The results of a recent study has purported to define the chief likes and dislikes of Guadalajara’s populace.
Topping the list of bugaboos irritating the citizenry of Mexico’s second largest city were an important public service and a prominently positioned piece of public “art” many people here consider a visual blight.
The public service so vigorously decried by the public is the city’s transportation system. Represented mainly by a fleet of loud and effluvial buses, it is often seen as an omnipresent existential menace to pedestrians, motorists and cyclists, as well as a major source of sound pollution. A tiresome, inescapable fact of urban life, sound pollution is strongly suspected by scientists to have a deleterious affects not only upon the ear drums, but upon the heart and other organs, as well.
Commissioned in 1999 and likely never to be fully realized, the Arcos de Milenio, sitting on a giant, grassy round-about at the busy intersection of Lazaro Cardenas and Mariano Otero, is one of Guadalajara’s most prominent lightning rods of public scorn. Designed by noted sculptor “Sebastian,” and consisting of four humongous metallic yellow arches (six were initially planned), it has been unfavorably compared to the iconic but monotonously ubiquitous logo of the world’s most successful fast food chain. Due to criticism surrounding its wanting aesthetic and the mounting cost to taxpayers, it was decided in the mid-aughts that the remaining two arches would have to count on private funds for its completion. So far, no more work has been done, although efforts have been made to improve the green area upon which the arches sits.
Not far from Los Arcos is a sculpture that many Tapatios regard more affectionately, that is, La Minerva (nee 1956), a statue of the Greco-Roman goddess of Peace (and War) eternally vigilant, spear-in-hand, at the center of the eponymous Glorieta. Like Los Arcos, La Minerva is seen by countless commuters night and day, but is, according to Universidad de Guadalajara’s study, the object of much greater admiration, perhaps due to the goddess’s seemingly universal appeal as a symbol of strength, truth and justice.
No list of civic likes would be complete without at least one food item. In this case, the Guadalajara lunchtime favorite torta ahogada was cited by Tapatios participating in the study as a gustatory item they were particularly fond of. Essentially a carnitas sandwich sitting in a pool of savory tomato sauce and as much spicy chili as you would like to ladle on top, the torta ahogada is considered something of a culinary rite of passage for new arrivals.
Also making the “pro” list were Lake Chapala, the month-long, multi-faceted Fiestas de Octubre, and the gargantuan International Book Fair (FIL) - the world’s second largest after Frankfurt’s.
One more Tapatio grievance bears mentioning, the target of which is, regrettably, an entire neighborhood: the city’s centro historico. Many people, rightly or not, consider the zone to be unsafe, smelly, dirty and inconvenient, an opinion in no way softened by the omnipresent Tren Ligero construction that has snarled traffic and disrupted public transport in the area for several years. Whether the work’s [projected] completion this year will serve to turn the area around in the minds of the public remains to be seen.