Friday, March 24, 2017


March 14, 2017

Mexican Water Pipe Repair
Tuesday was my last day in La Cruz for a while and I spent it preparing to travel to Guadalajara and Copper Canyon.  I ran in the morning.  We had a broken water pipe on our street and the whole neighborhood was wet.  The water company in La Cruz didn’t work like water utilities in the USA.  They came and shut off the flood within a day, but they were in no hurry to actually repair the break. Instead, they rushed off to shut off another flood somewhere else.  They didn’t arrive in an official truck.  Instead, they walked to the job, transporting their tools in a wheelbarrow.  Of course, it didn’t require a backhoe or a jackhammer to tear up a cobblestone street.  That could be done with a pry bar and a shovel.  Two days later, there was still a hole in the street.  Breaks were common.  The street trees were interfering with the water pipes.

Plumber's Late Shift
I picked up my laundry and packed everything I would need for my trip except my toiletries.  I ate what I had leftover in the refrigerator and gave away my perishables.  I spent most of the afternoon catching up on my blog before we ventured into the Copper Canyon where we had been warned there was no Internet.

We were taking the 7:15 bus from Mezcales to Guadalajara the next day and Betty had ordered a taxi for 6:15 in the morning.  I wanted to go to bed early, but the plumber came to fix my toilet about 8:30 pm.  The pipe leading to the supply valve on the toilet was rusted out and needed replacing.  Nacho, the plumber, made short work of it, but water and rust particles got everywhere in my room and bathroom.  It was quite a flood.  He tried to clean up with a mop, but I had to get some old towels to sop up the water from the cracks between the tiles.  Otherwise, the white tiles in my room would have been covered with wet, dirty footprints.

I finally got to bed about 10:00, but didn’t manage to get to sleep until after 1:00 in the morning.

March 15, 2017

Five thirty in the morning came around very fast.  I got up, showered, and packed.  Then I checked to be sure that Betty was up.  She wasn’t.  It took me some time to wake her and then she only had
Jalisco Scenery
fifteen minutes to get ready before the taxi was due.  Somehow, she made it.  Unfortunately, the taxi didn’t arrive.  When he still hadn’t arrived by 6:25, Betty ran over to the marina taxi stand to find someone, but no one was there.  She had ordered a taxi from the marina stand, not realizing that they didn’t operate that early.  We grabbed our bags and hightailed it up the hill towards the main taxi stand by the highway.  They saw us coming and a taxi drove down and picked us up at the glorieta.  It had been stressful, but we still arrived in Mezcales in plenty of time to catch our bus.

Blue Agave on the Way to Guadalajara

We took a Primera Plus bus to Guadalajara.   The bus was quite luxurious with wifi, leg rests, and individual televisions.  Since we had had little rest the night before, we tried to sleep, but the road was rough and twisty and I only slept for a few minutes here and there.  We drove up the coast and then turned inland, retracing the route I had taken when coming to La Cruz from Mexico City.  We drove over mountains and through valleys.  Everything seemed greener than it had a month before.  It was a pretty drive.

Shortly before noon, we stopped in Zapopan.  Zapopan is a residential suburb of Guadalajara where many people live.  There are residences, stores, and restaurants, but not a lot of businesses like in Guadalajara.  After Zapopan, we continued on to the Guadalajara station and arrived there about 12:15.  It was impossible to miss getting a taxi outside the bus station.  Many bus lines had their terminals all together in what looked almost like an airport.  We got a ride downtown to the Hotel Morales for 140 pesos.

We were tired and hungry, but our room was not ready.  We left our luggage with the porter and
Cathedral in Guadalajara
walked down to the cathedral plaza to have lunch at the Delgollado Boutique Café attached to the Teatro Delgollado.  We got salads and relaxed for a bit.  Tired as we were, this was Betty’s first trip to Guadalajara and that afternoon was her only opportunity to take a city tour.  We bought tickets on the Tapatio Tours bus that offered a hop on hop off tour of Guadalajara.  Then we had just enough time to run back to the hotel, check into our room, and rush back to catch the 3:20 bus.

Our Room at the Hotel Morales
Hotel Morales was a gracious hotel with a spacious lobby and large rooms.  Everything was very nicely appointed, but the beds were still rock hard.  It was expensive by Mexican standards, but at $62/night for a double room in a prime location, it was a good value.

