Wednesday, November 27, 2019

They Sell Tequila in Tequila, Mexico

We got a good night's sleep at our free Houston Hilton hotel after yesterday's police debacle, and we were ready for try #2 at getting to our destination: Tequila, Mexico.

Me rockin that free hotel newspaper.

There were a couple of brightsides involved in flying out of Houston during the day time. One such plus was that the lounges were open. We popped into the KLM Crown Lounge to do some damage to their food and drink.

Nine AM, smine AM. Had myself a brew. I'm on vacation, dammit!

I went for a Saint Arnold Original Amber Ale made right here in Houston, Texas:

"As Bishop of Metz, Saint Arnold spent his life warning of the dangers of drinking water and extolling the virtues of beer. During his funeral, his pallbearers stopped to quench their thirst, but they only had one mug to share among them. Then a miracle happened. The mug never ran dry, and all mourners were satisfied."

On Lydia's second heroic journey to get us replacement hotel vouchers, United gave us another set of meal vouchers. Rather than spend mine on some sub-par airport food I headed to a Houston themed gift shop and purchases some treasures: a NASA shot glass and some astronaut freeze dried ice cream. You know, to honor America's space heroes.

I usually look down upon the large American air carriers. I think they are really stingy and full of a bunch of basic nonsense: trying to sell me an $8 half Pringles can sort of crap. Stroopwafels though are a legit Dutch treat and having them as the complimentary onboard snack is both classy and free. Good work temporarily not sucking, United Airlines. They even recommend warming the thing up on top of your coffee cup. That's like friggin plane baking!

When we landed in Guadalajara, Mexico I was instantly hit by overwhelming culture shock. What sort of toppings come on a Mexican Burger King's Crispy King sandwich? Is this 2 por $79 a good deal? What is the local exchange rate? Luckily we found an Uber driver before my foreign country panic attack began.

Seeing billboards in Mexico about being welcome in America kind of made me sad. We aren't exactly at our most welcoming stage in history.

My fellow travelers probably thought I was getting car sick, but no. It was the culture shock again. How many pieces come in a KFC Bucket Navideño? Is there an up-charge for all white meat? And what sort of monster puts Nutella inside their biscuits when it's clearly meant to be a savory side? Maybe a little drizzle of honey but that's it and that's only after you spread the butter. I wound the Uber window down a little in case this became an emergency.

I could tell we were headed in the right direction when I saw all of the tasty blue agave growing by the side of the road.

This poor man had nowhere to run while I practiced my broken Spanish on him.

Things started to get more and more tequila-y the closer we got.

I'd like to take one of these agaves home with me as an honored pet.

There was plenty of blue agave/tequila art in the little towns we drove through as well.

At some point during my inept Spanish mumblings I believe that our driver indicated that he would like to take us to a roadside tequila cocktail place. I must have replied in the affirmative because that's what happened. Mind you, our driver wasn't a tour guide or anyone that we had booked ahead of time, he was just a plain ol Uber driver who decided to take time out of his day to visit a roadside attraction that he thought his carload of language butchers would enjoy. I thought that was really cool.

Cantaritos El Güero in Amatitán, Jalisco

So part of the deal here is you buy a drink and it comes in a clay mug sort of thing that you can keep afterward. I was transfixed by the sight of the workers throwing giant ones from the truck ot the store house.

There was a lot of fruit squeezing going on.

There was a lot of cheeseball portraits of ourselves happening on this trip. Partially because we are a bunch of cheeseballs and partially because my new phone was taking some pretty baller pictures. 

I got excited when I saw this sign for the Feria Nacional del Tequila. I feel like on these trips I frequently become aware of festivals and other fun events that are either at a different date or a different place.. but this time we were right on the money! See ya there, Tequila.

I liked the town of Tequila a lot. It was nice cute little town and so was pretty non-threatening but there was also a lot to see and do. While it was clearly a touristy place I would soon discover that it was really geared toward domestic tourism. That was good because I think that kept the experiences here more authentic as well as kept the prices low.

