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Jessica’s Journey: Dreaming of Mexico

tequila tour, Dreaming of MexicoI have been reading a lot lately about a new tequila tour being offered by the Four Season’s Hotel and Resort in Punta Mita. I wrote about it in my own personal blog and while I expounded on the tour itself I did not go into detail about the beach resort and I should have. However in the days since, I have moved away in thought from Punta Mita and gone somewhere else.

As the winter begins to take over the brief period of Autumn I light the fire in my office, pull up a chair and set out my snifter of Anejo. I would tell you what I am drinking but I am not yet allowed. I can tell you its seven year aged and it is very, very smooth.

autumn, colorado, Dreaming of MexicoThe sun is setting over the Rockies to the west and casts shadows in the valley toward Kansas to the east. The aspen leaves have all turned their hues of yellows and oranges and most have shuddered their last leaves while the maple trees turn their brilliant reds and cinnamons and soon too will flutter to the ground. The air smells of pine and a new crisp, clear flavor lingers.  I dread the onset of the winter season and the bleak snow. I dread the cold that settles in and the effort it takes to get dressed and go out the front door. I hate the idea that soon the coyotes will stop baying with the moon and go quiet and the birds will emerge only for a few hours a day. I dread the barren trees and the grey sky and the abyss of white.

tulum, Dreaming of MexicoTo soothe my restless cold spirit I begin to think of warmer climates and sun and beach. I dream of places south of the border in the Gulf of Mexico where minimum dress code is enforced and my tan never fades. I begin to think of who I might visit again and which friends and family will have me this winter. And this winter, it’s decided. Cancun.

I love the diversity of the area of Cancun. While the beach resorts are great, housing phenomenal amenities and services and offering 4 through 6 star accommodations throughout the destination there are smaller, quaint ideals for this girl, and an atmosphere all together slower paced.

 

villa albatross, villa albatros, Dreaming of Mexico

 

Villa Albatros calls Cancun home. A luxurious and beautiful villa right on its own private beach and water front is the best of the best in my opinion in Cancun.

cancun-albatroz-rooms15Tastefully appointed, Villa Albatross is a hacienda style villa with a main gated door within a retaining wall, to a lush entry garden. Within the main foyer is a large seating area that welcomes guests in textiles and hues that life the senses and beg for relaxation.

This stylish and luxurious hide-away boutique experience offers waterfront rooms, with luxury linens and beautifully ornate traditional Mexican furnishings. The entire villa faces out to the cerulean water for optimum views from any bed in any room of the house. Each has a private bath and each has its own character in luxury.

What makes this particular Villa the ultimate in luxury experiences is the service. Beyond the appointments and luxurious details throughout the villa, is the standard of excellence and service that is bar none the best I have seen anywhere.

Run by a partnership Robert and Andre’ respectively come from hospitality and service backgrounds that boast credentials of the best in class, The Ritz Carlton Corporation. Having achieved the hospitality education and standard of service of a lifetime they took this standard and applied it to Villa Albatross.

albatross1Their onsite chef is a culinary artist in every facet from menu concept to pairings. The service staff is on hand and on call to cater to every need, desire or whim. The service and product is beyond exemplary and this home is available either exclusively for one large party or by “habitacion” and availability.

I have had the pleasure of introducing extraordinary tequila’s to this lovely hacienda, and I can tell you based on experience their tequila menu is extensive and well informed. However I am sure that were you to desire anything special in tequila or spirits and they didn’t have it, this team would make sure it was there and ready upon your arrival. It is a World Class Experience at Villa Albatross.

In addition to the boutique villa experience, my visits to Cancun tend to take me well out of the tourist zones and further up the coast to remote beaches full of “Palapas” and hammocks meant for lounging all afternoon.

White Sandy beaches line the coast off the Yucatan and you can drive for miles and miles and it seems you never run out of beach. One of my favorite stops is Tulum. A little bitty pit stop, blink and you miss it, kind of place, Tulum is a surfers and beach bums paradise. Condos every here and there sprinkled about are tucked behind lush palm trees and green fern. Tucked up to the beach. There they are, out of nowhere. And behind them on the beach, usually a beach hut of a bar. Operated by one guy with swings rigged for bar stools and maybe an occupancy at the bar for a total of six. The beer is ice cold, the tequila off the hook and usually the fare is the fresh catch of the day including fresh grilled sea tortoise tacos! I have eaten them. Tastes like pollo!

The whole lunch with the beer? Maybe seventy pesos. That’s an exchange of $13.00 USD to one, you do the math. For that you cannot get a Happy Meal with a side of cardiac arrest in the states! And let’s be honest, on a scale of one to ten, the health meter on that lunch is off the scale. I always tend to lose weight when in Mexico. I eat so much healthier.

This entire Yucatan region of Mexico is technically in the rain forest. The climate is very humid and the air is sometimes chewy, for lack of a better expression. While my native friends complain of the damage the climate has on their clothes and linens, as mildew grows very quickly in this climate, the benefit if you are a nature lover is the accessibility to the natural habitats of the wildlife that exists within the tropical rain forest. It is extraordinary from the size of the bugs to the fresh water bat caves called “Cenotes”. These are grottos that hold cold fresh water year round under the earth.

There are innumerable exhibition areas that offer passes to controlled parks by the tourism board offering tours of the rainforest, swimming with dolphins, cave diving, zip lining under the canopy, and hand to hand exposure to monkeys, parrots and wildlife one might not otherwise see or experience. These attractions are the pride of the state as much has been invested in the renovation and preservation of the exhibit and park.

Home of the Aztecs and the source of Cowboy pride in the Yucatan, the charreada sister city to Guadalajara is Cancun. Many descendants of the pride of the Charro’s live today in the Cancun Merida areas and ranching and horsemanship is a way of life, steeped deep in tradition and sportsmanship.

charro1This year Cancun is getting a very exciting destination addition, Hacienda Isabel.  Slated to open the first week of November, Hacienda Isabel is the labor of love of the Charreada Society of Cowboys in Cancun. Funded by one of the most notorious charro’s in all of Mexico this exhibition center will offer the glory and athleticism of the charro, including showcase the love, trust and loyalty between man and horse and the romance of the time honored traditions of the charreada.

Part of Hacienda Isabel includes a restaurant which will serve the best of the local fare and some of the ranchero or charro favorites of the region and will be sponsored exclusively by one exceptional tequila to be announced. Hacienda Isabel is centrally located in the tourist district of Cancun and easily accessed via any concierge desk to book your reservation.

“Sunsets” in Cancun is ultimately the place to spend the evening. Sitting above the harbor of Cancun and of course a backdrop of a wall of glass, I will order a wonderful tequila, from the extensive list, and sit and swill while I witness the epically beautiful sunset that paints an extraordinary picture over Cancun every night.  I will watch the boats come in and go out of the harbor, as they raise sails and cinch them. I will watch the sun glisten and reflect off the water as it sets, in the same brilliance my anejo will reflect in my Riedel snifter, and I will watch the waves rise and fall with the same impressions of the crown left cascading down the inside of my glass after I have swirled it in my hand.

sunset2There is a great deal more to Cancun than the tourist highlights of spring break. There is an entirely different side to this destination yet unknown. There are gourmet chocolate restaurants in which every single menu item either savory or sweet is made with the rich cocoa of the region. The influence being the Aztec Indians. Every menu item suggests either a wine or a tequila pairing.

