A few minutes outside of Guadalajara lies the town of Tlaquepaque. You see, it is spelled about as confusing as it is pronounced. This is because its name is Nahuatl, which is the native Mexican language. Supposedly it translates to “land above clay land,” and that description makes much more sense to me than the name by itself.
Tlaquepaque was one of the quainter towns I’ve experienced during my trip. It was easy to navigate around its town center, presents were not hard to find, and people were pleasant to deal with. Half a day gave me plenty of time to explore a few shops, buy souvenirs, eat at a great restaurant, and listen to Mariachi bands. Yes, Mariachi! Finally I got to experience one of the symbols of Jalisco. Mariachi are pretty much everywhere here, in every color imaginable. Not only men, though, I also ran across a women’s mariachi band performing inside a joint. As the story goes, Mariachi is tradition going back hundreds of years ago. A singer tries to vow a woman’s heart and convince her to marry her by singing at her in beautiful and melodious songs. It has been carried over into today’s times and become an art by itself.
“If you go to Guadalajara in September, you will experience the annual Mariachi Festival. I once went there and saw a Japanese group performing!” my friend’s mother told me. Yes, Mexicans go all crazy about this form of singing, I get it. Not only do the groups look good in their costumes, but they also perform quite well. When they sing in restaurants, they usually gather around a table of customers and expect some sort of payment after their performance. Basically, if you are on a date and see a band, you can make it more romantic by asking them over to sing for your girl (or guy).
Aside from Mariachi, Tlaquepaque has an array of gorgeous items for sale. Excellent pottery in form of kitchenware and decoration. Handmade, blown glass products, so adorable, I was tempted to buy way more glasses than I could have fit in my suitcase. For 10 dollars only I was able to buy 6 shot glasses and 2 medium sized drinking glasses – a bargain, considering that they all looked quite unique and had the quality of higher end merchandise.
Tlaquepaque also has somewhat of an art scene. We looked at an exhibition of an artist whose theme was evolving around a guy riding his bicycle. Everything was exhibited in glazed pottery form and sparkling from the walls.
The town also holds a few churches, of course. No Mexican town exists without having at least a couple of churches
on every street corner here and there. While strolling around, I saw this darling woman fixing her own baskets so I asked for a quick photo. She allowed it, but only after I bought a 5 pesos wooden spoon from her assortment so this picture means a mighty lot to me!
We then continued on to our restaurant, where I finally got a Margarita that tasted like it should and my friend introduced me to Cazuela de Tequila – a drink served in a bowl, consisting of different juices with a shot of Tequila (which you have to pour in yourself). So good! If you want to check it out for yourself, go to El Abajeno (it was also here where yet another Mariachi band performed).
This town is great for seeing some unique handmade Mexican items (much better than shopping for souvenirs Guadalajara) and I can only recommend you stopping by if you get a chance. If you don’t have a driver, the El Tapatio bus goes here, too. Just make sure you don’t sit on the second level, and if you do, watch out for mean branches whacking you in the face!