September 2009 – We had heard many things about the City of Tonala and were very interested to see what it was all about. Tonala is a suburb of Guadalajara which is similar to many of the other great city’s in the world with a small central core and many other separate cities or boroughs attached making up its mammoth size. We had been looking forward to this trip for quite a while….
After a delicious breakfast of fresh papaya the four of us, Mary, Lore, Heather and I headed to the city bus stop a few blocks away. The bus was crowded and it was every person for themselves when it came to getting a seat. This lead to us getting separated on the bus but from what I could see is we were in for a long ride so sooner or later seats would open up closer together.
Well that was a great thought. Never happened, people would get off but another load would get on so any extra seats never came available. Oh well, we were adults so I was pretty sure we would figure it out. It was a typical bus ride. Quick, lots of stops and lots of things to look at. It was an entertaining ride.
As we crested a hill there was a lot of movement on the bus, people were making their way towards the doors. A lot of people. It was then that I heard a cry that would become familiar over the next few days, KEVIN!, in accented spanish was called by Mary and I am pretty sure it could have been heard 6 buses away but it got my attention. Apparently it was time to get off.
As the bus pulled away all we could see stretching for blocks was blue tarps. This was it. The Tonala street market. Every Thursday and Sunday people came and sold their wares along about countless city blocks on this road. But that was not all, it went down alleyways and other cross streets. It was literally amazing.
Enough looking, let’s get across the street and see what they have! They had everything. Heather and I were in awe. Pottery, glassware, leather, flowers, artwork, household items, religious items, lights, clothing, furniture, pets, herbs, candy and of course, food.
Our plan was to wander through today and if we saw something we liked Mary and Lore would find out what the cost was as in most cases it was thought that if Heather or I asked, it would be more. So we wandered, we stopped, we looked, we bought. 2 sets of 2 round paper lamps for 10 bucks. 6 coffee mugs and a stand 5 bucks. The same mugs in Puerto Vallarta were 5 bucks each!
As we found out through out the day, everything was much cheaper there than here but there was a good reason. Tonala was the factory town. Everything was made there and shipped out.
We loaded ourselves up and about 3:00 we thought we should head for home. As we had a great deal of stuff Mary called her brother and asked him to come and pick us up.
We packed as much as we could into the trunk of their Nissan Tsuru but we still had stuff on our laps. Apparently we bought more than we thought but we got it home.
After a nice visit with Mary’s family Mary and Lore decided they should take us downtown so back to the bus we went.
Downtown Guadalajara is something to behold. What a beautiful city. They lead us to all the highlights. The place was bustling. The Cathedral, the government buildings, the central market which is absolutely huge. It was spectacular.
We were walking down a pedestrian walkway in jewellery section of town when we came across a building that was originally an orphanage many years ago. Lore wanted us to see inside as apparently it is special. We wandered around the square while she went in search of someone she knew to see if she could arrange a tour.
The building it turned out was closed that night for a special function but if we come back tomorrow at 10:oo am he will give us a tour. We agreed to that and wandered around a bit more before Mary said we needed to see this one cathedral so off we went to find that one.
It was about 6 or 7 blocks away but it was a beautiful night so we wandered towards this cathedral. When we arrived it was really busy. Wedding central. One wedding was going on inside and another wedding party was waiting out in front of the doors. It was something else.
The square in front of it was hopping too. Vendors selling all kinds of things and people just out enjoying the night in a pretty place. It was then that what they wanted us to see happened.
It was 9:00 pm and the church bells chimed. That was not all there was though, this church had a glockenspiel which started to work as the bells started to toll. All the Mexican Catholic Saints started to come out of the doors and go down their track. It was really cool and something we are really glad we saw.
Mary and Lore were not done yet though. As the one wedding was emptying out and the other was still getting itself in order they hustled us into the church to see it. It was beautiful. The woodwork in it was amazing as were most things. It was a sight to behold.
After that I could not imagine that the orphanage could be anymore beautiful but as usual I was wrong….