Fitting In – Guadalajara, Mexico

When we went to Guadalajara I really didn’t know what to expect. Some close family friends are from there originally and after some research I found it to be akin to Austin. Guadalajara is a city full of artists, poets, musicians, skateboarders, and tattoo shops on every corner.

I can say without a doubt that it was not what I was expecting.

For the first time in my life I felt as though I fit in somewhere. No one asked where I was from (although Shaun got a few questions) and when I did pipe in to say we were from Austin I would get surprised looks that I wasn’t from Guadalajara, Mexico and that I spoke English.

I have NEVER experienced that before. Growing up in El Paso I was always too white to be Mexican and in Austin, I was just confusing looking to most people. People in Mexico can peg that I am Latina. While I have no intention on living there, you have no clue how good that feels. I have never fit in anywhere. I was accepted as part of the community – tattoos and all.

Art in all places!

One of my favorite things about our Guadalajara Holidays was how art was so out in the open. Not only was the graffiti fantastic, but the mercados full of artisans left my mouth watering. We almost spent way too much money on a mask when we realized we really don’t have a house to send it to, nor put it up in. I wanted to take everything home.

I found little knick knacks that my grandparents had given to me as a kid that I never knew were from Mexico. Handmade beaded rings, small plates and mugs made of clay for my Barbies… worry dolls. It all brought back a flood of emotion that I had somehow repressed.

In the mercado I took a step back to fully appreciate not only my heritage, but thank my parents and grandparents for all the little toys that molded me and helped create an identity with my culture.

One night we found ourselves roaming one of the major streets (they had art stalls set up in the middle median) and stumbled upon this wonderful crepe place (Nutella and bananas for the win!). While chatting with one of the workers I found out that he had been brought up in Juarez, Mexico while I was brought up in El Paso, Texas, it’s neighboring city. We were reminiscing on how different border Spanish was to the rest of Mexico. While I thought I knew Spanish, I didn’t realize that I really spoke Spanglish. Words like carro (coche/car), wienie (salchicha/hot dog), trucka (camion/truck), soda (refresco/soda) were spilling out of our mouths like giddy 16 year olds talking about the newest cool band.

I am learning so much about my heritage and I am so glad to be in Mexico. I have a feeling it will be incredibly hard to leave.



I can’t help but peer into doorways.

“Beware of Friendly Dog” the sign said.

The Mercados:


Disclosure: The link in this post is sponsored.


52 Responses to “Fitting In – Guadalajara, Mexico”

  1. Kim April 29, 2011 at 12:19 am #

    Nice. Such a gift to learn/re-remember your heritage. What a great way to start a grand adventure.

    • Erica April 29, 2011 at 4:58 pm #

      @Kim: It has (not to sound cliche) changed my life. I have a firmer grasp on where my family is from.

  2. Bethany April 29, 2011 at 12:53 am #

    Oh I’m so happy for you Erica! I know this is something that you struggled with in the past so it’s just great to hear you’ve found a spot that you totally fit in. I’m gonna raise a glass for you! 🙂

    • Erica April 29, 2011 at 4:59 pm #

      @Bethany: Thank you Bethany! It was a phenomenal feeling.

  3. Juno April 29, 2011 at 1:03 am #

    All the colours! I love street arts. And it’s great to hear that you found some comfort there too. Yes, feel like fit into some place, is nice. I am a perfect Korean outside but not at all inside, so I’m struggling every single day.
    Cheers to you two!

    • Erica April 29, 2011 at 5:02 pm #

      @Juno: Thank you Juno! I haven’t found street art like Guadalajara since leaving. It is super awesome there.

  4. Pete April 29, 2011 at 8:57 am #

    That art on the tree stump is awesome, love it. It’s refreshing to feel like you fit in somewhere. I have felt the same throughout Latin America because the sense of community here has been heartwarming. I treasure the conversations I have with locals. It’s amazing what you can find out about their lives, families, culture and everything! What a great way to start your trip finding this gem of Guadalajara.

    • Erica April 29, 2011 at 5:06 pm #

      @pete: The tree stump caught me so off guard! The convos I’ve had with locals has been life changing. So many things are much different than expected!

  5. Nick Laborde April 29, 2011 at 11:03 am #

    I wasn’t in a big hurry to go through South America but after all the post I’ve been reading from everyone… I’m gonna move it up the list. I’m glad that your’re connecting with your heritage. Most of my family goes back to France and Poland.

