Guadalajara is a big city. During the drive in, Russell and I were only saved from the confusion by blue signs pointing towards the city center – our destination for the night. Before G, Saltillo was the only large city we had actually driven through, and we got pretty turned around there due to construction and poor signage. G was easier to navigate in theory, but the traffic took some getting used to. There were lots of people, and the people turning left from a lane to our right was startling.
Upon arriving, gasoline was our first priority. After that bathrooms, ATM, and hotel took over in that order. We rode through downtown and a little past before finding the friendly PeMex. The attendant was nice and offered advice for the other things. They were all within walking distance. We chose an upscale hotel for the below ground parking. Motorcycles are common there, but ours were definitely from far away and looked more expensive than the local varieties.
The hotel we chose may have been the tallest building in town because from our view none appeared any taller. We got to our room on the 12th floor of 14 just before sundown and missed our chance to dip in the pool.
After a walk to the Walmart on another corner Russell and I were stocked with the toiletries, sunscreen, and water we needed for the rest of the trip. Not once on the trip did we drink public water, and not once did we get sick. He and I walked around the city looking for food and people watching. I also wanted to buy a notebook to keep a journal. He and I found everything we wanted and seated ourselves near the balcony of a 2nd floor restaurant overlooking one of the many plazas in downtown Guadalajara.
It was surreal. I’ve dreamt of visiting G almost my whole life, ever since hearing that Mariachi was created there. My childhood mind romanticized the city, and now I got to be there. Our dinner began with music from the square below, but eventually it turned into what can only be described as a one man protest. This guy was adamant about something, and passerby’s stopped only for a few seconds. As his incessant preaching droned on the two of us dined on a local buffet that filled our bellies and made us smile. Sol was our beer of choice for the evening, or was it Pacifico? We enjoyed a few local brews.
My first thought after dining was tequila, and we made good on that instinct. Russell doesn’t drink as much as I do, but we still put away a decent amount of the bottle before leaving the hotel room again.
The view from our hotel at night – before the adventure really began.
We wanted to see what nightlife was like in the second largest city of Mexico, and after a short walk towards the now sparsely populated center we found a place lit up with a neon green “bar.” This looked liked the place. Climbing the stairs into the second level corner bar with glass windows all around we heard what the place was to be like before seeing it. And our first sight confirmed, a large man, poorly dressed, singing karaoke. It was obvious that he was the entertainment, but for us the laughs were just beginning. They haven’t stopped yet.
Russell may not want his personal life divulged, so I’ll keep it to a minimum just to set up the story. His relationship status was worse than complicated, and after talking to him I got it in my head that he needed a girlfriend. Just our luck since a single girl was sitting by herself near the door. I offered her a drink and left the two of them alone for a bit. Neither looked like they were having a good time when I returned. Apparently the language of love isn’t universal, or at least one must know a few words to pick up chicks in a foreign country. I ended up translating a mundane translation about family and birthplaces.
We bought her another drink, and that’s when I realized something – her beers, while much smaller than ours, cost 5 times as much. Someone once told me that since prostitution was illegal, it was more socially palatable to buy a girl overpriced drinks from which she would get the kickback from the bar. This had the added benefit of making sure the bar was always stocked with available women. Well, that’s what we had, and I thought it was hilarious. Somehow, after a few more tequilas and beers, I invited her to join us on a motorcycle trip to the beach, riding with Russell, and even told her which hotel we were in. Thankfully that never came to fruition, but what happened next is still hard to believe.
The bar only had a few people in it, and few were talking, but a man with a video camera came around asking everyone to dance for one song. He wanted to film a commercial to put on Mexican television. After a little coaxing Russell found both his left feet and took his date on the floor. Another girl appeared, willing to dance with me, and we danced our asses off for that one song, during which the videographer had us move around the room to shoot from many angles. I’m sure anyone seeing that commercial will wonder what the odd pair of gringos, one with a bald spot, the other well over 6 feet tall, were doing dancing with local girls in a Guadalajara bar. I hope one day to see it.
We retired to our hotel safe from temporary love and not so secretly hoping the girl wouldn’t show up the next day expecting to ride to Puerto Vallarta. And for more than a few reasons it’s good she didn’t, but we’ll get to that in the next post.
After a late start we asked the valet where one might find breakfast on a Sunday morning, and he gave good advice. Breakfast was fantastic, one of many good meals we had on the trip. Before heading out we took one more stroll around the center to see what people did during the day.
It was a lovely place, and I look forward to going back.