Sick unto death

catrinaFOR MANY years before relocating to Mexico, I was a big fan of the Day of the Dead tradition. In my Houston condo, I had a ceramic Catrina on my bathroom counter, one that a Mexican crafts store outrageously overcharged me for, which I didn’t know then.

It had been marked up about 10 times. Double is the norm. Those crafty Mexicans.

By pure dumb luck I settled in one of the two most popular and highly publicized towns in the entire republic for Los Muertos, as the Day of the Dead is commonly known in Mexico. The other is Oaxaca.

This really tickled me 19 years ago. Now I’m just ticked off. The tourist mobs have grown to stunning levels and, for that reason, this year we are fleeing for the first time.

We’re riding a bus to Guadalajara late next week.

I have not been to Guadalajara since 2000. Our mountaintop town is located about halfway between Guadalajara and Mexico City. Actually, it’s a bit closer to Guadalajara. In spite of that, I have visited Mexico City a gadzillion times, and I have not returned to Guadalajara since my mother (R.I.P.) and my sister visited in that long-ago summer. I picked them up at the airport there, and then returned them a week later.

We’ll be staying in a downtown hotel that’s two blocks from the Hotel Morales, which is where I stayed three nights after flying to Guadalajara from Atlanta on January 19, 2000. It’ll be fun to take a peek into there for ole times sake. I tried to book a room at the Morales, but nothing was available for the dates of our visit.

We’ll be visiting the famous zoo and eating some Vietnamese pho, which I love. Other than those two things, nothing much is planned. We’ll just wander around. This will be our first trip to someplace “new” since our 2013 visit to Mérida. We don’t travel much.

What I remember most about Guadalajara is the atrocious quantity of pigeons that pollute the downtown plazas. I’m not a fan of pigeons, nasty birds.

But there will probably be more tourists here next weekend than there are pigeons soiling the center of Guadalajara. Gotta pick your poisons.

27 thoughts on “Sick unto death

  1. Nice, Felipe! While you are in the area you should check out the lovely town of Tequila and take some distillery tours. Have a nice lunch also.


  2. I’m glad we knew DOD was a blockbuster before now! Been there, done that, have a few folk art decor things reflecting such. San Antonio TX is having the first NOB blowout of DOD on November 1. Organizers say they will “own” the holiday in the USA. Citified and far removed from the cemetery at Tzintzuntzan.


      1. An $18 ticket was needed, at first. They dropped the $18 and now just a ticket (free) is required. All the tickets for designated plots for viewing along the river parade route are now gone. The floats were designed and made in CDMX. It will be televised locally so we can relax in the recliners at home. I have a feeling it’s gonna be crowded.


  3. At least we’re fortunate enough to have something to complain about. We should be grateful that we’re not living in some shithole rustbucket town abandoned by commerce and tradition. It could be worse, you know. The incursion of tourists could be here instead for The Communist International and the North American Man/Boy Love Assocation and the International Association for the Promotion of Inter-species Intimate Relations.


    1. Ms. Shoes: Yes, it could be worse as most anything bad can usually be worse. But, in the meantime, I will be in Guadalajara slurping Viet pho and patting giraffes.


  4. So you like big cities ? Isn’t Guadalajara Mexico’s second biggest? I would have thought you would have shunned places like that. How does it compare with Mexico City? We’ve been to neither but maybe someday. We’re in PDC at the moment just relaxing in our rented condo. Love it … I mean the condo, not PDC. It’s crawling with tourists, but Tuesday it’s off to Valladolid which I like much better. No beach but far less tourists. I guess we’re tourists too but not THOSE kind of tourists. We don’t do ruins, theme parks, zip lines or any other typical tourist activities. Just get around on your fabulous ADO bus network, check into Mexican hotels, eat, drink and read a few books. Boring, I know. Enjoy your excursion.


    1. Brent: I like some big cities quite a lot, others not so much. I’ve been to Mexico City so often that I have grown sick of it. The traffic is horrible. It’s just too big for me. Since I haven’t been to Guadalajara in almost 20 years, I can’t offer an opinion of it. But yes, it’s Mexico’s second-largest city. We’ll see.

      Took me a minute to figure out where PDC is, Playa del Carmen. That it’s crawling with tourists is no surprise. I saw the following video last year. Sure does not leave one with a good impression of the place. In the meantime, bon voyage!


      1. Nice video. It describes the place perfectly. Hot, expensive and crawling with tourists. Not really our cup of tea but a good place to start our trip from as it’s close to the airport and our condo is a couple of blocks away from 5th avenue so it’s much quieter. We have a full kitchen and a pool which helps. I’ll be interested to hear about your trip to Guadalajara since you haven’t been there in many years. I thought that it was a major destination for snowbirds but maybe I’m wrong. I hope so, for your sake. Anyway, what doesn’t kill us is supposed to make us stronger, right?!


