Guadalajara, Jalisco – Bus driver on piece-work

1.6 million inhabitants in the city, 5 million in the metro, Mexico’s second largest city with a history lasting since 1542: These facts can describe Guadalajara only superficially, since it has much more to offer. A large-scale pedestrian precinct was built around the historic city core that contains the most important sights. Although Guadalajara’s traffic isn’t by any means as chaotic as the one in Mexico City there is a parking problem in the city centre, especially for vehicles above 2.8 m height. But the public transport system is fully developed in an exemplary manner, and the (only) campground provides us with perfect information for the city bus.

For 6 Peso (55 US $-Cents) we may ride the bus for nearly an hour. But I would call this a kind of temperamental. To stop the bus at the station you have to throw yourself in front of the wheels. You better have the right money on hand, chuck it on the driver’s counter, grab the ticket, seize one of the handles, or better dive full length onto the next available seat. The driver immediately sets off as soon as the last passenger has entered the bus, and he handles the rest while driving. And how the man drives! He must be paid on piece-work and according to the rounds he can manage in one shift, or he receives a stake in total passenger transport. There’s no other explanation for his style of driving, how he furiously pokes about in the gearbox and meanwhile maltreats the clutch. He brakes only in case of extreme emergency and even then in the last moment only. Else he thunders with 100 kicks over the roundabouts, but nobody seems to really care. However, we are relieved to get off in the town centre.

Guadalajara’s cathedral is huge and received after the earthquakes from 1750 and 1818 a replacement for the two collapsed towers. The yellow tiled spires are now the city’s landmark. The portal that was initially made for the cathedral can be found today at the government palace that was converted into a museum. The naked women’s busts carved in wood were eventually found inappropriate for the sacred building. The main staircase of the Palacio de Gobierno is decorated with an impressive mural that is about independence hero Father Manuel Hidalgo who fought in 1810 for abolition of slavery, and was executed for this by the Spanish clergy. A multi-lingual pensioner volunteer is dying to explain us the painting. He doesn’t refuse a tip in the end of his lecture – like always in Mexico, tips are welcome, although not necessarily expected.

The Teatro Degollado and the Institutio Cultural Cabañas are colonial buildings worth seeing as well. After so much culture the stomach rumbles. Mercado Libertad, one of the largest covered markets in Latin America, finds a remedy. Here are not only food stands on three stories but everything else what could be more or less useful: Meat, fruit, and vegetables; shoes, purses, and t-shirts; pens, lighters, and sunglasses; eye shadow, nail polish, and artificial nails. And much more. Made in China.

Back to San José del Tajo RV Park we shower off the city sweat. Cockroaches are commonly seen inhabitants of these establishments. But here I find small frogs. How sweet. I rather keep my slippers on. The swimming pool wouldn’t bother being cleaned as well. The campground isn’t bad at all, but the price (knocked down from 250 to 200 Peso) represents more the location than fittings or cleanliness.

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