Thursday, July 28, 2011

Road Babe Dispatch From Jalisco Mexico

After a gut-wrenching ride from San Miguel to Guanajuato, we entered Jalisco, the Mexican state where the town of Tequila hides alongside the posh metropolis of Guadalajara. We spied a midget cowboy on a full-size horse. The bluish hue of the textured landscape wasn't a reflection of the heavy grey clouds hanging over me. It was the first of many Blue Agave Tequiliana Weber fields. This is the bewitched crop responsible for an intoxicating beverage that causes unsuspecting drinkers to break things they have little or no recollection of ever coming in contact with.

Driving along La Ruta de Tequila, I gazed at little Oak trees covering the distant purple mountains, forested land, cattle haciendas, avocado farms, Bougainvillea vines, then terraced hills of Agave enclosed in foot-high loose stone walls and separated by delicate green grass. Full-size Mexican men rode by on horseback and Tequila barrels lined every street. I passed an above ground cemetery in pastel colors (where Herradura distills their tequila) framed by dormant green volcanoes in the distance. The town's name comes from the Nahuatl language and means place of tribute. Drunken tribute that is.

In four-wheel drive, the distiller and I zoomed over the winding mountain trails till we reached the cloud line, overlooking a gorge and reservoir below. Though I'd passed Agave fields being harvested by tractors, the Jimadores hauling Agaves for Blue Iguana Tequila used mules with manual release baskets. Jumping down from the truck, I was greeted by the supervisor. Assuming I was less bilingual than I am, he shouted to his men in fast slang, “Look good assholes. You're being filmed.”

They paused to stare at me. One Jimador yelled back, “But I'm ugly. What do I do?” I exploded in laughter, so afterwards they were careful what they said with me in earshot.

The town of Tequila was hopping, which was the exact opposite of what I had heard about the “Pueblo Magico.” I sat at a bar drinking Coronas and writing. Not my favorite beer but tolerable. The enormous church emptied out, filling the zocalo with people eating roasted and mayonnaise-spread corn. Tequila tour buses shaped like giant liquor bottles or barrels whizzed around the four main corners like a merry-go-round.

I dropped into a Tequila museum showing a grizzlier side of the fermentation process than I knew of. Rather than use a cultivated (and we'd hope clean) yeast, they stuffed a dirty guy into the tequila mash. By bathing in it, he added the bacteria needed for making booze. All I can say is: thank the Tequila gods for modern technology.

Mittie Babette Roger is from Louisiana but lives in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. She received an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Naropa University and authored the book It's Better to Visit the Shaman Without Questions to Ask. She travels the world volunteering to help disadvantaged children and promoting Blue Iguana Tequila to empower serious drinkers.


  1. Having read the last paragraph of this tequila tale I've decided I want to be drunk the next time I imbibe.

  2. Amen. I try to be drunk every time I drink.

  3. Wow--what an unusual experience. It's not the most appealing of drinks, is it?

  4. Thankfully, they don't ferment it like that anymore. Now a cultivated yeast is used.