Guadalajara, Mexico

A girl playing around a fountain in Guadalajara, Mexico.

The setting Sun, painting in gold the centenary Catedral de la Asunción de María Santísima with its sublime light, turned Guadalajara's most famous landmark into something even more monumental.

Children were playing around a water fountain; couples were striking their best poses with questionable selfie-sticks; elderly men were playing chess, chatting, feeding pigeons or simply seeing time goes by; street sellers were trying to make their last money of the day, selling everything from food to plastic toys made at local factories; a cowboy on a white carriage was relentlessly trying to get tourists to go on a tour with him around the historic center; thousands of locals were just rushing to get back after one more day of work; and not far from there, at another square nearby, an elderly lady wonderfully dressed in traditional clothes was dancing with grace and elegance the serenades played by an orchestra.

Known as the land of tequila and mariachi, and Mexico's second largest city, Guadalajara has managed to preserve its culture and history while also looking to the future. The "Mexican Silicon Valley" is a vibrant and cosmopolitan city where tradition and modernity coexist in harmony. It is the 10th largest city in Latin America in population, urban area and gross domestic product; and its economy is based on commerce, tourism, services and a wide variety of industries, from IT to shoes, textiles and furniture. 

Also known as "Pearl of the West", Guadalajara is the cultural center of western Mexico and the second most important cultural center in the country. The city has a thriving art scene, twenty two museums and it has been the cradle and dwelling of distinguished poets, writers, musicians, painters, actors and film directors (such as Guillermo del Toro and Gael García Bernal). 

Mariachi music is strongly associated with Guadalajara, a connection that began in 1907 when an eight-piece mariachi band and four dancers from the city performed on stage at the president's residence for both Porfirio Diaz and the Secretary of State of the United States. This presentation catapulted the music to a worldwide fame and it then became an indissociable symbol of Mexican identity. Every day, dozens of Mariachi musicians perform at the Plaza de los Mariachis, located in the historical center of the city.   

On Saturdays, the bohemian Avenida Chapultepec, one of the most important of the city, becomes a lively cultural corridor, with dozens of stands selling all sorts of things, from traditional clothes, to traditional art, jewelry and old books. Street performers, musicians and magicians help creating a wonderful atmosphere that brings together tourists and locals alike.  

Although extremely short (only two days), my time in Guadalajara was long enough to make me fall in love with the city, with Mexico, and, above all, with the hospitable, kind and amiable people who welcomed us with open arms, exceptional Mariachi music, wonderful food and some good shots of tequila.

I can't wait to be back.