Archive for January 13th, 2012

Guadalajara, day 1

Word count: 9639 | Since last entry: 1146

So here we are in Mexico. It actually smells somewhat different from home, a dusty spicy sort of smell. But it doesn’t feel as foreign as Japan or Thailand, or even Italy. More foreign than Canada or Australia, though.

Our language study has paid off. My comprehension isn’t nearly as good as I would like it to be, but I can communicate well enough to ask “is the restaurant Caffe Mondo near here?” and kind of understand the answer. Kate is still doing most of the talking, but at least I can make out the signs at the museums.

The Guadalajara airport is all spruced up for last year’s Pan American Games. At Customs you press a button and get a red or green light indicating whether you’ve been randomly selected for screening, and the taxis (all of which are new) are dispatched from a central window where you pay in advance. Both of these are designed to prevent corruption by removing power from individuals who might otherwise shake the tourists down.

Our B&B is in a rather industrial area but very nice inside, and our host is friendly and chatty. The dog, Nuahal, is one of the quietest, most polite little dogs I’ve ever met. I’m not a dog person but I could actually like this one. This morning’s breakfast was fabulous: strong coffee; OJ; cocoa; fruit with yogurt (with flax seeds) and granola (with pepitas and bee pollen); light omelet with ham, mushrooms, and peppers and a fiery tomatillo salsa; delicious beans; and aerodynamic tortilla chips with holes in.

This morning we started off by taking the bus downtown to the tourist info office in city hall. It wasn’t there any more, but we did see a couple of enormous and rather insane murals by the famous local artist Orozco. We did find a TI eventually, where we got maps but, alas, no info on the buses. We also stopped by the Teatro Degollado to find out about availability of tickets; we saw a huge Christmas-themed sand sculpture and the famous bas relief of the founding of Guadalajara, but the ticket office was not open (though the sign on the wall claimed it was supposed to be). From there we walked to the Rotunda of Famous Guadalajarans, then to the Casa de los Perros (House of the Dogs), once the home of a famous dog fancier and now a museum of journalism. There we saw famous revolutionary newspapers (looking rather like fanzines), old printing presses, UPI wire photo machines, and an old radio studio; upstairs, an exhibit on the Spanish diaspora and a fun exhibit of prints by students from the museum’s printing workshop on the topic “Insectos Santos.” The bathroom held some surprises: you must pick up toilet paper on the way in, and the urinals had valves rather than flush handles (but the sinks had push buttons).

With some difficulty we found a mercado, where we had tacos al pastor and tortas ahogados (sandwiches “drowned” in sauce) for lunch, then took the bus back to our B&B for a nap. After that we went back out by bus to Los Arcos (an interesting monument, but the museum within was closed), the Orozco museum (closed for painting, but they let us in to see the one mural still on display) and the statue of Minerva (in the middle if a very busy traffic circle). So the theme for the day is “we went there, but it was closed.” I gather this is kind of par for the course in Mexico.

By then it was dinner time, so we made our way to the above-mentioned Caffe Mondo, but in keeping with the theme of the day it had been replaced by a yogurt shop. Fortunately, Kate knew of another nearby restaurant, El Sacromonte, where we had an excellent dinner (me: Pollo El Delirio, stuffed chicken breasts with a pineapple-sesame sauce; Kate: lengua) and finally walked back to the B&B. Total walking for the day, according to Kate’s pedometer: 18,940 steps (8 miles, 700 calories). I logged my food and exercise as best I could and came up with a net of 123 calories BELOW my target for the day… no wonder we don’t gain weight while traveling.

After returning home for the day I wrote a few hundred words on the novel. Following a suggestion from Mary Robinette Kowal, I’m not paying such close attention to the voice and it’s going much, much faster (I wrote over 800 words in less than an hour on the plane). Of course, this will mean more work later.