD & DVD bike cart on the Plaza

    Some merchandise, though, begs to be wheeled through the crowd, and the conveyances are nothing if not inventive.

    Other merchandise better lends itself to hanging from trees and fences each day to be carted off at day’s end and re-hung each morning.

    A very few even sell from roadside kiosks not much larger than a phone booth.

    Most of the street merchants not walking or wheeling about are parked so routinely in the same spots at their appointed times that people sometimes use them as directional landmarks.

    Coffee vendor/grinder on the Carretera

    Among them will appear for a day or a week spontaneous street capitalists who vanish as suddenly as they appeared.

    On the Plaza curb in front of BBVA

    Many of these sidewalk merchants start each day very early by walking, bicycling, or riding the bus to Ajijic from homes in nearby villages.

    Ice cream vendor stocks up

    Others stock push carts or buy fresh products at a wholesale market before the selling day begins.

    There are no bar codes or credit cards here.

    There are no frequent shopper programs, blue light specials, or rebates.

    There’s just cash and carry from a sole proprietor who does one thing only and strives to do it better than anyone else.

    There are also plenty of merchants who are as well known to their customers as the customers are to them, and there’s no small amount of loyalty between many buyers and sellers.

    Curbside empanadas on the Plaza next to BBVA

    It’s a relationship long gone in America’s retail landscape, but for those who can take it in stride it can be a richly rewarding trade-off for America’s impersonal, one-stop, “big box” shopping experience.

    See my related post “American Values

    Avenida Vallarta on Sundays

    The Avenida Vallarta is arguably Guadalajara’s signature boulevard, cutting through the west side to expose a time-stamped cross-section of the city.

    From its starting point at Avenida Juarez and Del Federalismo (there’s a subway station there) to the Minerva Fountain is about four miles, and there’s no better day – or way – to see it than Sundays, when it’s closed to vehicular traffic and given over to bicyclists, joggers, and walkers.

    On the Avenida Vallarta

    In the late 1800’s and early 1900’s Avenida Vallarta was a residential boulevard lined with the

    On the Avenida Vallarta

    elegant townhomes of Guadalajara’s well-to-do, and many of these structures still remain.

    My plan is to travel the avenida east to west, beginning with the smaller, older homes that become progressively newer and larger as I go.

    I start with the public architecture near the intersection of Avenida Enrique Diaz de Leon.


    Templo Expiatorio, Guadalajara


    University of Guadalajara

    A block away on Lopez Cotilla stands the Templo Expiatorio and not much further on Vallarta the old University of Guadalajara.

    On the Avenida Vallarta

    Many of the grand old homes have been converted into restaurants.

    If you’re not inclined to walk, run, or cycle you can pick out one with curbside dining and people-watch the passing promenade.

    On the Avenida Vallarta

    On the Avenida Vallarta

    Chai restaurant, Guadalajara

    Restaurants are plentiful along the route, and most have menus posted.

    Chai restaurant, Guadalajara

    Chai is a favorite of mine for a great latté, but the place also serves a Sunday buffet brunch that always draws a crowd, so it’s a good idea to grab a table early.

    On the Avenida Vallarta

    In one stretch of the avenida the old homes are now occupied by shops featuring bridal and quinceañera gowns.

    Centro Magno shopping mall, Guadalajara

    As the route nears its end it passes the Centro Magno urban mall (there’s a large and inexpensive parking garage there), which is full of specialty shops and restaurants.

    Minerva Fountain, Guadalajara

    The Sunday promenade ends at Los Arcos, on the back side of the Minerva Fountain.

    Los Arcos, Guadalajara

    The Los Arcos double arches were built in in 1942 to commemorate the city’s 400th anniversary. The arches clear 14 feet high and stand on the avenida just before the Minerva Fountain glorieta.

    Los Arcos, Guadalajara

    See my related posts on Guadalajara:Guadalajara south centro

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