Trading Cobblestones for Coastlines: My Guadalajara-Mazatlán Journey

Ocean sunset in Mazatlán, México

You know I don’t stay put for too long and I really have been missing the ocean. However, before I get into all the juicy details regarding my move to Mazatlán, let me tell you about all the fantastic experiences I had in Guadalajara. There is so much to do and see in the second largest city in all of México. I already told you about visiting the wonderful neighborhoods of Tlaquepaque and Zapopan and the small towns of Chapala, Ajijic, and last but absolutely not least… Tequila! Let me tell you about the rest of Guadalajara (GDL).

Random footie game

Okay, let’s be honest. This is mostly going to be a fabulous photo dump for you all, but I have some fun stories as well. While I was researching fun things to do in GDL, loads of people mentioned the Mercado San Juan de Dios. This absolutely massive selection of shops is like seven football fields stacked on top of each other. It is so big, and you can easily get lost for hours. They have everything from clothes to shoes to fancy horse saddles and riding crops. Many “authentic replicas” can be found for anyone seeking designer goods for less.

Mrs. ItchyFeet with mariachi statue
We are wearing the same shoes! Mariachi for the win!

So I wander around this place for a while and admire all the fun and shiny things. I was thinking of getting food there as well, but I just wasn’t hungry yet. Time to wander around and see what I can find outside the Mercado. The Museo Hospicio Cabañas is just up the street and I want a picture of the outside of the building. Plus, there are these cool looking chair sculptures in the courtyard that are a must see.

Is that a football game!?! Turns out firefighters (bomberos) and police (policías) have international Latin American competitions, which just so happened to be going on right then in downtown GDL. There were, in fact, two different footie games going on side-by-side with bleachers for the fans. Yes!!! I immediately sat down to watch. The games were short, both in size of field, number of players, and length of matches. Plus, the balls from each game kept getting kicked out into the courtyard or into the adjoining field. So much ball chasing!

Parade for Revolution Day
This Parade for Revolution Day did not disappoint! Go Bomberos!

Shirtless Bomberos!

The other competitions that were scattered around town involved weightlifting, mixed martial arts, swimming (they built a pool in the street!), and a full-gear bombero obstacle course complete with a life-size dummy they had to rescue. So much entertainment. I came back throughout the week, even though it was a really long walk to get there. So worth it because I discovered my favorite tamale stand along the route.

Speaking of bomberos, I heard about a parade happening for Revolution Day just down the street from my apartment near the neighborhood of Santa Teresita. Walk on down and enjoy the show. There were kids doing acrobatics, loads of fun costumes, some military stuff, and all the people-watching you could want. But the highlight for me (and the older ladies around me on the sidewalk!) were the fire-trucks with shirtless bomberos all oiled up and lifting weights. Ha!

Walking back home from that parade, I discovered even more street art near Santa Teresita. I would say that most of my pictures are of wall murals. People are so creative and it really makes the city more colorful. If I bought a house here, I would for sure hire someone to decorate the outer walls.

Laboratory themed street art
This amazing street art reminds me of my past career and coworkers in the medical field. Miss you lot!

What can I do for free?

Turns out, there is a lot that you can do and see in Guadalajara for no moneys. One of my favorites is the Museo Hospicio Cabañas, which is free on Tuesday. This gorgeous piece of architecture is filled with amazing artwork and murals. There is one building filled with some very disturbing frescos depicting scenes from religion, oppression, conquest of the indigenous people, and other scenes from the history of México. I’m not a religious person, but wow. I’m real glad I’m not riding around on a horse while battling demons. Other areas of the museum have various fun exhibits that change throughout the year. It’s a must see… on Tuesday!

Another great place to check out some cool art is inside the Municipal Palace. It’s free to enter and has some really amazing murals. The building itself is really cool. Plus, there are fancy carriages for carting around tourists parked outside. I had a good time wandering around this building and the neighboring statues and fountains. At Christmas time, the city set up an ice-skating rink outside the building so the local kids could skate for free. Hilarious!

