When I asked my students and a couple of friends what there is to do in Zapopan, the response was – nothing. There is a big church and that’s it. I was skeptical of this answer given that Zapopan is huge, bordering the entire eastern side of Guadalajara. I figured my expert bus-hopping, adventure-seeking skills would find something. But my students were right, at least as far as taking the TUR bus to downtown Zapopan – there is a big church, and nothing else. Now, I’m sure if I went with a friend who lives in the area, there must be much to do, but on Thursday, it was good that I had some exceptional company, or I would have been sorely disappointed. We took a long walk around, and found what is usually found in the wealthy parts of cities – no life. Life where the rich people live everywhere in the world is often done behind closed doors and locked gates, it’s not for the rambling likes of a ruby and her companion.
From the comparative lifelessness of Zapopan, we headed back into the centro for a walk around the streets closed off to traffic for Thursday of the Saints: churches overflowing, street venders hawking plastic toys and tacos, and a general crush of souls.
I had been contemplating last week how if I come back to this area that I might want to live in the city, but our after hours jaunt after finding Cafe Breton closed may have proved me wrong. The modern, bustling, beautiful city by dusk rolls over as the sun goes down to show a seedy underbelly of filth, poverty, and desperation.
The next morning my new travel partner and I headed to the small town of Tequila. Any agave based drink not made in this town and couple of other licensed places is not actually tequila. It is the home of Jose Cuervo, Suaza, and several other factories – and to be honest – not much else.
It’s the type of place not really worth visiting in and of itself. It’s more for groups of Tequila aficionados and travelers who feel like getting wasted for the day. It’s one of the few places in Mexico where public drinking is allowed, and we started the day with an interesting drink called Pachecadas which is a mix of Tejuino and cerveza. It sounded horrible, but was extremely refreshing – and a tad bit expensive. We were neither interested in spending the day wasted, nor all that interested in the actual factories, but a walk around town proved pretty fruitless. The only things for sale are tequila, and tequila related products. It was hot dry, and the ice in our Pachecada turned out not to be very clean, which, I’m sure, you can imagine the consequences. A mid-day nap under a tree was in order.
After a good nap, we decided to try to find the logical thing in a town called Tequila – a good margarita. This proved harder than it should have. A place on the square had what seemed like really inexpensive margaritas until we realized they didn’t appear to have any tequila in them, which actually made them exceptionally expensive refrescos. Finally, after a bit more of a walk around town, we found a great place near the bus station called La Casa de Don Kiko, which serves a (cheap) lovely drink made out of sparkling water, lemon, and a few other things that hit the spot so well it lead to the kind of conversation only tequila can. While I was trying to memorize the many, many ways to say F*^& in Spanish and how to use them, we realized we were about to miss the last bus and made a mad dash, swearing in the language of tequila the whole way.
Although the travels of the last few days were somewhat disappointing in locale, they proved what the real magic of Mexico is, and that’s the kinds of connections and relationships people are open to here. I’m lucky to have landed in Tlaquepaque, and it’s still proving to be my favorite place in Mexico. Pueblitos Chavos and all.
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