Tuesday, April 03, 2007

The Best for Last!

Any old Mescal aficionado would know what was meant by "Down to the Worm". For those of you new to the term, the worm that denotes real Mezcal (similar to Tequila) is in the bottom of each bottle. So when you are down to the worm, you’re almost done. Well our time here in Mexico is almost done, as well. We will be home the first week of April, just in time go get ready for our Opening on the 15th. This has been a wonderful three months and we hope that by sharing our photos, you have been able to enjoy our experiences as well and serve as an incentive to go beyond "the borders" yourself. Following will be a most wonderful tour of the Jose Cuervo Tequila Factory and then on to a "Mixed Medley of Mexican Magic."

But first, a word from our sponsor!

Found in every grocery store in Mexico, this little blue bottle is your assurance of good health and peace of mind, knowing that if you drink five drops of this stuff in a glass of water every day, you will not get the “Touristas” or Montezuma's Revenge or what is commonly known as the Runs. This magic element is Colloidal Silver. It is sold here as a water purifier and for washing vegetables. Want to know more about this magic potent. Just Goggle in Colloidal Silver and enhance your life. Since we have been here and using this on a daily bases, it has enabled us to taste the true flavors of Mexico. Some of the best food comes from the street vendors, home made ice cream, shaved ice, tacos of every description. Not once in three months have we encountered a problem that this magic little blue bottle could not cure.

...And now back to our program...

One hour West of Guadalajara is the actual town of Tequila. It is here where all the major production of Tequila takes place and Home of Jose Cuervo, the first distributor in Mexico. The best words that describe the Tour are, Elegant, Old Tradition, Classic, Precious and very informative. Now throw in an abundant, frequent tasting of their product and there you have it, Tequila, a true taste of Mexico.

The story of Tequila starts with the Blue Agave cactus, pictured here. It is harvested at around 7 years. As you approach the town of Tequila, the entire area is planted with this Blue Agave as far as the eye can see.

The hearts or Roots are harvested in the field where the long sharp "leaves" are removed with an ice spud like tool, then transported to the factory where they are split up into smaller pieces and fed into the giant ovens, where the water is cooked out of them.

From the ovens they are rolled on to this conveyor where the go in to a press, where the reaming sugars are pressed out and pumped in to the huge fermentors.

Here, special yeast is introduced and the fermentation process of converting these sugars to alcohol is performed. The next step is the actual distillation process where even more water is removed and the alcohol content is increased to around 38% or 80 proof.

From the distillers, it is transferred to these white oak barrels and vats where it will be aged and mellowed for up to three years. At that point is bottled and served for your enjoyment.

Now the Best Part. We were then ushered into these cavernous cellars where the actual ageing process takes place. It was here that we were offered "the good stuff" and served a variety of Tequila and were able to distinguish the various flavors obtained through the ageing process. Wait! there was more! From here we went up stairs for more tasting where we also enjoyed Jose's one variety of marguerites. Wow, the pleasant buzz was on.

A final drink and a little chat with Jose, on our way out and we were all ready for a refreshing meal, to take the edge off.

Right next door was the Famous Chalula Restaurant where we enjoyed a wonderful meal, more tequila and of coarse liberal amounts of Chalula Hot Sauce.

Through out the town, there were countless little shops offering what else but Tequila! and an amazing assortment of these reasonably priced, beautiful Oak Wood Barrels. Now how in hell am I going to get that big barrel home.

Lenten season is the season for Fish. The plentiful meat shops don't even bother to open on Fridays and make-do fish markets are plentiful. This makeshift mobile fish market offers the catch of the day. Most are sold out by noon so it is "the early worm that catches the fish."

I purchased this colorful dress in Mexico some 30 years ago and Barb still wears it with style and grace. What a woman.

This is the ocean side of the condo where we stayed for a couple of nights. Definitely not my style but the price was right.

The court yard of the condo. Just happened to catch this tanker in the right view.

Definitely the most comfortable bus that I have ever riden. The seats come to a near horizontal position, air-conditioning, a movie and a snack. Sure beats the hell out of the chicken buses that we have endured in the past.

This group of happy children and mothers were enjoying some kind of a card game right here on the street. They were all most eager to have their photo taken. Just another example of the friendly atmosphere that we found here in Chapala Mexico.

Sunrise on the Lake. Personally we prefer sunset on the water with Cocktails, but here it is sunset on the mountains so we have to be satisfied with a "Tequila Sunrise"

While taking a trip around the Lake we came to this little fishing village. The ladys that do all the filleting throw the fish carcasses in the water to these eager awaiting White Pelicans. These birds are huge with up to a 9 and one half foot wing span. Expert fliers, they migrate way up to parts of Northern US and Canada to do their nesting
This Pyramid shaped mountain is on the edge of our town and can be seen for miles around. It has been calling to us since we got here and we finally figured that after walking for one hour every morning for three months, we were in good enough shape to do it. Look closely and you can see a large white cross at the top.The climb up, which included many rest stops, was the easy part and the view was worth every step.

