I first arrived in Tlaquepaque on October 1, 2011. This is a quaint area that is part of the greater metropolis of Guadalajara. But it has the feel of a small Mexican town and it’s a short twenty minute bus ride to El Centro, an area I have come to know very well.
Tlaquepaque grows on you. I live in the colony of San Pedro, much to the envy of many people. And I will miss this neighborhood when I head back to Canada for a while. Yes, I will miss the climate, but it’s the people and the culture that I will miss the most.
In the morning should I decide I want eggs for breakfast, it’s only a few feet to a tienda. These small corner stores are packed with products. And they are oh so convenient!
If I don’t feel like cooking, Vic down the street cooks awesome burgers and another street vendor offers an array of tacos, gorditas and tostados. Another lady has wonderful tortas ahogadas. There is a stand with fresh juices. And the tamale truck drives by regularly. Ice cream vendors walk by constantly, and churros are just around the corner.
The people are all so friendly and greetings of Buenos Dias and Buenas Noches are the norm. My neighbor Carlos is always out walking his dogs. People sit out on their doorsteps and congregate on street corners. It is safe to walk the streets here, day and night.
A number of buses stop on the corner of my street regularly. The Zeta gas truck and the water truck drive by frequently. And it is not uncommon to see horses and wagons come by my house as well as cars.
The Jardin Hidalgo is a ten minute walk from my house. The kiosko often comes alive with music in the evenings, and the street vendors are out in full force. My favorite incense shop is one of the many small shops near the garden. In one direction is the famed El Parian, and in the other direction is the popular Calle Independencia. Tourists flock to this area, especially on the weekends and during the winter months. Artesans display their wares and there are fabulous restaurants and bars in abundance. There is also a ceramics museum.
Also within a few blocks of my house is the El Refugio Cultural Center. The entertainment and displays here are amazing and there is often no charge for admission.
My second home away from home is a small coffee shop called Jahanve. My friend Claudia brews awesome coffee and her culinary talents are most impressive. I have spent many happy hours over the years here with friends, and Timmie’s in Winnipeg cannot hold a candle to Jahanve.
I will also miss the music of my favorite band Barbershop. Amazing renditions of The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and Creedence Clearwater Revival are only part of their repertoire.
I will miss the awesome museums and beautiful parks in Guadalajara. There are gorgeous statues and fountains in abundance on the streets here. The zoo is spectacular and boasts a sky ride and a safari ride.But my favorite retreat is Parque Mirador. The view of the canyon is beyond breathtaking.
And last, but definitely not least, I will miss my students. Eager to learn and appreciative of my efforts, the hours have flown by all too quickly. I have taught in private schools, language institutes and companies. My students have included accountants, doctors, lawyers, engineers, computer geeks, business people, teenagers and young children. Hours filled with animated conversation and grammar have sped by all too quickly. We have played games, had competitions, have decorated classrooms for holidays and have even tie-dyed T shirts.
It’s with a heavy heart that I will board a plane one month from today to return to Winnipeg. Today the weather up north is stormy—–snow and freezing rain. I sincerely hope that this will all have disappeared by the end of April.
But I will be returning to Mexico. This country is where my heart lies now. What was to be a one year venture has extended instead to almost five years. And I look forward to many more years here.
A ten minute walk down the street from my house is El Refugio, San Pedro’s cultural center. A variety of activities take place in this building, and the current main attraction is Guelaguetza, a fair presented by the city of Oaxaca. Work by artesans, as well as clothing and foods are prominently displayed in several rooms. I briefly sauntered through this area on my way to the main auditorium where the entertainment was to be held.
This huge room was packed with people. By some miracle I was able to find an unoccupied chair right on an aisle. In addition to the hundreds of us who were fortunate to find seats, there were hundreds more standing.
Here are two photos of incredible vocalists who performed early yesterday afternoon.
And then the dancers thrilled us with their delightful costumes and incredible moves.
They were accompanied by a live group of talented musicians.
To the delight of the crowd, every now and then between performers, a person would appear on stage with a large basket filled with candy or fruit, and would toss them out to the audience. A vendor with a tray full of ice cream made his way up and down the aisles. The speakers blared music and the festive atmosphere was amazing.
I reluctantly left after about four hours when the battery on my phone died after taking numerous videos and photos.
I intend to return before the fair ends next weekend. There is still food to be sampled and a variety of displays to be viewed. And then perhaps a trip to Oaxaca itself in the future………….