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Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Recovering from our Grueling Bus Ride

Aloha Everyone,

J.J. and I are still recovering from our 7 1/2 bumpy bus ride. 

Guadalajara, compared to the three previous cities we visited, is a bustling center of business. One thing we noticed is that hotels and restaurant prices seem to be more reasonable. I suppose that’s because they cater to the local population rather than to foreign tourists.

Here are some ordinary sights we saw on our brief outings today. First photo is a restaurant manager cleaning the ceiling lights. Luckily, we were seated at least 6 tables away.

Cappuccino was excellent but J.J.’s Frappuccino was too huge and not very kind to his still recovering body. The guitarist in the background played for us enthusiastically after J.J. gave him US$.56. The manager and a waiter tried to repair the sunshade with stapler as a worried diner watched. Our Italian panini sandwiches were excellent.

Our hotel is located at a busy corner on Avenida Juarez. There are always some enterprising entrepreneurs trying to make money. Today we saw a window washer who runs to stopped cars, quickly negotiated the price and cleans the windshields. The job is completed in less than a minute before the signal light changes.

Aloha -- Cathi

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Day 1 in Guadalajara

Aloha Everyone,

The bus ride from San Miguel to Guadalajara was supposed to be a 5 1/2 hours. But toll road accidents plus coming to a complete halt at 4 toll booths added two hours. The bumpy 7 1/2 hours bus trip was physically and mentally exhausting.

J.J. and I are grateful Hotel Portobelo is so far the nicest habitation we’ve stayed in Mexico. The best part is that it’s priced well. We are paying US$60 for our beautiful, upgraded room inclusive of tax and service charges. Complimentary buffet breakfast is served from 7:00 am - 12:00 noon.  

Guadalajara is the second largest city in México and the capital of Jalisco. Its Metropolitan population is nearly 4 million. This is also the home of Tequila, Mariachi and Charreria.(Méxican Rodeo)

Locals (people from Guadalajara) are known as Tapatiós. You might be familiar with Tepatió Hot Sauce. It’s the name of a popular hot sauce produced in California by migrants from Guadalajara.

The name Guadalajara has an Arabic origin tracing its root to the Spanish home town of the city founder, Nuño de Guzman. It means river/valley of stones.

We took an easy stroll to the Centro and walked to Temple Nuestra Señor al Carmen, Jardin del Carmen, Plaza de la Constitution, Plaza de Armas.  I entered the Cathedral de la Asunción de María Santísima.  All of these are accessible by foot and I was able to check many of these attractions and get my walking exercises while J.J. enjoyed his conversation with a Tapatío.

Aloha -- Cathi

Monday, February 26, 2018

Escondido Place Hot Spring; To Guadalajara

Aloha Everyone,

Among many activities J.J. and I engaged in San Miguel de Allende was a day trip to Escondido Place Hot Spring.

A 15 minutes drive by taxi from Centro, the road was relatively well paved except for the final kilometer which was unpacked and dusty. For J.J., taxi rides in México are bit of a torture. The automobiles, whether they are Japanese or Korean imports, are very small. J.J. could hardly squeeze himself in. He tried the seat next to the driver but they are still too small. Imagine someone a lot taller and bigger. I guess they would have to ask for a SUV through Uber.

This hot spring seem to attract well-to-do local families. They either drive their own cars or have drivers. To access the property, the cost is MX$150 (US$8.34) per person. There is no private bath, but rather I saw a swimming pool. The two natural hot springs were muddy with large carps in the water.

Today, we are leaving San Miguel de Allende. The Prima Plus bus ride will take us approximately 4 1/2 hours. Our estimated arrival time in Guadalajara is 6:00 pm.

Aloha -- Cathi

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Sunday in San Miguel

Aloha Everyone,

Church bells in San Miguel, except Parroquia, are rang manually. It is a great honor to be asked to ring bells. According to local experts on churches, there are nearly 300 places of worship. But I have not been able to ascertain how many of them have bell towers. Beginning at 6:30 this morning, J.J. and I heard bells calling the faithful to Sunday services.

