Gringo in Guadalajara

The Richy Rich

Many Americans are surprised to find that Mexico has stores, malls and restaurants every bit as luxurious and upscale as the United States.  There may be fewer of them but they have no trouble finding a clientele to serve.  There are a number of plazas (malls) here in Guadalajara that cater to the rich.  Plaza Gallerias, Plaza Centro Magno, Gran Plaza Fashion Mall and Plaza Lifestyle Center (the last two with anglicized names) all are popular hot spots.  But it is probably Plaza Andares which most personifies Guadalajara's bastion for the well-to-do.

Take a stroll through Plaza Andares and you are reminded of any American high-end mall.  There are all kinds of  fancy sights: pools of exotic swimming fish, water falls doing acrobatic tricks and perfectly manicured lawns.  America's chains are here too.  There is an Apple Store, a P.F. Chang's Chino Bistro, Starbucks, Outback Steakhouse and many more.  The prices are equally American.  It may be cheaper to live in Mexico, but not if you shop at Plaza Andares.  The pricetags are every bit the same in this mall.

It feels rather strange to step into the world of Plaza Andares.  Visiting such a place in the middle of a third word country is a much harsher contrast than in an American suburb.  When you are face to face with poverty every day, seeing the beautful people ordering $25 entrees just seems a bit obscene.  Of course, it's an illogical point of view. Or at least it is no more obscene than in the United States where such poverty is simply more hidden.  But whatever the logic, a trip to Plaza Andares is a bit like stepping into a Mexican fantasy world.