Next town on our Central Mexico Tour after Guanajuato was the town of Guadalajara. After Mexico City, Guadalajara is the 2nd most populous region in Mexico. This region is well known for contributing Tequila and Mariachi in Mexican Culture. The annual Guadalajara International Film Festival is held here and the Guadalajara International Book Fair which is the largest in the Americas.
Other Mexico related blog posts:
Top 8 things to do in Mexico City
My first impression of Mexico
Day trip from Mexico City to Teotihuacan
Day Trip to Bernal
A Day in Queretaro
Our time here was just down to 2 days which is definitely not enough but we got a taster. We had been on the go every 2 days or so changing cities and then walking all day so we were quite exhausted by now. We decided not to wonder that far in our free afternoon and found a nearby outdoor market that was going on to meander around leaving the historical sites of the centre untouched.
For dinner, we went to the Lindavista suburb where we spent some time in Jardin Hidalgo. There’s some sort of dance exhibit with traditional Mexican dancing that was occurring so we stopped to watch whilst waiting for our dinner reservation. Dinner would be at the El Parián de Tlaquepaque. This is an outdoor dining canteen with restaurants all next to each other in this courtyard. There are lights above and all around us and not only do we have our tastebuds going but also our ears. Mariachi bands are around to play whatever mariachi music you want. At this stage, our group are not so knowledgeable about what songs we liked. Now, I could listen to celito lindo on repeat with no problem.
Day two was somewhat of an adventure. We were going for a day trip to Tequila for…..you guessed it, Tequila! Our guide was not accompanying us today but assured the small group of us that we would be joined by an english speaking guide once we arrived in Tequila. When we arrived, it became apparent that we would not be getting our english speaking guide that day. A lady working at the plantation was happy to help and took us through the tequila making stages from agave to drink. Of course, then came the best part where we got to try some!
Tequila is made from 100% blue agave and much like Champagne, Tequila can only called Tequila if it is from this region and labelled Made in Mexico (hecho en Mexico). The agave takes approximately 6 to 10 years to mature to which it is then harvested by hand by jimadores where they cut the leaves revealing the piña (pineapple). The piña is what is then used to make Tequila via a process of baking, sugar extraction, fermentation and distillation. Aging of the Tequila is then done in French or American oak barrels for varying lengths of time and can even be aged for 3 years or more! The darker the Tequila, the more aging it has undergone. Unlike in countries outside of Mexico where Tequila is served in shot glasses with salt and lime, in Mexico, Tequila is slowly enjoyed on its own. After learning about the extensive process of growing the agave and how Tequila is made (and still regretting not purchasing one of the aged bottles from this plantation), no more shots for me!
After lunch, we got to spend some free time in the town of Tequila although it was quite hot by now with temperatures in the 30s. Tequila seems much to be a tourist town with many stores on the main street selling the usual souvenirs. At the end of the street there was a square with cafes where we sought some shade and a nice cool (non alcoholic) drink. When walking around, I came across this beautiful mural at the Municipio de Tequila Jal (local council office) of what appears to be mother nature ontop a pyramid with a piña behind her giving life to Mexican culture, Mexican landscape, history and way of life.
On our way back, our little group were reflecting on the day we had and all the assumptions on how we thought our day would be like. Turns out it was nothing like we all had imagined but we were still happy to have spent the day out, learning about the Tequila making process and seeing the town of Tequila. To me, that is the fun of travel, you never quite know what you’re going to get.
No rest for the wicked, next stop Patzcuaro!