There are wine bars that have wine menus that take you quite literally around the world in thousands upon thousands of bottles. There are upscale luxury shopping malls that house retailers known around the world such as Coach, Louis Vuitton and Prada. There are upscale luxury services and experiences that take your breath away and leave even the rich and famous speechless.

For myself, Cancun is home in many respects. I have family there and friends that I look forward to seeing when I visit. We catch up and spend quality time together. We enjoy one another and reminisce of times past and great experiences and we always do it over a bottle or ten of the newest favorite on my list. It is how it is done in Mexico. Everything, especially friends, goes best with a great tequila.

snowThe last product I took to Cancun had one bottle withheld to send as a gift to the Governor of the State for his birthday. He loved it so much, he ordered his own pallet to have in his cellar. That is a good day’s work when the juice is so good all it took was a sip to sell 56 cases!

The snow floats by the window in silence as it begins to quietly fall under the lamplight outside. The air much colder now than it was when I began writing this, and my snifter nearly empty. It is eerily silent and the cold creeps deep into my bones. I open Expedia and type in “Denver to Cancun”.

 
 

jessica Arent, Sauza History, tequila, jessica arent, tequila aficionado, la cofradia, jaime sauza, cuervo, distillery, wine, dobecq, brandyJessica 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.

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Jessica’s Journey – Herradura’s Perro Borachito

Herradura Distillery Tour

Herradura Herradura! You know the name. It’s everywhere. Every liquor store, bar, and restaurant that serves tequila likely serves Herradura, a brand that seems lesser known than Sauza or Jose Cuervo, but is the oldest distillery still intact and operating in Tequila, Mexico.

We pulled up to a traditional hacienda on a dirt road. The front gates opened only slightly to an interior courtyard and we saw three men in traditional charro garments, astride three chestnut mares. A boy, roughly ten years old or so, emerged from the massive wood doors with his donkey in tow.

The building was nondescript. The retaining walls surrounding the courtyard from the street are a muddied yellow from recent storms kicking up dirt into the paint. To the left of the massive oak doors was a simple sign: “Casa Herradura”.

Entering the gates into the courtyard is like walking onto a film set. Unlike to the dusty dry dirt road we arrived on, a hand laid cobblestone road lie before us, leading to another set of massive wood gates set in another retaining wall and surrounded by lush foliage and bright colors.

haciendaH1On either side of the cobblestone road were small bungalows painted blue and yellow and pink with carefully tended front gardens lining the walls to the outside world. Magnolia trees stretched up as high as I could see, full of bountiful white flowers emitting the sweetest fragrance.  Women emerged from dark shadowed doorways looking busy sweeping but more likely looking for an excuse to get a look at this group of tourists taking in the scene.

dog1From a doorway on the right came what appeared to be a small toy. Fluffy and white with a low center of gravity, with great big floppy ears and big dark eyes, this dog stole the hearts of everyone with a wag of his tail! I don’t know that I have ever seen a pet look so much like a child’s toy but what was unnerving was the energy of this puppy. He seemed so silly. He cocked his little head from side to side as we each bent down to adore his overwhelming cuteness.  All I could think was that there was something “off” with this dog of epic cuteness.

A woman’s voice broke in, pulling our focus from the dog and instructing us to gather as our tour was about to begin. “This is Herradura and this is the oldest tequila distillery in Mexico still in operation” she began.

The gates opened for us and we passed through them. I turned around to watch the gates close, taking note of the dog sitting obediently on the other side of the closing gates. Following the docent, the story of Herradura began to unfold.

The Herradura Love Story

herradura, hacienda In Mexico every story begins with a love story. There are very few exceptions. As it is with all thing’s Mexico, there is a romantic story of intrigue and perseverance, overcoming all odds in this seemingly perfect place.

This love story begins with Félix and Carmen. A lucky man at the age of 45, Félix López meets and marries the beautiful and determined eighteen year-old, Carmen Rosales. Of this great love and union came two children, Aurelio, and Maria de Jesús (Jesusita.). The union of this couple and their family legacy brought the modern production of tequila to the Hacienda and together they built a factory that remained in the family and was used until 1963.

Félix López died in 1878. He left the future of the Hacienda in the hands of his young wife. Carmen’s brother Ambrosio Rosales and his wife, Elisa Gomez Cuervo de Rosales, step in and help Carmen with Ambrosio running the estate with great success for many years. As is Mexican custom, the property was to be handed down to Félix López’s son but Ambrosio taught the business to Carmen’s son, Aurelio, as well.
Pretty normal thus far, right?

Here is where the story gets good! Aurelio, a traditionalist and fervent Catholic, eventually takes control of Hacienda San José del Refugio, and throws himself into the production of this Mexican Moonshine, the family tequila, and he gives it the name of “Herradura”.

Cristero Rebellion

herradura, hacienda The distillery was threatened by the Cristero Rebellion (La Cristiada), a bloody battle between the Catholic Church and the State of Jalisco (1926-1929). In an effort to limit the incredible political stronghold of the Catholic Church, the federal government began harassing priests, outlawed the practice of Catholicism, and banned the display of all crosses. To make an example of the offenders of these newly enacted laws, trees and posts were strung with the bodies of offenders as a clear and callous reminder of the ramifications of disobeying the new laws. Before long, priests were being hunted down and killed. Those people who stood up against the government were called “Cristeros”.

Aurelio worked tirelessly on behalf of the Cristeros. He put out a call to the workers of the Hacienda to join the fight, provided financing, and gave shelter to priests and supporters at the hacienda. Built within the walls and confines of the Hacienda were endless tunnels that wove a tapestry beneath the Hacienda and all of Amatitán. Aurelio was later recognized for his brave and courageous hospitality and blessed with the official title “El Cristero”.

herradura, hacienda, distillery, museum In 1927, the government began raids on the homes of Cristero sympathizers, and Aurelio was well aware that his life was at risk. Devising a plan to escape, he tricks the advancing federal soldiers. The Hacienda had a large store of wooden balls which were designed to crush agave. They were of little use for that, but by placing them around the perimeter walls of the hacienda, and outfitting them with hats and sticks, the advancing soldiers believed that the Hacienda was a well-fortified fortress and turned back. Aurelio and his sister made their escape through the tunnel system and into the countryside. It was later speculated that Aurelio spent three years in exile and safety at the Vatican before he came back to México. Sadly he never returned to the hacienda.

