Olivia's Apartments Banner
Frequently Asked Questions

One of the joys of travel is figuring out answers to the little questions that arise every day, meanwhile reaping the unexpected discoveries that come in the process.

Sometimes, though, even the most adventurous would prefer a simple answer to a simple question, rather than spending their limited time and resources on a quest.

At the risk of depriving you of a few surprises, here are answers to some of the questions that we’re often asked by people who plan to stay with us.

Money matters
How do I pay the deposit and rent?

To reserve an apartment, we must receive a $50usd deposit. You can make your deposit from the Deposit & Contact page of the website. After the deposit is received, you will get an email confirming your reservation.

Rent may be paid in U.S. dollars or in pesos, based on the exchange rate at the time. (See the next item for information about getting pesos in Tlaquepaque.)

What’s the best way to exchange my money for pesos?

If you arrive in the Guadalajara area by air, you’ll find a Casa de Cambio (exchange house) in the airport just after you leave Customs and come into the main concourse.

In central Tlaquepaque, there are several ATMs and banks three blocks from Olivia’s Apartments. The exchange rate at ATMs is as good as you’ll find, but be forewarned that there’s a limit (from $3000 to $6000 pesos) on how much you can withdraw per day.

It’s a good idea, by the way, to notify your bank back home to let them know that you’ll be using your card in Mexico. If you’ll be using a credit card, find out what the interest rates are for cash advances; and for both credit and debit cards, it's wise to find out what the service charge is for making cash withdrawals.

To find out the current rate of the peso versus the US dollar and other currencies, click here.

Will I be able to pay for things in Tlaquepaque using my credit/debit card?

Except for ATMs and banks, most places do not accept them. Also, one often hears about cases of credit card fraud in Mexico—for example, giving a clerk your credit card to pay for a purchase and the next day finding airline tickets to Cancún charged to your account. Moreover, businesses may use a less favorable exchange rate than is given by ATMs.
Palm fan
What’s where, and how do I get there?

How do I find Olivia’s Apartments after I arrive in Guadalajara?

If you’re coming to Olivia’s Apartments by taxi, tell the driver that you would like to go to Cinco de Mayo #84 (for Casitas Lirio Blanco, Gardenia, Mirasol, and Azucena) or #71 (for Casitas Camelia and Violeta) in Tlaquepaque central.  

Cinco de Mayo, which runs one-way southbound, is two blocks from the Parián (which all drivers are familiar with); and Olivia's Apartments are a block and a half south of Calle Hidalgo, the main east-west street that goes through central Tlaquepaque.  #84 is on the right side of the Cinco de Mayo; #71, on the left side. To help you get your bearings, there are maps here.

The buildings have a a buff/orange facade, have large black doors, and #84 has a second-floor balcony that makes it easy to identify.

If you’re taking a local bus to the Apartments, the best idea is to ask the driver to let you off as close as possible to the Parián, and then ask passersby for directions to Olivia’s Apartments or Cenaduría La Unica, Olivia’s restaurant.

Can I be picked up at the airport?

Yes. The price for airport pickup (and, for that matter, drop-off) is $200 pesos (about $15 usd).

Should I plan on renting a car while I’m in Tlaquepaque?

Unless you’ll be making lots of trips to many different places around the Guadalajara area, probably not. Taxis are plentiful and, by comparison to the U.S., Canada, and Europe, relatively inexpensive: The 15 minute ride to downtown Guadalajara should cost about $70 pesos ($6 usd). Local buses are much cheaper still: You can take the Cardinal or the Tur (air-conditioned, and less crowded) all the way across the metropolitan area for $10 pesos, and regular buses, which service many more areas, are half that amount. There's a tourist kiosk near the Parián where you may find information about bus routes.

For longer trips, Mexico’s excellent bus system is available. The deluxe lines tend to be comfortable, clean, and they’re almost always on time.

Bird of Paradise flower
Food stuff

Is it safe to drink water from the tap?

Unfortunately, no. When you arrive, there should be a large plastic bottle of safe water (a garafon) in your apartment. When it runs dry, you can get another one from Olivia for a small charge. (Be sure to return the empty garafon when you get a full one.)

