Thursday, September 11, 2008

Discoveries in Guadalajara and Tonala

The street we live on, Pablo Neruda, has a tree-lined median strip that shows some of the best and worst of things here. The best is obvious, lots of greenery. All the streets here are lined with trees, even most of the big commercial streets. The worst is that a lot of the sidewalks are falling apart.

The traffic on our street is very heavy, with three lanes on each side and big buses running all the time. At night, the traffic noise makes it hard to hear a television set. Given the mild year-round temperatures, buildings have very thin walls and no insulation.

On Saturdays and Sundays in the parks or public squares you´re likely to see young women in fancy dresses, and you look for the groom. He´s not there. These are birthday parties for 15-year-old girls, a very big deal, kind of like a coming-out party or a cotillion or a bat mitzvah. They call the parties quinceañeras in some Latin American countries.

In a big public park in Guadalajara, these stumps serve as picnic tables and seats.

All the kids kick balls around. Baseball is not played in Guadalajara, as near as I can tell, unless the American community has some teams. Baseball is played in the north and some Gulf Coast states.

We took a drive one Sunday to Tonalá, a town east of here that is being absorbed into the metropolitan area. It has its own distinct character and history, and a walk through the streets turns up some non-urban scenes, like this one at an informal restaurant.

You see lots of old cars on the streets of Tonalá. Not as old as the ones in Cuba, but close. A collector might do well to spend some time in Mexico scouting out bargains.

The big attraction here is the artisans´ market. Tonalá is known for its stoneware and ceramics. There are a lot of little factories and you can get a pretty good deal on original handpainted stuff. We had been using plastic stuff for about six weeks so we broke down and bought a 56-piece set for six people.

We liked the church.

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