When Aurelio fled the country, he left the Hacienda in the care of his cousin, David Rosales, the son of Ambrosio. At a time when mixto tequila (tequila made with the addition of sugar) was becoming a method of cutting expenses, Don David insisted that Herradura remain 100% agave tequila, maintaining the integrity of the family tradition. In November of 1928, the brand of “Tequila Herradura” was officially registered with the government in Mexico City —with the horseshoe as the logo.

Herradura’s Renaissance

herradura, hacienda, distillery, museum The property took you through the time of the story maintaining its original architecture and layout with the exception of the newer distillery implemented by Doña Gabriela de la Peña Rosales.

Hacienda San José del Refugio attributes much to the oversight of Doña Gabriela de la Peña Rosales. Married to an heir of the hacienda and finding herself a widow not long thereafter, she was a stunning beauty, of notorious legend, and worked harder than anyone else on the Hacienda. She was up with the sun every morning to greet the workers at breakfast, looked at accounts over lunch, then headed into Guadalajara to make sales in the afternoon. It was under Doña Gabriela’s supervision that a modern distillery was built, keeping the Old Factory as a museum. She introduced Herradura añejo tequila in 1962, and introduced the world to reposado in 1974.

herradura, hacienda, distillery, museum We went on a museum tour of the original distillery within the walls of deep old adobe, passing windows on tunnels that led deep under the distillery and down, down, down into darkness. We saw the wells in which the pinas were thrown and the system used to pull the great wheels that crushed the pinas. The docent explainined that at first it was a man that pushed the massive wheel in circles hour after hour and later lead a mule or burro to pull the weight over the pinas. We saw the ovens in which the agaves were cooked to a perfect temperature and texture for fermentation and the walls of white and French oak casks for the storage of the extracted juices. We were transported back to a time when manual labor meant putting two hands in and then if necessary all of you in.

Seriously!!

casksherraDid you know that some tequila fermented faster with sweat? It is a fact.
The jimador would come in from the field and strip down to nothing. He would then climb into the vat or well with the cooked agave and as the pinas were dropped one by one into the vats, he would wrap his entire body around the core of the agave, and squeeze with all of his might until the juice extracted from the plant. Then the plant was pushed back out to be used for other purposes similar to the way we use hemp today. This was done because the yeast was activated by the acids of the body and the PH from the sweat interacted with the juice, creating a faster sugar decomposition and ultimately alcohol. Mexican Moonshine old school!

We concluded with a tasting. The docent didn’t realize she was educating the educated. With a charming smile and an enigmatic personality, she enthusiastically told us the proper way to take the sip, inhale and exhale, and taste the notes of the varietals of the Herradura flight of products.

Canine Connoisseur

dog3Coming out of the distillery into the light of day, I remember turning my face up to the sun and breathing in yet one more breathtaking moment of my beloved Mexico and her rich history. And then I was pulled back by a commotion happening in the distillery. There beneath the shiny modern vats was that dog, taunting the security guard who yelled at him for being “borracho”. The dog dodged the security guard, dipping behind and under the heavy steel machines until he fell over. Just fell over.

The security guard reached down gently and picked up the dog like a toy. As the man brought the lifeless animal up to his chest, it looked like a rag doll. The irritated security guard marched off toward the bungalows shaking his head as he cradled the dog to his chest and muttered to himself.

My face must have registered the horror I thought I had witnessed. I stood there bewildered as the man was so calm with the dog’s lifeless body in his arms. I couldn’t quite grasp the casual demeanor and irritation he exhibited when he reached down to scoop up the collapsed animal either. It seemed so surreal. That’s when the docent marched up to me with a great big smile and said “Don’t worry Senora, the puppy is just borracho”.

Seems the “silly” puppy lives in a state of tequila euphoria. His preferred station is beneath the drip leak of the distillation vats. He is a canine tequila junkie and they cannot keep him from his “habit” no matter how hard they try. The dog has grown to be adept in his search for tequila. He has mastered dodging security, sneaking under the gates, sitting under the dripping vat, and once he has had his fill, passing out cold. Obviously he has no care for moderation or sipping responsibly.

 

jessica Arent, Sauza History, tequila, jessica arent, tequila aficionado, la cofradia, jaime sauza, cuervo, distillery, wine, dobecq, brandyJessica 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.

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Jessica’s Journey: Sunday in Guadalajara

Nothing Mundane about Sunday in Guadalajara

by Jessica Arent

 

Brunch

ahos, huevos ahogadosSunday, typically the only day off for those who work in Mexico, is a day of rest and socializing. Instead of working, this was the day I got to experience some of Guadalajara.

The day began with brunch at the hotel restaurant. Guadalajara is known for “Huevos Ahogados” (drowned eggs), and everywhere you look throughout the city, there are restaurant signs boasting that each has a better recipe or version than the next.

Seeing this everywhere, and having heard all about them from my good friend and marketing director from Casa Noble Tequila, Dave Yan, I decided this was the morning I had to try them. Whenever I inquired, I was told that the flavors of the dish are subtle and simple, yet still they produce a rich and creamy result. My darling tequila enthusiasts, I am told Huevos Ahogados have mystical properties of healing “Crudo” making this breakfast dish the ultimate, if not magical, hangover cure! Honestly I just wanted to bathe in all that yummy sauce!

Hollandaise move over! It’s an easy break up. Ahogados win hands down.

Poached eggs in a light, thin salsa is the base of the dish. Served atop Mexican savory pastry, like that of a light biscuit; this dish was incredible. While I did not have a hangover, I could clearly understand how this dish could be the antidote to “crudo” (hangovers).

Teatro Degollado

With brunch concluded we head out to the center of the city; Destination the world famous Ballet Folclorico.
Held at the Teatro Degollado in the Central Plaza of Gudalajara, the theater was intended to be a monument of Guadalajara’s culture.

Inaugurated on September 1866 Teatro Degollado was said to “breathe life through its innovative beauty”. Degollado Theater was the outcome of Mexico’s 1800’s theatrical movement. There was a high demand for a great theater in Guadalajara. In response to the demand, on October 1, 1855, Antonio Perez Verdia proposed the construction of “Alarcon Theater” to the current governor of the time, Santos Degollado. By December 12 of that same year, Degollado signed the official decree to build the structure, and by March, 1856, Degollado set the first cornerstone of the building. April 1856, Jacobo Galvez was appointed to lead the initial construction of the theater. Unfortunately, due to a three year war in Mexico, and the change of government within the dispute, the completion of the project was slow. On November 12, 1861, Governor Pedro Amazon decided to change the proposed name of the project from “Alarcon Theater” to “Teatro Degollado “, after the ex-governor and general at the time of his death, Santos Degollado (killed in a battle on June 16, 1861). This change of name was not acknowledged at the time of inauguration, instead it was not until December 18, 1866, when Mexican liberal troops regained control of the plaza where the theater is located, that the name was officially recognized. See Wikipedia

I have had the opportunity to see theater around the world in some of the most beautiful venues. From London to Mexico, I can honestly say this theater might have been among the most impressive architecturally.