    • Erica April 29, 2011 at 5:07 pm #

      @Nick: I’m not in any hurry to go through Europe!

  6. Andrea April 29, 2011 at 4:13 pm #

    That’s so awesome to find a place that really suits you when you’re travelling =)

    • Erica April 29, 2011 at 5:09 pm #

      Andrea: It was awesome!

  7. Petina April 29, 2011 at 9:41 pm #

    I Love that. How you mentioned that for the first time in your life you felt like you fit in. What an amazing feeling. I totally get it too. I’m eurasian (half anglo Australian/ half filipino) and live in Melbourne. People are always confused about where I’m from. Guadalajara sounds like an awesome place- friendly, colourful and quirky. Keep having lots of cool travel adventures!

    • Erica April 29, 2011 at 10:16 pm #

      @Petina: Being a biracial kid myself it is hard to fit in anywhere! I’m 1/4 white (English) and 3/4 Mexican (which is also part Spanish, Apache Indian, and gypsy). I know why people get confused but yeah – still nice. <3

  8. Petina April 29, 2011 at 11:28 pm #

    People only occasionally guess that I’m half filipino. Other times it’s maori, spanish, greek etc. Lol. but it’s understandable. and I really do love being mixed! You get the best of both worlds! kindred spirits- yea! ♥

    • Erica April 30, 2011 at 11:57 am #

      @Petina: People think my sister in Filipino since she got the almond eyes from our Apache grandmother and the super golden brown skin. So much that even my mom’s family thought we were until I corrected them lol!

  9. Leslie (Downtown Traveler) April 30, 2011 at 10:09 am #

    That’s so cool! It must be a great feeling to visit a place and get a strong feeling that you belong. Your pics of Guadalajara make me want to visit ASAP– I absolutely love the colorful street art. Seems like the city is a hub of creativity 🙂

    • Erica April 30, 2011 at 11:59 am #

      @Leslie: The art I have seen here has been freaking phenomenal. Like, I have not seen it’s equal. I thought I lived in an artist city before but nothing touches Guadalajara. I wanted to buy everything in the Artisan’s Market.

  10. Giulia April 30, 2011 at 10:32 am #

    Oh, you got some amazing shot girl : )
    It’s so exciting to read about your journey through your heritage and emotions : )
    I’ve been sh*tty at commenting lately, but I am following your adventure and I am very happy for you! A hug and a smile : )

    • Erica April 30, 2011 at 12:00 pm #

      @Giulia: I am so glad to see your face around here! <3 No worries on the commenting girlie, I'm glad you stopped by to say hello!

  11. jill- Jack and JIll Travel April 30, 2011 at 10:49 am #

    Glad to hear that you’ve found a place you feel a connection to. Hope to see you on Twitter soon!

    • Erica April 30, 2011 at 12:04 pm #

      @Jill: I’m seriously wondering when we’ll bump into each other. 😛

  12. megan April 30, 2011 at 6:29 pm #

    It looks amazing – and how great that you felt at home there. Maybe that’s one of the things we’re searching for when we travel – a place that fits us and we fit it? Sometimes it’s nice not to feel like a stranger 🙂

    • Erica April 30, 2011 at 11:58 pm #

      @Megan: The weird thing is that I wouldn’t consider moving there – it was just neat that I fit in. Sometimes I feel like a stranger in my own hometown.

  13. Nomadic Chick April 30, 2011 at 9:11 pm #

    I”m with Bethany, it’s beautiful to feel connected to a place, more importantly, connected to yourself.

    Great pictures and I love your tattoos! Never knew the extent and detail of them now.

    And let’s face it, people will always question Shaun. He just has that kind of face. Hehe.. kidding. 🙂

    • Nomadic Chick April 30, 2011 at 9:12 pm #

      Whoops, meant to write the extent and detail of them until now… Whew.

    • Erica May 1, 2011 at 12:02 am #

      @Jeannie: Being connected to myself was one of the things I wanted to work on during this trip. It is weird to confront something like that.

      As for the tattoos, thank you! I like them too. <3

  14. christine May 1, 2011 at 5:11 am #

    love that you experienced finding a place that really resonated with you. also, can’t believe you guys have been already traveling for 3 weeks! time is flying by.

