It was a magical day, warmed by the embrace of all the families enjoying their time together. Guadalajara warmed my heart and I slept dreaming of Bustamente’s mythical creatures twirling with me on cobble stone streets in the moonlight.
Mexico loves holidays and celebrations. Year round there are days devoted to family and music, feasts and remembrances. It’s a mix of history, revolutions won, church holy days and family celebrations. I was lucky to be in Guadalajara for Mother’s Day and to play with the locals.
The art district of Talaquepaque isn’t far from the city center. The name Tlaquepaque derives from Nahuatl and means “place above clay land”. Historically it refers to a large part of the city, but today is focused in a shopping and restaurant area filled with galleries and markets, high and low.
A cobble stone path led me past restaurant courtyards spilling over with patrons. The lilt of guitars, accordions, and singing rose and mixed above quiet groups taking pictures and visiting. Women walked arm in arm, young men strutted with strollers, their broods following, and grandfathers carried babies. Everyone seemed to be eating and shopping. It was a uniquely Mexican crowd. Very few appeared to be foreigners.
The central market, filled with flowers and fruit, cheeses and crafts, was closing as my girlfriend and I crossed the cathedral courtyard. We were on a mission to find something cold to drink and try out the chairs that are indigenous to the area.
The chairs are built of wooden slats criss-crossed to form the base and back. Smooth leather is slung across the seat. We found them near the plaza of El Parian, inside the block-wide arcade. Cafes and bars surrounded a center open to the afternoon sun. A gazebo was crowded with musicians. The vocalist, dressed in ruffled red, worked the crowd, flirting and waving from one table and another.
Before I left the avenue there was just time to walk through the Sergio Bustamente Gallery with it’s beautiful garden and rooms full of whimsical, strange and anthropomorphic creations. The renowned artist was born in Culiacan, Sinaloa, Mexico, but has lived in Tlaquepaque area since early childhood. Inside was a bright maze full of bronzes and brightly painted sculptures, canvasses and glass cases with fantastical jewelry. It was a little universe unto itself and a magical discovery. I’ve been charmed before by his large public sculptures along the Malecons in La Paz and Puerto Vallarta.
As we wandered back to join our group for dinner, we passed an inviting courtyard. It was an entrance to a small, bed an breakfast inn. Hotel Casa Campos was once a convent that has been turned into a guest house. My glimpse of the rooms off the patio convinced me that I’ll have to return and stay there one day.
The day was wearing towards twilight. It was time for dinner and we joined friends at the Santo Coyote cafe. Again the pattern of a modest entrance leading to a large space filled with art, people enjoying food, drinks and music opened to us. You just have to know where to enter!
Thank you to NATJA and the Tourism authority of Jalisco for organizing this introduction to the treasures of Guadalajara.