Traveler's USA Notebook


Surprising Guadalajara

Dining Tips and Restaurants


Top Ten Reasons to Visit Guadalajara:
Feels like a small town, with all the convenience of a big city (Pop: 5 to 6 million). Bursting with business opportunities (there’s loadsamoney here), plus cultural perks, Big G is ideal for those who crave a gentle urban idyll and hate mindless beach life.
2.) Deep, inspiring, passionate and political art---see Orozoco*******
3.) Excellent massage therapists
4.) Dripping with history and heart, and yummy papaya juice, everywhere
5.) Cactus for breakfast!
6.) Gorgeous folks, who knock themselves out to be lovely to you...the tapatios
7.) Seriously different street architecture, some really clever, some mind-bogglingly awful: walks are filled with rewards and surprises
8.) Lots of magical little green statues of that moody snake with feathers, Qyetzalcoatl, the father and creator god---also, he is god of science, agriculture, education, arts, wind and the morning star, the evening star, and the 9th Lord of Day when he feels like it. You can even take Qyetzy home in the bookends version, for your OED.
9.) Beautiful bowls, vases, and pottery, silvery and also outer space colours
10.) Tequila!
For more information from the Mexico Newsbureau, click here!

Dining Tips and Restaurants: Iguana Green Breakfast----
tequile from maguey tequilero cactus,
Ma Come No Ave. de Americas No. 302 C.P. 44600
Tel. (3) 615-4952 Fax. (3) 616-2738
Ask for Dario Perez Garcia
A wonderful middle-class Italian restaurant with the best service your roving reporter has ever had in any Italian restaurant ever in the world. Five waiters hovering, and there’s another one, just like it, called Negito, in Tampico, if you’re going that way.

La fonda del San Miquel,
Unfortunately, they didn’t xerox the top of the menu, so I haven’t a clue where it is, which is too bad  (A reader, Marius, tells us the vital info is Donato Guerra no. 25 tel (3) 6130809). There’s a great selection of shops all round it, or what it’s called. I enjoyed the setting, but for a vegetarian it was terribly disappointing and not up to speed. There are parrots in cages and harps and a lovely band playing and pretty colours and you sit under a huge skylight in a jungley atrium and the best red and green hot sauces this reporter ever had. The others had what they said was good pork in tamarind sauce, chicken sushi towers, nice banana bread, pale pink jalapeno butter, and meat in the first dish, so back it went. When I found meat in the spinach, later, I just left it and had the three lovely whole-wheat tortillas stuffed with cheese, mushroom pate and flower squash, respectively, but it wasn’t enough to eat and the desserts, including the much-extolled Jericalla, though pleasantly wobbly, were bland and uninspiring. We tried Cafe de Olla, brewed in an earthenware pot, which helped stave off the hunger pangs.
But we had to admit that though this is a seemingly sophisticado restaurante, most of Mexico is not yet up to speed in comprehending the needs of people who do not want dead animals in their breakfasts, lunches, and dinners. The use of animal lard in sauces and beans, chicken stock, and cooking of eggs in the meat grease is almost universal.

Now, 10% of the population of England is now vegetarian, as are huge parts of India, and the Buddhists all round the world, and the Muslims who avoid pork, and the Israelis and New Yorkers who like their food kosher, no mixing meat with cheese. So until Mexico gets hip to what tourists need ---and need to avoid ---in their Mexican food, it’s going to annoy and frighten away the tourist dollars. Nothing is more personal than food.
Viva Vegetarians!
Megga, Ave. de las Rosas 420.
Just snacks and baked goods, a friendly, if basic, vegetarian haven.
Prasad, this is a chain of health shops, ask around, there are a few in Guadalajara
Restaurant Acuarius, Ave. Sanchez 416 Tel. (3) 613-6277
Being vegetarian here means never having to say you’re sorry. You don’t have to say, "No carne, no pescado!" either! We didn’t get to check this one out, but my friend Onashka, who lives in Guadalajara, says it’s pretty good.

Cafe Madrid
on Juarez 264 Tel. (3) 614-9504
All kinds of excellent cups of hot coffee, including a delicioso Cuban Cafe con Leche, which is surprisingly difficult to get in the traditional Guadalajara spots. Hot cakes, too.


