Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Tlaquepaque, Mexico -- Shoppers Paradise

Gary and I just returned from a trip to Mexico. We flew into Guadalajara on Friday the 30th and headed on over to Tlaquepaque, a small town on the edge of Guadalajara. Flying into G. was different than our usual trip because its not a 'tourist' airport like Cancun or Puerto Vallarta. It's a big modern airport but it is set up for Mexicans not tourists. Everything went smoothly, maybe even more smoothly because there were fewer newbies fumbling with immigration forms. We were picked up by a driver from our hotel, the Quinta Don Jose. It was a wonderful little hotel, I highly recommend it.
The whole reason for going to Tlaquepaque is SHOPPING! This town is ground zero for Mexican arts and crafts. Very high quality, very good prices. Lots of wholesale buyers from around the world shop here. What we didn't expect is the amount and quality of contemporary Mexican furniture and art. If you are furnishing a new house (or an old one) and like either contemporary, 'artsy' furniture or rustic, solid furniture, you should really consider a trip here. I know you could save more than enough to pay for the shipping and the trip. I wish I could have gotten some photos of the furniture to show you but most places didn't allow pictures.
On Saturday, we left the hotel, walked two blocks and were on the a great pedestrian shopping street. We checked out every shop on the street (and some of the surrounding streets), had a great lunch at Adobe Fonda and plotted our overall shopping strategy for the next few days.
On Sunday, we took an organized tour from the hotel to Tonala, the next small town. Tonala is famous for having the furniture, class, pottery and paper mache factories that supply Tlaquepaque. In this case factory, can mean anything from one guy in the courtyard of his house to maybe 20 workers blowing glass. We visited a couple of artists (I bought a very nice vase) and then went to the famous Sunday flea market. It was about a mile of market stalls set up on the side of the road selling everything from shoes to toys to kitchen goods to traditional Mexican crafts to cds to ?? Actually pretty overwhelming and the quality of art was not too good. A fun experience but I wouldn't do it again. We did get lunch in the market with all the locals. Crammed into a market stall, seated on a rickety plastic stool. We split a Torta, which is kind of a sandwich but better. This on was toasted on a hot grill then had sauce poured all over it, yum!

We did make one purchase in the flea market. Gary decided he needed a paper mache parrot for his media room. I really wanted a flamingo but it was BIG and the parrot was hard enough to get home.
Monday we rented a car and drove to Lake Chapala, a large lake just half an hour south. Lots of Americans retire there. Tons of cars with US and Canada plates. Cute little towns but the people were really old and it was very "American". Nice drive though.
Tuesday was the day to commit! We bought some outdoor light fixtures for our yard. They have to be made and shipped to us. We also bought a couple of small figures made of old car parts. And I got a new purse by Sergio Bustamante. Sergio Bustamante is an amazing sculptor. I really wanted his bronze wall sculptures for the front of my house but I didn't have a spare $45,000 this month, LOL. So I settled for a purse, actually the purse was more than I would usually spend but the details are so cool and my darling hubby was being generous with me.
I really liked this town and want to return with some girlfriends who would more enjoy shopping. Gary was a good sport but he runs out of patience with 'just looking'.
After 5 days of fun in Tlaquepaque, we flew to Puerto Vallarta and spent 5 days at Punta Mita where Gary had a meeting. Victoria joined us there. Kinda the usual resort stuff nothing too unusual except for the heat. Oh My God, never travel to PV in September. I don't care how good the deal is, there is a reason it is considered the low season. It was about 90 degrees and I swear 100% humidity. Our friends from Florida and Louisiana didn't mind but I thought I would die. The only upside I could see was that the ocean was so warm that we got to go diving without a wetsuit. At 70 feet the water was 87 degrees. The freedom of diving in bathing suit with only a couple of pounds of weight was amazing. I loved that. We ate at a couple fun spots. Margaritas in Punta de Mita is a beach fish restaurant where we had yummy whole grilled fish. It was so hot that afternoon. The waiter rounded up all their fans and positioned them around us, funny but a life saver.
The other new dining treat we discovered was Tacon de Marlin. A scrappy little spot across from the airport. If you know Puerto Vallarta, it's over the footbridge from the airport. I've seen it for years but we've never gone in, frankly, it looks like a truck stop kind of place. It is really, really good. They serve seafood burritos, all kinds. We had the smoked marlin burrito. It is delicious. Gary was in heaven, I'm sure we will have to go there every time now.
I did a small amount of shopping in PV. Went to my all time favorite store there, Peyote People. They specialize in Huachol art (I'll do a whole post about this style someday) but have recently expanded into some other high-quality Mexican art. I got this beautiful caterina.
Unfortunately, she is as fragile as she is beautiful. I'll be spending some quality time with tweezers and superglue to put some of her parts back on.
That's the latest around here, I'll try to be a better blogger and post more often. See you around,


amyrehnae said...

Hey, you! Thanks for the comment over at my corner! And good to see you back here! Love the stories about your travels! You know I live vicariously through you, right?? I wanna go seems like all I say anymore! lol! Looks like you had a blast!! Love the purse, the caterina, your descriptions of the food made me hungry, and I could just see your smile as you described diving sans wetsuit! I can't wait to hear and see more!

btw, haven't gotten around to facebook yet, but I'm workin' on it! Can't wait to see you in April!


Dayna Collins said...

I want to go shopping in Tlaquepaque! What a great trip you had.