February 25 – March 20, 2016.
After celebrating our birthdays in the resort town of Puerto Vallarta we drove through the mountains and crossed into the state of Jalisco on February 25, 2016.
When we started planning our trip to Mexico we contacted our friend John who is originally from Scotland but has been living in Guadalajara, Mexico for more than 15 years. We had made tentative plans to visit with them during the holidays. We ended up enjoying the Baja more than anticitpated and being “Overlanders”this was becoming the norm never knowing how long or short your journey would take you.
Pinar de la Venta…3 weeks with friends
Our friends John and Andrea live in the beautiful neighborhood of Pinar de la Venta located about 25km from the center of Guadalajara. They welcomed us into their amazing house like we were family and we immediately felt at home even though we had not seen John for more than 15 years and had just met Andi. We ended up spending 3 weeks with them and their pups Oxxo and Nina.
We took this opportunity to have some maintenance done on the truck. We had the cracked windshield replaced and oil changed at the Dodge dealer, double layers of security film installed on all 4 windows, some guards welded to our front and rear lights…We received a part for the grey water sump pump being mailed from California by XPCamper.
But mostly we spent our days just lounging, cooking, reading, catching up on the blog, taking day trips by ourselves or with John and Andi. We love our life on the road but this was a very nice break thanks to John and Andi, we still miss Andi’s Moms brownies which she brought every week on Tuesday, to die for.
Andi showed me how to make Chile Rellenos, stuffed poblano peppers, accompanied by Agua de Jamaica, hibiscus water and Requeson, kind of like Ricotta cheese. Yummy!
Guadalajara is the capital of the state of Jalisco and the second most populous city after Mexico City with 4,4 million people (2010) in the metropolitan area. It is the birthplace of mariachi music and tequila, but also one of the country’s industrial and business centers, sometimes referred to as Mexico’s Silicon Valley.
The historic center is dotted with colonial plazas and many beautiful buildings, we were lucky to have our own tour guides.
On Sundays it’s nice to walk around the historic center and take in the culture. There is so much life in the plazas with street performers, souvenir vendors, food stalls … Fruits and chips are the favorite snacks. Hard choice to make sometimes.
The Hospicio Cabanas, a UNESCO World Heritage Site is now a Cultural Institute where you can admirer the impressive frescoes painted in the 1930’s by Jose Clemente Orozco and many expositions by local and international artists.
Tortas Toño is known to have the best Tortas Ahogadas in Guadalajara! It is a typical dish, sandwich of chopped fried pork on a baguette and drenched in a chili sauce and topped with onions, cabbage and cilantro! On Sunday morning you have to wait in line! Great for hangovers!
A suburb of Guadalajara, Tlaquepaque has narrow cobblestone streets with old mansions housing wonderful stores and galleries offering wood carvings, sculpture, furniture, ceramics, jewelry and so many neat restaurants.
If you like interior design like I do, this place is heaven! Now that we live in our truck, it was just fun window shopping. But if we ever have a house again I would seriously consider coming back here to furnish it.
There is a multitude of furniture stores offering unbelievably nice furniture and home accessories.
Ok enough with the chi-chi stores time to eat some Chapulines, grasshoppers!
The town of Tequila is located about 60 km from Guadalajara, so we decided to take a day trip with our truck, you can also take a train tour from the city. The drive through the Blue Agave fields was very scenic.
Many distilleries welcome visitors, we decided to visit the Jose Cuervo distillery, because they were the first to produce this fine beverage in 1795! Best selling tequila in the world with 35% market share!
The production of tequila is divided into seven steps: harvesting, cooking, fermentation, distillation, aging and botteling.
After three weeks in Guadalajara it was time to move on, but not to far, only 35 miles (55 km) away. We made it to Lake Chapala on March 16, 2016 to visit Josée’s aunt and uncle who also, like John, had been waiting for us for a while.
The town of Chapala is located on the shore of Mexico’s largest freshwater lake and is a favorite weekend and holiday destination for Tapatios, as the people of Guadalajara are known. Unfortunately the lake seems to have issues with its water levels and pollution.
The town of Ajijic located on the north shore of Lake Chapala, about 3 miles from the town of Chapala, it is a haven for retired expats from the US and Canada. Boutiques, galleries and restaurant galore, much of the town retained its charming colonial vibe with cobblestone streets but its far from the typical Mexico. English is almost has common as Spanish and the prices are relatively high.
The area is considered to have one of the best climate in the world. Cool nights and mornings, warm afternoons and no humidity. It also benefits from good medical care at extremely reasonable costs.
Beautiful Tante Pierrette in front of one of the many murals of Ajijic.
Josée’s aunt and uncle have been coming to the area for more than 10 years and have a very busy social life. We met a few of their many friends and were able to get a glimpse at the expat lifestyle. Not sure its our thing but it was a lot of fun for a few days!
We also took the opportunity to get our teeth cleaned for a whopping 150 pesos (about $9.00 USD) and get a tire fixed and a rotation done on the truck (which Joe ended up doing himself) after they noticed our rig and tire size no biggy Joe’s tools worked better all he really wanted was their lift.
Spending time with my aunt was such a treat, she reminds me so much of my mother who left us way to young.
Next, MEXICO, Guanajuato… stay tuned!