“Don’t go to Guadalajara,” we were told. “It’s just a generic big city that is mostly modern and not that scenic. There are better places to visit in Mexico.”
After our time in La Peñita, we knew that we wanted to head inland and experiment with Mexican city living to see if it was a better fit for us. The most obvious choice was Guadalajara, a mere four-hour drive away and capital of the state of Jalisco. But everywhere we looked, all we could find were reasons NOT to visit: People found the city too gritty, and even bona fide Mexico lovers who had tons of experience traveling the country found it difficult to get a grasp on the sprawling metropolis.
Given all the lackluster press, we felt daunted by the prospect of spending a month in Guadalajara, but we couldn’t deny that the city intrigued us. Despite all the naysayers, we felt drawn to Guadalajara. The city is the birthplace of so many quintessential aspects of what most foreigners consider to be at the core of Mexican culture: mariachi music, broad-brimmed sombreros (and the infamous Mexican hat dance), tequila, and rodeos… they all originated in Guadalajara. How could a place with that kind of lineage be soulless and devoid of “authentic” Mexican culture? Moreover, if the place was so terrible, why have over 1.5 MILLION people decided to make Guadalajara home (and consequently made it Mexico’s second largest city!)? Something just didn’t add up to us, and when we read that Guadalajara is considered to be something of a foodie city, we decided to throw caution to the wind and give it a chance.
Despite appearances, Tony & I are not actually one of those couples in their 30s who have managed to retire and gallivant about the globe. When we first set out on our RTW, our trip was funded by years of savings, and we always knew there would come a day when we had to return to the world of the gainfully employed. Happily for us, our graphic and web design and online marketing business has meant that although we must still work to support ourselves, we can do so from the road rather than rejoining the rat race.
There’s an old piece of advice about getting big things done that asks you, “How do you eat an elephant?” The answer: One bite at a time. In a similar way, if you ask us, “How have you made it through three months in Mexico?” you’ll find the answer is pretty much the same: One day at time.
Have you ever arrived somewhere and immediately wanted to leave?
That was pretty much Sedona, Arizona in a nutshell for us.
I’ve always been one of those people for whom the anticipation of things is something I enjoy nearly as much as the object or activity in question. I love planning and I love dreaming, and for me, by drawing out the build up to something good, I’m able to extend the joy of the experience.
Of course, the flipside of prolonging things and heightening one’s anticipation is that I also tend to monumentally build up my expectations as well. The bar is set the much higher and the potential to be disappointed is that much greater as well. I’m sure one of the reasons we found our first month of traveling back in 2012 so rough is because we had literally spent years planning and romanticizing our trip and there was just no way the reality could really live up to our lofty visions. With time, I’ve come to be a bit more carpe diem when it comes to pursuing my pleasures, as I’ve learned the hard way that when you’ve had so much lead up to a supposedly epic experience—whether that be your last Austen novel or your RTW trip—more often than not you wind up underwhelmed and disillusioned.