Chapter Three - Tequila and Chapala

Trip Start Oct 31, 2013
Trip End Nov 05, 2013

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Tequila and Chapala

Flag of Mexico  , Central Mexico and Gulf Coast,
Monday, November 4, 2013

Today we will rent a car and drive to Tequila. Yes, there is a place called tequila, and yes, it's where tequila comes from.

We pick up our little car from the Budget rental office near our hostel. It is small indeed, a tiny Chevrolet Spark. But it’s big enough for us two, and very economic.

We plan to visit the Herradura Tequila distillery at their Hacienda San José del Refugio in the town of Amatitán.

The exit from Guadalajara is a bit confusing and I get caught by my nemesis, the roundabout. Why can’t the world learn to sign all the exits from roundabouts, and not just two or three of them? I’ve got lost on roundabouts in England, France and Spain, and now in Mexico. After proceeding some miles without seeing a sign to Tequila, I at last stop at a service station, and they give me the bad news that I’m going in the wrong direction.

When we finally arrive in Amatitán and find our way to the distillery. We pay our admission fee and are advised that we will share the tour with the participants from the Tequila Express, which is a special tourist train, one of the last passenger trains in Mexico.

The visitors arrive by bus from the station and we commence our tour, which describes in detail the process from the agave plant to the final distilled product that we buy in our local liquor store.

On the tour Miryam talks to a couple. She tells her the group she is with has come from Indianapolis for the wedding of her daughter, Carmen. Her side of the family is from Guadalajara, so they planned the wedding to be in her home town. It’s a very appealing idea that seems to be gaining in popularity. There had been over a hundred guests from the USA for the wedding, and some were staying over to visit all the attractions around town. The following day they are going to Puerto Vallarta, which we are told is only a four-hour drive from Guadalajara.

The tour is very instructive, and the tasting of the different kinds of tequila cheers us up no end. Afterwards, we bid farewell to the wedding party, who are enjoying a buffet lunch at the hacienda, and head off to the town of Tequila, stopping at the local cemetery on the way, to see the floral offerings.

Tequila is not much of a place, a small provincial town that seems to revolve around the Jose Cuervo distillery. This distillery is much more sophisticated than Herradura, with shops, bars, exhibits and HD screens all over.  A really professional operation.

We have a very nice lunch in Cholula Restaurant, and Miryam enjoys an terrific Kiwi Margarita.

Next day we drive south past the airport to Lake Chapala. No roundabouts on this route, and we are soon topping the incline and looking out over the lovely lake. It reminds us a little of Lake Amatitlán in Guatemala. We stop at the attractive little town of Chapala. We visit the miniscule market and main plaza, as well as walk all along the Malecón. Most surprising to us is the lake level. From the Malecón to the water must be a hundred yards. We were told that the lake levels have dropped considerably leaving the lakeside promenade high and dry. It is a strange sight, and not all that appealing.  

We continue on to Ajijic. It’s a strange town with a strange name.  It’s a place where North American expats look to live on the cheap south of the border. It almost seems like the USA plonked in the middle of Mexico. Seeing huge American cars squeezing through the narrow cobbled street driven by blue-haired matrons is really a sight to see. We have lunch at Tango, which is outstanding, but filled with gringos. The town looks very clean and well organized, with narrow cobbled streets and lots of colourful murals. The attractive malecón has the same problem as Chapala, with the lowering of the lake level, it's now several metres back from the lake shore. This place is worth a visit if nothing else but to see what Mexico looks like through the vision of North American Real Estate brokers. You'll either love it, or hate it.

This evening we took the Metro to the city centre to visit the market, reputed to be the largest in Mexico. It certainly is huge, and packed with Gucci and Versace handbags at a few pesos each!

Just as I had predicted at the outset, we returned to the shoe stores, so now we are both well shod for the next few months!  

Lucy got up really early the next day so we could have a nice breakfast before leaving to the airport. What an angel!
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greekcypriot on

I had no idea that tequila comes from pineapples Martin!
Greetings from Doha.

derrick241 on

This was a good blog, I learnt a bit from it

The who place is named after a drink Tequila, I guess this is the biggest and probably only employer there

They have any problems with people enjoying too much of the local produce /

I never knew there was so many different kinds of tequila, I just thought there was the one

How much did you buy then ?

mmbcross on

There are loads of different types, over 100 distilleries make over 900 brands of tequila in Mexico. Yes indeed, we smuggled a few through customs.

mmbcross on

Popi, they just call the base of the agave plant a "piña" because it kind of looks like one after the long spiky leaves have been cut off.

Marian on

Tomaron mucho tequila? Las fotos están preciosas, realmente ha sido un viaje muy lindo, !!!!!Que se repita!!!!!

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