by Jessica Arent
Let’s slow it down this week while we recover from a Hurricane over Los Cabos, come to grips with the changing seasons and wrap our minds around the departure of sweet summer. The fall semester is upon us, and we return to the chaos of our schedules, managing the lives of others and ourselves in what looms ahead as the busiest time of year. I cannot yet let go of summer. I cannot give in to the cooling air, the changing aspen leaves from green to gold and amber, and the drop of temperature with the setting sun of cooler nights. The harvest moon comes upon us, more orange at the full with each passing wax and wane, and wax once more, and still I grip tightly to summer and find my grasp losing hold. So I climb deep into my mind to the most epic day of my summer. The day time stood still, and the world melted around me, and I succumb to pure unadulterated decadence.
Driving through the long thoroughfare of Guadalajara, I watched the buildings pass by me, noticing the people on the streets carrying on with their business, and conversations with one another. The tall professional buildings of Downtown Guadalajara, one after the next speeding by, all the while the excited group in the minivan carried on their various conversations. I was lost in deep thought, and in my own world, catching bits and pieces of this gossip or that idea.
Just as I began to doze in the warm sunshine of my seat, the city gave way to a country I have only seen the likes of in one other place; my home. The Central Valley of California. I had to stop and take a breath and return to reality that I was still in fact, in Mexico and this was all too familiar climate and terrain, and suddenly I felt overwhelmed with a feeling of being home. All around me rolling hills with rich soil erupted as far as the horizon could go. Each hill perfectly rowed, some with grapes, others avocados and most agave field after agave field. No, we never did grow agave in the Central Valley but I assure you the vibrant soil and the air were undeniably home! This was Jalisco, Mexico and this was the root of all tequila. If it wasn’t an Agave from this soil, it wasn’t tequila. That is all.
As we climbed out of the state of Jalisco and headed East, we passed into Colima, and it was here I had to do a double take! The soil became darker and the hills higher. The sky grew dark with big thick rolling thunderheads, and the rain began to come down, releasing a scent in the air that was so rich, you couldn’t help but want to taste it, and breathe it in through your mouth. I rolled down my window, put out my hand and let the fat warm drops land on my outstretched palm.
As we came around a turn I saw a sign that made me smile from ear to ear. Driscoll’s Strawberries!! In the heart of the central Valley of California, lies Watsonville, California. Home to innumerable Mexican migrant field workers, Driscoll’s also calls their headquarters home in Watsonville, California. This was certainly a taste of home! The fields stretched for what seemed like miles, over the rolling hills, and the smell of the ripening raspberries and strawberries, mixed with the dark rich aromatic soil and the rain seemed like a ride through heaven as we climbed, up and up and up further into the state of Colima and toward our destination. Bliss hardly described the sense of peace that came over me, as I closed my eyes with the swaying of the car, as we drove switchback to switchback and climbed higher and higher, gently rocking me to sleep…
Good thing I neither snore nor drool! Not long later, I opened my eyes just as we passed through a grove of evergreens and a red brick retaining wall. The sign on the wall painted with loving artisan hands, and cast to clay simply stated “San Bernardo”.
San Bernardo can only be described in one word. “Heaven”. I am convinced that if Heaven exists and it is created of the image of my mind and desires, it IS the San Bernardo.
A Hacienda style boutique hotel and spa, the San Bernardo sits in a valley of God’s green thumb. Abundant with diverse foliage, the valley that spans out and around the San Bernardo, is without a doubt the most tranquil, relaxing place that time ever stood still to tell.
There are only 7 “Habitaciones” (Guest Rooms) on the property. All are confined to one side of the three story hacienda for absolute solitude and privacy. The private suites are adorned with fresh white luxury European linens, rustic rich dark wood four poster king beds and adjacent sitting rooms and bathrooms each with their own breathtaking view of the property and yet each so private, you would never know you had a neighbor. Within the courtyard of the Habitaciones are hammocks for siesta’s and to enjoy the natural breezeway the open architecture plan produces.
The Hacienda of San Bernardo is built with artistic archways, deep rich wood trim and doors, and handmade materials that are both useful and seamlessly integrated into the architecture and over all design concepts of the hacienda.
Down the Mexican paver tile stairs (Okay I had to make a point about the tiles; I have been angling to have my own floors redone in these for years!), lies the indoor/outdoor open air dining room for guests. Tables are set in anticipation of the guests desire at all times of the day, and the service staff is assigned similar to that of a butler service. Your server is exclusive to your table and your needs.
Known throughout the region for the properties of the Farm-to-Table methodology sweeping the epicurious globally, San Bernardo offered up an incredible culinary journey, evidenced by the tables I passed whiling away the afternoon over deep red rich wines and the kitchen’s specialties.
We were led through the dining room to the back patio, and down a set of stairs through the garden. Ducks waddled everywhere, much to my joy and the hummingbirds buzzed everywhere the butterflies were in the wild flower beds.
Tucked behind the main hacienda, is a smaller building that appears very nondescript on the outside. Once you pass through the heavy oak door, the world goes absolutely silent, and you find yourself standing in a room that lifts your senses as you deeply inhale lavender and the soft scent of eucalyptus. Contrary to what you might think, neither scent is overpowering and both are said to be instantly healing.
Out of nowhere a woman appeared, and whispered “welcome” to us as she motioned us to follow her to a changing room. There plush white robes waited for us to change into. She instructed us to undress and put on the robes and she would be waiting to show us to our rooms when we came out.
