Traveling in Mexico: The Plaza Garabaldi in Mexico City

Question: Do you like Mariachis? Do you REALLY like Mariachis? Then the Plaza Garibaldi is an absolute must. If you’re staying in the Historic District of Mexico City, you’re even luckier because it’s practically in your neighborhood. To get there; go along the Cinco de Mayo headed away from the Zocalo (the same direction as the traffic). When the street ends, you’ll be looking at the side of the magnificent white marble concert hall and arts center, the Palacio de Bellas Artes. That is the intersection of a principal avenue called Lazaro Cardenas. Turn right, go five more blocks and when you get to the tall marble columns you’re there. This remodeled, open air plaza is particularly well attended to by the authorities since it’s a major attraction for both tourists and residents alike.

Please note: The adjacent neighborhoods to the Plaza Garibaldi are not exactly the best – Stay out of them at night! Three sides of the plaza are flanked by restaurants, cantinas, taco joints and craft shops. Statues of key Mexican singers surround an open courtyard which has a French-baroque “kiosko” in its center. Mariachi bands and singers, clad in full-color regalia, from one guitarist to a complete band of 12 or more roam the plaza, going from person to person offering to play your favorite songs for a small fee. The price is negotiable depending on the quantity of songs you’d like, and your skill at haggling among other things. This can be one of the best parts of the Plaza Garibaldi experience. The singers / musicians are of widely varying abilities and prices with the larger groups costing more than individuals or smaller bands. The skill and talent of some of the women, elderly, young, drunk and even blind mariachis is astounding.

Be prepared too, to receive “offers” of all kinds from wandering “garroteros” whose job is to get you into one of the adjacent “cantinas” which frequently feature dinner, music and a show. “Offers” range from the amusing to the outrageous, but are no fun unless your Spanish is pretty good. Often they’ll give you a flyer detailing their cantina’s program. When there’s no cover or minimum drink and/or meal prices can be exorbitant. Be careful; don’t go into a place without knowing what you’re expected to pay. “El Tenampa Cantina” comes highly recommended, although some others are equally entertaining.

For the best Mariachi music in Mexico City, the Plaza Garibaldi is the place to be starting about 8 pm or so and on until around midnight, with Fridays and Saturdays being the prime evenings. Watch out for pickpockets and bag-snatchers though and don’t wear or carry valuables.

Prof. Larry M. Lynch is an English language teaching and learning expert author and university professor in Cali, Colombia. Now YOU too can live your dreams in paradise, find romance, high adventure and get paid while travelling for free.

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