February 3, 2005

Our Guadalajara Trip

Here is the delayed report on our Guadalajara trip week before last.

What a great bus system Mexico has. There are multiple levels of service. We took the ETN company's bus. This was top of the line, perfectly clean, air conditioned, reclining seats, leg rests so you can stretch out and sleep (many of the long distance buses leave at night, arriving in the morning.), movies, music and more room between seats than airlines first class. The bus was configured with 2+1 seating. The weak point was the sandwich meal. No problem. We won't starve.

We had arranged for a room in a Bed and Breakfast Quinta Don Jose (see: http://www.quintadonjose.com) in Tlaquepaque, a suburb of Guadalajara. Many of the homes in the area have been converted into galleries. So there were all sorts of shops with exotic or unusual home decorating items, a few jewelers, ceramics and pottery and (of course) restaurants. We spent time wandering this area.

There were wonderful parks and plazas, especially in the central area, that were great for people watching. The children were a real treat to watch. We did the usual: cathedrals, government buildings, monuments, museums and the largest market we have ever seen, Mercado Libertad. It was multistoried and jam-packed with stalls with everything from parquets to electronics. Besides all the merchants selling wonderfully fresh fruits and vegetables, there were fish mongers and butchers. Then one entire level was full of booths selling meals. We scouted them out somewhat before deciding which one to choose. We continued on our way, only to see more that we wanted.

One very interesting place was the Cultural de Cabanas. The central area was full of Orozco murals, on the walls and ceilings. A freelance guide was very helpful in understanding the time and the murals.

Tonala is a nearby town known for it's pottery and pottery factories. We did visit the area, seeing their wares and getting a factory tour in Spanish. It was a family business, with each member having his own specialty, such as right diagonal lines or dots. The pieces were very intricate, covered with complimentary patterns and designs.

At one restaurant, we had a Oaxacan delicacy we've been looking to try: Huitlacoche (wheat - la - COACH - ay), a mushroom that grows on corn cobs. We had it in a chicken dish that was absolutely fabulous.

In the US the farmers in the corn belt throw the rare fungus away - they don't know what they're missing. They even call it by the unappetizing name of "corn smut".

It was a fine three day visit. But it was also great to come home, to our boat.

Warmest Regards,
Mary and Bill
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