Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Guadalajara 2016 - Thereby Hangs a Tale

I had been talking about it for some time, thinking about it for much longer. Guadalajara, the name rolls off the tongue. According to tourist web sites more beautiful than Mexico City, a place whose visual splendor occasionally awed me. I was, perhaps the best way to describe it, between jobs. I had left a position of three years to accept what, I hoped, was a better, upgraded position in the same field. So I had this week at my disposal to explore. Also I would not get another vacation for a year after my start date. One should seize opportunities when they present themselves.
Although the winter had been mild it was still 40 to 50 degrees warmer, at least in the afternoon, south of the border. Warmth, always reliable Mexican food and history lured me.

There were glitches, perhaps inevitable considering this trip was booked on the fly within 2 weeks of departing. I had developed a swollen gland under my jaw. Due to COBRA insurance being 3 weeks retroactive, I was forced to spend $200 the day before I left for a Minute Clinic visit and and antibiotic prescription "just in case". The online agency I booked my initial hotel through claimed my credit card charge had been denied, Citibank claimed otherwise. Volaris Airlines told me after I had gone through with the procedure of securing the outbound reservation that the intended return flight was no longer available, although it still appeared on the computer screen as available as they told be simultaneously on the phone that it was not. I canceled the outbound flight hoping I would not have to fight for a refund later. Holding my online head high, my online jaw firmly set, I eschewed small airlines and fly by night dot.coms and found a flight, both there and back via American Airlines where I earn advantage miles anyway, only slightly more expensive than the one I had tried to book first. Through Orbitz I booked a hotel, less expensive than my initial choice, and located, it appeared, only a block or two away. Since I, as an advantage flyer, would also be able to check my bag free, I came out pretty much even.

After snaking my way through the long understaffed security line and making it to the proper gate the plane took off 25 minutes late, on time by today's airline standards. I would be laying over in Dallas and then would continue on to the beauty and history of Mexico's second largest city.

Mexico is not new to me. I had visited Puerto Vallarta several times in the 1990's. The city was gay friendly then, not rainbow overrun as I have heard it is now. I and my travel buddy from those early visits also spent a week in Merida exploring jungle enveloped Mayan ruins and marveling at the extraordinary bird life and history there. Merida's cathedral, partially constructed with stones from the Mayan city originally located there, is, in terms of the date the Spanish began to erect it, the oldest in the Americas. Another cathedral located in another country was finished first so the title of "Oldest Cathedral in the Americas" is in dispute. My sister and I had spent a long 4 day weekend in Cancun's Intercontinental Hotel,  made affordable by free airfare provided by her employment at the time with the now defunct ATA. I also once spent a memorable week on my own exploring Mexico City. But Guadalajara, aside from airport layovers, was new territory for me. So, to quote Shakespeare in As You Like It, "thereby hangs a tale".

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