Teatro Degollado has been under renovation in recent years with a focus to improve the interior design. Adding paintings and giving it its current red and gold hues and colors, has been the most recent of renovations and beautification to this architectural masterpiece.

Before the theater’s first inauguration, Gerardo Suarez and Carlos Villasenor decorated the theater with a mural representing Dante Alighieri’s “Fourth song in the Divine Comedy”.

On 1877, Fermin Riestra was ordered to continue with the construction of the building; a three year process on which a gilded eagle holding a Mexican flag on its talons and a chain on its beak was placed on the center of the inner arch of the building. Within the three year construction, Felipe Castro painted the murals “Time and Hours” and “The Fame” on the proscenium arch. Between 1880 and 1890, the stucco on the concert hall was completed and a golden color was added to the interior walls. By 1893, tiles were removed from the stage, due to the lack of support they provided for the structure, and were replaced by a metal arch. Between 1909 and 1910 artist Roberto Montenegro focused on the reconstruction and decoration of the interior of the building which included the addition of a crystal lamp on the theater’s vault. Fifty years later, architect Ignacio Diaz Morales was in charge of a complete restoration of the building where sculptures by Benito Castaneda replaced Venetian mosaics. In May 2001, a chamber hall with capacity of 200 people was added to the inside of the building. What is extraordinary in the renovation and additions is that the architecture and the design of the building has not been compromised nor altered to update, but instead has kept its historical charm.

The theater’s exterior still holds its artistic origins as well. Thus, the architecture of the building age has not been compromised either. Between 1953 and 1959 Montenegro painted the mosaic of Apollo and the nine muses on the pediment of the theater. The portico supporting the pediment consists of 16 Corinthian columns. I was told upon inquiry of the docent that day that when Ignacio Diaz was in charge of the renovation of the theater, he ordered the engraving of the phrase “May we never get the rumor of discord” along Montenegro’s mosaic on the main entrance. Sadly she could not explain the meaning behind it and we are all subject to the interpretation we create for ourselves.
Produced and performed by the University of Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico, the “stamping” of the men and women of the Ballet Folclorico echoed throughout the theater, showing us the history and diverse culture of Mexico through music and dance, in order to seduce the hearts of those who observe and experience the production into a deep love of a country.

Sitting in the grand theater, from the first note, the music in the steps, the infectious rhythm and movements, and the vibrant colors and faces of the dancers, took us on a breathtaking musical journey throughout Mexico. Highlighting her cultures and subcultures, so that the audience would have the entire country experience: intense Mexico. Passionate Mexico. Wounded Mexico. Rejoiced Mexico. Solemn Mexico. Spectacular Mexico. There was not a moment the audience was not transfixed by the performance happening before them as they took this extraordinary rollercoaster ride of visual brilliance, music inspired emotion and country pride.

The pride of Guadalajara’s Arts and Culture, The Folkloric Ballet of the University of Guadalajara, has been a standing theatrical production every Sunday for nearly a century. This production contributes to the national heritage of Mexico. A collaboration of dances that transcend their origins, transcends time, and paved roads towards the world of onlookers to understand the diversity of the country and the traditions held so close to the heart, one becomes acutely aware that there is more history to this country than we know.

It is the effort of the production company to bring forth ancestry; grandparents and parents dancing themselves. What comes across to the audience through those performing on that stage, were the proud sons and daughters of that story; the dancers formed roots in their performance, with the artistry and mastery of choreography that spoke of love stories, and romance, traditions and values.

aztec, GuadalajaraThe production opened with a drum beat and an Ancient Aztec Warrior among his tribe calling to the God’s. The Aztec Dance, “Danza Azteca” in Spanish and “Mi’totiliztli” in Nahuatl is one of the most common manifestations of the native people of Mexico during the Pre-Columbian era. Danza Azteca represents man’s eternal search for cosmic harmony and integration. Presented without instruments, and instead through the rhythmic beating of their stamping feet and chanting. The chants express the process of physically and spiritually finding oneself. The dance has been referenced as a form of prayer to the gods and goddesses and epitomizes a way of life practiced by the Aztecs.

Guerrero From the root of the Mexican culture of the Aztecs, the Folclorio Ballet Company took us on a journey from region to region, presenting the audience with Guerrero next. guerrero1A tropical region on the Pacific coast of Mexico, this area was home to a large portion of Asians and also served as a safe haven for black run-away slaves who had been displaced all over Latin America due to the Spanish slave trade. Their cultural influences are apparent in the dances and musical instrumentation in Guerrero. The drum rhythms played in cumbias and salsas are derived from the African integration into Mexico.

yucatan The Yucatan dances and music are known as “mestizos” due to the Spanish and African influence. Some of the dances, such as “Jarabillos”, are of indigenous origins. yucatan2When Europeans colonized and settled in Mexican lands, they brought their traditional dances, attire, and music, which was eventually dispersed throughout the country and mixed with the indigenous culture. In some performances, romantic serenades are sung by men and dedicated to a woman in attempt to capture her heart.

The Spanish influence on the eastern coast of Mexico is deep due the accessibility of trading ports in the area which made it a key location for colonization in the Americas. Presenting the state of Vera Cruz in particular, the dancers performed a series of pieces. veracruzTo the audience’s sheer delight, “La Bamba” is considered Veracruz’s anthem, and was a focal piece of the performance, which of course prompted audience engagement. A fun song no matter where in the world you are, the music of Vera Cruz evidenced by “La Bamba” contains Afro-Cuban percussion’s and rhythms. The dance itself, however is an expression of courtship and incorporates an intricate footwork routine where the partners tie a ribbon into a bow using only their feet.

Sinaloa is steeped in history and legend, offering a vibrantly colorful essence in regards to their folklore. This segment of the performance focused on the deep dogma of the culture and Carnival of Mazatlan.Sinaloa With this area’s significant influences of the Indians, Mixtec, Zapotec, Nahuatl, Triqui Tarahumara , Mayan, and Yaqui Tlapanec have had influence in the region costuming. The German and Austrian influence in earlier settlement years has lent the polka rhythm that is “Banda”. This genre of music has become very popular in the country. Makes sense to me now why when in Mazatlan, I have heard Banda, I have wanted to bust out into the Chicken Dance!

jalisco jaliscoOf course the grand finale of this colorful, musical journey could be none other than the immediate region and a focus on the great state of Jalisco. You know THE most recognized and symbolic Mexican folkloric dance comes from the state of Jalisco? This dance embodies the spirit and culture of Mexico…

Come on; I know you know it?!

The typical outfit for men consists of the “charro suit” and a wide sombrero with silver trim. Much of this tradition is based on the chivalry of the charro’ and the connection to ranch life in Jalisco.

Got that dance yet?

Okay! Okay! We closed with the most recognized and symbolic Mexican folkloric from the state of Jalisco. The Mexican Hat Dance. Duh!!!

