Journey into Gringolandia

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First on my list of things to do in Guadalajara was to locate the Distroller store. My attempts to reach the creator of the line, Amparin Serrano, have been feeble, and I had not received any response from the website. I still want to write about her and the phenomenon that has spawned many copy-cat pulsera (cloth bracelet) designs. So, armed with address of the store, we set off in a taxi to Zapopan (cost: 70 pesos).

Like I mentioned before, Guadalajara is a big city. But it is also quite modern. Nearby, on Lake Chapala, is a growing settlement or U.S. and Canadian retirees and snowbirds. This may be part of the changes going on in the city. In Zapopan, there has been a lot of growth. But we had no idea how Americanized the city had become. There were Longhorn Steakhouses, Domino’s Pizza, several Walmarts, a Costco, and a huge mall. In fact, after a bit of circling by our cab driver, we deduced that Distroller was in the mall. Of course it was – where else would it be?

We entered the mall at about 11:00AM, and stood and stared in wonder and amazement. The mall is flanked by a large department store called Liverpool, and also by a Sears. We entered just below the food court and looked up to see a McDonalds, a Subway, Dunkin’ Donuts, Chili’s, an Outback Steakhouse and… a Hooters. Oy vay! Wheat took out the camera to record this, and a gentleman in a dark suit with one of those coiled microphone thingies tucked in his collar stopped us and told us we could not take pictures. Why???

We wandered around for quite a bit, because even though it was after 11AM, most of the stores were not open yet. Not even the Dunkin’ Donuts! As I may have mentioned before, donuts (“donas”, in Spanish) are apparently not considered morning food! Another problem about the mall was that there seemed to be no directory. We went around two of the three floors of the mall, called the Galleria (of course), checked out the 17 screen (not including the two or three IMAX screens) theatre, Cineopolis. Finally, I asked another security guard where Distroller was. He consulted another guy on his radio, shrugging at a flat screen panel that was supposed to be a working interactive directory. Then he gave us the necessary directions.

This was it – the moment I was going to walk into a Distroller store! Wheat told me to take all the time I needed. There were a lot of ceramic items there (Ms. Serrano started out with ceramic design), as well as a lot of bags and purses. I loved the prayer candles, but even though they were conveniently enclosed in plastic instead of glass, I didn’t buy any. I also just don’t get the whole NeoNato line (this is sort of like a Cabbage Patch doll thing, but your NeoNato – newborn – comes with real-life problems, like rashes and tuberculosis.). I guess, coming into the world with my own birth defects, maybe I don’t find this amusing.

I did, however purchase many pulseras (ribbon bracelets with intricate designs and messages – it’s amazing what you can do with computers these days!), two escapulars (usually worn around the neck – and I thought they were supposed to have religious medals in them?), a wonderful agenda with many of the Virgin of Guadalupes in it, along with most of the orations found on the candles, a notebook, four bookmarks, four stickers to put on your car or something else, and some wrapping paper. The grand total came to under $100 – I can’t believe I paid $9 for a notebook. But, I did.

As the salesgirl was ringing up the sale with a man on a computer, I asked if we could take a picture (for my students…). The answer was “no” of course. Then I asked the man if he was the store owner. He was the owner or manager, so I just asked him: how does one get in touch with the powers that be to find out how to open their own franchise store. He said, “go to the website.” Wrong – I explained that I had had no response. He said that if I called on Monday, he may be able to get the contact information for the main store in Mexico City. So, today or tomorrow, I will call. I may have my friend, Paloma, around to translate – but I think I can get the info. I just hope he was serious, because I am!

We made our way out of the mall, hailed a cab (70 pesos), and asked him to take us back to the hotel. From there, we planned on going to Tlaquepaque, another suburb of Guadalajara (in the opposite direction from Zapopan) where there are supposed to be a lot of galleries, craft shops, and restaurants with mariachis.

On the Home Front

We returned from Guadalajara to find our landlords (host family doesn’t really describe them) gone. As of today, they still have not returned. There was a girl who came in to clean, but when I asked her where the Fragas were, she just said ,”Salieron” – they left. No duh!!! When I asked if she had any idea where they had gone, or if there had been a family emergency, she just shrugged. Wheat told me this morning that we seemed to be getting low on hot water, and our infrequent internet connectivity is now zero. I am going to inquire about this to the housing coordinator.

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