Best deal: 20 dollars U.S. for 45 minutes in the Club Olympus health spa on the Eleventh floor of the Presidente. You get to laugh and practice your shocking Spanish while young and talented massage therapist Lupita works all the kinks out of your shoulders and soul. You’d better book way in advance, because this talented young masseuse is extremely popular with the local society ladies and the regular visitors to the hotel, many of whom are businesswomen who work for Office Depot, Sears, etc. For someone who only graduated from massage school four years ago, she’s really good. Her hands are strong, and she still loves her work, an inspiring and happy experience.
Virtuoso massage therapist: Alfredo. S’Funny thing about massage therapists. The ones who have been at it for a long time seem to develop a sixth sense, as if they can see under your skin to where all the horrible little rocks are in your rack o’ shamblin’ bones. Alfredo brings his massage table to where you are, for $40 US. And he is courteous, dignified and professional. He doesn’t brag about who his other clients are, a practice that makes he extremely nervous because it a) violates client confidentiality, and b) makes one feel as if the therapist is more interested in name-dropping than in the healing art. I suspect a lot of Alfredo’s clients are really big shots---hey, even the Rolling Stones have been in Guadalajara--- because he is unquestionably---a superb healer. I’d arrived in the Big G at 2 a.m. the night before, my neck all a-twist from the week before, and at 10 am Alfredo appeared, set up the table, checked out my neck, said, "Con Permiso?", I said "Si" and cra-a-a-a-ack! all the pain and stiffness and pretzels were gone outa my neck and back. Give this man a nice big tip and tell your friends. I’d go back to the Big G just to get my swan-like neck done once a week by this genuine healing practitioner.


Sightseeing in Guadalajara
About G: Founded around 1542, in the Valley of Atemajac The original people here were Indian tribes, constantly bashed by attacking Chichimec tribes. It’s rich with volcanic soil, agriculture
Pop: 6 million, but it feels gentle, like a small town, with lovely manners, a highly conservative populace, which means it’s safe, calm, and a little dull. No beaches, it’s inland.
Biggest silver mining source in the world, and the leading producer of zinc, mercury and tequila (tours and samples available, about 36 miles out of town), the Guadalajara area has two-thirds of the country’s industry, processing mostly food, clothes, housewares, and la industria maquiladora, the assembling of imported foreign parts for re-export to other nations, in a word, NAFTA.
Make sure you see:
The Cathedral: Of course.
"The Escorial of the Americas": Cabanas Cultural Institute (Hospicio Cabanas)
The beloved Bishop of Guadalajara, Juan Ruiz de Cabanas y Crespo---the locals just call him Cabanas, with a an affecting reverence---started a Casa de la Misericordia (House of Mercy) here. It was, by turns, a convent, an orphanage, even a barracks at times. There is a lovely old spooky smell here, but comforting, like being in an old church or castle in England, the old graves and stones filling you with the gentle heaviness of history. I was just standing, eyes closed, sniffing, when Lorena, the charming diplomat from the Government of Mexico, gently offered that only a few feet away, under a cross of unmarked stones, lay the heart of the beloved Cabanas. Other parts of his body are buried in other sections of town, as "they loved him so much, everyone wanted a piece of him".
and Manual Tolsa designed it at the end of the 1700s. Jose Guitierrez finished building it in 1845, and until 1983 they still cared for kids here, till a more modern facility was available
What’s interesting here architecturally is it’s one of not many neoclassical structures in Mexico, but you’ve got Tuscan columns and orange trees, and good tricks of seeing down the columns and doorways toward pleasant vistas of space and fountains. How I wish the young savages who plan town sections in the USA would get a gander at the grace of’s worth ‘wasting’ a few extra tiles to get the grandeur and space and feeling of peace for the people, folks.
In the Chapel, the murals of Jose Clemente Orozco hit you in the eyeballs, then heart, then, spinningly, the intellect.
I looked up. There, in the cupola, was a Dantesque scene of men amidst the flames, and when you circled, the men and flames moved! So I sank to the stone floor to get a better look, took some snaps, and was stopped by the guard. The ability to say "I’m sorry" is one of the essential tool in the traveller’s box, and after half a dozen sincere "Lo siento's" I moved quickly and silently out to the square. But ooh, that Orozco! What a fireball!

