Road trip, installment 2

November 25, 2008

I realized that I hadn’t really said much about Colima in my last post.  It is really a wonderful city.  Son Adam moved there in 1990 to attand college at Tec de Monterrey.  He lived there for about eight years, so of course I visited him frequently and the city feels familiar and friendly to me.

It’s only an hour from the coast at Manzanillo.  It has a bustling, urban side, with malls and large boulevards, and recycling bins.  It is also an agricultural community, with lots of sugar cane, coconuts and bananas.  As we drove, we were next to miles and miles and miles of sugar cane.  It’s beautiful right now, taller than a man and bright green.  When they get ready to harvest, though, it’s another story.  They set the fields on fire and the black soot and strips of burning and burned cane cover everything.  All I can say is don’t sit down without looking, don’t wear white, and if you get some on you, blow it off, don’t rub.

Everyone in Colima says the town is the cleanest, most progressive town in Mexico.  It could be true, too.  It is very clean and well run.  One special thing about Colima – the city of palms – is that it has wonderful parks.  The main park in Centro is absolutely gorgeous.  Wrought iron fencing surrounding palms and boxwood and a gorgeous kiosko in the center.  And everything is clean, with fresh paint.  You can tell they really care in Colima about how their city is perceived.  Below is a picture I recently came across from (I think) 1994.  Adam is in one of the parks at Christmas-time.  The nativity display is in the style of Alejandro Rangel Hidalgo.

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There aren’t a lot of gringos in Colima.  Some come to study at Tec, and there are a few retirees, but aside from tourists at the hotels, you won’t hear a lot of English.  People are friendly.

The weather in Colima is hot and humid in the summer, and moderate the rest of the year. So, I will encourage you to check it out.  When you’re there, be sure to go to Comala and Suchitlan.  There’s a lot of information on Colima  on Sparks-Mexico if you’re interested.

So, finally, we’re back on the road heading back North to Guadalajara.  We bought our salt and settled in for a couple hour drive on the cuota.  I didn’t take pictures on this stretch of road, but if you’d like to see some, here is a link to Mile by Mile, a map with attached pictures.

The next time we go to Guadalajara I think we’ll take the bus, especially if we stay downtown.  It was a crazy, chaotic mess to navigate through.  We ended up taking a tunnel when we should have stayed on the surface and it cost us quite a lot of time and we ran through most of our swear words by the time we arrived at Hotel Morelos, a restored historic hotel downtown.

Part of the problem is that they are replacing most of the sidewalks downtown all at once.  It is insane.  And it is Christmas shopping season, besides!  They’ll be beautiful when they’re done, but jeez!  Here’s a picture.

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We loved the hotel, right down the street from the main cathedral and all the plazas.  They have Christmas decorations up across the streets but they weren’t turned on while we were there…maybe they wait for December?

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We walked all over downtown that afternoon and evening.  Like most Mexican cities, everyone goes to Centro on the weekend.  A band was setting up, and people everywhere were carrying parkas and wearing boots and scarves in preparation for evening.  Uh-oh, shorts and skirts with sandals were not the right things to bring!  (I always pack wrong, I should just pack the opposite of what I think I should)

Below is a picture of the horse and carriage setups waiting to take people off for a ride.  They’re waiting next to some of the Christmas flea market booths.

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Saturday we got up early and headed to Café Madrid for coffee and pastry, then walked down to the Mercado.  It was just waking up, but it was immense!  My only purhcase was some great gomitas – we mostly wandered around amazed at the size and the diverse shops.

Then we grabbed a taxi and headed to the English language bookstore Sandi Books.  They have their address on their website but no catalog, so I wanted to see what they had.  $2,400 pesos later, we had two bags to shlep back.  Here’s what we got:

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A few details – a bird identification guide (319 mx), Ornamental plants & Flowers of Tropical Mexico (332 mx),  a Spanish/English parallel text book (217 mx), and a bunch of novels (120-217 mx).  These prices are high, but probably the same as buying them from Amazon and paying shipping and duty.  We don’t have an English bookstore in Mazatlan so I was happy to pay the price.   Sandi’s selection is not fantastic but I enjoyed myself and will go back next time we’re in town.  The magazine El Ojo Del Lago is the English monthly magazine from Aijijc/Chapala and is a fun read and free.

We then took a taxi out to Telaquepaque.  We were getting hungry and we wanted to eat and then wander some shops.  We had a wonderful meal (I had cornbread with a poblano sauce over it) and enjoyed wandering through all the shops.  We found a pair of rush seated chairs for our patio that are being shipped here to Mazatlan.  I also bought a corn husk wreath for our front door, below.

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When we got back to Centro we walked around some more, sat on benches, etc.  We ended up back in the bar in our hotel, having a drink and relaxing.  Here’s what you see when you look up from the lobby.

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The boveda ceiling has blue glass bricks in a pattern at the top that makes for interesting spots of blue here and there.

Later, we headed across the street to a large Christmas fair-type sale.  The video below is what Paul bought for us.  Pretty cool, huh?

More about Nancy

I'm Nancy, a US expat living in San Antonio Tlayacapan, Jalisco after 11 years in Mazatlán, México.

5 Comments
    1. Loving that wreath. Your neighbors are going to be stopping at your door to watch the Guadelupe light up! On our road trip in 2007, we were going to spend a few days in Guadelajara. We spent 30 minutes and beat it out of town. Waaaay too big.

    1. Cafe Madrid! We went there daily a couple of years ago when we stayed in Guad.
      Very spanish feeling. Their kitchen is on 2nd fl and waiters go up and down endlessly. I really like the centro – big, and with full of culture.

    1. This made me chuckle:
      “I always pack wrong, I should just pack the opposite of what I think I should”
      I know the feeling. Great story, Nancy.

    1. Wayne, Once the car was parked and we just walked or used taxis, we were fine. We left town ad 7:30 on Sunday morning, and it was quiet as a mouse.

      Motohachi, Yes, Cafe Madrid is wonderful. I love the white jackets and bow ties. And the house coffee (I forget what they called it) was incredible.

      Michael, I have a long history of bringing clothes back from vacation that were never worn and always needing to shop for something or other. When will I learn?

    1. Great posts about your journey. I would like to spend some time in Guadelajara but not sure I want to mess with the big Mexican City stuff …

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