    • Erica May 1, 2011 at 10:48 am #

      @Christine: It totally does not feel like 3 weeks… and we still are not anywhere near finishing Mexico. *sigh*

  15. Laura May 1, 2011 at 4:18 pm #

    Guadalajara’s a great city, I’m glad to hear you’re having such a wonderful time. I’ve often wondered how my experiences in Mexico might be different if I fit in a bit better instead of having blond hair and blue eyes. I’m constantly questioned as to where I’m from and I’ve been living in Mexico City for over a year now!! 😉

    • Erica May 1, 2011 at 5:23 pm #

      @Laura: I don’t fit in very often when it comes to living in the states so needless to say it is odd here. When we were in London no one said a word to Shaun. 😛 We should be in Mexico City sometime soon. We should grab a beer or something!

      • Laura May 1, 2011 at 5:37 pm #

        Definitely! Let me know when you’re in Mexico City. 🙂

  16. Lindsay aka @_thetraveller_ May 2, 2011 at 3:52 pm #

    that tree stump is wicked cool!

    • Erica May 2, 2011 at 9:12 pm #

      @Lindsay: Love it!

  17. Federico May 2, 2011 at 4:01 pm #

    Your trip through Mexico is certainly being an eye and emotional opening experience isn’t it? Glad to know you are having a blast …hugs from Puerto Vallarta!

    • Erica May 2, 2011 at 9:14 pm #

      @Federico: It has been insane! I love it so dearly. HUGS!

  18. Suzy May 2, 2011 at 4:30 pm #

    Oh how I can relate to this post. After spending so much time in Italy, I couldn’t really ever feel like I fit in because I looked so different from everyone else. After traveling around Ireland in March, I felt that connection you describe. It is nice to find a place that lets you be who you are completely.

    • Erica May 2, 2011 at 9:15 pm #

      @Suzy: It is so refreshing to be able to experience something like that. I felt so at home and I’m glad someone else can understand what I feel.

  19. Laura May 2, 2011 at 10:40 pm #

    It’s sad that I haven’t been to Mexico yet… this makes me want to go so badly! I’m really happy that you felt so much at home. I’d love to see all of the art, crafts, and graffiti they have 🙂

    • Erica May 3, 2011 at 12:13 pm #

      @Laura: I had never really been save for the border towns which are nothing like interior Mexico. 😛

  20. Heather May 3, 2011 at 6:12 am #

    I’m so glad you found a city that feels like HOME, Erica!! I seriously smile for you two whenever I see a new post.

    • Erica May 3, 2011 at 12:14 pm #

      @Heather: You are too sweet lady! It was so nice to be in Guadalajara. I know we’re going to have to make a trip back just for the sole purpose of picking up some art!

  21. Mica May 3, 2011 at 7:00 pm #

    You guys look so happy! I have only been to Tijuana so I need to go back and check out more of Mexico!

  22. Sarah Wu May 4, 2011 at 2:20 am #

    Love the photo gallery, especially those art works. They super amazing. I would take like tons of photos too. I’m such a art person too. Is Guadalajara safe to walk around at night?

  23. cailin May 7, 2011 at 1:53 pm #

    That must of been so nice to feel like you fit in! 🙂
    I always have a personal goal to fit in everywhere I go and recently that just happened in Iceland. So many different people thought I was Icelandic I loved it!

    • Erica May 7, 2011 at 8:12 pm #

      @Cailin: I try but I’m a little bit brown to get away with some places. 😛 Shaun is like a chameleon.

  24. dtravelsround May 8, 2011 at 11:27 pm #

    Worry dolls!!!! I LOVE worry dolls! Mexico is on my list of places I really want to visit! Gorgeous pics — as usual!

    • Erica May 10, 2011 at 1:24 pm #

      @D: I can’t believe it took me this long to get here. LOVE!

  25. Lauren Fritsky May 9, 2011 at 9:26 pm #

    Favorite part: “In Austin, I was just confusing looking to most people.”

    I always get the “what are you” questions about my appearance, even though I don’t have an exotic background.

    • Erica May 10, 2011 at 1:35 pm #

      @Lauren: I always giggle when the question comes up.

  26. Ali May 17, 2011 at 11:10 pm #

    I’ve been away from my feedreader for way too long! This is so awesome! So glad you’re learning more about your heritage, and I’m happy for you that you found someplace that feels so comfortable to you.

    • Erica May 18, 2011 at 11:36 am #

      @Ali: I’m scared to look at mine. I have 3-4 hours of catching up on blogs to do.

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