Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Exploring Guadalajara...

Just leaving Valle Real!
After our very disheartening performance against Ecuador consolation beers were definitely in order. We stopped at the bar in the international zone on the way back to sate our thirst. I had been texting Kaitlyn and suggested we get together a bit later for some drinks and a movie, which she emphatically agreed to. She and her host sister were out for dinner so she would text me when they were finished. After the most delectable beer I've had in awhile was finished, we grabbed a quick bite at the cafeteria then headed back to the room. After a quick shower we all went back down for another beer while trying not to bemoan our heinous play earlier that day. Kaitlyn texted and called me while we were down there but I didn't hear/notice my phone so when I did I hurriedly finished my beer, said my goodbyes and headed out to meet them. They had stopped by a gas station to pick up some tequila and grapefruit soda (gotta love the availability of alcohol in Mexico) on the way over so we were all set.  Upon our arrival back at the house, located in a gated community near the Pan American Village called Valle Real, we hunkered down with our drinks and my recently downloaded copy of Horrible Bosses and enjoyed a chill evening of each others company.

Filet hot dog. Mmmm :)
In the morning, with the tournament disappointingly but thankfully over, we decided to get a jump on exploring downtown Guadalajara. Since we had slept in, it was past noon by the time we departed the house and thus we decided that road drinks were a must. We walked across the street to a gas station where a multitude of alcoholic merriment awaited. Seriously, we bought 2 beer and a pre-mixed mojito for less than $3 and if we hadn't just eaten I could also have enjoyed a hot dog wrapped in bacon. Sorry Canada but with gas stations like that I'm beginning to fall for Mexico.

Close to rball as I could find
After flagging a taxi and haggling for a price she was happy with (100 pesos), Kaitlyn and I jumped in, cracked our respective beers and enjoyed a somewhat uneventful taxi ride into the heart of Guadalajara. I wasn't sure what to expect. I knew it would be a big city but it was nothing like the big cities of Canada. There were definitely crowded and cramped portions but there were courtyards, plazas, gazebos and statues of famous Mexican artists and revolutionaries. This was not only the center of commerce for the city but also the center of culture, and it was awesome.

One of the really cool parts of downtown was the Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) decorations. The Day of the Dead is a Mexican holiday to celebrate the remembrance of friends and family members who have died. Occurring on the 1st and 2nd of November (in connection with the Catholic Holidays of All Saints' and All Souls' day) the downtown area has become rife with skeletal mannequins to celebrate not only the holiday but also the Pan Am Games. The skeletons are depicted participating in different sports that are part of the games!

We also walked through the Government Palace or Palacio de Gobierno. Many of the walls (and ceilings) were covered in murals by a famous Mexican artist Kaitlyn told me the name of but which I now forget. (I'll get it from her and update this post for all those who are curious.) Full of symbolism and emotion. Each mural seemed to tell a story of oppression, revolution or hope. Hope was my favourite.
Now that's a Michelada
Anyway after finishing up at the Palace we walked through a few more of the courtyards before stopping to get a bite to eat (and another drink - I was parched!). Kaitlyn was ecstatic because the place we found had a special on Micheladas, 1 liter for 47 pesos (about 4 dollars). For those unfamiliar with Mexican libationary delicacies, the Michelada is somewhat similar to a beer & clam, but with a few Mexican spices added in for good measure. The result is usually reddish-brown, similar in a lot of ways to a caesar, including it's inebriaton inducing effects. They are also Kaitlyn's favourite Mexican drink. Her oversized beverage also allowed me to polish off a couple of beers myself before she could finish, not that I was complaining ;)

After finishing a huge meal (we shared nachos and fajitas) and our refreshments it was past five o' clock but we had a little time left to explore some of the markets downtown and while it was pretty cool to find an authentic Mexican market in the heart of a city like Guadalajara, in most ways it was very similar to the markets I've seen in Puerto Vallarta except for one very important detail. It was underground.

Okay well maybe not completely underground, but you have to walk down half a flight of stairs from street level and everything is covered in white aluminum siding panels. Once you got down to the shop level it was a veritable labyrinth of storefronts, selling everything from fresh fruit and candy to knock off brand name leather jackets. It was quite an experience and I was even able to get some presents for my family while there! Needless to say our first day in Guadalajara was extremely memorable. Tonight is Lucha Libre! Mexican style wrestling is very popular here and totally part of the culture. I'm really looking forward to it and blogging about it later. Cheers.

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