Tapatio Tour Bus
Street Art in Tlaquepaque
Our first circuit on the bus tour took us through Guadalajara to Tlaquepaque, a quaint city that had gradually merged with Guadalajara.  It had pedestrian streets and squares lines with touristy shops and restaurants, although most of the visitors seemed to be Mexicans from other parts of the country.  We met a group of women from Tabasco and kept running into them wherever we went.  We browsed in some of the stores, took a quick jaunt through the market, and checked out the church.  On                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Juarez, the only street wide enough to accommodate a bus, I stopped to get ice cream at an artisanal ice cream shop.  They had all kinds of flavors.  I got a small cup of Baileys flavored ice cream and it was delicious. Served with an Italian cookie, the ice cream cost me 16 pesos (about 80 cents.)  Betty went across the street and bought an apple croissant.
Artisanal Ice Cream in Tlaquepaque

Los Arcos in Guadalajara
 We got back to the bus stop near the cathedral just after 6:00.  We had been stuck in rush hour traffic and just missed the 6:00 departure for the Guadalajara circuit.  We had almost an hour to kill before the next bus, so we sat in the park for half an hour or so and then walked around the cathedral neighborhood.  The symphony was playing in the Plaza de Armas which was half torn up to build an underground light rail station.  The construction was wreaking havoc all over Guadalajara, making the historic center temporarily less gracious.  In the future, it would be much easier to get around the city using the light rail system.

The light was starting to fail when we boarded the bus at 7:00 and we spent an hour and a half driving around the city, seeing the monuments light up as the sun went down.  Los Arcos, built to commemorate the bicentennial of the revolution, were lit with green lights that made a striking contrast with the red taillights of the evening traffic.  Guadalajara is very modern and we drove past huge shopping malls and through a neighborhood of former mansions turned into bridal salons and restaurants.

It was nearly 9:00 when we neared the hotel and we were hungry.  We didn’t want to wait in line for a table, so we stopped at La Gorda for dinner.  I ordered Carne en Su Jugo (Meat in its juice) because that was the specialty of the place.  It consisted of thin strips of beef cooked with bacon and served with whole beans.  It was served with roasted onions, tortillas and some fabulous bean soup.  Betty’s enchiladas were dry, but my dinner was delicious.  We could barely stay awake long enough to eat.  We stumbled back to the hotel and I was almost too tired to ask the concierge about going to Chapala the next day.  Fortunately, a tour was easily arranged and we were back in our room fifteen minutes later.  We were both asleep by 10:00.  I slept soundly until 1:00 when I unfortunately woke.  The room was quiet, but the mattress was not comfortable.  As tired as I was, I could not get back to sleep until 4:00.

March 16, 2017

Betty woke me from a sound sleep a few minutes before my alarm was due to go off.  Of course, she wasn’t aware that I had been up until 4:00 and wanted to sleep.  We had to meet our driver at 9:30, but had plenty of time to eat breakfast in the hotel and get ready.

Lakeside Homes in Chapala
Our driver, Paco, was a young man from Zapopan who had lived in the U.S.A.. for many years and was married to a U.S. citizen.  They had returned to Mexico when her father died so as to care for her mother.  We were the only people on the tour, so we had Paco at our disposal.  During the hour-long drive to Chapala, he answered our many questions about Mexican politics.  He was very embarrassed by President Pena Nieto because he felt he was ignorant and had been elected only because he was handsome.  Paco was offended by the fact that when asked what were his three favorite books, Pena Nieto could only answer, “The Bible, the Old Testament, and the New Testament.”  He had also apparently avoided explaining his wife’s cause of death.  Paco sympathized with those of us who were embarrassed by the U.S. president.
Lake Chapala

Church in Chapala
When we arrived at Lake Chapala, Paco turned us loose at the Lakeshore for an hour and a half.  Rather than browsing through the tourist stalls on the lake shore, we headed into the town of Chapala and explored there.  Especially interesting was the historical archives where there were many early photographs of famous politicians vacationing at Chapala from the 1860s onwards. There were also photographs of old fishing canoes that resembled crude pangas, some with square rigged sails.  We ended our investigation with a walk along the malecon where there were many lovely homes.  The jacarandas were beginning to bloom and there were fishermen amongst the reeds.  Lake Chapala was something like 110 kilometers long and stretched farther than the eye could see.  It seemed odd that there were no sailboats on it today, as it was plenty deep enough for them.  One difficulty for sailboats was the lack of docks.  There was only one pier with a lighthouse on the end of it called “El Faro.”
Photo of Sailboats from the Archives in Chapala

