Monday, December 7, 2009

First impressions of Guadalajara

I arrived in Guadalajara yesterday, after a stopover in LA. I've been to neither city before, so it's been a couple of days of exploring for me.

There is something funny about being away from your home city. I first encountered it when I moved to Melbourne. Even as an Australian, I found it amazing how many people would talk to me on trams and trains, and wrongly concluded that all Melbourners love talking on public transport.

Of course, the phenomenon really is that people (in general) enjoy showing off their cities---and I, apparently, seem to have a big sign hanging around my neck saying "foreigner". My day in LA was marked by arguing over steak about health care reform in the US, and being asked to attend (and attending) an art opening at the LACMA.

From the 50 or so people I spent the day talking to, I've figured that, essentially, LA-ers (I can't say "Californians", let along "Americans", because LA-ers think of themselves as being different) are a fairly friendly, well educated, and politically aware bunch. They also speak in exactly the same vernacular as in the movies. I wasn't sure people actually said "son-of-a-bitch retard", but that was the description of a driver I heard a policeman shout out.

I found LA more or less as I expected. I went to Downtown, Hollywood, Westwood, and Santa Monica. All but Santa Monica struck me as kind of revved-up versions of Paramatta, which is not being endearing. Santa Monica was just a big St Kilda (some may find that endearing, others won't). The people also smell of fairy floss.

Guadalajara is a great city. It's big, messy, smelly, industrial, and fun. The centre is full that wonderful colonial grace you would expect. The fun, though, comes from being with Susana's family. Her father is one of 14, and every Sunday, they cook and eat a lot of food. Since that's more or less how I like to roll, I think I'll fit in, as soon as mi EspaƱol improves.


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