Tequila is a Magical Village!
I know that sounds like something you drunkenly slur out aloud after 8 or 9 shots, but the town of Tequila, about 60 kms outside of Guadalajara, has been designated a Pueblo Magico by the Tourism Board of Mexico:
A 'Magical Village' is a place with symbolism, legends, history, important events, day-to-day life - in other words, 'magic' in its social and cultural manifestations, with great opportunities for tourism
The town of Tequila is famous for birthing the liquor of the same name. I had reservations about visiting this Magic Village, because of my bad experiences with the drink. The last shot of Tequila I ever had was in 2005, after a bender of a night in the Dominican Republic with a couple of friends. The morning-after-dry-heaving-head-pounding-walls-moving-around-you-hangover was the worst I've ever had in my life, and I swore off To-Kill-Ya forever.
But no harm in visiting the town, right?
Panhandlers compete for pesos by performing tricks between red lights. Currently this is the bar:
Guy with a mohawk, juggling flaming torches, while on a stepladdder, covered head-to-toe in silver paint...
It's a beautiful, sunny day for a day-trip. As we leave Guadalajara, we make sure we plot a route with no Cuota roads. It turns out the free highways have a few entertaining twists and curves as it leaves the city and heads up into the hills. Still need to be careful around the blind corners because of this:
In the off-season, Alonso drives an 18-wheeler through Mexico
Riding through the streets of Tequila, Neda has her eyes set on the prize straight ahead - CuervoLand! Or Mundo Cuervo in Spanish.
The Tourism Board has really pulled out all the stops, and when we arrive into the city centre, we're greeted by music and a troupe of dancers dressed in indigenous costumes performing ritualistic dances.
Performer dressed in Aztec costume
Depicting an Aztec ritualistic dance
The captain of the dance crew calls it: "Una vez mas!"
Bells and bubbles
Tourism machine is even putting the kids to work
Tequila is made from the blue agave plant, which is found here in abundance, because of the fertile red volcanic soil in the region. However, the distilled liquor can only be rightly called "Tequila" if it is brewed only in this town. Throughout the city, there are several pieces of art, paintings and statues dedicated to the process of making Tequila and the farming of the agave plant.
Hector and Manuel's latest practical joke on Juan may have gone a little too far this time...
The Mariachi - an ever-present Mexican tradition
Neda booked us on a tour of the Jose Cuervo factory, which is headquartered in town. This is quite a popular tour, and there is a special train that runs to and from Guadalajara called the "Tequila Express", that is very popular and allows people to get liquored up here without having to drive back drunk. I had no idea that Neda booked us on the Tasting Tour of Mundo Cuervo... UGH!
Disclaimer: These bikes stayed parked until we were 100% sober again
It all starts off with a little shot
More performers in Cuervo Land
To help fund this trip, I am now shooting magazine ads for Jose Cuervo
Our assigned tour guide describes the process involved in creating Tequila, all the way from harvesting the agave plant, baking it, sticking it in huge steel vats, then into wooden barrels and finally pouring it down people's throats. Neda was only interested in the last step, so we really didn't pay a lot of attention to those in-between steps...
Agave plants. Cuervo is Spanish for "Crow".
Our tour guide looked exactly like Dani Pedrosa. Except he was normal-sized and knew a heck of a lot about tequila. After the "basic" tour had ended, because Neda had booked us on the extended "Tasting Tour", we were led to the basement of Mundo Cuervo, into the special secret cellar where 250-year old, 30,000 peso bottles of Tequila were being stockpiled for the next Baktun.
We were offered a taste of Jose Cuervo Reserva de la Familia, $150/bottle, only sold in Mexico
By now, we were more than a couple of shots into the tour and I was dreading the impending after-effects. I was assured by our tour guide that the infamous Tequila Hangover is caused by other sugars added to the tequila and that the 100% Agave alcohol with no added sugars shouldn't cause any ill-effects. OhReeeeeaally...?
Tequila tasting class? Or Cascade commercial?
After the secret cellar tour, we were taken upstairs to the tasting room where we were given three tequilas, blanco, annilo and geez, I can't remember... the rest is kind of hazy... I think at one point, I put our guide in a headlock and then I gave him a little noogie while screaming, "Who's your daddy, Dani! That's right, Jorge's your daddy!", then we were kicked out of the tasting room...
So after the Tasting Room debacle, this was the only tequila offered to us. Here, Neda is a bit more sober than I am...
We spent the rest of the evening sobering up while munching on cheap tacos in an eatery just outside of the main plaza. I was not feeling too good. One of the folks in our tour group recommended that we take the Cuota road back home because there were a lot of drunk people driving on the way back to Guadalajara. So we dished out the pesos begrudgingly, even though it did thankfully get us back to our hotel much quicker.
I crawled into bed with a really bad tequila headache that didn't go away when the sun rose the next day.
Oh god, never again! (damn you dani pedrosa)