Our diplomat, Lorena, promised me more Orozcos at the Government Palace, and said that the Chapel folks had been shocked to see how politically controversial Orozco’s murals were...but by that time, the scenes were up on the walls, and it was too late: there they remain.

In the square outside, the Plaza Tapatia, squeals and giggles of delighted, crawling children and sheepish, smiling old men will lead you to the seriously clever bronze seated sculptures of Alejuandro Colungas, a contemporary artist who donated his work to the City of Guadalajara because, according to our diplomat, Lorena, he wanted even the poorest of the poor not to be deprived of the enjoyment of art.
A young man selling Squirt directed us to the market, where if you have the time and the feet and fingers, you can buy shoes, boots, guitars, clocks, practical jokes, chess sets, jewelry, and most importantly, if you know what’s good for you, bright green bookends of Q, the snake god!!!


More Orozcos, at the Palacio de Gobierno, a 1774 building with a baroque facade, in the (pronounce this)---churrigueresque style---his mind-blowing murals, on the right, the Carnival of Ideologies or (Contemporary Circus) and on the left, the Ghost of Religion’s Alliance with Militarism. See Hidalgo coming at you with the burning torch! See the Nazis, and Commies and the greedy Capitalistas in one pushing mob, and the conniving church figures in another, with the poor, hungry, sick, mixed-up, oppressed people screaming and sobbing under the jackboot of the cruel political elite. Don’t tell the NEA about this! They’ll be begging Kinley Finley to come back and smear chokkies all over her intelligent naked feminist body---she’s gentle stuff, compared with this. It is marvelous---if painfully affecting---to take in this compassionate artist’s work. Unmissable, unforgettable, to see it all in an official government building with uptight police guards at the gate! But it was here, during the Mexican War of Independence, that Father Hidalgo proclaimed the abolishment of slavery.

Thank heavens the Delgollado Theatre was shut---we couldn’t have taken the O there, artists and writers in fiery limbo, Doric and Corinthian columns, a horseshoe shaped theatre, opening nights must be fabulous. In the Plaza de Armes, there’s a huge gazebo-thingie, a 1900’s French art deco kiosk, with fairy lights and little statues on top with women playing instruments. It is all extremely romantic, in a bottled-up, proper, old-fashioned sort of way. For this is a country where women in their 20s still live with Mama until they marry, but unlike in the USA, there is propriety in it, not just to save on laundry and rent bills.

Our eyeballs asizzle, bodies fried, they took us to the Regional Museum of G. anyway, another baroque building with Tuscan style arcardes, and we’re glad they did, for a huge complete skeleton of a mammoth there, tusks and all, lives here, among priceless works of primitive Mexican art and handicrafts. And an exhibit of the satiric art of ****.

Jalisco state, one of Mexico’s 31, famed home of Tequila, childhood home of the artist Orozco, People and the False Leaders Man, Creator Rebel at the new museum
mariachis, jarabe tapatio (Mexican hat dance) charreria (rodeo)

About Orozco 1883-1949 a native of Jalisco, he moved to Guadalajara when he was a young child, and emerged from the Revolution as a really firebrand.

If you’re coming to Mexico, might as well live it up. We only got to try two, but the locals insist they’re two of the best, and we believe them.
Quinta Real
Av. Mexico No. 2727, Guadalajara, Jal, Mexico C.P. 44680
Tel. (3) 615-00-00 Fax: (3) 630-17-97 From USA: 1-800-445-4565
On Minerva Circle, gracious and mysterious, I loved this place.
Presidente Inter-Continental Guadalajara
Av. Lopez Mateos Sur y Moctezuma
45050, Guadalajara, Jalisco Apartado Postal 890
Tel. (3) 678-1234 Fax (3) 678-1222
To book a room from the US, call: 1-800-327-0200
by the Plaza Del Sol (a huge, jolly shopping mall)
The big plastic international hotel, where the heads of state stay, is beautiful, a self-contained world away from the world, exactly what you want, comforting, friendly, gracious, and there’s a nice Presidential suite with a huge black Jacuzzi for two.
A Spa Near Guadalajara:
Rio Caliente Spa
Has vegetarian meals, massages, hikes, yoga, the works, and, best of all, NO PHONES!
It’s about $30 U.S. outside of Guadalajara, and the only way you can book this one is to call 415-615-9543 and arrange this before you go to Mexico.


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