Day One of our trip began at 3:30 am! What kind of “vacation” was this going to be?! We had an early flight out of Hermosillo and a ninety minute drive from Guaymas to the airport, so we were up before the roosters! Steve and I waited for our pick up at the Pemex gas station. I am sure we looked like runaways, standing behind the pumps with our two suitcases. Fortunately, the Policía Municipal did not find our presence suspicious at all, and they did not even glance our way on their 4:45 cruise through town. We were picked up right on schedule and enjoyed the most quiet van ride of our lives, aside from the snoring, of course.
We had no delays and traffic in Guadalajara was light. We arrived at our hotel before they were ready for us, so we stowed our luggage and briefly explored the historic district before lunch. I am extra lucky Steve was along. He walked behind me and announced curbs, holes in the sidewalk, uneven pavement, and light changes. I was too busy trying to take in as much as I could around me, and that did not include where I was walking.
I had my first “aha” moment thirty minutes into our walk. I thought the gazebo in the center of Plaza del 13 de Julio in Guaymas was unique to that plaza only- -yes, as in the only plaza in Mexico with a gazebo. So, I was a bit bewildered when I noticed Plaza de Armas had a gazebo too. Mark, one of our very patient guides, explained that there is at least one gazebo in at least one plaza in every city. Otherwise, where would the orchestra sit when they played for the crowds gathered on weekends? And sure enough, later that evening, the orchestra played!
After lunch and some hotel room organization time, we headed out for a double decker bus tour of the city. I am not going to lie. I was determined to have a seat on top for the best viewing possible. Luckily, I did not have to push any children out of my way to achieve this! Guadalajara is the second most populated metropolitan city after Mexico City. It is huge! The bus tour provided a great overview of a place I would need to spend a month or more to fully grasp. Works of art, statues, and fountains decorated the many roundabouts that kept traffic moving smoothly. There was an incredible mix of historic and contemporary architechure, a lot of green space, wide roads, and blooming flowers along our route.
The city was well prepared for the double decker buses too. We noticed that trees were pruned so that we would not smack our heads on branches as we drove under them. We delighted at the birds feasting on the seeds of the flowers right above our heads as we waited at red lights. I realized, while looking up and laughing with my mouth wide open, that it might be in my best interest to shut it! I did not want accidentally swallowing bird poop to be “my vacation story”.
After our tour we spent the evening walking throughout the four plazas surrounding the Catedral de Guadalajara or Catedral de la Asunción de María Santísima. La Rotunda de los Jaliscienes Ilustres, features statues of important scientists, teachers, artists, and authors from Jalisco. Preparations were underway for Carnaval in Plaza Guadalajara. Buskers performed magic, acrobatics, and puppetry. Children chased after rocket shaped balloons that when bounced on the ground, soared high in the air.
A mariachi band performed in front of Teatro Degollado, and a band playing instruments made of everyday household items performed behind. We strolled the length of Plaza de la Liberation, the last plaza in the link. There was a lighted fountain, almost as long as the plaza itself, and the Regional Museum provided the perfect backdrop.
Government buildings surrounded the plazas, as Guadalajara is the state capital. We had the opportunity to view Jose Clemente Orozco’s mural, depicting Padre Don Miguel Hidalgo igniting Mexico’s passion and fight for independence, in el Palacio de Gobierno. Believe me, this made visiting a government office absolutely worth it!
I should have been exhausted but could not help feeling exhilarated. The energy of the people, the music, the sounds, and the lights kept me going. Guadalajara was buzzing when we arrived late morning. It seemed the frenzy would continue late into the night. Reluctantly, we headed back to our hotel, knowing tomorrow was another jam packed day!
And just in case you are wondering, my major purchase for the day was an ice cream cone.