The sound of multiple bells with high and low chimes reverberating through the narrow streets of Centro is definitely uplifting and yes, it has a magical quality!

My eyes caught a congenial couple who sat across the walking path in Jardin. They were enthusiastically munching on what it looked like a thin cracker. They have consistent circular holes — a cheese? Not being able to contain my curiosity, I introduced myself and asked what it was that they were eating.

Gabriela and Edoardo were eating “Recortes”. They are leftover sheets from the production of communion wafer. After giving me a sample, they pointed where we can purchase them — in front of the Parroquia from a nun. We paid MX$20 or US$1.12 for a package. J.J. who was raised as a Catholic was amused.

Doors, enormous doors, there are so many impressive doors along the streets the two of us walk in Centro. Some are artistic, colorful and beautifully maintained, others are old and decaying but all are individualistic and worth a second look. One can never tell what lies behind these formidable doors. During the colonial days, the main door facing the street had two purposes: One for protection, to keep unwanted visitors out; and two, to display the rank and prestige of its resident.

Aloha -- Cathi

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Mexican Folk Toy Museum & Weddings in San Miguel

Aloha Everyone,

La Esquina, Museo del Juguete Popular Mexicano folk toy museum, is located on a less travelled section of Centro. For an entrance fee of MXN 50.00 ($2.78) you have access to a multi-storied quaint museum with more than 1,000 vintage, handcrafted toys from various regions of México. I was told that this one of a kind museum is credited to Angélica Tijerina who acquired the collection over fifty years.

The toy museum was a fun place to visit, but it would have been more meaningful if there was a docent to take visitors around to explain about this amazing and exceptional collection. I especially like the toys depicting Alebrije, a dragon. Our granddaughter is into dragons: she reads books on dragons; writes stories about dragons; draws image as well as makes origami.

Destination Weddings are very popular and San Miguel does a wonderful job promoting itself to North Americans. Today we saw three wedding parties. The most notable and one that J.J. and I nearly bumped right into was of a young couple. It was quite a spectacle. The bride and groom were led by over sized puppets depicting a bride and groom followed by a Mariachi band. We estimated the wedding party/guests to be about 50 flanked by photographers, videographers and waiters with drinks.

One make sacrifices to look fashionable. Wearing 3 plus inches stilettos is very difficult and dangerous on uneven cobblestone streets.

The two other weddings were at Parroquia. One group was coming out as the second group was waiting to enter the church. Seeing decked-out couples with many carrying fur wrap or shawls seemed out of place for San Miguel where the evening temperature was 78 degrees Fahrenheit.

The two of us wish all the happy couples, their families and friends the best. The wedding day is just a day, but may their love grow over the years.

Aloha -- Cathi

Friday, February 23, 2018

Biblioteca Público & Atención San Miguel

Aloha Everyone,

After learning about this much prized newspaper from Scott and Gloria, I am happy to say that I finally have one in my possession! First published in 1975, this weekly bilingual community newspaper is now considered the “must read” periodical to find out what’s happening in San Miguel.

Lots of news and advertisement that are of interest to the foreign born active retirees. For example, the Jewish 
Cultural & Community Center page included ads about art lectures; offers of Spanish language classes; information about various medical and psychological care; organized travel to Cuba, Peru and Europe. But the predominant advertisement is by real estate firms like Sotheby’s and Coldwell Banker marketing homes priced from $495,000 USD for 2BD/3 1/2 BA In Centro to $1,700,000 luxury homes. Living in San Miguel is not cheap!

Biblioteca is the community center for expatriates in San Miguel. In addition to information about events, there are notices about the different volunteer opportunities.

After a full day walking up and down the Centro of San Miguel, the two of us were drawn to the Jardin as the evening bells of Parroquia rang. The plaza was lively as ever with a free music concert sponsored by the city.

Aloha -- Cathi