Tuesday, October 15, 2013

R&R in Tlaquepaque & Art Viewing in Guadalajara: September 30 – October 2, 2013

Rest and Recuperation:

While all our yada-yada-yada about how we love Mexico is true, it’s also true that from time to time living in a culture that is different than one's own (ours being the Northern California culture) can be wearing.  And it’s also true that living frugally – a necessary component to sustainable traveling -- can also be wearing. 

So, we decided to break up the nine hour bus trip / movie binge (all Mexican premier class busses show movies – many of which were apparently released directly to foreign DVD market) from Guanajuato to Mazatlán with a mini-vacation.  We stopped for a two night stay at one of our favorite restful places: Casa de Las Flores. 

Casa de Las Flores
Casa de Las Flores is a bed and breakfast inn (six rooms) in Tlaquepaque, a village well known for its folk art scene, that is now part of the urban giant, Guadalajara.  The inn has all the necessary trimmings for a wonderful stay: beautifully decorated rooms, good linens (hard to find in Mexico), classical music in the lush courtyard, coffee and tea at all hours, delicious vegetarian breakfasts, and . . . a bar (how restful is that, having a bar on site?).  And Bryce's most important hotel requirement - good Wi-Fi:

Happiness is Connectivity

The two innkeepers, Stan and José, are talented collectors of Mexican folk art who love sharing their collection and information about Mexican folk art with guests. 

The Ceramic Tree of Life In The Room Where We Stayed

And all of this for under $125 a night!  [While being frugal can be tiring, it’s always energizing to get a great deal.]

More about these two and their lovely inn at: http://www.casadelasflores.com -- where we stole the above picture.  Here are some of our pictures of some of the gardens of Casa de Las Flores:


After our welcome-to-Casa-de-Las-Flores white wine (or two -- it was a long bus ride) we had dinner at a good local restaurant recommended by our hosts:  Rio San Pedro.  When we returned to the inn, we fell prey to the evening's  desert offering – chocolate cake and caramel ice cream.   

The next day, after a wonderful breakfast (including guanábana juice and an educational printout about the delicious fruit) we took a short bus ride into Guadalajara to visit some of the sites that we had not been able to fit in to our last short stay:

Casa-Museo José Clemente Orozco:  This museum, in the artist's former residence, apparently has sketches made in preparation of some of his most famous murals.  Unfortunately when we arrived, it was closed for the installation of a photography exhibit.  But – because we looked so hot and forlorn, we guess – a man mounting the exhibit let us in to see the largest piece at the museum: a painting Orozco made in the 1940’s for The Turf Club – a roadhouse outside of Tampico in northern Mexico that (based on the painting) appears to have been quite the place in the 40’s.  Buena Vida” includes dancing girls, sugar daddies, a toque-d chef holding a fish, and plucked chickens flying by outside the window.  It is a big departure from the hard-hitting, anti-fascist murals Orozco is famous for and, to us - pretty funny. 

The Arches:  The Arches (built to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Guadalajara) are nearby the Orozco museum,

so because it was there and we were there we climbed to the top – passing through the offices of the local tourism office where they invited us to “Pasale!”.  We were rewarded with an amazing view of the sprawl that is Guadalajara –


including a view of one of the only seven Volvo dealerships in Mexico.  Molly was worried that Bryce might cry, remembering the recent sale of our beloved little S-40.  The cab driver Bryce tried to tell about all of this was not interested . . . though it could have been that Bryce’s Spanish was insufficient for explaining such an emotional issue.

Hospicio Cabañas:  We think this former hospital/orphanage/workhouse and present art institute/school/museum/gallery would be a highlight for anyone’s visit to Guadalajara. 

It was built in the early years of the 19th century – and is a vast structure, including 23 stone courtyards.   In 1938-39 Orozco painted 57 murals in the central chapel of the Hospicio – many of them images of pain and brutality. 

One can’t help but wonder how they affected the resident orphans.  They are powerful, and considered to be Orozco’s finest work -- but they might not be considered appropriate viewing for children.  Bryce’s first response was that “He did a lot with grey, didn’t he?”  And yes, he did. 

Some of his more colorful and less brutal works include:

Cortez . . We Think
Waves The Like We Hope Never To See . . .
As a counterpoint to Orozco’s dire comments about mankind, the show mounted in the gallery spaces when we visited was of the art of Betsabeé Romero. The show was called “Sin Rodeo” (Without Detour).  It was a wonderful play on the folk art of Mexico – sculptures from carved and painted truck tires, paper and light sculptures, pictures of painted and tiled cars, giant wax candles covered in flowers, and ex-votos painted on car hoods.  We look forward to seeing this artist’s work wherever it is showing! 

Light Sculptures

After a full day and a big comida (lunch) on Mexican time – about 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. – at La Fonda de San Miguel Arcangel in downtown Guadalajara (good food, bad wine, great courtyard and fountain and good people watching), we returned to our restful B&B. 

For dinner we went to a wonderful little informal restaurant right across the street.  We passed on the more exotic fare (tongue tacos . . .) and had some pozole and returned for a yummy caramel cake dessert and tea before going to bed. 

And then . . . we took the bus to Mazatlán!

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