It was a magical day, warmed by the embrace of all the families enjoying their time together. Guadalajara warmed my heart and I slept dreaming of Bustamente’s mythical creatures twirling with me on cobble stone streets in the moonlight.
Visiting Guadalajara – The magical Tlaquepaque Market
Mexico loves holidays and celebrations. Year round there are days devoted to family and music, feasts and remembrances. It’s a mix of history, revolutions won, church holy days and family celebrations. I was lucky to be in Guadalajara for Mother’s Day and to play with the locals.
The art district of Talaquepaque isn’t far from the city center. The name Tlaquepaque derives from Nahuatl and means “place above clay land”. Historically it refers to a large part of the city, but today is focused in a shopping and restaurant area filled with galleries and markets, high and low.
A cobble stone path led me past restaurant courtyards spilling over with patrons. The lilt of guitars, accordions, and singing rose and mixed above quiet groups taking pictures and visiting. Women walked arm in arm, young men strutted with strollers, their broods following, and grandfathers carried babies. Everyone seemed to be eating and shopping. It was a uniquely Mexican crowd. Very few appeared to be foreigners.
The central market, filled with flowers and fruit, cheeses and crafts, was closing as my girlfriend and I crossed the cathedral courtyard. We were on a mission to find something cold to drink and try out the chairs that are indigenous to the area.
The chairs are built of wooden slats criss-crossed to form the base and back. Smooth leather is slung across the seat. We found them near the plaza of El Parian, inside the block-wide arcade. Cafes and bars surrounded a center open to the afternoon sun. A gazebo was crowded with musicians. The vocalist, dressed in ruffled red, worked the crowd, flirting and waving from one table and another.
Before I left the avenue there was just time to walk through the Sergio Bustamente Gallery with it’s beautiful garden and rooms full of whimsical, strange and anthropomorphic creations. The renowned artist was born in Culiacan, Sinaloa, Mexico, but has lived in Tlaquepaque area since early childhood. Inside was a bright maze full of bronzes and brightly painted sculptures, canvasses and glass cases with fantastical jewelry. It was a little universe unto itself and a magical discovery. I’ve been charmed before by his large public sculptures along the Malecons in La Paz and Puerto Vallarta.
As we wandered back to join our group for dinner, we passed an inviting courtyard. It was an entrance to a small, bed an breakfast inn. Hotel Casa Campos was once a convent that has been turned into a guest house. My glimpse of the rooms off the patio convinced me that I’ll have to return and stay there one day.
The day was wearing towards twilight. It was time for dinner and we joined friends at the Santo Coyote cafe. Again the pattern of a modest entrance leading to a large space filled with art, people enjoying food, drinks and music opened to us. You just have to know where to enter!
Thank you to NATJA and the Tourism authority of Jalisco for organizing this introduction to the treasures of Guadalajara.
Elaine, I’ve never had the pleasure of visiting Guadalajara, but am sure i’d love the Tlaquepaque market after seeing your photos. I especially love all the outdoor sculptures. What is the big colorful piece on your last photo made of? It’s decorating the table with all the food.
Hi Alison, I believe that the large sculpture on the table was made of paper mache and painted.
Tlaquepaque is such a festive spot. I’ve visited twice and enjoyed it each time. I’d love to go again. Here’s my take on this sweet town, http://travelswithcarole.blogspot.com/2011/09/sights-to-see-tlaquepaque-guadalajara.html
Glad to know you’ve been and enjoyed the city too.
What a charming little place. I really want to visit Mexico one day. I haven’t had the pleasure yet, but have only heard good things about it.
I love Mexico and keep discovering new places to explore, new cuisine and crafts. I hope you get to visit one day.
It sounds like a very enjoyable day! Thank you for telling us about it. I really like your writing style – reading your post I feel like I’m right in there, walking the streets of Tlaquepaque with you!
What a welcome compliment. I like writing and am happy you enjoyed reading!
I love all the vibrant colours – I didn’t know a great deal about Guadalajara and was surprised by all the arty touches, it looks like a fascinating place to visit.
There’s so much more than I can share, Lucy. You’d love Guadalajara and I’d love to return to discover more of it.
Oh my, I haven’t seen one of those chairs in decades, but I was immediately transported back with your photo. Visiting Guadalajara is definitely on my list. Thanks for introducing the tlaquepaque market!
Thanks for the comment, Betsy. There’s so much more going on in Guadalajara. I’m sure you’ll enjoy visiting when you get a chance.
This is such a neat post, Elaine! You’ve caught the local atmosphere so well. I visited this place about 25 years ago, when I wasn’t blogging. Your pictures made me jealous.
Thank you, Anda. So appreciate your kind words. Sounds like you might be due a return visit.
I’ve actually been to Tlaquepaque in Guadalajara. Of course, I was 9 years old at the time in 1963, so my memories might be suspect. My father took us to live in Mexico for a year and he thought he wanted us to live in Guadaljara. Dad was a potter, so Tlaquepaque was definitely one of the places we had to visit. However, my parents thought Guadalajara was too much of a big city like our home town of Philadelephia and ultimately decided to head for San Miguel de Allende and that’s where we ended up living for the year.
How lucky you were to have lived in Mexico for a year and to have your father be an artist. I can understand him thinking that Guadalajara was huge. I wonder how San Miguel de Allende has grown since you were there?
I have not made it there yet. I will have to enjoy Guadalajara through your eyes and your cameral lens. Beautiful photos!
Thanks, Suzanne. Perhaps you’ll be surprised one day and the opportunity will arise.
I’d love the Tlaquepaque market and Guadalajara. Thanks for sharing it.
It would seem very familiar, I think.
Mexico really seems like the place to go for festivals, they clearly like a party like no other country, and know how to enjoy themselves. Wish we were a bit more fun as a culture here in the UK! Oh, well, I guess I’ll just have to head to Mexico on hols instead 🙂
Dear Heather, thanks for the comment. I’d love to visit the UK at Easter time and hear it’s great fun. Any country would have a hard time keeping up with Mexico’s holiday passion.
It’s great that you got to experience such a lovely and vibrant place and best part it seems we how local it was! You describe everything really well 🙂 thanks for linking up with #theweeklypostcard
Thank you for the kind words, Samiya. I love what you’re doing too with the family.
Everything looks so pretty! I still haven’t made it to Guadalajara but i am dying to go (I suffer every time I see the cheap airfares). One of my husband coworker’s went to see his family and brought us some gifts.
Hopefully you’ll get to visit one day. Guadalajara is an overlooked gem.