ATM Troubles in Zapopan

Mrs. ItchyFeet in front of Zapopan letters

Remember how I told you all about visiting the adorable neighborhood of Tlaquepaque for Día de los Muertos? Well, there is a similarly wonderful neighborhood in Guadalajara by the name of Zapopan to the north of my apartment. It’s not close enough to walk, but I still gotta go. I also need cash for the trip, but decided I could get that once I arrive there. What could go wrong!?!

Getting there

My apartment near the Santa Teresita neighborhood in Guadalajara isn’t exactly on a light-rail route. It’s a good 20-minute walk to the nearest station. But I really love light-rail because it’s exactly one price (just tap the card!) and almost always on time. Plus, trains come about every seven minutes, so if you miss one, it’s not a big deal to just wait for the next one.

Once that train pulled up, my first thought was how in the crap am I going to fit in there? The train was packed-packed! Time to get cozy with the neighbors. I just shoved my compact frame through the doors and into the mass of bodies. Good thing I’m not claustrophobic! The problem is, I can’t reach anything to hold on to. I don’t want to fall down when the train starts to move. Lucky for me, all the compacted humans keep me in place and off we go.

Immediately upon exiting the station, you can see all the art and fountains that make Zapopan a wonderful place to take pictures. The weather is perfect as well. Warm but not hot. I’m in the mountains, after all. It’s only a few blocks away from one of the most picturesque churches in all of Guadalajara. Basílica de Nuestra Señora de Zapopan. It’s massive and gorgeous. Looks like I just missed a fair because people are taking down all these large booths. That’s what I get for coming on a Monday and not a weekend.

Santuario de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe y Santuario de la Virgen de Guadalupe
Check out this church right in front of the entrance to the underground light-rail station that takes me to Zapopan! These are Santuario de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe y Santuario de la Virgen de Guadalupe.

My bank card isn’t working!

You know I do my research, so I know exactly which bank I need to go to in order to get the smallest ATM fee, and exactly how to get there. There is a line, but it goes fast. Once inside the tiny ATM room, I try my debit card. Everything looks like it is proceeding well, except for a few weird questions in Spanish that I don’t understand. But after getting to the end and entering the amount desired, the ATM spits out my card with an error to contact my bank. WTF?

I try a couple more times but get nowhere. Time for a different bank. But I need Wi-Fi for my phone. Did you know Zapopan has free Wi-Fi in their center square in front of the Basílica de Nuestra Señora de Zapopan? I do now! Different bank address acquired. Off I go to discover they have converted the bank’s location into a shoe shop. Back to the center square for more Wi-Fi. Ugh. Off to yet another bank.

After waiting in yet another ATM line, I work my way through all the ATM prompts, only to be refused again, but with a different error. I have either asked for more money than allowed or already taken out so much in one day that I can’t take out anymore. What if some of those other failed transactions went through but I didn’t get any cash out!?! Back to the church square!

Zapopan center square with booths
I should have gotten to Zapopan on the weekend. All the booths are being taken down. I missed it by one day!

What am I doing wrong?

Okay, so all my money is safe and sound in my bank account. But I need some of it in cash. Wait a tick! They set my daily withdrawal limit for $200 for safety reasons. I was trying to get out $250. So that happened! It’s a new card, so I didn’t realize it. Quick increase to my limit and I’m back in line for the ATM. Give me my monies! Everything worked fine that time and I got some small bills, which is a must in this area. Repeatedly having to ask “¿Tienes cambio para quinientos…?” before buying things is getting tiresome.

Time to walk around and check out the neighborhood. Zapopan is really pretty with lots of shops and art and restaurants. They scattered massive statues all about. Plus, I spotted yet another gorgeous church. Love the architecture. I’m starting to get hungry, so I make my way back down to the church square and back toward the light-rail station to a restaurant I had researched ahead of time.

Giant head sculpture
Cabeza Roja by Javier Marín. This thing is massive and hollow. It has these pinpricks of light that shine through. So cool!

It’s closed on Monday. Of course it is! Turns out, lots of places are closed on Monday. Not to worry. While walking around earlier, I spotted a tamale stand. I love tamales so I’m fully in. Get back to the stand and they have sold out and closed up their stand. Sigh. Now what? You know when you get to that point where you just don’t care what you eat, you just can’t decide. Hangry. Need food now!