Me By the Lake in Chapala

Pier and "El Faro" in Chapala
Mural on a Shop in Ajijic
From Chapala, Paco drove us along the lake shore and through some lovely neighborhoods developed in the 1960s to the town of Ajijic.  Ajijic was very lovely and boasted beautiful homes covered in colorful murals.  It was also almost entirely populated with gringos.  The setting was lovely and we enjoyed looking at the pretty houses and walking along the lake, but wouldn’t have wanted to live there.  We spent most of our time there in a café, drinking beers, while Betty searched YouTube for a means to upload her photos to the cloud so that she could free up memory on her phone.

Mural on a Home in  Ajijic

Lakefront in Ajijic

Malecon in Ajijic

Tasting Room at Los Magos

We left Ajijic about 2:00 and drove to the Los Magos tequila distillery and tasting room out in the middle of nowhere between Chapala and Guadalajara.  Paco was a connoisseur of tequila and he liked the produce of this distillery.  We were the only tasters that afternoon and they were very generous with us.  We tasted four kinds of tequila and then they started pouring tastes of tequila liqueurs.  I had always resisted the idea of tequila cream liqueurs, not realizing that they were made with white tequila.  Calera made both cream liqueurs and regular ones.  We tried pina colada, mango, pistachio, guayabana, walnut cream, and vanilla cream.  They were all good and, once we decided we wanted to buy some, had a difficult time choosing what to buy.  Finally, we agreed to each buy one bottle and share.  I bought a bottle of pina colada and Betty chose the walnut cream.  We spent quite a while there and got a little silly.  I was not a tequila drinker and had probably never consumed that much straight tequila in my life.  It was a good thing Paco was driving and not drinking.  He did buy a bottle to go.

Paco with His Tequila

It was 5:00 by the time we got back to the hotel.  I wanted to take Betty on a walking tour of the plazas stretching from the cathedral to the market, so we decided to eat an early dinner (we had skipped lunch) and then go for a walk afterward.  We wanted to eat at La Chata, a popular restaurant with a line out the door at all times.  I had eaten there before and could vouch for the food being worth the wait.  At that hour, we didn’t have to wait long.  La Chata sandwiches more tables into their space than diners would normally tolerate, but the food is good and the restaurant is a Guadalajara institution.  I had the combination plate with chicken in mole and a chile relleno.  Betty had the enchiladas with mole poblano.  My chile was not very warm, but everything was quite tasty.  It was nice to be in a popular restaurant where we were the only gringos, for a change.

After dinner, we walked past the Teatro Delgollado and through the Plaza Fundadores where there is a fountain depicting the founding of Guadalajara by the Spanish.   We continued along a series of whimsical fountains and past the jewelry market, a building the size of a large department store devoted entirely to mostly gold jewelry.  Eventually, we arrived at the Hospicio Las Cabanas, formerly an orphanage and hospice, but now a cultural center and museum.  The museum was closed, but there were fun sculptures in the plaza.  One set was The Magicians Living Room, a series of bronze tables, chairs, and sofas in the shape of body parts.  The legs were human and all wearing mismatched shoes.  The sofa had cheeks on its backside.  One wing chair had giant ears for wings.  We enjoyed examining each piece.

Behind the Hospicio was another plaza and then the market.  Everything was closing, so we didn’t go in, but we browsed a bit among the vendors on the way back and then crossed over to a busy shopping street where every shop seemed to feature goods from a different Italian designer.  There were fabulous evening gowns and wedding dresses in profusion.  We agreed to come to Guadalajara to shop if we ever needed a dress for the Academy Awards.

It was 8:30 by the time we returned to the hotel and we needed to get up at 3:30 the following morning to meet our tour to Copper Canyon by 4:15.  We were tired and went straight to bed, although I stayed up, writing, until 10:00.

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