The Traveler's Journal

Adventures, tales, stories and vignettes by travel writer James Patton Jones

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Wednesday the 19th of September 2018 | PM Edition Published by JRAC, Inc.
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Previous Articles:

Columbia
Architecture in Columbia

England
To London via Train
A Bus to Stonehenge

France
A Flight to France
Normandy, Brittney and the Loire Valley
First Day in Paris
Walking Tours of Paris
Memories of Paris

Japan
Arrival in Tokyo
Subway Survival, Swords, Site-Seeing, and Sushi
A Week of Business Meetings, and Wonderful Food
Asakusa and Tokyo Tower
Mt. Fuji and Hakkone
Sony Building, Hibiya Park, Shopping

Mexico
Memories of Mexico

Switzerland
Swiss Excursion, Part I
Swiss Excursion, Part II

USA
Snow Camping in Yosemite

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Interested in non-travel writing by author James Patton Jones? Non-fiction books, technical books, and papers/articles



Memories of Mexico

Sliding out of the red and white taxi-van, I hauled the heavy door closed behind me. Turning slowly around, I found myself in the downtown market district of Guadalajara, the second largest city in Mexico and one of the most beautiful in all of North America. The central grassy square was patrolled by bronze statues of famous military heroes. The grand cathedral peeked over the tops of the trees revealing its blended Gothic, Byzantine, and Arabic architectural styles, hinting at the charm of the old world.

   
   

[Title: "Classical Architecture, Guadalajara"]

After an architecture tour of the city, I learned that Guadalajara was second only to Mexico City as a center of retail trade and finance. Next I turned my attention to the great central market: three blocks long on each side, and two stories tall, this was the largest market complex I had ever seen. Each shop was small, some were nothing more than a five foot square booth, stuffed to overflowing with singular individual handmade items. Each artist or artisan specialized in a particular item, and sat there in their tiny booth making each item by hand, then making another, then another, all day long. Spouse and children were also involved, either helping manufacture more items, or else trying to convince every passer-by to buy from them. There were literally thousands of items for sell, and for things where one size doesn't fit all, you could have one custom made. How about a pair of shoes custom fit to your feet? Continue your shopping and return in an hour to pick up your new shoes. How's that for service? I continued to work my way through the maze, warding off children who desperately wanted me to come and buy from their parent's booth. Eventually I made it to the vegetable section, and then on to what could only be called the "fresh meat" area. Sides of beef hung from the ceiling in the hot Mexican air, with flies buzzing incessantly all around. There were chickens too, whole flocks of them and all very much alive. Fish swam in large water tanks. Turtles, snakes and lizards splashed around in the murky water at the bottom of wooden barrels. Needless to say, I didn't purchase any fresh lizard for dinner. But I was told it tastes like pollo (that's Spanish for chicken)

My next stop on the western region of Mexico, was the village of Santiago, which I toured on horseback before trotting off into the rolling country side. The horse and I passed several farmers whose facial features revealed their Mayan ancestry, all of whom waved and called out an indigenous greeting.


[Title: "Horseback Riding in Santiago"]

Next, in a nearby town I caught a bus that would take me far to the north. My destination? The resort town of Puerto Vallarta. With colonial Mexican architecture surrounded by jungle-covered mountains, Puerto Vallarta is the second most visited resort in Mexico. But before one can enjoy the city, one has to arrive there, a process which I was uncertain I would accomplish. Quite possibly the most frightening bus ride ever, this double-decker ancient junker of a bus (with its open-air upper deck filled with unhappy livestock and children carrying chickens) was much too large for the tiny roads we needed to traverse. But that did not deter the driver. With a mountain on one side, and nothing but a cliff dropping halfway to China on the other, he utilized the shoulders and ditches and whatever else was handy to keep the bus moving. To add to the experience he drove like his life depended on breaking the world speed record for the route he was following. Finally, after several agonizing hours of edge-of-your-seat terror, we arrived. Alive. Even the chickens.


[Title: "Sunset in Puerto Vallarta"]

As the sun slowly slipped into the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Puerto Vallarta, the sky responded by painting and repainting itself in assorted hues. Pink, orange, red, and pale yellow all scampered across the heavens, paused for a few moments, then retreated. As the colors played tag on the horizon, the sun-- itself turning deeper and darker shades of crimson-- continued its slow descent into that beautiful night.


Today's Travel Tip...

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--The Traveler



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