Leaving the Tucan Hotel in Ix Del Rio it was time to hit up Tequila! 30 kms into the mornings drive, Sarah ‘Dog Killer’ Pollock hit her second animal of the trip (call the RSPCA!). Well, more put it out of it’s misery by finishing the job, after the two previous cars that hit it failed to do so (to be fair it did walk happily out onto the road behind a parked bus so it wasn’t exactly my fault!!…Sarah). Taking the road around Guadalajara in amazement that the drivers here can actually merge (and with indicators!), our perception of the driving soon resumed to that of old when one twat started to chop and change lanes forcing the others to slam on their brakes. Taking the number 15 libre (free) to Tequila we were pumped that the road was double lanes and nicely paved. This lasted all of five minute before it was back to single lanes, the dreaded topes and our old favourite, potholes.
The agave plant is serious business in these parts and every spare inch of land is used to cultivate it. No space is spared and the roadsides soon become littered with them. Tequila itself is the epicenter for distillation of agave, as clearly evident by the numerous vendors selling the liquid in plastic bottles of up to five liters. Rolling up into town we opted to take one of the tours offered along Sixto Gorjon for 150 pesos with burritos and juice thrown in.
It wasn’t long before we were being chauffeured around the old town in a vehicle fashioned into a wooden barrel with a Spanish commentary, of which we struggled to understand, especially when the rest of the tour would either show interest or laugh at the hosts jokes. Passing the large tequila factories our 1st stop was the old laundry in which a lady had a refreshments (tequila cocktails) stand set up. Taking a margarita style drink each served out of a fresh grapefruit, it was back to the bus and on to our next stop, the fields of agave plants.
Next stop was an old distillery which has the old infrastructure in place to show how the processing used to be done, though as always they now employ modern techniques and equipment in the manufacture. Here we got to taste various ages and colours of tequila. Moving on our last stop was the Rubio distillery and museum, where the lovely lady that organizes the tours called her daughter in to translate for us two and a Japanese couple. Here your’e lead through a large scale operation, having the opportunity to taste the burnt unprocessed agave.
Finally we arrived in the museum and were given the history of the party starting beverage, both fact and myth. Originally the Aztecs used the plant to brew an ancient version of tequila, used in rituals and orgies. Supposedly one day an agave plant was hit by lightning, producing the sweet burnt plant which was then used. When the Spanish arrived they kindly helped to refine the process through distillation into what Tequila has become today. Tequila has to have the foxiest goddess ever and one that we’d follow all the way to the bottom of the shot glass (check out the painted mural inside the museum).
And talking of this we head for our two last shots at the front entrance and taught the Mexican way to toast. ‘¡Arriba, abajo, al centro, pa’ dentro!’ which is glass up, glass down, glass to the front of you and then inside you. This bring the shot count to six with a cocktail and a couple of cheeky beers wedged in (although Sarah was poured more when she mentioned it was her birthday).
Being dropped off back in the middle of town and saying our goodbyes to the rest of the tour group, we headed into the heart of town and plonked down at Casa Sauze’s front patio, overlooking the plaza with the Church of Santiago Apostol standing guard. This was a great place to watch the world go by and meet some of the local folk at the same time all to the theme of TEQUILA!
The first lady that arrived at our table was an older senora and the conversation, as always, turned to our age and then to kids, mainly, why don’t we have any? Having covered this ground several times since arriving in Mexico Matt decided on a different approach and when prompted by said lady replied ‘Mi pene, no trabaja!’ (My penis doesn’t work!). In response the lady covers her mouth and starts laughing heartily and babbling something incoherent through her fits of laughter. Secondly we had a father and son turn up, and inevitably kids were bought up again. This time a different tact was taken and we focused the conversation on them and their children.
Finishing here we travelled around the corner to another open bar on the back side of the plaza that has a few chairs outside. Again tequila was quick to arrive at the table, only this time we had it in cocktail form. Spending time with the barman that spoke perfect English due to his time in the United States, this time no mention of children. Seeing that Sarah was dramatically starting to flail due to lack of food, Matt immediately found the nearest taco stand on Calle Augustina Ramirez, in a vain hope to bring her back. Rocking up to the alley with at least six different vendors he picked one that had the biggest variety of who knows what, ordering ten tacos by way of the pointing method.
Taking these back to Sarah and the barman we tucked into the delicious mess, Matt knowing full well that he’d ordered tripe which only a drunk person drinking tequila would appreciate or find tasty. Sarah didn’t find this out until Matt revealed his wicked ways the following afternoon.
The next morning it was back to Calle Augustina Ramirez for the 7 Peso tacos for breakfast this time staying well clear of the tripe special. Choosing the stand busiest with locals, we sat down to boring beef and pork tacos. Taking our leave of Tequila, something major must have been going down, made evident by the 50 or so police cars racing in the opposite direction. Being in the path for the drug cartels and a marijuana growing region we gladly applied a little more pressure to the accelerator.
You can check out more of our Tequila antics and other Mexico photos on Flickr.