Mexico: Guadalajara Orozco Murals, Kurt’s Bad Back & 1968 Mexico City Olympic Beach Balls

orozco don miguel hidalgo

First I should say (or write if I want to be really pedantic) this is mostly about Kurt’s back, and not too much about Orozco.

I was in Guadalajara in the days leading up to the Day of the Dead (Día de Muertos).  I was there because I wanted to be. So I just booked a ticket and off I went. I feel sometimes it should be illegal to do such things, to have a thought in your head to go some place, then get out your credit card and off you go. I didn’t think about the credit card bill at this point, I just did it because I’ll be dead myself one day and by that stage they’ll have probably canceled my card.

Palacio de Gobierno de Guadalajara

Why I was in the beautiful city of Guadalajara and not another part of Mexico was due to Kurt’s bad back (I later learned the city was also famed for its proliferation of beautiful woman one of whom I met and fell in love with, but that’s another story about pretty mariposas (butterflies 😉 ). We’d planned to go to a bunch of other places in Mexico – Xalapa, Puebla, maybe even on the Copper Canyon railway, but when Kurt and I arrived in LA, after a 16 hour flight from Sydney, he told me his back was bad and he asked whether it would be okay to spend an extra two nights in LA resting before popping down to Guadalajara to see his back doctor. I don’t like LA that much (though I’ve met some nice people there, they don’t seem to smile that much), and we’d only planned to spend a night there before heading straight down to Mexico. But, being a good friend, and since it was just for two more nights, which I thought I might at least use to recover form my horrendous jet-lag, I said: “Sure”.

Orozco Guadalajara

I later found Kurt’s back ‘doctor’ was a bit ‘alternative’ and his theories, as described by Kurt, didn’t always seem to be based on scientific rigour. But Kurt swears he does the trick, which is the main thing, and I didn’t mind compromising on our destination, as long as it was in Mexico. By the way I haven’t put the Nazi fascist picture in because Kurt is German, Orozco, and other Mexican muralists, often paint these sort of murals – as you’ll find out from my Mexico City Murals Page.

So, after changing our flights and hanging out in Venice Beach, Los Angeles, for two more nights, Kurt and I were sitting in our Californian bungalow all packed and ready to head off bright and early the next morning. I sat back on the sofa, cracked open a Mexican beer, and turned on the TV. And then came the news report of the the largest ever hurricane recorded off the Pacific was bearing down on the Mexican coast, with all the fury of an Orozco mural, not that far from the inland city of Guadalajara (well a few hour’s drive I’m just trying to sound dramatic, like I just missed out on being in a hurricane – the Mexican’s might say this is a gringo thing to do).

This meant Guadalajara airport being closed for 24 hours, and given the hype of the Hurricane, and the expected widespread damage, quite possibly missing out on Guadalajara altogether.


This is just picture of a fountain by the way, no relevance to the story except it’s in Guadalajara. Nice fountain though.

Anyway, the next day things didn’t seem that bad, and, besides flights to Guadalajara airport being cancelled, and the city getting a lot of rain, the hurricane didn’t cause a lot of damage beyond the area where it crossed on the coastline (here I write behind my nice computer in my comfortable Canberra house, I know to the people there it was a much bigger deal). So we booked out tickets again and spent another two nights in LA – which I may have written something about by this stage if I’m not too lazy and if the hackers stop hacking my blog and installing adware that stalls my nice computer. Please hackers, this is naughty. But back to Guadalajara. After five nights in LA, we got there.


This is a picture of the Frida Carlo inspired room at the Instituto Hospicio Cabanas – it is where they used to house axe-wielding maniacs, or orphans, I can’t remember now, I always get those two confused.

On the plane they put a few of us gringos in the same aisle. Though they put the two pretty young girls I saw at LAX up front a bit where I couldn’t really see them, not that I was trying. Though if I stretched out  a bit I could see the top of the one with darker skin’s head. So Kurt and I were siting next to the Vice President of a tequila organico (Organic Tequila if you hadn’t guessed – though my Spanish is probably wrong) company (Suave Spirits) flying down to visit her organic tequila factory flooded by the rain from the aftermath of the hurricane, which by then had headed up to Texas. It was kind of my dream job, and now that I’ve given you free advertisement, I hope you will come good with that summer tequila taster job I asked about. She told me all about tequila, but I don’t remember much, because it was loud and I was drinking a few beers and tequilas with orange at the time.

orozco mural with scaffold

Orozco mural Guadalajara

This is another mural from Instituto Hospicio Cabanas. They told me not to take photos with my good camera, but I did. I feel like a bandito man.

As we flew in I could see many puddles reflecting the sunshine up at us, I thought I’d probably get malaria, the Vice President gringo thought something similar. Maybe in them tequila fields but after visiting I would doubt very much you’d get malaria there, and we were just being stupid cautious, worrying gringos again. When we got there we stayed in the centro area, by a small square/ bus stop on Ave. Cristobal Colon. There were a few carts selling street food. One had dried papaya, and honey that the bees were trying to reclaim. People were waiting for the afternoon buses, it was busy, but pretty laid back. That’s the kind of Guadalajaran vibe, busy, but laid back.