Not only was I surprised to learn and understand that each region or state has its own source of pride, culture and traditions, but moreover the costumes that represent each of these states seemed just as diverse. With the costume of each rendering, we saw embroidered skirts and blouses from simple design to the most detailed and colorful designs imaginable. Skirts of various textiles, colors, with great expanse and color when pulled up and opened out like fans by the dancers. It was my observation that one consistent theme translated to the audience through each performance. Mexico is and continues to be the most romantic, love focused country in the world in my estimation. The theme of romance and relationships and young love traveled with us on the musical journey and no sight was more beautiful in this spectators eyes.

Mexico is Love.

The Plaza

By the time we emerged from the theater, the afternoon was, for the most part, gone. We were already into the early evening hours. Looking around though, you would not know it. The plaza was a sea of people, families and children. A community gathering in the traditional way, the center plaza to talk, gossip, catch up on the week or simply sit quietly on a bench and smoke a cigar, it was as if we, the tourists and obvious outsiders were not even there. Children ran everywhere, babies cried, mothers laughed, grandparents scolded, boys showed off their machismo and pretended to be indifferent to girls who tossed their long dark tresses and bat dark heavily lashed eyes in flirtation. A storybook picture on a lush green plaza beneath a crisp white gazebo in the land of romance.

A few meters beyond the plaza central is a historic neighborhood filled with the original haciendas and mansions of Guadalajara. Because the city is deep into a green eco-friendly movement these streets were blocked off. Regularly scheduled for every Sunday, the effort to promote the importance of environment and personal health is the driving force behind this picturesque scene. The street was alight with lovers walking hand in hand, kids skating on skateboards and rollerblades, families on bikes and people of all shapes and sizes walking dogs and promenading up and down these city streets. The Haciendas rose up from behind lush green gardens aromatic with brilliantly colored Hibiscus, and Birds- of-Paradise emerging from gigantic ferns and lush foliage. The European influenced architecture of these impressive mansions made each a statement. It seemed as I looked up and down the avenue each home and garden was more impressive than the next, each possessing its own character and beauty.

What Do You Pair With Grasshoppers?

grasshopper, grasshopper tacoExhausted, my companions called it a day and seeing the opportunity to get together with an old friend for dinner, I made arrangements to meet my friend at “La Tequila” for a taste of Guadalajara and some tequila pairings. I was told this was walking distance from my hotel and would prove to be an epicurean experience of a lifetime.

A two story restaurant and bar in a residential neighborhood, featuring the best flavors of Guadalajara and the state of Jalisco and a long, long, long list of tequilas to choose from to pair with your meal or appetizer. Get this, the menu offers suggestions for tequila pairings with each menu item, including Grasshopper Tacos. Not bad, huh? It is a Tequila Enthusiasts dream…except those pesky grasshoppers.

You see these little darlings had been the theme of the week since arriving it seemed. A delicacy of the region like that of the Ahogados, everyone keeps a jar in some marinade, dried state, or specially flavored grasshoppers. It really isn’t pretty. Little legs. Wings. Bodies…. A recipe for a horror flick in my mind, I had so far managed to graciously beg off the little buggars throughout the week. I was not about to change that now……

La Tequila specializes in the dishes of the state of Jalisco and is nothing short of extraordinary. I savored rich aromatic flavors in fresh ahi, and duck confit.

At some point not long into our table service I asked our server for a copy of the menu, explaining I was writing this series and I wanted to share the restaurant with my readers. It was not long after a very young man approached our table and introduced himself with great pride as the General Manager of the establishment. I say very young because as it turns out, Adam was not more than a year older than my own daughter of 22. I was taken aback by his composure, confidence and self-assurance. Intrigued, I drew him deep into conversation to learn more about this young man. There was a caveat to the acquisition of his story; I HAD to try the grasshoppers. So curiosity prevailed and summoning my courage, and fighting down my gag reflex, I did my best to shut out the idea that I was voluntarily sliding big fat juicy summer bugs into my mouth, I ate grasshopper tacos. Yep. You read that right.

G R A S S H O P P E R in this girl’s mouth.

As it turns out, if you close your eyes and you don’t think about it, they are pretty good. A bit on the crunchy side with a bit of a “smooshy” inside feel, the little juicy red (marinated in a red sauce) prehistoric looking protein buggers weren’t too bad. I will be honest, I won’t be eating them a second time and I sure did not order a second helping of them, but I had the experience and notably picked legs out from between my teeth for some time thereafter. And all the while there stood Adam, a huge grin on his face and an insistent “Es Bueno, no?” exhuberantly escaping his lips. I mustered a smile and with all the enthusiasm in the world I could possibly muster I agreed emphatically and returned a “now I know what I have been missing”.

So Adam’s story in a nutshell?

Overqualified & Underpaid in Mexico

24 years old, raised in both Paris and Guadalajara, Adam was selected to attend the Cordon Bleu Culinary School of Paris, France. Studying savories and pastries, Adam has a degree in these from this notorious school. Further is a degree in Restaurant Management both front of house and back of house from the University in Guadalajara. Adam went on to tell us that his experiences in food have seen him personally selected to work alongside some of the most impressive world renown chef’s in the world, and it is Adam’s dream to take these skills and bring them to the United States.

Adam told me that he felt there was a market for the delicacies of ancestors and the indigenous people of Mexico and in an effort to completely emerge and learn the cuisine, he took six months and moved to Oaxaca.

burro, oaxacaNo cell phone. No running water. No electricity.

Open fire cooking. Earthenware and stone pots are still used. The land is harvested for spices and flavor infusions and all the food for the mountain Indians is grown within the community. They are removed from society, technology and access and the only way in or out?

A burro. That’s a furry taxi, low center of gravity, usually identified in grey or black with a long front end nose and super backend hydraulics for tailgaters. Slower paced than the taxi’s we are familiar with, the Burro is still a means of transportation into the back country of Mexico. It is how Adam got to Oaxaca where, for six solid months, he disconnected from Facebook, Instagram, Whatsapp, Viber, Twitter and Pintrest. It is where he disconnected from his family and shut off the phone. Where landlines don’t exist and Verizon still can’t hear you now. This remarkable driven kid, aspired to be unique and great and immerse into a subchapter of his own culture to bring better flavor and new innovative authentic flavors to the market.

Adam earns less than $10.00 USD a day in his position at La Tequila. He is among the better paid for Guadalajara. To put this in perspective the same position, with the credentials of this young aspiring food artist, in the United States starts at a salary of $50,000.00. The math? $160 a day on a six day work week USD to his $10.00 a day on his six day work week.

This young man was extraordinary. His demeanor and service standard exemplary and obviously an expression of his education. I wanted to bring him home and find him a job! If you happen to be reading this, and you are in the market for talent that is rare, Adam dreams of coming into the United States or Canada where his skills and intuitive talents will be recognized and appreciated and welcomes any and all interest! I am totally vouching for this incredible talent! (Contact me if interested)

The evening ended in the hotel bar with a snifter of aromatic seven year aged Anejo. The perfect nightcap to an amazing day.