Because of the high altitude and dry climate, it’s a good idea to drink plenty of water while you’re in Tlaquepaque; but when you do, always be sure that it comes from a bottle.

And what about the food?

If you cook in your apartment, be sure to peel or disinfect fruit and vegetables that are to be eaten raw. In drugstores you can buy a little bottle of Microdine to disinfect such food, following the instructions on the package.

When eating out, you’re probably safest going to a places that have plenty of customers, where hot food is still hot when it’s served, and where there’s evidence of sanitary cooking and serving conditions.

Guide books and many websites give additional advice, of course—so much, in fact, that you might conclude that you’ll only be 100% safe if you eat nothing at all! Granted that some people’s systems are more delicate than others, many people stay with us for weeks or months at a time, use good sense in their eating habits but partake of Tlaquepaque’s many restaurants and street food, and never have a problem with their stomachs.

Where will I be able to buy groceries?

There are plenty of options, ranging from a small tienda a couple of doors down the street from Olivia’s Apartments, where you can buy milk, snacks, and a few other things; to a Soriana supermarket, a fifteen minute walk away.

Probably most of your needs can be filled at the mercado, with its abundance of fresh fruit, vegetables, bread, meat, etc., and always an exciting place to shop, or else at Farmacia Guadalajara, which sells quite a few groceries and supplies. Both are about five minutes from the Apartments.

Azucena flower
Other stuff

How do I get keys for my apartment?

You'll need to get keys from Olivia.  The door to her house is on the left side of her restaurant, La Unica, which you’ll easily be able to see from your the door of your apartment.  There's a doorbell on the upper, right side of the door frame.  If the restaurant is open, Olivia might be there when you arrive. If not, anyone working there can show you the door to Olivia's house. If the restaurant is not open, ring the bell at Olivia's door.

I’m arriving after midnight! What can I do?

Don’t worry about it: you won’t be the first! Just follow the directions above to get your keys.

What’s the weather like in Tlaquepaque?

Because the Guadalajara area is located on Mexico’s high, central plateau (Tlaquepaque’s elevation is 5000 feet, or 1550 meters), temperatures are mild all year long: January, the coolest month, has an average high of 75 F (24 C) and low of 44 F (7 C); and for May, the warmest month, the high averages 89 F (32C), the low 57 F (14 C). Tlaquepaque usually receives a mere 36 inches (91 cm) of rain per year. Most of it falls between June and September, which explains why the summer months are somewhat cooler than late spring. You can find climate information here.

During the rainy season, great cumulous clouds often pile up in the mountains and bring a late afternoon shower—or downpour! Afterwards the sky typically clears in time for sunset and all is refreshed and clean.

That said, we all know that the weather is neither controllable nor predictable, so before you pack your suitcase, you might want to check the immediate forecast for Tlaquepaque weather here.

How the heck do you pronounce “Tlaquepaque”?

The name’s from a Nahuatl phrase that (some local people say) meant “Hill Where the Clay Comes From,” or something like that.  Nahuatl, the language of the Aztecs and still spoken by a couple million people in Mexico, has a lot of "tl" sounds at the beginnings and endings of words. We get our word "chocolate" (as well as the thing itself) from the Aztecs’ chocolatl; "coyote," from their coyotl.  

Although to our ears and mouths it seems weird to have a "tl" at the beginning or end of a word, we do use it in the middle of words, such as "bootleg."  So once you convince your vocal apparatus to pronounce the "tl" as a discrete sound unto itself, the rest of "Tlaquepaque" is pretty much straightforward--just  tlah-kay-pah-kay, with the primary accent on the next-to-the-last syllable.  

I still have some questions! Where can I go for answers?

Besides emailing us directly to ask your questions, two popular websites where you might find interesting and useful information are Mexconnect and Lonely Planet: Mexico. Both have some advertisements, but there’s plenty of free and generally reliable information as well.

Also, the travel guide Lonely Planet: Mexico has an on-line discussion forum where you can ask questions and are likely to get some (usually) good answers from people who have visited Mexico or lived there. You can find it here. You have to register in order to post a question; but it’s free, and registering will not cause you to receive a lot of unwanted emails.

Yellow flower
Web design by Richard & Kim Anderson
Copyright © 2008 Richard Anderson