Guadalajara-Mexican City of the future!
This is Guadalajara-Mexican City of the future! An international city which is actually three cities integrated to make one; the city connected the nearby towns of Zapopan and Tlaquepaque, which maintain their historic centres. Guadalajara, as I found out, has a great deal to offer beyond Tequila and the Mariachi. Yes, it is best known as the home of tequila and mariachi music but with the architectural buildings, beautiful tree-lined roads and
State of Jalisc
The city of Guadalajara was founded by 64 people and now the city has five million citizens becoming the second most important metropolitan area in Mexico. The city is the capital of the state of Jalisco and is the place of power for the governor, congressmen and judges.
Zapopan, Tlaquepaque and Guadalajara
The connection between Guadalajara and Zapopan is the Virgin Mary. The Catholic Church built a Basilica dedicated to the Virgin Mary in 1689 which is central to both. Tlaquepaque is a city and a municipality that integrates the metropolitan area of Guadalajara. Tlaquepaque’s historic centre is one of the most visited places in the metropolitan area due to its many art galleries, restaurants, flea markets and especially the Parián – a large patio surrounded by restaurants and bars which are packed with tourists. I love the rocky paved streets, churches and old houses here and it still conserves its old world charm.
If Hyderabad in India is the city of pearls then Guadalajara is the “The Pearl of the West.” The city has colonial roots which are unmistakable everywhere around the city. The city centre is like a cross, which has the Guadalajara cathedral and 4 surrounding plazas.
The City Highlights
The climate is very mild and the temperatures throughout the year range from lows of around 68F degrees to highs around 92F degrees during the summer. I loved the way the roads are laid out; wide open spaces which have ample room for free movement of traffic. When traffic gets difficult to handle and there is no place for widening or flyovers then Guadalajara has a labyrinth of underpass tunnels that are wide and go a long way with forks to all sides. The tunnels are well lit and ease the traffic snarls making life easy. They have been built under the belly of old buildings without harming them.
Why cannot we in India have such tunnels that would make the life of commuters easy? Wide tree-lined avenues with wide pavements that are cobbled and have flowers growing. The dividers too are covered with thick citrus trees that look bright and spread a natural citrus aroma in the atmosphere. I have seen rows of trees laden with oranges and lemons at arm’s reach but none trying to pluck them.
Wide Open Roads
Flowers of all kinds blossoming that are a feast to the eye on the pavements and in the traffic islands. Public trees are well manicured without a leaf out of place. The civic sense of the citizens is laudable, to say the least. There is no unnecessary honking, no one tries to speed up and overtake. The cabbies are all so well behaved and greet you politely. I took walks just to check out the road layouts comparing with the roads in India and realized how pathetically lagging we are as a nation. (Are you listening Mr Chief Minister Naidu? You should send a small team to study how things work there)
Mexico is also a third world country and their economy is wobbly but the government is going all out to stabilize it and give the best amenities to the denizens. There are queues everywhere but there no one jumps the queue and quietly wait their turn.
Mi Bici Shared Bike
Right across my son’s house, there was the shared bike system, Mi Bici; 80 Pesos for a 24-hour rental and free rentals for up to 30 minutes. I wished I could ride a bike and I could have wandered further. On Sundays and holidays, main thoroughfares are off for vehicular traffic and open for bikers of all ages. I saw young, old and toddlers on their tricycle around the Minerva statue biking happily. Peddlers selling oranges and Christmas caps made me feel nostalgic as we see the same at the Traffic lights back home in India.
Random people will greet you with a smile and you don’t feel like a stranger in an alien land. Even when you sneeze people around you will all say “Salud” in unison. I didn’t know how to speak Spanish but that was no deterrent to interact with the locals; we talked with gestures and expressions! Civic and traffic sense needs to be learned from them and I feel it should be taught in school in India as we need it a lot! We think people in India are warm but people in Guadalajara are helpful, warm and gracious.
Music is an integral part of my life and I am used to listening all the time and in Guadalajara, the birthplace of Mariachi music, there is a vibrant music scene in the city; I never missed my Indian music. Music rents the air all over the city; you can hear it in the streets, parks, promenades, restaurants, cars. And the music is lively and reminds me of pulsating Bollywood rhythms; Punjabi in particular!
Great Cafe Culture
Guadalajara’s dining and nightlife scene are awesome and even small bistro and cafes are choc-a-bloc most of the time. I went to a café on a Sunday morning for brunch with my son and grandson and there was a waiting list there. Once you register your name you can wait until your name is called out and in the meanwhile, there is a pitcher of juice and kettle of coffee you can sip on while sitting on the slatted wooden seats. Isn’t that an exceptional way of holding on to your customers and keeping them from moving on to the next café? When will restaurants in India learn this?
