It seems as if every village in Mexico with an old church and a few decently-preserved adobe buildings glowing in the fading golden light of late afternoon wants a slice of the Pueblo Magico pie.
Like knighthoods or college degrees, the designation promises to instantly imbue its recipient with an aura of respectability and a comely patina of romantic je ne se quoi, illusory or not.
Figuring among the current gaggle of preening and primping municipal contestants for the coveted Pueblo Magico crown are Jalisco’s own Ajijic, Tlaquequaque and San Miguel El Alto, each trying upstage the other with a coquettish hip thrust or come-hither, heavily mascara’ed side eye.
According to Vicente Magaña, Tlaquepaque’s director of tourism, the first phase of his town’s certification process – consisting mainly in the submission of basic data – was completed Friday, December 22. The second phase begins next year, and will involve rendering unto the Pueblo Magico poo-bahs more detailed information, which will, it is hoped, meet the program’s many specifications, which mainly regard the careful conservation of cultural, aesthetic and historical patrimony.
The Pueblo Magic initiative was started in 2001 by the federal government’s Department of Tourism and currently boasts 111 towns from all 31 states of the union on its roster, of which Jalisco has seven: Mazamitla, San Sebastian del Oeste, Tapalpa, Tequila, Lagos de Moreno, Talpa de Allende and Mascota. A full list of all 111 members is available at pueblosmexico.com.mx, a website peppered with advertisements for hotels and recreational accoutrement like hammocks and patio sets – emphasizing, if it wasn’t obvious already, the symbiotic nature of the relationship enjoyed by the Pueblo Magico initiative and the tourism industry.
Magaña is expecting a visit from the federal board of tourism in February, during which a series of recommendations for civic improvements will likely be handed down.
But the tourism board makes its supplicants work hard for their tiaras, and the process of meeting its demands doesn’t always sail smoothly.
In 2016, for instance, Tlaquepaque pruned many of its parking meters from sidewalks to be in compliance with the board’s preference for pristine, meter-less public places; the company who owned the machines immediately obtained a court order for that action’s immediate reversal, which the city was forced to comply with by the presiding judge.
The Guadalajara suburb of Tlaquepaque’s status as a Pueblo Magico is expected to be determined some time after the board’s visit next year. In the meantime, expect the city to keep working overtime to make itself more fetching in the eyes of locals and tourists alike. (But especially tourists.)