A Drive to Guadalajara

So we had to drive to Guadalajara earlier this week!

Guadalajara, the 2nd largest city in Mexico…..and not just that, but we had to go to El Centro (downtown). Some people love going to El Centro, with all the hustle and bustle.( It is not my cup of tea.) There are people everywhere: in cars, on foot, on bicycles, motorcycles, macro buses, peddling fruit or hot dog stands. It always amazes me to watch the the people, especially ladies in their 4 inch stilettos rushing across the street.

Our first stop, the tile store, we need to price some tile for an upcoming project. This stop, which once could have taken half of a day, now takes about 30 minutes. We know what we are looking for and find it…the price is better that we had hoped. Returning to the car, we are on our way. We turn onto the six-lane one way road divided by a median quickly approaching my favorite intersection. It is a 5 way junction, which years ago terrified me, but not today. I knew as soon as we pulled onto the road that I was in the wrong lane to make a right turn at the intersection. So I take a deep breath and zip through the intersection, cross 4 lanes of traffic and make a hard right at the next intersection just a few feet ahead. It is at this intersection that all traffic comes to an extreme halt. You have heard of going zero to 60, well this is more like going 60 to zero in 30 feet. I turn the corner and arrive behind 3 busses. Assessing the situation notice a police man parking his motorcycle behind the last bus. (He has pulled it over.) I quickly merge left to swing around the police man and bus and then merge right in front of the bus to take another right at the following light. I am going around the block to get on the street I originally wanted but was not able to turn on to when going through the 5 way intersection. I turn left, finally on the desired street, “Mario Andretti” speeds past us in his BMW, nearly taking out the fruit vender as he peddled his three wheeled, bike/stand in the right lane. We are approaching downtown.

We pass the convenient store where last fall there were riots and looting. We easily identify it, buy the makeshift plexiglass windows in the front. The street we need is on the right, but it is a one way going the wrong direction. We have to drive another 5 to 6 blocks in order to find a street going the correct direction. I turn, there is a man sauntering across the street. He stops in the middle and gazes at the store signs, eventually indentifying the one he wants, he continues to walk slowly and diagonally across in front of us. (With his street suaveness, I am amazed that he has survived this long in the city.)

It has been a while since I have been to Javiar Mina, the street which sells clothes, cook ware, and has several beauty supply stores. After driving around many blocks, we decide to park and try to find the store on foot. About 30 minutes and several stores later, we find the special leave in conditioner which cost 1/3 the price here than it does at the salon in our town, but the clipper guard we sought was no where to be found. Running short on time, we decide that we’ll have to either come back another day, or order it on line and find some willing soul to bring it to us from the states.

We’re back in the car and headed to the third and final stop. Headed north for another 15-20 blocks we are now on the edge of the city, our street sneaks up on us. We have to quickly make a right turn from the left lane. (No wonder we are such crazy drivers when we return to the United States.)

I was glad that I had called ahead and spoken with the store owner, because this street was filled with warehouses, not one store front in sight. We would have to knock on the giant metal curtain door to be let in. It took two tries, but eventually we arrived at our destination. Ramon, the owner, showed us into the office. A large room with 6 desks and 1000 telephone and Internet cables strung all over the place. (I would have taken a picture, but I didn’t want to offend.) No wonder our staff think we are crazy when we require that our office is kept clean and tidy. Desks were covered with stacks of papers haphazardly strewn on them, I could see a half eaten bag of tostadas, salsa, salt, disposable napkins and half eaten bowl of unidentified food and plates, sprinkled throughout the dusty shelves. But what really caught my attention were those cables! A scarey array of telephone cables came from a cockeyed box on the wall. They were all bunched together and then going out in different directions. Beside it, slanting the other direction was some type of Internet hub connected in the same fashion as the telephone junction. Leaving the boxes, each wall had cables tacked along it, also haphazardly meandering to their destination. When a phone call came in each phone (on high volume) began to play a different tune. (I wonder if I could somehow harness all that energy into my cell phone, so I could hear it when it rings?)

After waiting we were escorted into the warehouse to look at the tool which we were picking up. It seemed to be in good shape. We paid and were asked to bring the car around. With no receipt given, we were ushered out on the street door soundly closed behind us. Even after 12 years of living here, the “no receipt” scenario still makes me uneasy. I had visions of bringing the car around to find everyone had closed up shop and gone home. I drove my minivan up to the loading dock and true to the culture they were waiting, tool in hand ready to load the car. “The receipt has not arrived, we’ll email it to you when we have it.” Was his comment as he thanked us for our purchase and we backed out to leave. (Here receipts used for tax deductible purposes have to be government approved and often take a while. We know that eventually it will arrive.)

While driving home through rush hour traffic we were sitting at one of the many downtown red lights. I hear Rodney begin to chuckle. Asking why, he directs my attention to the dance studio on the corner. Among the many types of dance classes advertised on its windows, complete with photo, was pole dancing. (Sad but true!)

The rest of our drive home, although very long was mostly uneventful. And thus concludes one of those mundane days filled with practical activities, to just keep the ministry running.


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