Museum Hospicio Cabañas
The amazing Museo Hospicio Cabañas is filled with cool murals. The chair sculptures out front are really fun as well.

Forget your average farmer’s market! On Saturdays, a small plaza downtown explodes with the Tianguis Cultural and overflows into some adjacent side streets, blocking traffic in the area. Fresh-picked produce mingle with hand-woven shawls and t-shirts, all serenaded by the crackle of electronics and the hum of live music. There’s even a tattoo booth! You should see all the Christmas decorations they have for sale! This town is for serious about Christmas.

I need some green space

There are also some really amazing parks in Guadalajara. Parque Colomos even has a Japanese Garden. It’s like an hour’s walk from my apartment, but so worth it. The park is enormous, and I took a wrong turn immediately upon entering the front gate, so I ended up in the backwoods-area. That’s when I spotted some rock squirrels! Big fat, fun looking squirrels. Don’t put your pack down, though, because they will totally steal your lunch.

The Japanese Garden was pretty cool, with a ton of baby turtles and coy fish. Two young humans had just gotten engaged right there and their friends were all congratulating them, taking pictures, and exclaiming at the fancy ring. Lots of calling family members to let them know the fun news. It’s a nice place for it. Further in the park, a bunch of peeps were taking pictures of this 14-year-old in a super fancy dress for her upcoming Quinceanera. So fun!

Parque Azul
Parque Azul is a really gorgeous park. Add this to your must-see list!

Another absolutely fabulous park is Parque Azul. I took a light-rail to this one because I didn’t want to walk another 15k. There is a free museum inside the park! I had a lot of fun trying to figure out the Spanish on all the exhibits. Lot of history of the area and old bones from long ago dead creatures. In addition, the park has a butterfly dome and a colorful bird sanctuary. This one toucan became infatuated with my cellphone as I tried to take pictures and started coming toward me. There’s no fence, so I legit had to put my phone away. That beak is intimidating!

I had fun, but it’s time to move on

While I am throughly enjoying all the Christmas markets that are popping up around town, it’s time to head back to the ocean. I’m excited about Mazatlán. I hear it’s an amazing place to enjoy Carnival and Semana Santa. Plus, on April 8, 2024, Mazatlán will be ground zero for a North American total eclipse of the sun! Those are amazing and I already have the glasses for optimal viewing.

Toucan at Parque Azul for sure trying to steal my phone! Super sus.

Time to pack. I bought these packing cubes, and they helped immensely with organizing my crap in all my luggage. This move will be much more simple because I’m taking a bus. I don’t have to worry about weight limits or liquids. That means I get to keep that amazing fish sauce I found at one of the Asian markets here. Big cities do have their perks.

There are loads of busses that go from Guadalajara to Mazatlán, so I obviously picked one that let me sleep in. Smart! I had no problem getting a ride-share, and the driver was so nice and helped me with all my luggage. You got to tip if they help you with luggage but I appreciate it. Upon entering the bus station, I made sure I was at the correct station. There are several, and it would have sucked to show up at the wrong one.

Um… where’s my bus?

I, of course, got to the bus station early because I wanted to make sure I didn’t miss that bus even if I got stuck in traffic. Most bus stations that I have been to have numbers above where your bus will load, so you know where to wait to get on. Not here. I just had to make sure I spotted the correct bus when it pulled up. Stressful. I better go pee before the six-hour ride. Who knows if the bus will have a working head?

Murals of The Crusades
Museo Hospicio Cabañas is filled with frescos of religion and the, sometimes violent, history of México. Fascinating!

Lucky for me, I brought exact change for the bathroom, as it costs six pesos. That’s a thing here in México. Most places you pay to use the loo and a lot of times the toilet-paper goes into the trash instead of the toilet. Obey the signs! I’m heading outside to wait for the bus… why are they loading busses scheduled to leave after my bus is? Maybe my bus loads somewhere else? Am I missing something?

After waiting and waiting and waiting, I realize that loads of other people are also waiting for the same bus. Well, that’s a relief. At least we are all in this together. The second that bus showed up and opened its luggage doors, I stepped up and quickly loaded my luggage… and immediately got into trouble. You’re not supposed to load your own luggage. This isn’t Portugal or even Playa del Carmen, apparently.

