Updated: Apr 27
UPDATE: As of 17 March 2020, a number of parks - including Parque Agua Azul - have been closed due to the lockdown.
I wrote previously about the Museum of Paleontology, and how it's situated snugly at the corner of Parque Agua Azul. The origins of this beautiful park can be traced back to the end of the 18th century, when the Guadalajaran locals (Tapatíos) would take in the gardens on foot, carriage or horseback, and take pleasure boat rides on the artificial lake.
Today it's probably a bit bigger, busier and better manicured; but it's none the worse for that. It still attracts the Tapatíos, as well as tourists both Mexican and gringo. It's a lovely, green haven in the heart of the big city.
Parque Agua Azul - o ¿Parque Verde?
The first thing you admire about the park is the greenery. After 3 months in La Paz, I admit I was getting a bit despondent at the lack of green. It's in the desert, of course; the sea is gloriously blue, as is the sky, and there are palm trees and cacti and desert scrub; but there's very little in the way of real, actual-to-goodness trees.
You don't realise how much you miss trees until you've been away from them for a few months, and walking around the Parque Agua Azul was just a delight:
In London I was lucky enough to live about 15 minutes walk from Kew, another favourite green garden of mine; and this place reminded me of nothing more than a miniature version of Kew. Wandering around in the sunshine (in the middle of winter, remember), sitting on a bench listening to the birds and buying an ice cream from a local vendor: this is the kind of thing I haven't experienced in far too long.
It felt great.
There are a number of different sites of interest around Parque Agua Azul. If you wander round the side of the Museo, as we did, you might first come across the Avian Clinic.
No really! There's an aviary in the park, and they take a close interest in looking after their feathered guests. When we got there, they were feeding/caring for the parrots. I suspect they were some of the older guys - some of them were missing a few feathers, although to be fair they all seemed in pretty fine fettle.
I managed to get a short video of them before getting told off by one of the staff... in my keenness to get close to them, I didn't spot the traffic cones which had been set up to keep people away.
They had a few iguanas in cages at the clinic as well, basking in the sun and looking pretty well-pampered.
There's the Parque Agua Azul Guadalajara Children's Forum, which is a kids theatre space. Sadly, there was nothing going on when I was there.
There was also an orchidarium (no, I'd never heard the word before either), although it seemed pretty bare. There was some kind of gardening event taking place - people were bringing orchids and other plants in and out of the Museum - so perhaps they were just relocated for the day.
They offer guided tours:
We didn't have time to get to all the exhibits - although I'll update after our next visit.
As above, there's an aviary; there's also a lepidopterarium, a giant geodesic dome where they house the park's butterfly collection:
Sadly it was closed.
They a little miniature "railway", although this one doesn't run on rails, just the paths around the park. Very pretty, but also very slow - good for a leisurely drive through the green canopy like the one at Kew!
Just outside the aviary we came across the El agua azul kids' cart course, complete with road markings, traffic cones and a future F1 champion!
All in all, Parque Agua Azul Guadalajara was a delightful surprise, even if we didn't get to explore the whole site. We'll be back for sure. Wildlife, green garden space, culture - just what the doctor ordered.
We walked out the West gate intending to head homewards, and walked into another world 😉
El Tianguis Cultural de Guadalajara
Google maps lists this location as a "cultural centre". Situated between Av. 16 de Septiembre and Calz Independencia Sur, this is an open-air market. ("Tianguis" means street market).
On Saturday mornings, the traders set up for a start around 10am. They sell everything: clothes, bags, jewelery, friendship bracelets, second-hand vinyl; old watches,memorabilia, biker jackets and paraphernalia... there were a number of bikes parked up on the road when we arrived.
It looked like a scene from Easy Rider.
The place is vibrant. One of the thing we've noticed about Mexico is that shops tend to congregate in particular areas. There's the print and copy shop zone; the shoe shop zone; the medical supplies area (seriously).
We couldn't figure this out; surely having all the shops in one area just means more competition for everybody? But then we thought, at least customers know where to go if they want a new pair of boots. Shopping habits may be different here; it may also drive shops to improve their service/prices/range, if the ones next door are doing the same 🤷🏻♂️
Here, for example, is the "Corgi and Matchbox model car" area!
They do a great line in alternative/fetish gear as well (in the 'alternative' section). Here's some nice leather and t-shirts, and a Grumpy Jock with a new bag:
There are piercing stalls, guys selling 70s, 80s, 90s music on vinyl, CD and USB sticks. There's a big rock 'n' roll vibe too:
The place was redolent of incense, patchouli, whiffs of weed, and the ever-present smell of tacos. Food stalls were lined up at the south-west end of the market.
And where you have crusties, of course - you have drums!
The Tianguis Cultural provides a brutally vibrant, slightly squalid, close-quarters immersion in contemporary Guadalajaran culture. Its 650 stalls sell books, art, collectibles; you can get pierced or tattooed under the Mexican sun, while your friends show off their new goth gear.
It's apparently been located here for about 20 years, and in that time has perhaps changed - less culture, more tat and pirated music/videos. Not everyone is happy.
But on a day like today, after an hour in the parque acuatico agua azul, under the glorious blue skies of Jalisco, it's an amazing way to know you're alive. Sure, you should probably keep your wallet safe, and adopt a degree of scepticism if you're being offered "genuine" products. But markets like this have been running around the world for literally thousands of years.
It's one of the most human of activities, and I'm delighted we came across it. Get here before 1600, as that's when the traders pack up and head off. We'll be back for both the park and the market!
(Thanks to Mrs Wench for additional photos)
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