January 2008


Los Tres Gringos Gays get Culture

Despite the extremely long discussion of gay life in Guadalajara, Jay, Murph, and I did do more than look at all the hot men, drink beer, and dance all night.

We wandered around the city looking at what was within easy walking distance of the hotel, which consisted of a large number of public plazas that were packed with people strolling about from morning until late at night.

Couched ManWithout a doubt I was most impressed by the pervasive nature of the street life of local people. Families were out and about at all hours of the day at the end of December. Granted it never really got what I would call “cold” (just “nippy”), which probably helps a lot. To me it is incredibly magical that one could see people every day of the week enjoying the street life.

I also really liked the fact that although there were Wal-Marts, there were still traditional markets where one could go and choose from thousands of people selling everything under the sun: movies, shoes, watches, produce, meat, boots, and more. I bought two exquisite leather belts at the Mercado San Juan de Dios, which was located a short 10-15 minute walk from the hotel. The markets were incredibly alive and vibrant, and yet I suspect that if such a market were to exist in Denver, it would be shunned and go bankrupt.

On Sunday, after Jay, Murph, and I had recovered from our travel exhaustion and drink-dancing adventures, wandered around the city on foot. We started by walking to the Plaza de los Laureles, which was in front of the cathedral. The public spaces of Guadalajara are beautiful and were, at the time, fully prepared to celebrate Christmas and New Year’s Eve.

From there we headed north of the cathedral into a really cool park, the Rotonda de los Jaliscenses Illustres. It’s a park that is dedicated to state’s favorite artistic types, although according to Lonely Planet, there are also revolutionaries included. It’s a really cool idea for a park, all things considered.

As it turns out that Jay has an inner magnetic urge to connect with fountains and water features, so from there we engaged in a “connect the fountains” kind of tourism through the city center. There were a series of fountain to the east, covering probably three-quarters of a kilometer. By my rough count, there are at least 9 different water features, some loosely connected, some simple, and some quite dramatic.

El Hombre de FuegoCrossing the Plaza Tapatía, we ended up at the Institute Cultural de Cabañas—which is free on Sundays. It’s a fabulous little complex with 23 separate courtyards and several art exhibits. It’s most famous art was painted by José Clemente Orozco in the late 1930s, when he painted the chapel with 57 murals, including one in the dome called El Hombre de Fuego, centered in the center rotunda ceiling. It’s beautiful, although I noticed that in all the murals man tended to be painted in very dark colors—a bleak picture of the future.

A few pesos later, we departed the gift shop with postcards (and for the record, I tried to send postcards to everybody on my list, but I ended up short about 10 people, so if you do not get a card, please accept my apologies. I’ll try to send you one from my next travel hotspot) that we filled out in the afternoon whilst having light drinks at the hotel.

In other cultural things the Institute Cultural de Cabañas is not the only place with José Clemente Orozco’s work in Guadalajara. The Palacio de Gobierno has two fabulous works, including one of Miguel Hidalgo in the stairway. In this mural, Hidalgo is fighting society’s ill: religion, communism, and fascism. Religion was represented with crosses, communism with red flags, and, unsurprisingly, fascism was represented with swastikas. The Palacio de Gobierno is absolutely beautiful and despite having been completed in 1774 is still a functional governmental office building. It must be absolutely fantastic to go to work in such a beautiful building with a magnificent courtyard and such beautiful vistas.

We also explored the cathedral, although when we were inside, there were services in progress, so we stayed in the back. It is quite an interesting building covering several different architectural styles.

Jay, Murph, and I parted was a couple of times, so they got more culture than I. This trip squarely fell into my category of a gay trip, not a cultural trip, although there were plenty of cultural opportunities.

I would love to return to Guadalajara and explore more of what the city has to offer. I’m ready to return and figure out the bus system and hit the more distant parts of the city. It has a population of 5 million and I never really got out of the historic city center.

Except for Wednesday, when Jay, Murph, and I got on a bus and went to the countryside.

More on that later.

1 comment to Los Tres Gringos Gays get Culture

  • I read your entry title and immediately wondered if you had to fight off El Guapo, or some other “sinister” person.

    I know, bad Three Amigos reference.

    Bad CQ!