Japanese Garden
I love this beautiful Japanese Garden! The couple hugging just got engaged. Excellent spot for it.

My bad

A lovely lady helped me interpret what the officials were telling me to do. They need to give me a ticket for each piece of luggage so I can retrieve them at my destination. Smart. The helpful lady, who happened to be wearing a “Seattle” shirt from her Alaska cruise, asked me if I had ever been to Mazatlán before. She’s from there and just loves it. She’s very excited about the upcoming solar eclipse. So am I! I’m also excited to see the ocean again.

That bus was wonderful. Comfy reclining seats. TV monitors in each seat back. Fancy leg rests! Bathrooms that work. Amazing views along the route. It was very nice, but I am glad I took a Bonine as that rocking motion would have destroyed me. We stopped at the Sinaloa state line for a luggage inspection, which was interesting. They had dogs sniff through the luggage compartment and a couple people looked through our carry-on bags. Luckily, they were not interested in my fish sauce and we continued on.

We all finally made it to Mazatlán. There is so much construction going on here. It’s dusty with it all and it hangs in the air. It doesn’t help that it is the dry season either. Hopefully, it should be better closer to the ocean. I texted my apartment’s manager to let her know that the bus had made up some time during the drive. I wouldn’t be too late. My ride-share was super fast and I get there in no time.

Parroquia La Sagrada Familia
Check out this amazing church near my apartment in Guadalajara! This is Parroquia La Sagrada Familia.

Moment of truth

While I found the apartment on a rental app, I had contacted the manager directly. Then I did the unthinkable by sending her the first month’s rent before even seeing the place. $850 USD! Yes, I know you’re not supposed to do that. She could steal my money. There might not even be an apartment. I could get there and have nowhere to stay. But sometimes you just have to trust strangers.

The apartment is absolutely lovely. It has a second bathroom that I had no idea even existed. Everything is brand new… like so new, it still has the plastic wrap on it. I’m the first to rent this newly remodeled place and I’m so excited about it. Washer and dryer! Neither of which requires purchasing tokens (aka: USD quarters!). It’s right in front of a wonderful park and I can see the ocean from the living room. I toured the place, signed a bunch of contracts, and wired the manager some more moneys.

Christmas market
A Christmas market popped up right next to my Mercado in Santa Teresita.

In Guadalajara, I had a Señor Raymundo, along with a cleaning lady, taking out my trash. You knew it was time because the trash collectors would drive down the street ringing large cow-bells. Trash time! People would run out with trash bags, which got tossed into the truck. I told my new rental manager about that and she just thought it was the funniest thing. Cow-bells! To think of it. No, in Mazatlán, you just wait until you hear the load truck passing by. What?

Trunk Tamales!

The truth is in between. The trash truck passes by at 7pm MWF. You take the trash bag out to the curb at 6pm and hope they see it. Take it back in if they don’t or critters will get trash everywhere. I’ll keep the wet stuff in the freezer so I don’t get ants. It’s the tropics after all. I’ll have to figure out recycling. I think I have to take it in some place or call for a pickup.

You can’t drink the water out of the tap in México, but the apartment comes with a separate water dispenser by the sink. What is that for? Turns out, there are filters under the sink with a UV purifier. Potable water! How cool is that!?! I don’t have to haul 20L jugs of water into the house. Those things are heavy. This place just keeps getting better and better.

Los Arcos de Guadalajara
These amazing arches in Guadalajara are similar in style to the Arches of Triumph in Europe.

Time to head to the grocery store to get some food stuffs. I’m super hungry. After shopping and finding out that pre-made meals aren’t really a thing at this store, I walk out to discover that there is a woman selling tamales from the boot of her car. Trunk tamales!!! Yes! I grab a couple and head home. They were so amazingly good. They had meat and veggies. I’m pretty sure there was yuca in there. So good. I’m going to have to find her again. It’s an adventure!

Recommended Posts

1 Comment

  1. Too cool, sounds lovely.

Comments are closed.