Filed under: Archaeology, Guadalajara, Mexico | Tags: Archaeology, Ixtepete, Mexico
One of the first things I noticed on the map of Guadalajara that a generous former resident of our house left behind, was an archaeological ruin in Zapopan. Before I even found where our street is on this map (which actually took considerably longer than it should have considering my map reading skills), I was hankering to find this place. There is very little information on this site. Even though it is technically protected by the state of Jalisco, and has a considerable fence built around it, for now the efforts to restore it and have an open visitors’ center have been put on hold.
The bus we found online, 59A, no longer exists, so we took bus 59 from the new bus station to Plaza De Sol, and then proceeded to walk from there. I wish I had written down the number of one of the buses that passed us on the way there to make future visitors lives easier. We walked, and walked, and walked, and walked…. We stopped and asked a few people how far it was, and their initial reaction was that we were crazy for walking. Sunburn aside, it really wasn’t that bad, but it was over an hour from the Plaza on a BLAZING day.
Once you get to the highway (and have to cross an overpass), it’s only another ten minutes or so. We walked far enough, that it no longer felt like city, with buildings getting further and further apart.
I hope in the future that the empty visitors center is opened. There was no information at the actual site, but from what I was able to find online, it is from between 700 and 900 A.D. from the Teochitlan II culture with square pyramids, mounds, and shaft tombs.
I found the structure next to the pyramid interesting, with a sloping aspect. I don’t know enough about this kind of archaeology to know what the purpose is, but maybe it’s the shaft tomb metioned online? (Russ, Aaron?)
The gate itself is unlocked for visitors, and a few people were resting under trees. There’s a little trash strewn about, and the sides of the pyramid are starting to erode from folks climbing around even though there is some barbed wire to keep people off. There was mention of a plethora of ceramic shards, but also online it’s mentioned that the site has been looted for decades. I really hope someday some true archaeology is done here and it is restored for view. It’s not that much smaller than Guachimontones, and arguably of similar importance.
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.
Last Saturday, one of the guys that I refer to as Los Hombres a la Tienda took me on a cultural excursion in the city. I hang out with them drinking cerveza on Friday and Saturday nights and learn more Spanish that way then I have through taking overpriced lessons. Parque de Aqua Azul has a giant market on Saturdays that is full of young people peddling strange wares from piercings, handmade hippy clothes, everything related to metal and goth culture, cult classic toys, and a disarray of general junk. I bought a pair of sandals made out of old tires with pretty flower cloth and wooden beads for straps.
Next to the market is the actual park, and was the most relaxing thing I’ve done so far in the city. It’s a quiet oasis, complete with sweet fifteneers getting their pictures taken in crazy princess costumes.