Tlaquepaque, Camera Issues, San Miguel De Allende
23.01.2007 - 30.01.2007
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Well, it is a new morning, and yet again we had an overnight rainstorm. We thought the rain had passed, but apparently it got wise and realized we weren´t running away anymore and decided to turn back around. Bah.
Anyways, back to Guadalajara. I´ll reiterate that Carlos and his family were muy fantastico, and the evening that we returned stressed and frustrated he took Jay and I out to Casa Bariachi, which was a cool bar/restaurant with a massive house Mariachi band. Jalisco state, in which Guadalajara is the capitol, is the founder of Mexican delights such as Tequila, Mariachi music, and the Mexican Hat Dance. As it were, there were roughly 20 costumed musicians serenading paying guests before they arose to a stage Chuck E Cheese style and performed in booming voices and at full throttle. I thoroughly enjoyed my Tequila Sunrise cocktail and Jay discovered he wasn´t a full fan of the selection of Mexican beers he tried, although he downed them with dignity. We all had a good sleep that night.
The next day we lazed around Carlos´ house, updating our entries for this blog and learning about the Mexican´s passion for Football. We decided we´d had enough of the big city and the suggestion was to head to Tlaquepaque, the St. Albert of Guadalajara and supposedly a better place to find Artesania. After a bite of mini tacos and an hour long bus ride later, we found ourselves in Art Shopping Paradise.
Tlaquepaque is quaint, clean and beyond gentrified. All the old colonial houses were revamped and converted into studios and galleries, and we felt bad that we didn´t come here earlier. It was quite enjoyable to peruse gallery after craft store, although we realized that the prices here were quite gentrified as well - nothing seemed less expensive than what we´d find at home. I did find a sweet little doll that some indigenas were making on the street, it is costumed in traditional dress with braided and ribboned pigtails. The first store, however, proved to be our undoing, as we discovered exactly what Jay was looking for: A Big Stone Head. We ended up splitting the cost (550 pesos, which is roughly 58 dollars), and the main concern we have now is the cost of shipping it home, as there is no way that we´re lugging this thing around for the next 3 months.
Anyway, we came back to Carlos´at around 9, after our first taste of Tamales (soft corn pastry wrapped and steamed in a corn husk and filled frittata style with meats or veggies or fruit) and Barbequed Corn on a Stick. Carlos took us to the movies, and we saw " A Night at the Museum" which was subtitled in Spanish but English language, so we could all enjoy. Great Movie!
The next morning we took an early bus, after saying our good-byes, to San Miguel De Allende. 'The Craft' was playing on the bus again, what is it with that movie? This bus was like no other bus that we´d been on before though - this was Primera Plus, which served us snacks before loading, and had a panel that folded down on the seat and allowed you to prop your legs up recliner style for the duration of the trip. Very fancy.
The Country side en route to San Miguel was breathtaking. Through mist and fog we saw the countrylife of mainland Mexico: Agave farms (for Tequila), being toiled by hand, Burros and Sheep herds, hills upon rolling hills. Jay fell asleep again, and I did too for a brief while, but it was difficult to keep your eyes off the view from the window. We passed through the City of Leon, then Guanajuato, and Finally, San Miguel herself. As we pulled into the bus station, I saw my Uncle Bob leaving his car and was extremely relieved as I hadn´t spoken to my Mom directly and worried that she hadn´t received the message. Thanks Mom!
Well. Uncle Bob picked us up in his Volkswagon Pointer and we immediately left San Miguel for his Ranchito in the hills. He took us right to Paradise, and even though the weather was crummy, we found ourselves exactly where we wanted to be.
The Ranchito is spectacular. 2 horses, 4 dogs, a black kitty, 12 acres, Cacti, fireplaces, dominoes, scrabble, and gourmet meals. We thoroughly enjoyed Filet Mignon, Crab Cakes, Barbequed Chicken, Empanadas, Pasta, Mushroom Soups, Margheritas and Tuna Sandwiches. Of particular note was a concert that Uncle Bob took us to that Mom would have loved: A string quartet with a percussionist, a banjo player, a Guitarist who strongly resembled Uncle Lorne, an upright bassist and an amazing violinist. We followed that event at a restaurant with the best view of San Miguel´s famous cathedral where I tryed my first Mole, Chicken with a sort of Chocolate and Chile sauce. My favorite moments were the horseback rides that Uncle Bob and I took, up and down the countryside, chatting about the future and reminiscing about the past. I have never been able to spend this much time with Uncle Bob before, and it´s been nice just to hear his version of well known tales. We ended our 4 days in the Ranchito with some Don Julio tequila in front of the upstairs fireplace and we drove into San Miguel yesterday morning refreshed and ready to take on the world.
San Miguel is the prettiest town we´ve been in so far. Although there is a huge glut of aging, fashion-deprived American retirees that frequent every event and restaurant and bench, it´s easy to see why they´d choose to be here rather than say, Ensenada. The cobblestone streets are lined with colourfully painted facades, inside of which are immaculate and richly decorated homes and stores. The food is delicious, the people polite, and the cathedral the most equisite that we´ve seen so far. It is a rich salmon orange and gothic in style with Spires that flare like a bonfire. It is easy to see why this is a site of Pilgrimage for Mexicans all over the country. Although we have not had too much time to enjoy the streets, we know we will need to return here. Of interesting note is that Uncle Bob´s villa is 2 doors down from the Casa that belonged to El Pipilo, whose story and how he almost singlehandedly defeated the Spaniards during the war of independence is quite amazing.
Just when we thought we had our purse strings under control, we discovered the market at San Miguel and I was hooped. I purchased some pink coral earrings, an alpaca shawl (only 70 pesos!), a baby-blue leather change purse, and a hairband. Today I am on Skirt Patrol, although I believe that with San Miguel prices (which are gringofied as well), I may just wait until we hit Guanajuato tomorrow. We changed our mind about Queretaro, and instead of Morelia we will be shopping our hearts out in Patzcuaro, home of the famous Michoacan handicrafts. Jay and I have decided to split up for the day, we´re meeting back up at 12:30 for lunch and have found a Lebanese restaurant that we think we´ll try out. Uncle Bob went back to the Ranchito and he´s staying there until this afternoon, we´re going to chill out tonight with Pizza and Ice Cream rather than go out for dinner. Yesterday we ate at a very classic Bullfight themed restaurant called Ole Ole!, I had shrimp fajitas with carmelized onions and guacamole.
By the way, there may not be any photos on the site for a while. The second day at the Ranchito Jay and I set out to take some photos of the puppies, and for some reason our Camera would not turn on! Concerned, we changed the batteries, checked the terminals, removed the photo card, and still, nada. We went to Office Depot in town and they didn´t know what to do either, and there is a rattle in the Camera that didn´t exist before. We have no idea what caused this, but our Camera is toast. Luckily and thankfully, we still have the photos from Everything before Uncle Bob, and Uncle Bob lent us a 35mm pentax to use until we hit a real camera repair shop, or buy a new camera. Thankfully too our camera is under warranty, as we only picked it up after boxing day. We were ultra careful with it, but I suppose there were just too many buttons and doohickeys on it, and that just meant more things to go wrong. The best case scenario will be that it´s an easy fix in Guanajuato or Mexico city. The worst, that we´ll need to buy a new camera.
Anyway, Tomorrow it´s Guanajuato, and today I´m going to do more shopping!