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13 July 2012

Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico

by Željko Filipin

I have started this year with more than two month long trip. The first part of the trip was Guadalajara (Jalisco, Mexico) and the second part was Austin, (Texas, USA). I will write another blog post about Austin.

What was I doing there? Let's start from the beginning. I was working as a software tester for a small company for years. Late last year I have started working as a freelance software tester in my free time. It was almost impossible to get testing jobs since there is a lot of competition, so I have decided to focus on something that I know better than the average tester. My secret superpower was Watir. The problem was that there was not a lot of jobs for testers that are familiar with Watir. But, when a job like that appeared, I had high chances of getting it. After a month or two, I found a few Watir related jobs and got my first client. More clients came surprisingly soon.

One of the clients that I was working with, Freshout, asked if I would come to their office in Guadalajara for a few months. At first I thought they were joking. When I got the confirmation that it is not a joke, I have started thinking should I go. The job sounded interesting, I was never in Mexico, but it was not easy to arrange the trip. I have a wife and a kid, I was working full time for a company... My family said I should take the risk. Literally on the last day of 2011 I had a chat with my boss asking if I could get a few months of unpaid leave, since I got the offer for a job in Mexico. He was very supportive, I think his words were something like: "Go see the world!". So, I packed my things and flew to Guadalajara.

I was living in Lion Hostel where I met a lot of nice people, including the owners. It was really a nice place to live. The office was just a few blocks away so I walked to work.

I was working on a very interesting project that unfortunately I can not talk about. I thought I would work as a tester, but I was a developer. After working for years exclusively from my home office, sharing an office with about 30 loud Mexicans was not the easiest thing for me. For the first week or so I could not focus at all. At any random time Mexican music would be playing from the speakers, somebody would play the guitar, people would be talking, somebody would be playing table tennis... But I got used to it. While I was there, there was a wedding at the office back yard, a birthday party, the entire office went to Mazamitla for a weekend... It was a lot of fun working there.

I was working really hard. When I was done working at the office, I would go to the hostel and work for my other clients. By the way, I was probably the oldest person in the 30+ person office. The same thing was true for the hostel, at least the majority of the time.

I made sure I had some fun too. I was sampling local beer and playing a lot of table tennis, both at the office and at the hostel. A couple of things really pleasantly surprised me in Guadalajara. Bikla and Vía Recreactíva. Bikla is bike renting company. They provide the bikes, and restaurants all over the city are renting stations. You can even rent a bike at one station and return it at the other.

How to describe Vía Recreactíva? In short, a few major streets are completely closed for cars every Sunday from 8 am to 2 pm. The streets are full of people walking, riding a bike, skating, running... So, every Sunday morning I would rent a bike and try to get from one to the other end of a closed street.

I hope to visit Guadalajara again, and if I do I will make sure to visit the nearby city of Tequila.

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