Four months after the municipal government’s promised release date, horseless calandrias are finally hitting the streets.
The Guadalajara Reporter was on hand to taste test, so to speak, the old and the new side by side.
In the process, we enjoyed an object lesson in the impossibility of mutual reconciliation between two opposing points of view – as well as the futility of ascertaining the un-adorned truth amidst a tangled web of intrigue, gossip and subterfuge.
The atmosphere along Avenida Hidalgo, over which looms both city hall and the city’s twin-peaked cathedral, felt both chilly and nervous, with clusters of traditional calandrieros and those piloting the supposedly blasphemous, equine-less machines throwing venomous glances at each other from across the cobbled street.
If one were to witness the Guelphs and the Ghibellines squaring off against each other in a hot, noonday Florentine plaza circa 1360 A.D., the atmosphere could not have been more thick and turgid with menace and mutual animosity.
The above description may be somewhat of an exaggeration; the animus between rival factions is muted at best. If I hadn’t been aware of and reporting on – for over a year – the soap opera which has played out between the two sides since Guadalajara Mayor Alfaro announced that, tradition be damned, horse-drawn calandrias would soon be a thing of the past, I probably wouldn’t have noticed anything amiss. The traditional calandria drivers are a surly bunch as it is, so any ocular dagger-throwing would have been easily written off as de rigeur anti-socialness.
Two distinct tours are available for both electric and horse-drawn carriages: 200 pesos gets you a tight 30-minute spin through the immediate environs of the centro historico, going just a block west of Avenida Enrique Diaz de Leon where sit the tall, graceful Templo Expiatorio and the University of Guadalajara’s gorgeous art museum. For 400 pesos, meanwhile, you will be sent at a glacial pace all the way to Chapultepec, along whose interminable route are sites worth taking note of, presumably.