Friday, August 01, 2014

on the road to guadalajara

If Footloose was not such an odd name, I would claim it for myself.

Less than two weeks after my return from Oregon, I am on the road again.  Briefly, but my head is resting somewhere other than Melaque. 

Yesterday it was Guadalajara.  Add Friday and Saturday to the list.

Why Guadalajara?  For the past six years, I have driven through it on my way to the Mexican highlands and I have flown out of its airport several times.  But I have never visited the central part of the city.

That changed yesterday when two additional factors conjoined.  I needed to visit the American consulate to get some additional pages added to my passport.  I am flying to Shanghai in April.  To be admitted into the country, I need a visa.  To get the visa, I need two blank facing pages in my passport to provide a comfy little home for my entry ticket to Red China.

Even though my passport is less than five years old, each of its pages had been stamped.  But that is easily resolved.  With $82, a completed application form, and a four-hour drive to Guadalajara, I had my new pages by 3 in the afternoon.

The second factor was rather unexpected.  My fellow blogger Kim is visiting Mexico again (as you undoubtedly know from his blog), and because he was in Guadalajara, I decided it was time for me to see the city.

He was staying at a nifty little boutique hotel (Del Carmen) in the centro area -- near most of the historical sights.  So, I reserved a room for two nights.

Each of the nine rooms is decorated in the style of the suite's particular artist.  Cuevas.  Varo.  Tamayo.  Vlady.  Coronel.  Soriano.  Carrington.  Gerszo.  Friedberg.  You get the picture.  Mexican artists and their concepts in a comfortable living space.

I have the Varo suite.  We examined some of her art together last May in a tale of two cities.  Spool-top chairs.  Enfolding tile floors.  Enchanted forest wallpaper.  Whoever designed the place caught Varo's spirit.

But Guadalajara is more than just a place to sleep.  Being Mexico's second largest city, it is steeped in the nation's history -- often taking part as the conservative bastion of the country's events.

The city is filled with churches and their architectural splendors.  I do not include the cathedral as one of the splendors.  Its odd penitent cone hats masquerading as steeples give the building a rather chintzy aura.  Not unlike another church located in San Miguel de Allende.

But one of the sights I have been longing to see is José Clemente Orozco's
"The People and Its Leaders" mural in the Government Palace.  It is not his best work, but it is powerful.

Like most of the muralists, Orozco was a man of the left.  But he was not a government
apparatchik like Diego Rivera.  He saw the flaws in the Mexican Revolution, and he did not allow his politics to get in his way of satirizing its brutality.

This mural is a perfect example.  Several rather shallow guide books describe it as Miguel Hidalgo brandishing a firebrand against the forces of oppression and slavery.

I suppose that may be true at one level.  But a closer examination of the mural shows the forces of evil communism and fascism thriving -- despite of, or perhaps because of, the flame that Hidalgo lit.

Orozco was far too powerful of a muralist to be reduced to the Tomas Kinkade of the 1930s.

I have nothing on the agenda for today.  But I am certain Kim and I will find plenty to shoot and share with you.

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