The little cross at the top turned out to be way bigger that we had thought. I can't imagine carrying all the concrete and sand up this mountain that was required to build this sizeable monument.

This cross which faces the West can be seen for miles.

This view to the West gives you some idea of the height that we are at. No more exercise needed today. I mentioned that coming up was the easy part. Going down was a bitch, very dangerous and hard on the old knees and ankles. Was very glad to get down with out injuries and retire on a park bench with several ice cold beers before moving on.

Just loved this shot of Barb on the way down the mountain. The vibrant red of these Bougainvilleas was certainly captivating.

Sunday Morning and time for Chicharonies. After butchering a pig they save all the skin and internal organs and boil them up in this big caldron full of the fat. This is considered a treat and they are usually sold out by noon.

Myth solved: at home we have the orange and black Wooly Bear Caterpillars. The stories differ as to how to predict the winter depending on how much black or orange on him. Well we came across these plentiful all black Woolies Bears and the temperature has not been below 65 degrees. So I guess that an all black woolies Bear means no winter. Bring on the Black Woollies ;-)

Another wonderful, fulfilling Mexican meal for two, with four beers $12.50 US. In the US it is impossible for a couple drawing Social Security to live on that alone. On this trip, we have proven that we can live "High on the Hog" and enjoy a lot of activities, and many restaurant meals as these blogs can depict, for $1,200 a month which is our SSI money. No wonder that there is such a large Ex-pat community here. It is quite sad that as great as the US is, we can't afford to retire in our own community that we spent our entire working lives in. They are predicting that this Ex-pat community here will double in the next three years and it is easy to see why.

These "street weavers" are a true tribute to patients and endurance. I can never look at their work again with out the image of them setting on the ground, for days at a time just to complete one of their rugs, shawls or wall hangings.

Now just how can we get one of these cute little horses home to our Grand Children?

Watching this old timer slowly make his way down the street, makes you hurt all over knowing the pain that he is enduring but he always greets us with a big smile and warm greeting.

This Old Gal came by our table looking for a hand out. I offered her one of our extra beers (we order them four at a time). She eagerly accepted and slugged it down in three gulps, before going on her way.

Editor's note:
As I was putting this last post together Bill called me to say he was back at the Holler and it was a balmy 44 degrees. So this adventure is over, but there are more to come. I enjoyed coming along for the ride. Pollywogg holler will be open for business as usual starting on Sunday, April 15th with brick oven pizza, live music and the best companions. Welcome back Bill & Barb! I hope you brought some spring weather with you!--CMC

Saturday, March 17, 2007

We are at the
Pacific Ocean, for a few days at a little beach town
by the name of Melaque, on the
Bay of Navidad, about one half hour North of

This Restaurant on this rock captured my attention from my first foot step on the beach. It made the whole, white knuckle, 8 hours drive of the worst, hair pin turn, mountain road, that I have ever drove on, worth
it. The restaurant is now vacant and begging for some one to pick up the lease. Anyone interested? I will show you the way and be all over it. Location location location. PS there is a modern, shorter road to get here
but you know me, I love a challenge.

This Colorful Native from the Highest peaks of Mexico, (over two miles above sea level), was selling a salve made from Peyote. He said that it was excellent for arthritis, and sore muscles. Who cares, it was made from
Peyote and I just had to get some. Used it the first night and don't remember having any more pain the rest of our stay.

We arrived at the beach on a Wednesday, a slow time as compared to the
weekend. Naturally the Beach Venders flocked to us, even standing in line at
times. We loved them to and had fun snapping their pictures and haggling
over prices, which they prefer. With in a short time they all referred to me
as Santa Clause.

Here is proof that Bill and Barb actually made it to the beach. As we were doing our morning walk, a woman ran out to us, with a camera in hand and asked if she could get a picture of Santa on Vacation, to send to her grandchildren. Of coarse we complied and had a great laugh. We are quite used to having little smiling children, staring and calling out Santa Clause. Recently, while walking down the street, a little toddler, left his mother's side and came running to me with out stretched arms. He was too young to talk but words were not necessary.

This couple were doing some serious fishing with no results. Perhaps that
should have been taking some lessons from the flocks of diving Pelicans and
seagulls that kept us entertained with their Arial agility and proficiency
at catching fish after fish.