Every day is an adventure in this world……every day.

jessica arent, jessica's journey, mexico, tequila, tequila aficionadoAbout Jessica Arent

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.

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Jessica’s Journey – Epic Marketing or Sauza History Lesson?

Epic Marketing or Sauza History Lesson?

You Be the Judge

Part 3 in Jessica’s Epic Journey

By Jessica Arent, Tequila Aficionado Contributor

Sauza History, tequila, jessica arent, tequila aficionado, la cofradia, jaime sauza, cuervo, distillery, wine, dobecq, brandyMy second day in Mexico was focused on the product and team brainstorming for a market launch. Believe me when I say Mel Gibson’s character in “What Women Want” wasn’t so far off in the process of branding and advertising. Total immersion into the product to help identify the audience, and the creativity necessary to capture the attention of the targeted audience can be taxing, especially when the tasting begins before the first cappuccino.

I walked into the meeting feeling the weight of travel, the mess of humidity, and trying to pull myself together. Guadalajara has a humid climate and the morning had already proven challenging with the struggle to tame my ever-frizzing hair. If you have ever attempted to straighten and smooth naturally curly hair in humid climates you know this can be an exercise in futility and frustrating endeavor, and yet we still attempt the battle. It tends to leave you irritable and makes for a difficult start to the day…until there was tequila? For breakfast? No way!!!

Several unmarked bottles sat on the table along with dozens of glasses.

And so the work day began, with a flute of 5-year Anejo in one hand and a double cappuccino in the other. . .

While I will not bore you with the details of the work day and the brainstorming that went into it, I will say that I felt like I consumed more tequila on this day than I have in all my years of drinking! 5-year, Plata, Reposado, 7-year…

Glass after glass, note after note…

It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it.

What?! It’s work!!

The truth is, while an extraordinary team, the incredible opportunity to work side by side with Jaime Sauza, and garner some of his knowledge and the rich family history that is his in the world of tequila, was without a doubt an incredible experience, and it was exactly this way that I spent the work day, collaborating with this extraordinary man…

Sauza History

Sauza History, tequila, jessica arent, tequila aficionado, la cofradia, jaime sauza, cuervo, distillery, wine, dobecq, brandyOriginally considered “Mexican Moonshine”, the poor man’s drink, Don Cenobio Sauza recognized opportunity early on(“Don” makes you think of the Godfather, doesn’t it?) In 1873 Don Cenobio Sauza founded Sauza Tequila at “La Perseverancia” distillery. He was the first distiller to call the spirit produced from the blue agave plant “tequila”, and the first to export the drink to the United States.

The Story goes like this….

Don Cenobio Sauza was born on a farm in Jalisco, Mexico. He was the third child of Hilario Sauza and Doña Margarita Madrigal Navarro. He worked on his father’s farm along with his siblings Adelaida, Juana, Fernanda, Luis and Herminia until he was sixteen. In 1858 Cenobio traveled to Tequila to visit his cousin Ramon Corona Madrigal. Enamored with the countryside and the rich soil, Cenobio settled in Tequila and got a job working at the distillery of José Antonio Gómez Cuervo. There he learned how to farm agave and distill mezcal-tequila.

Cenobio began to export mezcal-tequila from Tequila to other parts of the country. In 1870, no longer content to just sell, Sauza leased the “La Gallardeña” distillery from Lazaro Gallardo. Sauza saw great success, and three years later, on September 1, 1873 , purchased the “La Antigua Cruz” (The Old Cross) distillery (the oldest registered tequila distillery, founded in 1805 by José Maria Castañeda) from Don Felix Lopez. The transaction equated to 5,000 pesos and he promptly renamed it “La Perseverancia” (Perseverance).The former employee of Cuervo had successfully founded Sauza Tequila and become one of Cuervo’s great rivals.

In 1873 Sauza was the first to export tequila to the United States; crossing through the border at El Paso del Norte (present day Ciudad Juarez) carrying three casks and six jugs of his mezcal-tequila. This was the beginning of the export market for tequila.

The arrival of the railroad in Tequila, Jalisco, increased Sauza’s business and in 1889 he purchased the “La Gallardeña” distillery from Lazaro Gallardo. That same year he purchased the “Hacienda de San Martin de las Cañas”. This became Sauza’s headquarters and was simply known as “La Hacienda Cenobio”. Here he planted more than 2 million agave and started producing an estimated 800 casks of tequila per year. He purchased and sold thirteen more distilleries and numerous fields of agave, always working at least three at a time in order to remain the leader in tequila production and sales. Don Cenobio is credited with determining that the blue agave was the best agave for tequila in the 1890. Obviously the rest followed suit.

Sauza History, tequila, jessica arent, tequila aficionado, la cofradia, jaime sauza, cuervo, distillery, wine, dobecq, brandyDon Cenobio’s son, Don Eladio Sauza, was born in Tequila in 1883. At age 20 Eladio moved to Tecolotlan to take charge of his father’s distillery, “La Hacienda La Labor”. It was there that he learned the business of producing and selling tequila. Later, he moved to Mazatlán, a major port in the Northeastern part of Mexico, to establish a Sauza Tequila distribution center in order to increase exportation.

Upon Don Cenobio’s death in 1909, Eladio returned to Guadalajara to mourn his father and to take control of the Sauza Tequila Empire. Shortly thereafter, the Mexican Revolution threatened to expropriate Eladio’s business and farmland. During the Revolution, Eladio rallied patriotic sentiment and helped to establish tequila as the official spirit of Mexico.

Eladio modernized and expanded the family business by opening branches in Monterrey and Mexico City, as well as a concession in Spain. When Don Eladio Sauza died at the age of 63 on July 22, 1946, he left the Sauza Tequila business to his firstborn son, Francisco Javier Sauza

The Third Generation is Born

Sauza History, tequila, jessica arent, tequila aficionado, la cofradia, jaime sauza, cuervo, distillery, wine, dobecq, brandyFrancisco Javier Sauza was born in Tecolotlan, Mexico on December 8, 1903 to Don Eladio Sauza and Doña Silveria Mora Enriquez. Francisco Javier Sauza, like his father, was raised on tequila, and in the family tradition of his father and his grandfather he too grew to become part of the family legacy.

When Javier Sauza took over Tequila Sauza, shortly before his father’s death in 1946, he began at once to change the image of tequila from a “drink of the campesinos” to a refined spirit of the upper classes. His competitors scoffed when he redesigned the bottles and labels for a more tasteful look and began to age some of the tequila in wooden barrels for a smoother taste and color.  He took his product to fairs and expositions throughout Mexico, the United States, and Europe, and promoted it as “the drink of romance.” He also modernized production and transportation systems and built a bottling plant in Guadalajara.

In 1950, Francisco Javier added the Sauza Hornitos brand to the Sauza family of tequila. In 1963, he created Sauza Conmemorativo, a tequila that commemorated the 90th anniversary of the La Perseverancia distillery.

