Guadalajara Sports and RecreationBullfighting fans head for the 25,000-seat Plaza de Toros Nuevo Progreso, northeast of downtown on Avenida Pirineos between Calzada Independencia Norte and Avenida Fidel Velasqués (across from Jalisco Stadium). From October through March, bullfights (corridas) take place most Sunday afternoons starting at 5. Tickets are sold at the bullring, or in advance through Ticketmaster; phone (33) 3818-3800. Spectators can opt for seats in the sun (sol) or shade (sombra); those in the shade are more expensive. Ask at your hotel about dates and ticket prices.
Although similar to the Western rodeos of the United States, the charreada is unmistakably Mexican. When Spanish explorers and conquerors reintroduced the horse (which had roamed the North American plains some 12,000 years earlier), only noblemen were permitted to ride. By the 19th century, the development of large haciendas (estates) for agricultural purposes made horses an everyday necessity, and the charro (male rider) evolved from the requirements of raising livestock in open country.
Charros were resourceful, self-reliant men, familiar with the land and able to live off it. Charro contingents fought in the war to achieve Mexican independence, and charreadas, where native horseback riders gathered to show off their skills, became part of Mexican culture. The National Association of Charros (Asociación Nacional de Charros) was founded in Mexico City 1921, and in Guadalajara these events are still very popular.
Both charro and escaramuza (female) riders are expert at fancy horsemanship and roping. The focus is on style and finesse rather than competition, although some of the sidesaddle riding feats performed are of the daredevil variety. One of the chief pleasures of a charreada is viewing the elegantly ceremonial costumes on display (on both horses and riders). Men are decked out in white pleated shirts, black pants encrusted with silver buttons and a sombrero embroidered with gold or silver thread. Women wear lacy petticoats and brightly colored skirts decorated with lace and ribbons, and wear their hair braided and beribboned.
If you’re looking for fun things to do with friends, the arena Lienzo Charros de Jalisco, Av. Dr. R. Michel #577 (near Agua Azul Park), presents a charreada most Sundays at noon with different events as well as mariachi music. Admission begins at about $3 (U.S.); phone (33) 3619-0315.
Soccer (fútbol) is the most popular spectator sport. Professional team Club Deportivo Guadalajara (nicknamed “Chivas”) plays home matches at 49,000-seat Akron Stadium (Estadio Akron). Somewhat resembling a volcano in shape, it has an exterior largely covered by grass. The stadium is on Guadalajara's west side, just off the periférico ring road (Avenida Periférico Poniente Manuel Gomez Morin) via Avenida Circuito JVC. For schedule and ticket information, visit the stadium's website or phone (33) 3777-5700.
Guadalajara's year-round mild, sunny weather is ideal for golf. Some private courses allow visitors to play for a greens fee and proof of membership in a U.S. club; others are closed to nonmembers on weekends and holidays. Admittance to the immaculately maintained, 18-hole course at the Guadalajara Country Club is through a member, although the better hotels may be able to get their guests in. The country club is off Avenida Avila Camacho, about 8 kilometers (5 miles) northwest of the downtown historic center.
The Atlas Country Club (18 holes) is southeast of the city, on Mex. 23 just south of Tlaquepaque (on the way to Lake Chapala); phone (33) 3689-2620. The Santa Anita Golf Club is on Mex. 15, about 7 kilometers (4 miles) south of the Periférico loop road; phone (33) 3686-0321. Colomos Park (Parque Colomos), south of Avenida Patria and west of the country club in the city's western sector, has a track and tree-lined paths for jogging, and offers a variety of fun things to do outdoors.
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Dial 911 (emergency services) and ask to be connected to an English-speaking operator if you need immediate assistance.
Hospital México-Americano, Calle Colomos #2110, (33) 3648-3333 or 01 (800) 462-2238 (toll-free long distance within Mexico), and the Red Cross (Cruz Roja), (33) 3614-1269, 911 (ambulance assistance) or 01 (800) 667-4767 (toll-free long distance within Mexico), both provide 24-hour emergency service. Major hotels and the U.S. Consulate should have information regarding doctors who are on 24-hour call.
English-language newspapers, including the weekly Guadalajara Reporter, are available at newsstands and the Hotel Fenix, downtown at avenidas Corona and López Cotilla. The monthly Lake Chapala Reporter has information about the communities around Lake Chapala.
Sandi Bookstore, Av. Tepeyac #718 in the Chapalita neighborhood west of downtown, has English-language newspapers and books. The Sanborns restaurant chain has several area locations and also offers books, newspapers and magazines in English; the downtown branch is at avenidas Juárez and 16 de Septiembre, a block south of Plaza de Armas.
A tourist information booth is inside the southern doorway of the Government Palace (Palacio de Gobierno), facing Plaza de Armas; it is open Mon.-Fri. 9-3 and 6-8 p.m., Sat. 9-1.
A number of casas de cambio (currency exchange houses) are located downtown along Avenida López Cotilla between calles Corona and Degollado, about 3 blocks south of the cathedral. Most of them post their rates, and they normally don't have the lines that banks often have. Dollars can be exchanged at branches of Banamex banks Mon.-Sat. 9-1. A centrally located downtown Banamex branch is on Paseo Degollado, 3 blocks east of the Degollado Theater. ATMs are the quickest and most convenient way to get cash; withdrawals are in pesos.
The rules in Guadalajara are the same as those in any big city. At night, avoid urban neighborhoods that are away from the downtown core or other tourist areas; dark side streets in particular can be dangerous. If going out for the evening or taking a side trip during the day, it's a good idea to hire a taxi driver affiliated with your hotel. Keep an eye on personal items at all times, especially in the crowded shopping districts, and avoid wearing jewelry or carrying large sums of money. Women are not welcome in cantina bars and other bastions of heavy drinking and machismo attitudes.