Always on the lookout for new ways of eating our favorite fruit, Mangos,
This mango on a stick, was not only easy to eat but even more delicious than
it looked. Attractive, easy to eat, delicious, and all natural, how do you
beat it for 70 cents

A comfortable spot, great view, soft genteel breeze and a hollowed out Pineapple, complete with Tequila, pineapple juice and orange wedges, Three dollars each, I'll have another one, por favor. Couple this with a nice a nice room, kitchenette and pool, right on the beach for $350 per day, Oh, that is pesos at 11 per dollar or 100 pesos equal $9 , Ah, you do the math, I am on vacation and I know that it is a deal.

Crowed Beach, Ah, I don't think so. As near as I can figure this crescent beach is four miles long. We attempted to walk the whole thing but gave up at what we thought to be half way. There is something about walking bare footed in the sand, that make your feet and leg mussels really work. Now where did I put that Peyote Save?

Our favorite Beach Bar. Any questions so far. Dollar fifty beers, 3 dollar Coco Locos and we never seen over eight people at once. You can find me here most of the time. It sure is easy to figure out where Jimmy Bufett was coming from, with "wasting away again, in Margarita Ville"

Some where, between where we live, at a mile above sea level and the coast, we came across these three great conical structures. Our curiosity got the best of us and they demanded a closer inspection. These three massive, identical structures with six foot solid stone walls were a
complete mystery until a local came along and explained that they were built fifty years ago for the storage of corn. I could not even imagine how one would go about building something like this and why all the effort just for corn storage. I think that there is a lot more to this story and has to involve space travel. We seen several more before getting out of the
mountains but these were the most spectacular.

We had heard of this little town where they made these world famous knives, perhaps you have heard of them Ojeda from Sayula Mexico. This little open air manufacturing shop was a fury of activity. We talked with the proud owner who explained that they had been making knives right there for 13 Generations. The variety and workmanship was impeccable, with each one hand made. No mass production here.

For a true picture of their products go to their web site. WWW.CUCHILLOSOJEDA.COM I purchased one "Minnie chef" style knife. It has an attractive coco bolo handle and a mirror finished steel blade that you can actually shave with. Personally, I avoid shaving, (especially with butcher knives), in case you haven't noticed.

Meanwhile back at the beach! These pelicans seem to be resting after a furious feeding spell, much like the anchored shrimp boats, seeking shelter from the rolling seas. This peaceful harbor seems to provide a wonderful resting spot for us wary travelers as well.

A shot of anything from this bulls horn and served with a wonderful smile, is sure to put anyone at ease.

A sun rise walk through the warm sand as the lazy waves gently nudge the shore, is certain to set the mood for, yet, another perfect day. And yes, Margaritas are a perfectly acceptable morning beverage.

If you look closely, the mast of the third sail boat from the right is touching the Restaurant on the Rock. A new thatched roof and couple of neon palm trees, and it could be seen the entire length of this four mile beach. Come on, I will need some backing on this one.

Pineapple drinks or Mangos on sticks, take your picks. You know my choice,
both, only one at a time. Yeaaaaaa

Not sure wether you can read this typical menu or not, but it goes like this. Most breakfast items $28 pesos, That's $2.80 aprox. US. The most expensive thing on the menu is $60 pesos, again that is aprox $6 US Dollars, actually $5.40 US. Now for the important part. Beer, Many at $14 pesos and wouldn't you know it, my favorite Negro Modula is $15 pesos, that is aprox $1.50 each, Bring em on, two at a time with lemon and salt and served with a warm smile..Yeaaaaa, Life is a Beach.

Back in Chapala now, these Mexicans sure have a since of humor, I could not believe my eyes as I read this sign over the exit. The food and service was excellent and I am not quite sure how to take the sign. I could use some help with this one.

I have held the well founded belief for years, that Carp tasted muddy. It is often served here and so I thought that I would try one. Wow, have I been wrong all these years. May be the Carp back home taste muddy but downhere it is the best tasting fish that I have ever had and now on top of my favorite fish menu. How about the old stone that the Salsa is served from,
sure has charm.

I find that many signs are very necessary, But this one, I don't think Sooo.
Just a beautiful entrance way and another fine example of Spanish architecture.

Flowers Flowers Every where. Notice how the Beauty of these flowers even overshadow the beauty of Barb, I never thought it posible, must be the angle of the sun. ;-)

With such a beautiful person, both as a life companion and traveling mate, how can one not have a wonderful relaxing time, be it on the beach or in the mountains. This year on May 19th we will celebrate our 45 years of matrimonial bliss together. Life has sure been good to me. Perhaps we will have a gathering to celebrate and if you are reading this , Consider this as an invitation.