Our new nomadic HQ:
As you know, Forager is a team of food and travel lovers who enjoy the digital nomad lifestyle. We aim to travel to as many different parts of the globe as possible, exploring new cultures and learning new trends to help our clients be more competitive. One way we ensure this is by choosing a new nomadic headquarters each quarter. Of course we still love Cork, Ireland where Forager Media Group is permanently based, but we are excited to be calling Guadalajara, Mexico our new nomadic HQ for the first three months of 2020!
We packed up in Vancouver and headed south to sunny Mexico. Vancouver was an amazing city for digital nomads and entrepreneurs, full of delicious food and sustainable businesses. And though we love Vancouver, especially Forager’s founder, Bryce Mathew Watts who was born there, it was time to go to our new destination, and that is Mexico’s second city, the beautiful city of Guadalajara!
The second largest city, but not second best!
Guadalajara, or GDL to locals, is considered the archetypical Mexican city. The capital of the state of Jalisco, it is home to some of the most iconic Mexican cultural emblems: tequila, mariachi music and charreria (a Mexican-style of rodeo).
Second only to Mexico City, Guadalajara is a huge metropolis. It has an historic centre stretching back almost 500 years, which is home to the Palacio de Gobierno, the beautiful Guadalajara cathedral and the mesmerising maze of Mercado San Juan de Dios. The artisan district, Tlaquepaque, to the east is where visitors can find the best art and handicrafts from Jalisco and beyond. Each of the neighbourhoods, or colonias as they are known, have a unique characteristic and make each part of the city a new adventure.
Its biggest suburb, Zapopan, is where many larger companies are based, including Expo Guadalajara and the World Trade Centre, and it is also where Forager Media Group is setting up for our three month stay.
The city carries the title of being Latin America’s Silicon Valley. Although many cities are fighting hard to be considered as such, Guadalajara’s technology and electronics industry have a history that can be traced all the way back to the 1960’s, which means it is packing quite a punch in order to keep its rival cities at bay.
Usually a business destination, many people travel to Guadalajara for work, but from the moment they put a foot in this colourful city, the flavours and the people make it difficult to distinguish it from a leisure trip full of experiences to remember and repeat.
Guadalajara: The colourful
Arriving in Guadalajara one of the first things you’ll notice are all the different colours. It is a bright and lively city, with free concerts, cultural events, street markets and lots of traditional handicrafts spread out across the many colonias. The city is a perfect combination of everything the Forager team loves to find when travelling.
But the decorations aren’t the only thing that makes Guadalajara diverse. Previously known as one of the most conservative cities in the whole country, Guadalajara has evolved into an increasingly progressive city. Now, it has become so progressive that it is considered to be the gay capital of Mexico. And because of its large business sector, it is attracting talent from all over the world.
Guadalajara: The flavourful
Tapatíos (the name locals give themselves) are very proud of their food, so much so that you can’t go a few metres without coming across another delicious food venue. There are many local delicacies to try here, but not being from Mexico, our team thought tacos might be a bit of a cliche. We were wrong, tacos are mandatory and cheap as chips! All conversations lead to food in Guadalajara. Their rich gastronomic culture is a source of pride and with such strong flavours and colourful lates, we will be quite busy these months.
Some of the most popular dishes include Birria which, to many, is the most iconic plate of the city. Made of goat with a blend of tomatoes and spices, it is accompanied by corn tortillas and fresh lime. Don’t forget to try tortas ahogadas as well. It is a pork sandwich in a crispy baguette that is unique to the city. Torta ahogada literally means “drowned sandwich”, once made it is covered in a tomato sauce similar to a beef dip except no au jus, just tomato. With every food in Mexico, all we can say is ask how spicy things are before you pour too much on. Similar colours, but with VERY different heat levels.
Guadalajara for digital nomads
Guadalajara has a lot to offer digital nomads. There are loads of options for co-working spaces like WeWork, Regus and the local company Nevermind. Internet speeds are fast and ready for your daily remote working without problems.
Life is affordable in the city and there are some nice remote work-friendly opportunities thanks to the current growth of the technology industry and others from local companies and international giants that expand to the region. As so often we find ourselves working from a local cafe, you won’t be without options here in Guadalajara. There is the standard and reliable Starbucks, but there are a whole host of other small cafes to choose from. Take a stroll down Avenida Chapultepec, one of the trendy centres filled with boutiques, or the high-end Providencia, or even the restaurant hub that is Chapalita. There will be plenty of places to park your laptop and log a few billable hours.
There are very few obstacles to do business in Guadalajara. You may find it difficult to communicate without at least a basic understanding of Spanish, but locals are friendly and will try to help with sign language if needed.
And when it comes to safety, if you’re used to relatively crime-free cities (like the case of our previous HQ, Vancouver) you’ll notice a difference in Guadalajara. It isn’t by any means a very dangerous city, but crime does happen here. Muggings do happen, so it is always a good idea to stick to walking around during the day and to not leave anything unattended. With a little common sense and good planning, you won’t feel any less safe than in other major cities. Just make yourself familiar with the places you should avoid and develop basic safety habits like keeping valuable objects with you or at home.
What to do in Guadalajara
Now let’s talk about fun things to do in the city other than work. Starting outdoors, for those who love to spend time in nature the charming park of La Barranca de Huentitán is perfect to take a relaxing walk, or a run along its cobbled path like the locals. At the end of the park, you’ll find thermal baths where you can relax after all that exercise but beware, there aren’t changing facilities so if you plan to get in the water go wearing your swimsuit and be ready to go back with damp clothes.
Keeping with the nature theme, there are plenty of day trips out of the city, like visiting the pyramids of Guachimontones or heading to Lake Chapala. And who could say no to a little stop over at the beach after a hard week of working. Well you are in luck, Puerto Vallarta is just a short bus trip away. Rest up on the beaches and have a drink or two to recharge for more work and exploration.
For the foodies, Guadalajara hosts many food festivals with local and international food for you to enjoy, and the history lovers will be delighted by all the tours across all the vestiges of the last 500 years.
Of course, being the capital of Jalisco, the state where the iconic Mexican spirit was born, we need to dedicate an entire section to the amazing liquor made from the blue agave.
Tequila is made by a special process of fermentation of the nectar from the blue agave. It is a succulent (a plant that holds moisture in thick leaves) native to Mexico and the southern United States with a long list of other uses and benefits apart from making Tequila. It is also used to produce a number of other spirits, including Mexican mezcal and Venezuelan cocuy.
Guadalajara and the surrounding towns are very proud of their tequila, especially the town bearing the same name. It is so important to local identity that the United Nations has designated it a World Heritage Site, and there are many tours that will take you directly through the many distilleries.
A three month adventure awaits
We are looking forward to exploring Guadalajara and Jalisco state over the course of our time here. Every cafe we can find, each restaurant we visit and every tour we go on will help us feed our sense of adventure, understand our industry better and harvest the best new trends for our clients. We will be sharing our experiences and shedding light on how Tapatios go about promoting themselves and their businesses!