We each entered our respective room where another small quiet woman waited. Whispering as she closed the door behind me, she instructed me to lie down. It was here I met my angel in this heaven called San Bernardo. I usually don’t like massages. While I am not sure why I have never found a masseuse I liked, this experience could only be described as Epic. Quiet, with nothing but the sound of the thunderheads rolling overhead, and the rain pelting the roof, I let the world go, and closed my eyes and submit myself to the able hands of this masseuse. For the next 90 minutes everything in the world went away. Lost in an abyss of nothing but space and the time that seemed to stand still I let her take the tension from my shoulder blades and carry it all the way out down my arm and through my hand and out my fingertips. She pulled the weight of the world from the small of my back down my thighs, through my calves and out through the bottoms of my feet, all the while lost in this utopia of nothingness. Not a care, not a worry and without intrusion. There was no cell phone. No phone calls. No email alerts, no social media notifications. No one asking me for anything. No one waiting for me. No place else to be in this moment, but exactly where I was. Putty in the magic hands of the most amazing angel-masseuse in my heaven called San Bernardo.
In what seemed like a moment later, she quietly whispered in my ear “just relax here until you are ready. Please get up carefully and sit for a moment. When you are ready come out to the pool area, where I will have tea waiting for you”…. You don’t have to ask me twice!!
I seemed to float up off that table. I think I literally floated out to the pool as instructed, where I sat down in a recliner facing the pool and therapy hot tub, and the glass wall beyond that opened the expansive view of the property and valley. Quietly I sat here and watched the Eagles soar above the rolling green hills and the ducks waddle about. Hummingbirds buzzed feeders that hung from hooks outside the glass wall of windows. I sipped tea and reflected on the beauty that lay before me, thankful for this moment and feeling blessed. I sat here and weighed in on my life and quietly said a word of two of gratitude to the universe for the incredible beauty I was fortunate enough to witness in this moment.
Soon the angel returned to tell me my lunch was ready in the dining room and quietly encouraged me to get dressed and join the others. Although I frowned at the idea, she assured me I would not be sorry. Reluctantly I dressed and went out to join the others, already missing my angel and working out a plan to return in the not so distant future.
Sitting down to lunch the table was all a buzz of conversation. The waiter alight to fill fresh water glasses and setting up the first serving plates, began to tell us of the upcoming menu and all conversation seemed to come to an abrupt halt. If there is one thing besides tequila that can shut up this crowd, it’s food. Fresh Ceviche in compote’ cups atop fresh guacamole. Mango Salsa set upon fresh tortillas chips served warm. The main course, fresh Duck (????) sobrosas served in fresh corn tortillas with lime, crema and three chili sauces from which to choose. The duck thing perplexed me, I have to be honest, and yes, I turned around in my chair to look out at the waddlers on the lawn quacking away, while the table all turned to laugh at me. I am a California girl, we have bleeding hearts and hug trees. We also save Ducks whenever possible but let’s face it, the ones’ on my plate were beyond saving anyway and tasted AMAZING!!!
Lunch concluded with a warm chocolate confection that literally exploded rich semi-sweet Mexican chocolate with a light jalapeno after note, served with fresh star fruit that refreshed the pallet on the backside of the bite when had together. I am telling you, this was without a doubt the closest thing to Xanadu imaginable! I did not want to leave, and when the time came to say “good bye” I did so with a heavy heart and enormous pout. What?! I don’t play poker for a reason!!
Even in the summer storms, there is magic in Mexico. The smell of the soil, the smiles of the people, the culture that speaks to life in balance. A time for all things, and when the time comes to take care of you, there is no guilt. Mexico loves her siestas. She loves her time in quiet and solitude. She cares about her environment and she takes the time to stop and thank God for the abundant blessings of the Universe, Mother Nature, and God.
Here summer seemed everlasting. Here summer seemed to settle in and time stood absolutely still for a day. Here summer was rich and abundant in the soil, in the scents of the air, in the warm rain that washed us over and the thunderheads that gave Mother Nature’s music to the canvas that was San Bernardo.
It is to this moment of this past summer that I grip tightly, rebelling against the changing season and impending harvest. I hold to that solitude and peace found in the little heaven of San Bernardo. While fall whips at the tree outside my window and the harvest moon glows bright in orange and deep yellow hues, I think of the bright summer moon that illuminated the valley and glowed and shimmered against the little lake.
I will forever be a summer girl. This year when fall gives way to winter, and the snow begins to descend on my Colorado Mountains, I will sit in my chair in front of the fire, close my eyes and return to my newfound piece of heaven. I will hold on to it, every nuance, every moment, and every breath until the next summer day I am able to return to this magical place where time stands still and the whole world goes away.
Jessica Arent has spent her career steeped in the Hispanic culture. Passionate about the Latin culture and experiencing roles that have taken her from television to digital marketing throughout the United States and Mexico, Jessica’s passion for Mexico runs in her blood. An accomplished writer, Mexico is where her heart lives and is the focus of her work and writing. Specializing in marketing Hispanic based products and services, Jessica will tell you there are few people in the world or places she has traveled, from Asia to Europe and in between, who compare to the Mexican culture. Building websites such as ALL ABOUT MEXICO and fostering the marketing endeavors of a number of tequila products, to name a few, Jessica sets out to inspire the world around her, one person, one relationship at a time, to know and understand the culture she calls home. Jessica is a partner at Intermountain Media, LLC, the Communications and Media Director of Terra Energy Resources Corp, and shares other travel and tequila adventures on her blog, Jessica’s Mexico.