Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Guadalajara 2016 - Road to Tequila (With Apologies to Hope and Crosby)

I was told by the man at the desk of my hotel to eat a hearty breakfast as I booked my trip to Tequila. After all, what would be the point of traveling to the town for which the alcoholic beverage is named and visiting the factories where ti is produced without sampling the brew.

A shuttle bus awaited me in the street. I was the first of the passengers to be picked up. I was given the opportunity to see, through the windows, portions of the city I had not yet experienced. I looked down side streets, many, lined with late 19th century facades, appearing as they may have over 100 years ago. The bus traveled along broad 4 lane avenues then turned down streets so narrow there is barely enough room for it to maneuver past the line of cars parked along the side. Scooters shoot through the rush hour traffic resembling winged insects skimming across a pond. Some buildings stand empty, their history buried under a layer of dust and decay. A lovely baroque structure appeared bearing the name of the University of Guadalajara, next to it stands another of a multiple of beautiful churches. Further out we encountered the grand homes of the once wealthy. In this area bridal shops abound. In window after window white gowns wait for women dreaming and planning the wedding of their dreams. A day they will remember for the rest of their lives. A landmark yellow tiled arch, at one time marking the western of the city, spans a thoroughfare.

We were dropped off at a dusty parking lot which our driver claimed was a bus station. The desolate location began to make me wonder if this whole affair was an elaborate ruse and we would all be robbed, kidnapped or worse. There was a pristine Hummer in the lot, as well as a corvette with flat tires and a vintage 70's era  turquoise dodge with a cracked windshield. If this was a ruse it had apparently been going on for some time I thought. I inquired about a restroom and was directed to a decrepit building on the far side of the lot. Entering I saw in a corner of a room filled with broken cabinetry , a filthy toilet with no seat. It;s a good thing boys pee standing up. On the floor next to it was a cardboard box containing used toilet paper, a Latin American tradition I will never become accustomed to.

A large bus with "Tequila Tour" on the side rolled in to the lot which reassured me and we board. A video  played of a portly, older gentleman in traditional garb wearing a comically enormous sombrero singing ballads accompanied by a string heavy orchestra. As the bus began to move through the outskirts of the city familiar names appear, Walmart, Sears, Sam's Club, Home Depot, proving the words multinational global economy are not just words.As we left the city behind and moved out into the countryside the scene outside changed to one of dusty browns and greens, tiny towns and the aqua tone of agave fields. Wild bougainvillea provided occasional bright pops of color. Birds floated overhead searching for prey. Shortly the guide announced that we had arrived at our first destination, the Tequila distillery.

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