In 1973, to celebrate 100 years since the founding of the La Perseverancia distillery, Sauza created a specially aged tequila that he presented in a limited edition, green ceramic bottle. He called his creation Tres Generaciones in honor of the three generations that had produced Sauza Tequila: Don Cenobio, Don Eladio and Don Francisco Javier.

Traveling throughout Europe and Asia, Sauza grew concerned about the number of “pseudo-tequilas” being produced. Working with other tequila producers from Jalisco, Francisco lobbied President Jose Lopez Portillo saying, “Tequila is the only one made in the State of Jalisco, Mexico.” On December 9, 1974 the Label of Integrity decree stated that true tequila only came from the State of Jalisco.

Sauza History, tequila, jessica arent, tequila aficionado, la cofradia, jaime sauza, cuervo, distillery, wine, dobecq, brandyFrancisco Javier continued his father and grandfather’s legacy, but in 1988, for personal reasons, he decided to sell the Sauza Tequila business to Mexican brandy producer Pedro Domecq. The tequilas Sauza innovated – Sauza, Hornitos, Tres Generaciones – are still in production. Today Sauza owns about 300 agave plantations and is the second largest tequila manufacturer in the world.

The Fifth Generation

And here I was, spending my day working side by side with Jaime Sauza, the great, great grandson of Cenobio Sauza, getting the education of a lifetime in tequila. It just doesn’t get much better than this.

Or does it?

Well, that’s another segment anyway.

The end of the day had me returning to the hotel to change into cocktail attire for the evening ahead. Still wrestling with the humidity and the unruly mass that was once my hair, I managed to pull myself together (after an ice cold shower and having room service deliver a double espresso) and hustle back to the office for a “roof top CATA”.  Stepping into the elevator I smoothed down my dress, and checked my makeup in the reflection of the doors one last time. As the elevator approached the roof, I could hear a Spanish guitar and the tinkling of glasses.

Then the Doors Opened

Sauza History, tequila, jessica arent, tequila aficionado, la cofradia, jaime sauza, cuervo, distillery, wine, dobecq, brandyI walked into the most elegant setting I could imagine. A pergola covered the rooftop with climbing bougainvillea in vibrant colors. Elegant wicker seating with crisp white linen cushions was strategically placed for lounging and open conversation. Small teak tables, dressed with glowing candle lanterns and aromatic orchids in purples and whites were the centerpieces of the seating arrangements.

In one corner stood a bar with dozens of amber colored unmarked bottles.  Mike Vernardo, the master mixologist brought in from Austin, Texas, masterfully created artistic libations, served by four beautiful young Mexican women wearing little black dresses and engaging smiles.

The League of Extraordinary “Tequilans”

Sauza History, Mike Vernardo, tequila, jessica arent, tequila aficionado, la cofradia, jaime sauza, cuervo, distillery, wine, dobecq, brandyOut across the terrace the sun was setting over Guadalajara, in hues of pinks and oranges and purples and the lights of the city slowly came on.  As I looked around I saw the most beautiful people begin to come in to the party. Elegant, sophisticated women of Guadalajara on the arms of distinguished gentlemen, and as I began to mingle, I came to realize every attendee was a part of the process of the production of Tequila. From the General Director of La Cofradia Distillery, and his wife, to the master bottle cap maker, who works in precious metals of gold, silver and copper to make the cap and label of this emerging product, to the glass bottle designer himself, and their respective wives. Every person that walked into this party had some part in the creation of an extraordinary elixir from Tequila. I felt as though I was in a League of Extraordinary “Tequilans”.

Not long into the evening, Jaime arrived with his beautiful wife, and the party really got started. Charismatic and congenial, Jaime began to expound on the notes and virtues of each of the samplings of the evening. Elaborating on the legs, crown and brilliance of each, he offered his insights on comparisons and values. Although this might sound dry to some, Jaime’s communicated his thoughts congenially with a touch of humor and was entertaining and engaging. Who wouldn’t be mesmerized by a man who can conclude a tequila lesson with a course in popping a champagne cork with his glass stem?

Sauza History, tequila, jessica arent, tequila aficionado, la cofradia, jaime sauza, cuervo, distillery, wine, dobecq, brandyIt’s true. . . Jaime is very versatile!

Waiters in white jackets and great big smiles weaved in and out with delicious food pairings that included fresh ceviche in guacamole sauce served in shot glasses, miniature ranchero tacos, and Ahi tartar tostadas.  The menu was created exclusively by Josue Banuelos for the tequilas we tasted that evening. Mike mixed incredibly creative concoctions of epic proportions out of recipes specifically designed around this tequila, and a joyful mood of what could only be described as “success” filled the air.

I think we all knew we were on to something extraordinary, something epic…

This Cinderella turned in her dancing shoes and cocktail dress for pajamas and a nightcap not long before midnight. My nightcap was a special “gift” given to me by my new friend Jaime.  I fell in love with this dream libation after one sip. An unlikely recipe, this “moonshine” (let’s face it, isn’t it really “moonshine” until it has a NOM, label, and is legal the eyes of the CRT?) takes you to Italy and Mexico at the same time in a seamless blend of liquid perfection.

I cannot tell you more yet, but I can tell you it was the perfect finish to my day.

I closed my eyes in anticipation of the next day and the adventure that lay in before me and drifted off to dreamland.


 

Read the continuation of Jessica’s Journey coming soon!

 

jessica Arent, Sauza History, tequila, jessica arent, tequila aficionado, la cofradia, jaime sauza, cuervo, distillery, wine, dobecq, brandyJessica 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.

 

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Jessica’s Journey Begins

Jessica’s Journey Begins

By Jessica Arent

Bienvenidos A Guadalajara!

With my itinerary (AKA Dress Code) in hand, and my presentations reviewed for the hundredth time, I arrived in Guadalajara on a very wet and rainy afternoon. Cloud cover obstructed my view on the landing pattern into the airport. Fluent in Spanish, I breezed through customs & immigration, baggage pick up, and found my way out to “Arrivals”.

Greeters en masse. There stood what seemed to be a sea of faces with anticipation, joy, and relief, painted across them as they awaited their parties to emerge from the Baggage Claim.

Men stood there, with every imaginable flower, from Calla Lily’s to Long Stemmed Ecuadoran roses, some single, some in ornate bouquets and arrangements. Women stood with freshly made up faces, and tresses of carefully coiffed hair, and their Sunday best…smiles abundant.

jessica 1Greeting me was Gabriella, the company’s Marketing Director. A long, tall, elegant drink of water, with flowing dark hair to her waist and a lithe frame, I immediately felt “well-travelled-if-not-overdone” and though usually consider myself a stylish woman, I felt frumpy and wilted next to her. Dressed impeccably, she stood there with a sign “Jessica Arent” and a smile to greet me and welcome me to Guadalajara.

