Chapter Two – Tlaquepaque & Dance of Death

Trip Start Oct 31, 2013
Trip End Nov 05, 2013

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Flag of Mexico  , Central Mexico and Gulf Coast,
Saturday, November 2, 2013

How DO you pronounce Tlaquepaque? The letters T in Nahuatl is pronounced similar to Ll in Welsh. So it's: "Thlakepake". That’s where we go today.

This little town was once separate from Guadalajara, but has been engulfed by the outward growth of the state capital.  Nevertheless it has kept its unique character and the historic centre is surprisingly attractive, with colonial-era churches, old mansions, colourful flowers and orange trees. At this time it is even more appealing because of the decorations lining the main street for Day of the Dead.

We have been told to take the luxury air-conditioned bus from the centre. It only costs a dollar. We wait patiently at the bus stop, but the first bus to stop is a scruffy local. It’s going to Tlaquepaque too, so we jump aboard. The fare is only fifty cents!

The main pedestrian street is lined with altars of offerings for departed souls, as well as art and design studios and handicraft shops. We wander up to the beautiful Jardín Hidalgo, the main square, flanked by two colonial-era churches with an ornamental bandstand in the centre.  It is Tlaquepaque’s social hub, the prime location for everything from free concerts to lovers kissing on park benches.

We pop into the Nuestra Señora de la Soledad Sanctuary and then plan our lunch in the Parián, a lovely plaza flanked by columned arcades and surrounded by restaurants and bars.  Over a hundred years old, it occupies a full city block. Afterwards a visit to the market before walking back to the bus stop to await our luxury bus with A/C. But, you guessed it, the scruffy local bus turns up first.

Back in the centre we cross busy Plaza Tapatía towards the Instituto Cultural Cabañas, where we are scheduled to watch a play, enjoy another mariachi concert (just can’t get enough of them) and watch a parade of elegant spooks and ghouls.

But before we get there the lowering clouds burst and we have to rush for the nearest shelter. It’s none other than the Magno Centro Joyero, rated as the No. 1 jewellery centre of Latin America. It’s a huge jewellery warehouse with well over five hundred jewellery counters on three floors. The prices are right, there are lots of people around and business is booming.

The play and concert are interesting, but the most amazing aspect is to see the people attending this event made up as ghosts and ghouls in celebration of Day of the Dead. It is a strong Meso-American tradition to honour the dead and remember them once a year on All Soul’s Day. The celebration has become more sophisticated over the years, whereas originally families would merely go to the cemeteries on Sunday to spend the day with departed loved ones. Today it is a three-day festival with cultural and entertainment events, culminating with a grand ball where everyone dresses up to represent death, in a very fashionable way, of course. There are even prizes for the best representation of death.

Mexicans really believe in the quote “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?       
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Marian on

Martin, realmente fue un lindísimo viaje, tus comentarios muy ilustrativos. Gracias.

elva on

estoy de acuerdo con marian un lindo viaje y porsupuesto cuando leo tus comentaris me parece que estoy yo tambien con uds eres un magnifico comentarista.

Luis Arévalo Prado on

Hola, hola, mi estimado Martin, realmente no había leido este correo hasta hoy, lo encuentro genial, será cierto lo de la canción? Guadalajarfa es un llano, Méjico es una laguna?...ya estás mas cerca a Perú, mamá Miryam ya llegó, estr próximo Domingo desayunaremos en mi casa, espero que el próximo desayuno sea contigo también. Abrazos querido Martin.

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