I arrived in Guadalajara after dark. I caught a cab to my hotel from the airport. It took me through some rather desolate areas, a condition I was to see repeated a number of times over the following days, before dropping me off at the 100 plus year old doors of the establishment that was to be my base of operations during my stay. As I entered the lobby and was checking in, working as hard I as could to overcome a language barrier, I noticed a tiny jewelry shop off to one side. After depositing my bags in my room I returned to the lobby. It is, given my profession, difficult for me to pass up a jewelry store, especially since it was after nightfall and I, frankly, had nothing else to do. The proprietor, a smallish gentleman with prematurely silver hair heavily sprayed into place greeted me. He was dressed in jeans, long sleeve shirt and a stripped apron, his uniform of sorts as I saw him wear a variation of it every day I was there. After he greeted me it was ascertained quickly that my Spanish speaking language skills were, to say the least, limited. Fortunately his English was excellent. He was to become my unofficial Guadalajara guide.
I had intended to take public transportation while there. He suggested that, not being fluent in Spanish, this was not my best option. Taxis were cheap, plentiful and much, much safer. After later seeing the neighborhoods I would have had to traverse between my hotel, the zoo and Talqupeque this suggestion proved to be sound advise.
It was after my one of my outings that, upon returning to the hotel, I began to question his sexual orientation. Although I didn't, for various reasons, explore this aspect of Guadalajara, I knew from my research that it has the most active gay community in Mexico. My research also suggested that the epicenter of that community was close by my hotel. Rather tentatively I asked him which, bringing up a listing of gay establishments on my phone, if any, were close by. He knew of a couple, telling me one was a stripper bar where the strippers danced full on naked. It appeared that from his familiarity with the bar he had been there more than once. On a seperate occasion he told me, without prompting, about another bar I had read about. This one had a "back room". He suggested that I might have more "fun" there. Again his knowledge of the venue seemed more that just casual.
I did purchase a tourquise ring from him. The stone is unique in that it contains both the green and blue hues of the semi precious gem. He told me that all the jewelry was made by Mexican artisians. I took him at his word. True or not it does add a bit of romance to the piece.
Prior to leaving I made a point of thanking him for all his assistance and information. He insisted he did nothing special. His grace, humility and kindness left me with only one problem, how was I ever going to be able to pay this forward. Thanks my silver haired amigo.
A number of years ago when we were in Venice we ran into difficulty locating our hotel. Noticing a beauty salon on the street my husband, a hairdresser, exclaimed "The international federation of hairdressers! They'll help us!". Sure enough, despite a language barrier, one of the women led us down the street and pointed through an archway. We found our hotel, tucked away behind two courtyards. On this occasion I put my trust in the International Brotherhood of Jewelry Salesman.