Tequila, mariachis, charros–the cultural trifecta of Jalisco

 

Romantic mariachi tradition. Mural near the plaza.

Romantic mariachi tradition. Mural near the plaza.

In the Mexican state of Jalisco, three important strands of Mexican culture converge–the charro (cowboy) culture, the tequila-making tradition, and mariachi music–and you can hardly pry one from the other.

I ask you, what could be sweeter than listening to the stirring and poignant strains of the mariachis while sipping tequila reposado with lime and chile after a dusty day at the charreada (rodeo), which, in point of fact, was born in Mexico and is a more gracious and artful sport than American rodeo. We may  think of cowboys and rodeos as redblooded American traditions, but we got nothing on the Mexican charro. It all began in Mexico, folks.

The best way to sample these  traditions, I thought, was in Guadalajara, the second largest city in Mexico and the capital of the state of Jalisco. Besides, Guadalajara has the second largest market in the country–San Juan de Dios–a four-story extravaganza of all things Mexican. A couple of nearby towns are also known for their own artisanal workshops.

Guadalajara, I had heard, was a truly Mexican city. Not so much a tourist destination. Not particularly cosmopolitan. I wanted to sample the mariachi, the charro, and the tequila traditions that are so embedded in this region, and of which Guadalajara seemed to be the nexus.

Also, I had a terrific tip on a hotel. Way back when I was waiting for the train in Bahuichivo, a large, loud, big-hearted American who has lived in Mexico for years, and who owns the Paraiso del Oso hotel and ranch told me where to stay.

“Hotel Janeiro only charges 150 pesos per night ($12) for third-floor rooms. They’re clean and secure, but the best part is that the hotel is right by the Plaza de los Mariachis, and you can hear them playing all night.”

This was my landmark. The Plaza de los Mariachis was right below--and my hotel was around the corner.

This was my landmark. The Plaza de los Mariachis was right below–and my hotel was around the corner.

So, when my bus stopped in Guadalajara in the dark of night, that’s where I went, and it was just as the friendly American had said. All night (and I mean ALL night) I was serenaded by the mariachis. I fell asleep (or didn’t) to the sound of the trumpets, which was like listening to a silver waterfall.

Trumpets in the night.

Trumpets in the night.

This most Mexican of folk music traditions was born in the state of Jalisco and is concentrated in Guadalajara, where the best mariachi bands audition on the street to play at high-class parties and private venues. The plaza is mariachi ground zero, where the musicians can be found nursing hangovers in the morning and revving up for the night’s gig in the evening, or just hanging with the homies any old time.

Hanging out on the plaza

Hanging out on the plaza

The old guys have their favorite seats in the plaza, and if you happen to sit at a table to eat, say, a little caldo de pollo (chicken soup), you are probably in someone’s spot, and he will sit right down with you because, really, you’re on his turf. It can get awkward.

"Is that your granddaughter?" I ask. "No, it's my daughter." #awkward

“Is that your granddaughter?” I ask. “No, it’s my daughter.” Ummmm…

The plaza is relatively small, and it’s at the edge of a rougher part of the El Centro district. I wandered down after dark one evening to check out the action, and it was pretty lame. A handful of musicians and visitors slowly getting stewed at the restaurants that line the plaza.

A little night music in the plaza--getting ready for the gig

A little night music in the plaza–getting ready for the gig

But in my third-floor room, only the sound of the silver music of two trumpets playing in close unison wove themselves through my dreams.

Mariachi stallions

Mariachi stallions

guadalajara-female mariachi

For more photos of Guadalajara, please go to my FB page: www.wanderingnotlost.org

 

, , , , , , ,

4 Responses to Tequila, mariachis, charros–the cultural trifecta of Jalisco

  1. hozholla 21 June, 2014 at 7:19 pm #

    Jealous, green with envy. Viva Musica de Mariachi, Viva Guadalajara, Viva Mexico!

    • Kate Convissor 21 June, 2014 at 11:25 pm #

      Hoz, we are so on the same page (as, interestingly, we seem to be about a lot of issues).

      Si, amigo. Viva Mexico!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. What happened when I lost my camera - WanderingNotLost - 27 July, 2014

    […] it turned out, not only was my hotel right above the Plaza de los Mariachis, but it was also just around the corner from the mercado. After a couple of days spent getting […]

  2. What happened when I lost my camera in Guadalajara - WanderingNotLost - 27 July, 2014

    […] it turned out, not only was my hotel right above the Plaza de los Mariachis, but it was also around the corner from the mercado. After a couple of days spent getting oriented […]

Leave a Reply

 

css.php