Updated: Mar 11
The passport saga continues and now we had an appointment with the Guadalajara US Consulate to complete the process of getting a new passport, so now we need to travel 6 hours on a bus.
Here in Mexico bus travel is the way to get around. That said, the least expensive travel is from the local community to the local community on what appears to be 50-year-old Mercedes buses worn to the bone, covered in dirt that rock and creek like an old bed. The seats are worn down to the springs in some cases and in other seat boards are used to make cushions (wow).
Long-distance travel is very different. The buses are much bigger double-deck, in some cases, and remind me of the type used for tours, rock stars, etc. They are comfortable, air-conditioned, with “Banos” on board, and believe it or not, leave and arrive on time.
So, we left our bucolic coastal village and headed toward one of the largest port cities, Manzanillo, our first stop. This bustling port moves a huge quantity of containers to various points in Mexico. More about this community later.
From here we traveled into the mountains where the scenery is a graphic picture of farms, miles of avocado groves, line trees, pineapple, herbs, mangos, bananas from what we could see through tinted windows.
Most of the highways are two-lane type country roads and all the container trucks from Manzanillo line the roads climbing at a snail's pace up the mountain.
Our bus driver seeing the issue decided to take the long and winding road that trucks, double trailer trucks, cannot manage. Therefore, we made good time, relatively speaking. As I looked across a large canyon, I could see the bridge and all the trucks slowly snaking their way.
Finally, we neared the summit and sped onto the tollway, the trucks now behind us. While watching old pickup trucks filled to overflowing hay bales creep along the side road's shoulder of the tollway was curious, even more so was the fact that they will turn off and simply drive through the dirt and grass to a nearby dirt road.
As we came out of the mountains headed toward Guadalajara the smog and smoke cast a haze over the valley. To our amazement off in the distance, there were giant apartment complexes built into the hillsides with smoking factories nearby. “This is the second-largest city in Mexico,” someone behind me said in broken English. I Googled it and sure enough, it’s over a million and a half people.
As we approached the city the highway quickly filled to overflowing with cars, buses, massive smoking diesel trucks, and motorcycles weaving in and out of the snail pace traffic as our bus lumbered along.
Finally, we arrived at the new central bus station. This modern and spacious façade was filled with buses from all points of Mexico. A contrast to the rustic tile and thatched roof beach community of Barra. Here the metal-roofed building houses Starbucks, Walmart, and almost as many American fast-food places as San Diego.
We took a cab from the bus station to the hotel near the consulate. The cabs are small and if you have any amount of luggage, you must get a larger “cab”, like a Chevy Dakota. As we pulled in front of the hotel, I spotted a Carl’s Jr sign a block away indicating this is a city steeped in tradition and yet modern America was springing up everywhere, at least in this area of town.
“Hotel Love It,” was a surprise. It was modern well-appointed art, furniture, and upscale amenities for about $80 US per night. The rooms were a decent size and from the small balcony, we could see the Consulate.
After a quick espresso at Starbucks, we headed to Tlaquepaque. This is a city within a city now. Part of Guadalajara which surrounds its name came from the rich clay soil where pottery and glass have been made for centuries. In fact, before the Spanish arrival, this was one city along with five or six cities, ruled by a woman named Tzapotzinco, now central Guadalajara. Although the main area is a street walk filled with mostly tourist shops, the restaurant we eat in was had fabulous food and was decorated with art and relics.
By the next morning, we were on our way back to the bus station new passport in hand. There was only one hiccup getting the passport and that was it. So, we could get back to the beach life!