I’m leaving a piece of my heart here in Guadalajara.

I’m so excited to fly out to Mexico City tomorrow but I am sad to say goodbye to this beautiful city. Going to Spanish class, meeting Jack and Nicolas, Steve, Stuart, Maura, Jade, Roy, Christine they all had incredible stories for why they were here and it was so great being in a place, in a community, where I felt at home. Getting to know my Mexican family was also really great. I finally have faces and personalities to put with the names. Lucero drove me by the old house my nana used to live in. It’s not a residential neighborhood now, all the buildings were converted into industrial storefronts, but it was still great to see where she lived when she was a child. I wish she could have been here with me, showing me her house and the old church she used to go to. But even though she’s not here, it was still soooo special.

Jack, me, Nico, and Maura on the Tequila Express Tour

Discovering Tlaquepaque was probably the highlight of my time here. It was quiet enough that it wasn’t overwhelming, but there was so much to chose from in terms of food and cafes and just places to see. I don’t think I will ever not stop by Almuerzo Feliz in Mercado Juarez whenever I visit in the future. If I’m being truly honest, I think bachata was the actual highlight of my time in Guadalajara. Not only was it fun bonding time with my Spanish class friends, it was also cool to “meet” locals. I say “meet” because there wasn’t a whole lot of talking involved, but there were so many faces that I saw everytime I went. Plus I got to dance, which makes me happier than I gave it credit for. And I learned that literally just a smile goes a long way when you’re in the hands of a stranger….literally. I also may have fallen in love with one stranger in particular. He only went on Sundays but both times we danced together after the instruction ended. The chemistry was palpable. Looks were served, eyes were made…..I almost ran after him yesterday to give him my number but I didn’t because by the time I decided to do so, we had already turned a corner. He was so cute. Jack, from language school, is going to be the ultimate wingman for me and give him my number next week. Stay tuned for the wedding folks! Hahaha I don’t even know his name so we’ll see what fate has in store. I can’t forget to mention that he goes to the dance classes with his mom. Fucking adorable.

I think that is one part of travel that I am loving so far: falling in love with strangers, both romantically or platonically, for a day. These people who you never would have met otherwise, from places far and wide. Some you may only meet once, others you may know for a few days or weeks, and the lucky few who end up being in your life to some capacity for a very long time. One thing I realized really quickly is that you have to bear your soul to these strangers, because it’s a similar type of person who just up and leaves. Or a similar life event that instigates the leaving. What I discovered is it’s either a breakup (holla at ya girl), the realization that the corporate job is not worth it, or – which I think is at the root of everyone’s decision to travel – they just need a break from the mundane, something different and exciting. The opportunity to meet new people and see new things. And you really connect on another level when you share your story, not holding anything back. We all have thins in common and bearing your soul brings you closer….it think is also very healing. I used to cry or tear up when I talked about my ex or how things ended. But I haven’t done that in awhile. I can honestly say that I’ve closed that chapter of my life and talking about it now has really helped me reflect on where I went wrong so I don’t make the same mistakes in a future relationship (bachata dance partner?) …….big thing I’ve realized is that I just need to trust my gut. It told me a lot of things that I reasoned away, but it was right everytime.

Being here in Guadalajara also changed some things for me regarding the rest of my trip. I am going to spend the money and stay in hostels or Airbnb’s in Puerto Rico and Europe. I am so thankful and happy that I got to stay with family, but it also made me realize that I do not want to constantly have to worry about someone else’s schedule on the rest of my trip. I didn’t stay out past 10:30 because I knew someone was waiting for me to get home safe – when I was with my mom’s godparents I tried to be home by 8:30 because they went to bed early and I needed to be let into the house. The contrast of being in Hawaii where I could do whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted was very apparent very quickly here in Guadalajara. Luckily, nothing is really set in stone after Mexico City so I can keep my freedom by booking hostels.

I’m really looking forward to coming back to Guadalajara though. It had been too long that my moms side of the family hadn’t come down to visit and I think me visiting was the push that was needed. A few days ago, my Nina sent me some documents from Ancestry.com. It looks like I’m a Tapatio (what they call locals around here) by blood through and through. My dads side of the family immigrated to the US in the ~1920’s and they were from a small town just outside of Guadalajara here in Jalisco. I didn’t have time to visit this trip, but on the next one I will for sure. And there absolutely will be a next time, and soon! I’ve got my future husband to visit after all (LOOOOOOL because I don’t even know what his name is).

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