        1. Brent: As far as I know, Guadalajara is not a major destination for snowbirds. You’re likely thinking of the relatively nearby Lake Chapala area, which does fit that description. If I knew you had a condo in Playa del Carmen, it has fled my aging mind. I’m guessing it’s one you rented. Playa del Carmen sounds like a dreadful place based on that video and the comments in the same video.

          Since our visit to Guadalajara will be relatively brief, I doubt I’ll have a report on it unless something odd happens. Maybe.


  5. We’ve been to Guadalajara twice this past year for shopping. Absolutely the worst traffic congestion I’ve ever seen. We usually park at Walmart and take a taxi from there for our other stops. Being from San Antonio, TX, we’re accustomed to big-city traffic, but it’s nothing like Guadalajara.

    If you’re traveling there to escape traffic and crowds, well, good luck with that, Señor Felipe!


    1. Jeff: Worst traffic you’ve ever seen? Have you been in Mexico City? Beyond belief, but Guadalajara is huge too, so I know it will be bad. We are not driving there because I’m not totally senile just yet. Taking a bus, and the hotel is dead center in El Centro. We’ll be walking around mostly. Take a taxi to the zoo, and to that Vietnamese restaurant. That’s about it.

      A little change of pace to escape the mobs here where we live.


  6. Hope the Guadalajara trip is even more than you anticipate.

    I have not been blessed with experiencing your local DOD, but I have the OAX version. It is great (if you don’t mind the crowds). Even with that, the crowds in the cemeteries are mostly local families visiting and waiting for the departed. Lots of Mexican tourists and a growing number of gringos.

    I was in San Antonio this past weekend (for other reasons) and was able to experience the advertising on TV leading up to DOD as presented there. It was made out to be a really big deal. I guess it will be. I will be home in the frontier.


    1. Ricardo: I imagine the Muertos celebration in Oaxaca is similar to what happens here. The problem here is we don’t have the roads to support the people who come. And it’s like Memorial Day weekend at Daytona Beach. Plus we live right off the highway that leads into town from the nearby state capital. It’s a pain in the kazoo that gets worse every year. I suspect what will happen in San Antonio is more like a carnival than the real deal.


  7. Estimado Felipe, We too had a house full of Mexican arts and crafts in Chicago. It was quaint and beautiful, though we never celebrated Mexican holidays. The Day of the Dead is a beautiful tradition, and “Coco” was a sweetheart of a movie, one of the best I’ve seen recently. For the first couple of years here, we put up a DOD altar on the mantle of the fireplace, and it’s nice to tip your hat once a year to the people who came before you. Like a good Gringo tourist, I also took pictures of the people in the cemeteries decorating the grave sites, though I gave that up because I decided it was ultimately grossly intrusive and disrespectful. If one of those folks had come up to me and shoved the camera up my ass, I couldn’t have blamed them.

    I don’t do that anymore and it’s not because of the traffic or crowds of tourists, or because I hate Mexico, but simply because I’m not Mexican. The DOD, the Good Friday procession and all that hoopla, to me, is simply a spectacle, a cultural curiosity. It’s like the Queen’s Birthday or Boxing Day in the U.K. The Day of the Dead is not something that runs through my veins and to pretend otherwise — like the crowd of old Gringos parading around San Miguel’s Jardín dressed in DOD costumes, yech — is ridiculous and phony. They should just stand back and let Mexicans do their thing.

    I haven’t been to Guadalajara in ten years and hopping on a bus is a great idea. We drove the one time and spent half our time lost and going around in circles. Let me know of any must-see sights.



    1. Señor Lanier: You have old Gringos parading around the Jardín in Muertos gear? Good Lord! Just one more example of why San Miguel is not the place for me. As you may recall, we live within easy walking distance of our neighborhood cemetery, and it’s a big cemetery because our neighborhood (colonia) used to be a separate town back in the olden days. And they do it up right in our cemetery, which is pretty popular with the tourists but not nearly so popular as the Island of Janitzio and nearby Tzintzuntzan, which are outrageously touristy now, especially the former.

      Sometimes tourists go overboard in our cemetery, sometimes not. Differs from year to year. One year, a TV news crew from Mexico City set up camp there with spotlights! Talk about disrespectful, and those were Mexicans. Thankfully, that has not happened again as far as I know. We now skip the walk over there most years. This will be the first time we’ve hightailed it entirely.


  8. If you are staying in the center of town, be ready for the church bells. They ring them loud and continuously.


    1. Señor Gill: How right you are. It’s one of the annoyances of living in Mexico. It doesn’t bother me nearly as much as it did years ago. In any event, we travel with silicon earplugs. They work great!


  9. Enjoy Guadalajara. It is about half-way between my beach digs and your mountain aerie. I could get there easily. I seldom go. I should do it more often. The city offers museums, murals, a symphony orchestra, opera. All of the things I miss at the beach. So, take in the sights for me. The last time I was there was with Kim several years ago.

    If I were not rodillo-deep in the house-painting project, I would head up your way just to say hello. As it is, my life is so exciting that drying paint sets my little gray cells a’twitter.


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