We were so thrilled to be assigned to Guadalajara – one of our top choices. Unfortunately, our three year assignment was cut to just six weeks immediately upon arrival! After only a few days in Guadalajara, my husband got a new job with the State Department which meant we would have to be back in Arlington at the beginning of the new year. My first day of work was full of awkward meet and greets with various contacts at work as we told them we would be leaving so soon. I actually filled out check-in and check-out documents simultaneously! We tried to get the department to send my husband to Arlington for his training and let the rest of us stay in Guadalajara, but they would have none of it. The stress and frustrations of the process put a bit of a damper on our time there, but overall we loved our “TDY” (temporary assignment) as we called it.
So, now that we’re back in US, I’ll recap our six weeks living and working in Guadalajara.
Life was easy in Guadalajara! It felt so familiar to us coming from Bogota, but with way more US influence. I mean, we had Costco and Wal Mart. How hard could it be? The only thing reminding me that I was in Mexico was everyone around me speaking Spanish.
We had a brand-new, beautiful house with an enormous modern kitchen. Our housing community had a new playground, a pool, and basketball court. The weather was sunny and 75 near every day, so it was perfect for outdoor activities.
Another big perk to GDL was getting cheap delivery. Since we didn’t have a car most of the time, we got everything delivered. I was thrilled to have Rappi again, especially since I could get my Costco order delivered for only a few dollars.
Of course, you can’t go to Mexico and not talk about the food. We definitely gained some weight over those 6 weeks with an empanada place and delicious taqueria only a few blocks from the consulate. We pretty much went to both nearly every single day, partly because we were too lazy to find new options, but also because they were so so good.
And finally, the city. The historic center was much cleaner, larger and greener than I expected. There is lots to do, an amazing zoo, beautiful cathedrals, big parks, and more. We only scratched the surface in our short time there.
I was grateful for the ease of life, especially given our timeline, but I wished it were a little less American. I had expected Guadalajara to be a warmer Bogota, but it really wasn’t. For example, our home in Bogota was in an urban location with parks, restaurants, coffee shops, grocery stores, everything within a few blocks. In Guadalajara, we lived in a house in a gated community pretty much on the edge of the city. In fact, there was undeveloped land surrounding most of our community. Roosters crowed nearby. It wasn’t walkable and it was fairly isolated.
Since we opted not to have our car imported into Mexico, we relied on Uber and our neighbors for rides to work. We were so grateful when our neighbors lent us their car while they were on vacation. Their kindness enabled us to go to the Zoo and parks that were just a bit too far away for an Uber.
One thing we loved about Colombia was all the exotic, fresh, amazing produce. I was thrilled to come back to Latin America thinking it would be similar, but the grocery stores near us were the same selection I was used to in the US. I only found a mango one time! I’m sure there are markets for locally grown produce, meats, etc – but since we were so far away from everything, it wasn’t practical to drive to them. If we had stayed longer in GDL, I may have been willing to make those trips.
It felt a little too easy? 😉
To be honest, the housing location wasn’t ideal for us and we were annoyed by the general ridiculousness of moving us to Guadalajara and then making us pack up everything again and leave with a “maybe you’ll come back, maybe not” attitude. But mostly, we really can’t complain. It’s a great post, we hope to bid on it again someday.