Is that a Mercado?

Mercados usually have some really good food options, like fried tacos or braised meat soups. If you are worried about sanitation, the motto is, “if there’s a line, you’re fine”. The problem was, I kept walking around and could not find any lines. Plus, with the fish market in there, it didn’t smell the greatest. Must keep looking.

Giant bearded head sculpture
Cabeza Vainilla by Javier Marín. You could fit inside this giant head sculpture, if you were that kind of person!

Is that a line across the street? It is, and it’s for this tiny menudo restaurant doing brisk business. One of my friends had just told me that while growing up, her favorite Mexican soup was menudo and I had to try it while out here. Now is my chance! I figured I would have to wait in line, but people were leaving and most of the line was for take away. So I wondered right in and grabbed a seat at the large communal table.

Menudo is a lovely soup made with a spicy broth and tripe (cow stomach). You add fresh lime juice, diced onions, dried oregano, and hot sauce to taste from large trays setting around the table. It is delightful, but the tripe is chewy. I have a dislocated jaw so chewy foods are really difficult (and painful) to eat. It was fun, though. I enjoyed eating with everyone else and seeing what toppings they added and in what order. The soup also came with fresh tortillas to soak up the juices. Noms!

Time for a drink

I had grand ideas of sitting out in the church square at some quant cafe drinking a margarita while watching humans take selfies in front of the Basílica de Nuestra Señora de Zapopan. But those tourist prices are not for me. I’m on a budget. Instead, I found this random hole-in-the-wall locals’ bar with Spain-Spanish bull-riding decor. No margaritas sold here. Where am I!?!

Mrs. ItchyFeet enjoying a sangria
Look at the size of that sangria! What a fun and random bar.

So I’m that tourist, a tiny, oldish lady ordering a sangria in broken Spanish, making sure they don’t make it with beer because I can’t consume the glutens. Lucky for me, the bartender was so nice and helpful. And that sangria was massive and delightfully tasty. I was very pleasantly surprised! I wonder if the owner is from Spain? Must be with all this decor, and the owner’s accent didn’t really sound like any Mexican accent that I’ve heard. I do like watching people and making up stories about their lives.

So I’m sitting here, watching people, enjoying my sangria when a gentleman walks by, looks me over in all my tourist attire and exclaims, “Howdy!”. I laugh and return with an “Hola” as he heads to the bathroom. On his way back, he asks me where I’m from. I let him know Seattle, and he tells me he has been in this neighborhood of Guadalajara for over 50 years. Then he gave me a bit of information about how much Zapopan has changed with tourism increasing.

Church in Zapopan
This gorgeous church is the Basilica of Our Lady of Zapopan. Lots of people taking selfies in front of this one.


This gentleman goes on to ask how I am enjoying the area. I tell him the people are so wonderful and the weather is absolutely amazing. Not too hot. Not too cold. Perfect. Well, then he informs me that as of late, it was getting up to 45 degrees in the summer. That’s 113 to all my Northern peeps! That is hot-hot! Not coming here in the summer, that’s for sure. However, after he leaves I do a bit of research on the internets.

Lies! It never gets that hot here in the mountains. That’s like what we tell tourists in Seattle… it rains all the time. Non-stop. No breaks from the rain. I swear! Nope. The weather is very moderate here and Seattle has amazingly sunny summers. It might occasionally feel like 45 degrees here in the summer, but it’s not regularly getting that hot, per the internet. Too funny!

Templo del Sagrado Corazon
I found pretty churches all over Zapopan! This is the Templo del Sagrado Corazon.

Time to head home. The light-rail was again packed on the way back. It’s elevated in Zapopan and then goes underground as it heads into the center of Guadalajara. I got a spot smashed against a window, which allowed me to see some kind of fancy amusement park down below. One of my neighbors mentioned that park as it sounds like a really good time during Día de los Muertos. Unfortunately, it’s only open at night and I’m not a night person. Looks fun though.

The walk from the light-rail station home is a long one. Finally in my apartment, I think I walked about 11k after everything is said and done. Plus, so many stairs to get up and down from the light-rail platforms. I had a wonderful time, though. Zapopan would be a fun neighborhood to stay in for anyone visiting. Especially if you are into nightlife. It’s an adventure!

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  1. Love Zapopan! Lovely place and good food!

  2. great ATM story, travel so improves life.

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