On the day we arrived, a group of us walked about the town. It looked fairly run down, with bars fashioned on every street-level window. It had a definite urban feel, and I took great care to memorize our turns; I did NOT want to get lost.
One of the guys in the group, who had spent a lot of time in Mexico, began to explain that we shouldn't be fooled by the building facades. If people lived here, he said, they were definitely on the wealthier side of the scale. They almost keep the outsides a little run down, lest they become victims of robberies. And as we passed by a corner building, there was a family in the midst of departing, saying their lengthy goodbyes in the doorway. I caught a glimpse of a beautifully decorated interior with rich wood and marble tables. Wow. That's beautiful, I thought. And you wouldn't have guessed it with the paint on the outer walls peeling, and the black iron girded on the windows. It's the inside that counts.
On another morning, my coworker and I went for a 40 minute run - 20 minutes out, 20 minutes back. The weather was gorgeous, hovering at a crisp 40 degrees F. By mid-day, it would reach a wonderfully balmy mid-70s. In this region, though, 40 degrees turning into 75 is a cold snap. When we were picked up from the airport in the late afternoon, the driver showed me the thermal underwear he donned underneath his jeans. The temp at that exact moment? 65.
So here we are, two gringos running like a couple of crazies in shorts and sleeveless shirts. We passed by one guy wearing the equivalent of a balaclava, arranged in the ski mask option. Then we passed by a few school kids wearing their snowsuits, scarves and hats. We could only see their eyes as we ran by and they zip-zopped past us.
Then, I thought, I don't think they're staring at us because of what we're wearing, I think they're staring at us because they don't know what we're doing. Why in the world would someone run down the street, panting all along, while wearing these white ear buds? The Guadalajarans were out only because they had to get somewhere. AND, the beautiful people of Guadalajara are not fat. They don't have to run for miles and carefully count their caloric intake. Only the fat and opulent of first-world countries do that. Everyone else? They have the right amount of food, often times too scarce, and they work off their calories doing their jobs.
As we ran by, most people waved and called out Buenos Dias, then gave long, following stares as we moved past them. I'd give anything just to hear what they were thinking that exact moment...