There is art everywhere; on the pavements, on the roads, in the graffiti on the walls and is all well preserved. If you keep walking around the city you would only marvel at the strange but beautiful art forms. Stone fountains are a part of wide open spaces as well as patios of homes. Wrought iron benches are placed at strategic points to catch your breath, rest a while and watch the greenery around. Statues are in every nook and corner but all of them are in a natural neutral colour which is muted and the sculptured art in unique shapes dot the plazas and the malls and blend in perfectly with the smart surroundings. Each worth stopping and admiring.
The well laid out parks are a place most families head out to in the evening or on a weekend. I took my grandson to the park a couple of times and he enjoyed playing on the swings and trampolines. Every restaurant or tourist place has a play area for kids. One weekend there was a kids movie playing out in the open and families landed up with their mats and quilts as it was winter.I was watching the people more than I watched the movie.
Blend of Tradition & Modern
A historic city with a modern outlook, Guadalajara is a perfect blend of both. Check out outstanding mariachi music at Mexico City’s Plaza Garibaldi. The mariachi music, tequila, sombreros or hats and the Jarabe Tapatío dance all originated in Jalisco! So, if you are looking for a fusion of tradition and big city living, Guadalajara fits the bill.
The downtown of Guadalajara is the oldest section of the city and steeped in culture, where it was founded and where the oldest buildings are. Metropolitan Cathedral and the church were consecrated in 1616. Its two towers are considered as the city’s symbols. The architecture is a mix of Gothic, Baroque, Moorish and Neoclassical.
City of the Future
In a survey titled “Cities of the Future”, Guadalajara ranked highest among major Mexican cities and Guadalajara was stated as having the second strongest economic potential of any major North American city behind Chicago. The FDI ranked it as the most business-friendly Latin American city.
Commerce & Tourism
Commerce and tourism are the main employment centres and the city’s economy rests on these and industry. Food and beverages, toys, textiles, auto parts, electronic equipment, pharmaceuticals, footwear, furniture and steel products are the main industries. Forty percent are exported, mostly to the United States. But it is the electronics and information technology sectors that have nicknamed the city the “Silicon Valley of Mexico.” Guadalajara is the main producer of software, electronic and digital components in Mexico. Software Companies such as General Electric, IBM, Intel Corporation, Freescale Semiconductor, Hitachi Ltd., Hewlett-Packard, Siemens, Flextronics, Oracle, TCS, Cognizant Technology Solutions and Jabil Circuit have offices here.
Five miles away from Guadalajara is Tlaquepaque pronounced as Lake-pake .This one of Mexico’s most important art centres. In Tlaquepaque, you will find even more pottery, wood workings and exquisite furniture and lots of street art and souvenirs. In these days of selfie craze and Insta, Snapchat, Whatsapp and FB profiles, photo ops like having the City name in blocks is ideal. We should also have one for Amaravati, Vijayawada
Food & Cafe’s
Food is another major attraction in Guadalajara. Most cafes start the day with coffee or any other juices which are served in eco-friendly clay cups and a typical Mexican breakfast consists of eggs, beans and chilaquiles, a dish prepared with corn tortillas and tomato sauce which is yummy. Mexicans prefer flavoured water to natural plain water and you can find these being sold all over. All kinds of bread and Tortillas, cakes and sweet bread have exclusive shops.
Jericalla, the traditional flan dessert of the city is sold in clay bowls and of course, raise a glass of Tequila to toast this wonderful city in any of the cafes in the city. Tortas-ahogadas are Guadalajara’s most iconic food but as it is stuffed with meat or prawns I didn’t get to taste it. Another popular dish is Pozole ( corn and beef)and I had a vegetarian version served with radish which is my favourite salad. I would vouch for Tamales instead which I learnt to cook from my daughter-in-law’s mom who is an excellent cook.
The colossal fountain with the Statue of the Goddess Minerva has become an emblem of the city and the point to celebrate the victory of the soccer teams of the city or national team. I loved the landscaping around the statue with the vibrant flowers and the Agave plants which are growing to a great height and symbolize Tequila.
Hanging on to the Roots
Though it is moving forward and with much gusto yet it works hard to preserve its history and pay reveres its struggles. The residential areas in downtown are asked to keep their old architecture and colours intact and the city juggles the new and the old with equal aplomb. I could just go on and on about the city which is so very progressive, liberal and gives out passionate vibes.
I Love Guadalajara
I came for my grandson but you should come for the culture, relish the food, shake a leg or drink to the gills. There is something for everyone in Guadalajara-the city of the future. I fell in love with it and you would too.
Look out for the next blog on Tlaquepaque!
If you are visiting Mexico then check out these places