Aftermath of the dead

Our mountaintop plaza Wednesday afternoon.

A WEEK AGO this sidewalk was stuffed with tourists and endless stalls of Mexican handicrafts — the good, the mediocre and the incredibly beautiful.

It was leading up to our annual death fest, Los Muertos, the Day of the Dead.

But it’s over now, and the vendors have gone home, leaving only the tarped roof that extends over most of our huge, downtown plaza, and this too will vanish soon, stored somewhere till Easter Week. Life will return now to normal, peaceful and lovely.

We were not here, the first Day of the Dead I’ve missed in the 19 years I’ve lived on our mountaintop. The overwhelming tourist crowds and, even worse, the traffic jams drove us away. Think Daytona Beach on Memorial Day Weekend.

We locked the Hacienda and boarded a bus to Guadalajara, where neither of us had visited in about 20 years. It was comparatively quiet there in Mexico’s second largest city.

Three nights.

We went to the zoo (excellent!). We visited a Vietnamese restaurant to eat pho (pretty good). We took a tour-bus ride about town (so-so). We walked around a lot.

On the afternoon of Nov. 1, we were in one of the huge plazas in the city center. That’s where I shot the video below. True, I’m no Cecil B. DeMille. I’m not even Quentin Tarantino.

We stayed in a small hotel downtown that was two blocks from where I spent my first three nights after landing in Mexico alone on Jan. 20, 2000, the Hotel Morales. We would have stayed there this trip, but the Morales was booked solid.

Our last evening, we sat in the lovely lobby of the Morales, and I saw that young, weary traveler walk through the entrance at midnight with two bags. They gave me a room near the kitchen due to the dismal hour. It was the only bed available.

I’ll probably elaborate on that in January, the 20th anniversary of my Mexican adventure. I embrace anniversaries, clocks and calendars. I arrived on a Delta jet that managed to get off the ground in Atlanta just minutes before an ice storm closed the airport for days.

Getting out of Dodge for the Day of the Dead was a good idea. We returned Sunday afternoon to peace and quiet. The tourists had skedaddled. Our fleeing will likely become a tradition. If we go back to Guadalajara, I’ll make a timely reservation at the Morales.

It’s a far snazzier place now than it was back then. But it’s sweet to be home now.

17 thoughts on “Aftermath of the dead

  1. What was so great about the zoo? We like zoos, especially clean, well maintained ones. Taking a bus sounds like a good idea too. Is the Hotel Morales near the Centro? Thanks.


    1. Señor Lanier: I like zoos too, and this was the best I’ve seen. The one in Mexico City is pathetic, which is strange. The Guadalajara zoo is quite large, well designed and beautiful. There is an Arctic exhibit where you can get up close and personal with penguins. There is a “Safari” where open (but roofed for the sun) vehicles ride through a huge, open area with African animals. At one point, the vehicle stops and people hand food, which was given to riders at the start of the trip, to a giraffe that sticks his head inside the vehicle. I’ve never been that close to a giraffe, especially his face. There is also a funicular ride high above the zoo. That’s the only thing we did not do. There’s also a nice, miniature train ride. Great zoo. Highly recommended.

      Yes, the Hotel Morales is perfectly located, right downtown, about four or five blocks from the main plazas. We were surprised at one thing. Both my wife and I remember the astounding quantity of pigeons that polluted downtown Guadalajara years ago. It was awful. But, poof! They’re gone. We asked a couple of locals, but no one had a good answer as to what happened to them.


  2. In River City, Texas, the first DOD river parade was a blockbuster. Maybe it will cannibalize some from your mobbed mountain next year.


  3. NOB, we are always hearing how great the busses are in Mexico, especially the first class. I hope you took lots of photos on the way and at the stations. Maybe someday you can write a column on just that portion of your trip. Thanks. Phil


    1. Phil: You hear right up there. The top-end buses here are excellent. When available, we use a line named ETN.

      I took no photos this trip, but here’s a brief video I took on ETN last year. We were on the second level of a double-decker.

      As for writing a post specifically on that, I doubt it. Sorry.


    1. Ricardo: Nothing makes one miss home more than going elsewhere. Well, that’s true for me at least. The older I get, the less I want to travel, but it was worth it to get out of here for those hectic three days. Plus, I really liked the zoo.

      Yes, we have great buses down here, far better than the U.S. offerings.


    1. Phil: In a word, nope. There are some short tourist lines, but regular passenger service disappeared down here ages ago. Freaking shame. Perhaps the most famous and longest of the tourist lines is the one that goes to the Copper Canyon. I did that one back in the 1980s with my last wife. I love trains, but who does not? In the 1970s, I traveled in a private sleeper car from Mexico City to Ciudad Juarez. Just me and two bottles of tequila. It was a very interesting ride.


  4. We have found something else we share: an appreciation of the Morales. It is my favorite hotel in Guadalajara — though there is a boutique hotel Kim intriduced me to that is a close second.


    1. Señor Cotton: Well, this explains why the Morales was in my bookmark list twice. I had forgotten your recommendation of some months back though I had saved it. What a coincidence. I can tell you that the hotel is a pretty far cry from what it was 20 years ago. Had I passed it on the street, I may or may not have remembered, but if I were airlifted directly into the lobby from above, I would not have recognized the place. Even the reception area is in a different spot, as is the restaurant. Small world, eh? Just this morning, I made a two-night reservation there for Jan. 19-20 to mark my 20th anniversary of Mexican life. Whether we go then or not is yet to be determined, but at least I will have the option, which I did not have last week due to its being booked up.


  5. And despite the age of your wife, you’re no Roman Polanski either. But I did like the video.


    Kim G
    Boston, MA
    Where we are facing truly cold temps, 31° as I write. And that’s F, not C.


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