Let me begin by telling y’all my husband, Avi, is a rock star! Back in 1981 he graduated from the Universidad Autonoma de Guadalajara (UAG) Medical School. A few weeks ago he was invited back as one of the Medical School’s December graduation speakers. The answer was a no-brainer. We had only been back to Guadalajara once over the years, and that was over 15 years ago. So, he accepted the invitation, we paid for my ticket down and, on December 2, we flew down.
I tried to find a birdingpal there. None are listed. I also tried to find recommended birding spots in the city. Again, nothing. But we packed our binoculars and our Howell guide anyway. After all, we’re eternal optimists.
We flew into Guadalajara, were picked up by our driver, Prospero, and a welcoming hostess, Patti, and were taken to our accommodation for the weekend, a new Holiday Inn Express owned by the UAG.
That night we attended a cocktail party honoring the U.S. (“International”) graduates, complete with Mexican botanas such as empanadas, tortas, and taquitos. Naturally, a Mariachi showed up as well. FYI, they’re playing the song “Guadalajara”, the unofficial anthem of the city.
Also, FYI, here’s Avi and me all cleaned up and looking good! (I told you he’s a rock star!)
The next day was a full one. We had graduation in the morning and had been offered tickets for the Latino Medical School graduation party. That meant a 10 p.m. start, partying until about 4 or 5 in the morning, and then going out to an all-night restaurant for a soup called Menudo (tripe based with hominy and, sometimes pork).
Graduation was where Avi’s rock star came out. He helped in handing out diplomas and was the final speaker, talking about how the school benefitted him, how bilingual/bicultural abilities enhance a medical practice in today’s United States, and urging the graduates to remain active members in the Alumni Association.
Here’s what rock stars at graduations wear:
At the short coffee and cookie reception afterward, we got a taste of birding. As people were coming up to Avi to speak with him, we both saw bright red birds up in the canopy – that, with no time nor binoculars. But it certainly got us to thinking about a good birding spot!
One of the students invited us to join him and his family and friends at a graduation party. Avi was much more amenable to a late afternoon/early evening affair than the all-nighter. So, after a brief tour of the campus, our driver dropped us at the student’s party, where we enjoyed ourselves and their warm hospitality for the rest of the afternoon. The student, in his speech to the party attendees, told everyone how honored he was to actually have one of the graduation speakers (rock star!) at his party.
Realizing the UAG campus (right next door) had some incredible green spaces, we set out to bird part of it the following morning. May I say, if it hasn’t already been conducted, someone should do a birding survey of the campus. At times the quantity and variety of birds rivaled the best spring migration birding at Pt. Pelee.
We birded along the road in a pine/acacia/oak area at the edge of a canyon drop, then spent some time in the University’s Botanical Garden filled with cacti and rimmed by oaks, acacias and low shrubbery.
We even got a decent shot of one of our life birds, a Russet-crowned Motmot.
Another life bird for the trip was a Canyon Towhee, scratching around in the Botanical Garden. This was a tougher ID, since we weren’t sure which birds were around the area. Luckily, I was able to find a checklist for the birds of Jalisco (Guad’s state) and worked off that and online photos.
For the afternoon, we spent a bit of time downtown at the “new to us” Plaza Tapatia. There was a sidewalk art competition that weekend, so we spent some time wandering around, checking it all out. The art was impressive and, as usual for Guadalajara, the weather perfect.
We also had lunch inside the San Juan de Dios market. (If you want to know my philosophy about why this food is generally safer than larger restaurant food, contact me.) It was fresh, delicious, and cost about $6.40 for the two of us.
My meal is the plate with the drink behind it (apple soda), Avi’s is the one with the just made tortilla held above it.
Look at the selection of salsas! There was also a bowl with radishes and one with nopalitos (Prickly Pear Cactus leaves).
We ended our afternoon in typical Guadalajara fashion, with a beer on the Plaza.
The next day was our last day. But, since we weren’t flying out until 5:20 p.m., we walked back to the UAG campus for a last morning of birding. Again, it was very birdy, and we got a few species we hadn’t seen the previous day. Unfortunately, I forgot the camera’s memory card so we have no photographic record of anything from that morning.
That afternoon, we were picked up, taken to the airport, and returned to San Antonio. But we’re hoping for a future invitation for my rock star to perform in another capacity, either as a visiting professor or to help consult on a project the University is planning.
Meanwhile, I leave you with my favorite photo of the trip (check out the lower right corner of the shot), and our bird list.
The list of birds:
Common Black Hawk
Common Ground Dove
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
Black-throated Gray Warbler