Tequila, Jalisco, Mexico

Tequila…What a recognizable name. I can think of no other place name that is so directly associated with an alcoholic beverage. It reminds me of college days and a night out that included shots of tequila, the bad hangover that followed, and a subsequent aversion to this drink…as perhaps are many other people who hear this name. The ride in from the west coast was incredibly beautiful. And I’m really excited to see this beautiful small town, another of the Pueblo Magico communities.
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The town rests in a valley between a volcano and its low hills and caldera on the south, and a ridgeline of mountains and mesas to the north. The heart of the city, as is true in most Mexican towns, is based around the central plaza and the main cathedral. There is a wedding going on in the church and a flower-covered car awaits the newlyweds out front.
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The streets are small and cobblestoned. Lined with small shops, hotels, cafes and souvenir stores. And the souvenir of choice here must be tequila, as there are dozens of shops selling all the local brands.
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At the southwest corner of town the Atizcua River runs through a small channel. Some of it was diverted more than a hundred years ago to create a laundry area for the women of the community. Women of all classes would bring their families laundry here to wash it on one of the 83 washing basins. The women who could afford to pay for the choicest station were given the ones at the end closest to the incoming water flow, so it was fresh and clear. Those who couldn’t pay as much or pay at all were given a station at the lower end of the lavaderos (laundries).
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Most of the river water was directed toward the towns tequilerias and distilleries, built from bricks and adobe, and these are just across the road. The old tequila factories have long since been replaced by modern buildings.
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Many of the local tequilerias offer tours. I choose to visit one a few miles away in the next town, Amatitan. On the way there I see the Sunday afternoon bullfight is on at the local Casa de Toros. It looks packed from the glimpse I catch through an open door. Such a historical part of this culture and I respect that, but it’s not something I will ever appreciate.
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I recognize a lot of the brands here from bar shelves of the hotels I have managed over the years, and I enjoy seeing the land where these family names come from. I see the House of Sauza on the hill above town. It still belongs to the family although the factory has been sold to a Japanese company.
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Jose Cuervo built Cuervo Mundo (Cuervo World) about 10 years ago and the estate fills several city blocks with beautiful showrooms, meeting rooms, courtyards and more. The distllery and bottling plant are here too and you can enjoy Jose Cuervo Margaritas in this hacienda recreation. Jose Cuervo even operates a train, the Jose Cuervo Express from Guadalajara, the second largest city in Mexico just 45 miles away, to Tequila and back again in later that night.
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There is a festival going on for the next 3 days, and I’m not sure but I think it celebrates a local priest. There are fireworks at 10pm and craft booths, food stalls and families. Fireworks go off at 6am each morning too, which at first startles me awake and scares me to bits thinking I had heard a gunshot. I’m sure it’s a fun way to wake up when you know what it is, lol. I’m just glad I don’t have a hangover.

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