Forbes: "The tequila producing zone in Mexico consists of the state of Jalisco plus specific, delineated areas in the states of Nayarit, Michoacán, Guanajuato and Tamaulipas. From a practical standpoint, more than 90% of Mexican tequila production occurs within a 50-mile radius of the town of Tequila in the Jalisco state. Roughly two-thirds of Mexico’s tequila distilleries are located within 20 miles of the town of Tequila."

I think this really summed up the place: nice old cathedral and a bus shaped like a tequila barrel.

The Hotel Solar de las Ánimas was a nice airy spot opened in 2019 by Jose Cuervo.

There was a welcome drink. I think I'm going to like this place.

Some art in the room that I liked.

There were some beers in the mini fridge that I decided were also going to be welcome drinks. I think there must have been a mistranslation somewhere... mini fridge beers don't have to also be mini...

There was a great view from the room. 

There was a little street with these awesome papel picado hanging overhead. I liked them a lot and may have gone a little overboard with the pictures there... I regret nothing.

Cuervo means raven in Spanish. You can see a bunch of raven statues on the right side of the wall there.

I was amused by all of the different agave art everywhere. Agave gates.

Agave drain covers. I've got a fever, and the only cure is agave.

The tourist signs in Tequila were everywhere and were on point.

"The oldest tequila distillery still working

XVIII-XXI Centuries

The history of Casa Cuervo goes back to 1686 when Juan Montaño, grandfather of Lucia Montaño de Cuervo bought some land in the village of Tequila where they had a 'trapiche' to produce vino mezcal. In 1738 José Antonio de Cuervo married Lucia Montaño and they move to the village of Tequila and work on the production of the drink. Due his hard work, vision, and relations, in little time he increased his properties and it is in 1758, when King Ferdinand VI gave to José Antonio de Cuervo, official possession of terrains in Tequila, then part of the New Galacia territory, to grow agave to produce mezcal wine. Eventually he with his sons Jose Prudencio de Cuervo y Montaño and José Maria Guadalupe de Cuervo y Montaño will create the company that, up to the present, continues working and growing, making it the oldest tequila distillery still at work.

In 1795, Jose Maria Guadalupe Cuervo y Montaño receives the very first royal permit to legally produce and merchandise the mezcal wine abroad the New Galicia territory; this is the formal beginning of Casa Cuervo.

In 1815 Jose Vicente Albino Rojas y Jimenez Montaño settle La Rojeña in the land and factory he inherited from his wife. It is located very close to the main square in the center of Tequila, where at the moment it is conserved and continues to produce the precious distillate that equal that the company has evolved over the years adapting to the trend, tastes and needs of the markets.

As part of Mundo Cuervo, La Rojeña can be visited throughout the year to get to know and experience the process of making tequila and learn about its history, its characteristics, the culture that surrounds it and of course to taste it."

I wish they'd let me proofread that sign before the posted it but there you have it.

As this point what we needed were more paper flag pictures!

There was food.

I was excited about this bus that looked like an agave plant with all the spiny leaves chopped off. In this state the plant is referred to as a "pineapple".

I went with a tamarind margarita. It was pretty great.

We went back to the hotel for some pool time and rejuvenation of the soul through the healing power of tequila cocktails.

They had tequila coladas!

The pool bar's tequila selection was no joke.

Some people back in St. Louis call me "Double Master" so I thought a sip of this one would be fitting.

They served it to me in a champagne flute!

We were out on the prowl looking for some street snacks. These churro dealers were legit so we decided to get involved.

I've decided that when this who "computers" fad finally blows over that I want to be a street churro man. I don't necessarily care if anyone even buys them. They're so delicious I'd be fine just standing and making them for myself all day.

Some people were just buying a snip of a coil and I was just like "supersize me amigo".

I tried to get a video of us trying my treat on the steps of the Church of Santiago Apostol but these ravenous she-wolves devoured the thing before I could get my phone out.

I got my hand bit just pulling out this little piece. I should have bought my own...

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