It was a nice hotel – or so it seemed to begin with – around midnight, when the loco gringos de americanos came back from their tour of the nearby Tequila region (if you hadn’t worked out from the Vice President of the tequila company flying down there, Guadalajara is near Tequila with a capital T, you know it’s like Champagne in France). About midnight, just when I was settling down to go to sleep – after I’d been chatting online with a mujere de Guadalajara (Guadlajaran woman) whom I’d arranged to meet up with for a drink the next night – the American’s sound system came out and blared music until around 1.30 a.m.. I could handle the music, being the first night in a new town, and having my body clock on LA time anyway. But once the music died down ‘the other’ noise started. It was kind of a mechanical ‘hum’ that intermittently went ommmmmm, hmmmm, ummmmm for the remainder of the night. At first the pattern seemed to be regular, an ommmm, a hmmmmm, an ummmm (though in reality they were all pretty much just the same sound) every 10 minutes. But then, at one point, 15 minutes went past, then 20 and by 25 I was dozing off thinking it’d all stopped. But then it started again, and at the usual regular 10 minute intervals for the remainder of the night, until maybe 5 a.m. when maybe there was another half hour gap.

orozco mural archway and light

Funny actually, because the last night I had spent in Mexico around two years ago I was awake all night with another mechanical sound, but it was more like an elevator banging up and down through the night. I don’t think it is a typical Mexican thing, and all the other places I’d stayed at have been fine.

orozco Guadalajara

orozco mural domeBeing awake all night did give me the opportunity to think of the appropriate time to tell Kurt we wouldn’t be hanging out the next evening as I’d met a lovely lady online, but then again he dragged me all the way down to Guadalajara and was ditching me for his doctor during the day, so it’d be all cool.

So we got through the night and then headed across the square, past the street vendor with the dried papaya, honey and bees, and past the people waiting for buses and a taqueria and some horsies and into a new hotel – Hotel Morales – where I went straight up and slept for a couple of hours in blissful quietness. Kurt had his first doctor’s appointment so after a bit of a rest I headed out to from an artsy district called Tlaquepaque (pronounced ta-la-kay-pa-kay) to buy a Catrina doll (figure from Day of the Dead, I’ll explain more about Catrinas in another blog – but one’s pictured below standing in a doorway). While there I also bought a single lilac rose for 12 pesos from a nice man in a market for my date with the Guadalajaran woman. The rose sat in my hotel all day in a glass of water. I didn’t know whether I’d be coming on too strong bringing it with me but in the end I just took it – in for a penny in for a pound. I’d never met anyone online before and I had a good feeling about her.

catrina in doorway tlaquepaque close up

But all this about Kurt’s back, noisy hotel rooms and dates with Guadlajaran woman is a bit of a distraction, I was really was meant to write about the Orozco murals, though I did warn at the start I wouldn’t focus on Orozco. Well, I’m getting there, so be patient. Everything relates to everything else in the end and it all happens in context.

Now I hadn’t really known anything about Guadalajara before coming there, and I’d left my Lonely Planet Mexico guide back in Canberra, Australia, so, apart from wanting to see some Day of the Dead festivities, and buying a catrina doll for my daughter, to go along with the one I’d bought her on my last trip to Mexico, I was just winging it.

So when it came to meeting up with Señorita Mariposa that evening, after I gave her the Tlaquepaque rose, and we were chatting away and getting along very well, she of course asked what activities I’d be doing around Guadalajara and, put on the spot, the only thing I could think of was that Kurt has mentioned there were these murals at some palace of something. The date went well and we planned a second in two night’s time so I knew I would have to, by that stage, have seen these murals.

orozco guadlajara Instituto Hospicio Cabanas

So that’s how I came to see Orozco’s murals, I first visited the Palacio de Gobierno de Guadalajara where I was most impressed to see Don Miguel Hidalgo, leader of the Mexican War of independence, who is that firey figure second from the top of this page. Though as I said ( or wrote), at the time I had no idea who he (Miguel) was or who Orozco was, I just knew I needed to see some murals so I didn’t sit around eating corn chips and drinking beer all day, which is mostly what I like to do in Mexico. It was only when my beautiful Guadalajaran friend old me how important both of them were that I paid much attention to them. After next date I visited the Instituto Hospicio Cabanas to see the many more towards the bottom of the page.

corn chips & salsa guadalajara

Here’s a picture of one of my favourite Mexican dishes: corn chips with an assortment of salsas – with a  beer that didn’t make it into the photo because it was in my hand. Actually I had heaps of good food on this trip, thanks mainly to Señorita Mariposa showing me around. My favourite was the Oaxcan chicken with cheese sauce and the many fine sopas (soups)! Provecho (es Mexican for Bon Appetite!)


So there you go, I’m not going to write anything about the murals, for one I don’t know anything about them, except what you could already find on the internet yourself and what my Mexican friend from Guadlajara has told me. I think with art you should just admire it in your own time. I should mention I did buy a giant Mexican beach ball at the Instituto Hospicio Cabanas souvenir shop which looked to be from the 1968 Olympic games and which took a while to purchase because the man had to handwrite the purchase in a little book and add it to the cost of the fridge magnet I’d bought and the postcard of the Don Miguel Hidalgo mural by Orozco, which he only did after taking a ten minute phone call.

chair sculpture in front of mexican flag and building

There’s also a few other pictures from around Guadalajara. Look, I don’t know exactly where they are, but they’ll be around the the Palacio de Gobierno de Guadalajara or Instituto Hospicio Cabanas, or somewhere in between, apart from the Catrina of Tlaquepaque. I’m more interested in how Kurt’s back and a hurricane had me arriving in a city on that particular day and at that particular time, and meeting  a beautiful Guadalajaran woman, which, had any of the events in the universe been different, I may have never ever known about.

That’s what travel is all about, and that’s why I don’t mind the huge credit card bills…