Saturday, March 24, 2007

To San Juan de Los Lagos

(Note: These photos of all of the Banos signs in San Juan de Los Lagos. There are almost no trees in the Centro area. Maybe they cut them down to make toilet paper. There are public toilets EVERYWHERE. Good thing, I guess)
In Tonala: About 11am I went back to the Hotel for my stuff, and walked out on the street. A couple from D.F. were heading back to the bus terminal, so we shared a taxi ride. They wouldn’t let me pay, which was nice. They went to a different module and I went to #4 again, on the way to San Juan de Los Lagos. A two hour, or less, ride.It’s hard to get my bag through the turnstiles you have to go through to get into the bathrooms at the bus terminal buildings. It’s 3 pesos and the bathrooms are clean, with TP. But I don’t like wrestling my stuff thru the turnstile, so I ask the shoe shine guy at the #4 terminal to watch my stuff when I am in the bathroom for a small tip. By the end of this trip I was in and out of that bathroom 4 different times. The shoeshine guy thought it was funny I kept coming back, and won’t take a tip the last time.

Got to San Juan, via several tollbooths. I have never seen such extravagant toll booth offices before.
I had never been to San Juan before, and didn’t have any info about. Except for what some Lonely Planet/Thorntree posters told me. That there was a bus to San Juan from Guadalajara, and that it went every hour or so. Which was true. I took a taxi into the town (about a mile of very confusing roads and construction. It cost $2.50US. The driver took me to two different hotels. He said all the regular hotels were about 350 pesos around the plaza. He had a favorite, and I went for it. It was $31.50US. A nice room in a totally remodeled building. Beautiful wood framed windows with a little bitty terrace and a lovely bathroom. That’s the most money I have spent for a room in Mexico, and it was probably worth it. I wandered around asking about rooms in other, crummier places, and the driver was correct. The standard rate seems to be 350 pesos for one person. In basic hotels.Someone told me millions of people visit this town every year because of the miracles that happened there in the 1500 and 1600’s. I don’t remember the details of the miracles, but there are lots of beautiful churches there. Otherwise it’s an ugly little town with very nice people. Except for two little gringo looking kids I didn’t see any non-Mexican looking people.Everyone was very friendly and nice. When I was eating my dinner, and then breakfast, sitting on the main (and only, I think) plaza, many people stopped and spoke with me. Practicing their English and trying to sell me junky trinkets.I have never seen so many signs for public toilets in my life. Everywhere in the central plaza/Cathedral areas there were Banos signs.
(These next photos are of verious peculiar things I saw in Tonala and San Juan.
It least I thought they were peculiar.)
I found a number of beautiful churches and buildings around town. My favorite was this church building. At first I thought it was a convent, because I could see nun’s sweeping thru the second story windows. But when I went back later the big wooden door was open. There was a lovely patio inside. A priest welcomed me in to see the patio. It turned out to diocesan offices of the large church next door. I was disappointed that the building wasn’t full of nuns being silent or whatever.There were a couple of great internet places, where I mostly answered emails from people concerned about the “private” status of this blog. I got 107 emails on the subject. It made me feel good that people bothered to write and ask how to get to the blog.I was kind of disappointed in the shopping at first. But then I found a shop right off the plaza that had a kind of wholesale room off the side. When I got a bunch of Guadalupe medals and other things, including pictures for 2 to 5 pennies (US) each. Very satisfying. And affordable.
When I was leaving the hotel the desk guy walked out with me to show me where the city bus came by. The bus was coming right then, so he stopped the bus for me. Someone in a car behind the bus started honking. And the bus driver pushed by me and jumped of the bus and ran back to the car. I, and everyone on the bus, watched as the driver pulled the guy out of is car and started hitting him. Two other guys stopped him, and the driver got back on the bus and off we went. All the passengers were laughing and cheering the driver.Got to the terminal, and the bus back to Guadalajara was leaving in five minutes. Perfect timing. The trip back was 120 pesos. Under $11US and when really =quickly. There was a decent movie, for once, and the time sped by. I had to wait about 20 minutes for the bus to Las Varas. Time enough to hit the bathroom turnstile again, and to visit with my shoeshine guy. I had two tangelos and I offered him one. And we stood there eating them. He had napkins, I guess because his hands were so covered with polish.Sleep almost all the way to Las Varas. Saw some beautiful greenish-yellow sugar cane (Cana) fields around Compostella. Walked over to the collectivo stop and visited with Pablo, who was waiting too. Pablo is in a college-level tourism program in P.V.As we were waiting two other young men, Chuey and Javier, arrived from P.V. on the bus. They are both going to University. They are Esparanza’s (my beach landlady) sons, and are being helped by Laura, of Mar de Jade and Dale Reinhard with the cost of their education. Pablo is getting financial help from the EBACH scholarship program. It’s part of the Bibliotecha, and funded by visitors to Chacala. There are three other Chacala young adults at post-high school programs right now. Including Esparanza’s daughter, Geraldo (Concha’s son), and one of Laura Sura’s brothers. Pretty impressive. Most of these kids have parents who had less than 4 years of schooling. A giant leap.It was great to get back to Chacala. I hadn’t really been looking forward to it, still feeling kind of nervous. But as we looped thru town in the collectivo it felt good to be home. I had several visitors within minutes of getting home. I unpacked and went down to visit with Dona Lupe and Blanca and give them some little gifts. It felt good to be home.


wayne said...

So glad you are back posting! Did you know that when people threaten you or are otherwise a-holes, you can track them via their URL? Maybe you should make public what this idiot said so we can all have a crack at 'em! Anyway, don't go away again...from the blog I mean. I love your travel stories!

myahspirit said...

Glad that you are back.

Anonymous said...


Happy to see you back. Nice trip pictures!

Mike D.

PaulaC said...

Thank you for resuming your blog. You have no idea how much it can brighten my day, reading about Chacala. Sorry to hear you were afraid to post for a few days.

PaulaC said...

double post