The ride to the office seemed to take no time at all, as we hit it off immediately. Telling me a bit about herself, Gabriella, shared with me her family background in the Fashion Industry, her rise in the company under the guidance of her father, her breakout into the Chinese Market, and Introduction into legendary product market launches in both Mexico and China through the family business.  She shared that she was the oldest of ten, and the one upon whom the responsibility was laid when it came to family. She also shared with me how she came to be involved in the team developing this new tequila brand and product we were to spend the next week collaborating on.

As she chattered on, Guadalajara rose up around me, with beautiful architecture, and smart cars everywhere! Guadalajara is the capital and largest city of the Mexican state of Jalisco, one of only a handful of states from which Tequila can be made and called “tequila” (but you knew that, right?), and the seat of the municipality of Guadalajara. The city is located in the central region of Jalisco in the western-pacific area of Mexico. Guadalajara is the cultural center of Mexico, known for culture, and arts, Fashion and trends, it is often called “the Paris of Mexico” and is considered the home of mariachi music, of which there are reminders throughout the city.

file5971303346549Lush and green, I noticed lawn and foliage everywhere. Bougainvillea adorned doorway arches and balconies and palm trees lined the streets. Color and vibrancy was abundant, like an energy the city seemed to possess. We passed aromatic taco stands, with patrons lined up on makeshift counter stools pulled up to food carts. As we traveled through the city, the sky clouded and the heavens opened and the smell of the plants opening to take in the fresh rain permeated the air.

Unlike Mexico City, Guadalajara is on an eco-friendly green movement. Instead of gas guzzling trucks and SUV’s like so many other Mexican destinations, I saw bicycles, Vespa’s, smart cars, people walking, skateboards and rollerblades, and everywhere signs to adopt parcels of parks and land to keep them green.

Not knowing much about Guadalajara, beyond the reputation for rich soils and minerals for agriculture, I learned that Guadalajara has a humid subtropical climate that is quite close to a rainforest climate, featuring dry, warm winters and hot, wet summers. Guadalajara’s climate is influenced by its high altitude and the general seasonality of precipitation patterns in western North America. Although the temperature is warm year-round, and known for the “eternal spring”, Guadalajara has very strong seasonal variation in precipitation. The northward movement of the Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone brings a great deal of rain in the summer months, whereas for the rest of the year, the climate is rather arid. The extra moisture in the wet months moderates the temperatures, resulting in cooler days and nights during this period. My timing? Wet season. It was perfect. With my hair already responding to the 98 degree heat and the rich humidity and taking on a life and mind of its own, kinking madly, I was grateful for the rain cascading down around us.

Driving through this huge city, I came to understand that Guadalajara is built around 5 primary fountains. Had you ever wondered about the traditional Mexican Villages, towns and Pueblo’s that seem to be built around a central plaza and a fountain?  Those fountains were not for architecture, but had a purpose; just as these 5 fountains of Guadalajara.  Fountains were once wells. It was here you came to fill buckets for home water, baths, and cooking.  Accordingly, the five central fountains served each community’s water needs.  Today the Fountains rise up from beautifully landscaped medians that showcase majestic bronze sculptures telling compelling stories of the city’s rich history.

Unlike many colonial cities that maintain their original town plan, in the 1950s Guadalajara underwent a major project that changed the face of the city. Older buildings were razed to allow for wide avenues with new constructions, underground parking lots, and shopping centers. Fortunately, the most beautiful older buildings were left intact.

Jessica 3I was astounded by this incredible city. At the heart of Guadalajara is the cathedral. With its twin pointed towers and central dome, Gabriella shared that it is the most recognizable landmark on the Guadalajara skyline. The Cathedral is surrounded on all four sides by “plazas, an integral part of all community planning in Mexico, as culturally these are the central meeting places for all socializing in Mexican communities.  “Plaza Guadalajara” faces the cathedral. Its central fountain depicts two lions with their paws resting on the trunk of a tree, the city’s coat of arms. To the south is the “Plaza de Armas” with its art nouveau bandstand and matching lampposts. The adjacent “Government Palace” has a lovely baroque facade and a spectacular mural painted by Jose Clemente Orozco in the interior main staircase. To the north of the Cathedral is the “Rotondo de los Jaliscienses Ilustres”. This green space has a central circular monument with seventeen ribbed columns; the statues surrounding it represent Jalisco’s illustrious sons (and one daughter), people from Jalisco who have made notable contributions in arts, science and politics.

Behind the Cathedral is the large “Plaza de la Liberacion”, deriving the name to commemorate Miguel Hidalgo’s abolishment of slavery. A statue of Miguel Hidalgo holding a broken chain commemorates this historical event. The “Teatro Degollado” is at the far east end of the plaza. Guadalajara’s Ballet Folclorico performs here in this beautiful neoclassical building dating to 1856, and Gabriella told me to prepare myself, as this was Sunday’s activity and I was in for the cultural spectacle of a lifetime.

Coming around the back of the theater, I saw a fountain depicting the Guadalajara city founders. The “Plaza Tapatio” begins here and stretches over half a mile to the “Hospicio Cabanas”, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Everywhere I looked were picturesque arcades and promenades, bubbling fountains, charming restored colonial buildings, modern sculptures, and happy people greeting one another with hugs, kisses, or great big smiles. Baby’s clung to mothers, and children ran around in circles chasing one another.

I tilted my head back against the headrest and breathed deeply, while I listened to Gabriella continue on the points of interest as we wound our way to the offices and the rain began to subside.

All too soon we came upon a tall modern office building, and pulled in to park the car and head on upstairs.

We paused at the door for a moment, as the sounds of gregarious conversation floated out to us. She turned to me and asked “Are you ready to meet everyone?” as an endearing smile spread across her face.  Opening the door the room came to a dead halt in all conversation as we walked in, and a roomful of momentary strangers all turned toward me to welcome me. I say “momentary” because Mexican culture speaks to empathy, and engagement and the art of drawing you in, no matter how shy you thought you might be.

One by one, these gentlemen stepped up to me with an outstretched hand, a smile and a kiss on the cheek in greeting. The impressive 27 year old CEO, the distinguished gentleman who clearly had a fascinating story that spread across his face and came through his smile, that was the COO, and the enigmatic and enthusiastic Tequila Maestro. I realized in short order I was among the elite of the Tequila world in Guadalajara. More distinguished and certainly refined than anyone I had met to date in the industry, the first impression of this team of “Tequileros” was nothing short of impressive. Graciousness and Gentility is what came through from this cast of characters in my Epic Tequila Adventure.

Not long after arriving, I was introduced to the “juice”.  There are no words to adequately describe this product line, other than “Epic”.  Introduced by Jaime Villalobos Sauza, of the famed SAUZA TEQUILA FAMILY and proud 5th generation tequila aficionado, the nondescript “milk bottles” were opened one at a time and poured into tasting flutes. We collectively put our glasses to our noses with each sample, rolled our glasses to inspect “legs” and “crowns” and the Brilliance of the liquid in the glass, and one by one we tilted the glasses to our lips and drew in the liquid. Swilling for five seconds, inhaling deeply and swallowing, with a deep exhale, the notes and complexities of the distillations rose up, one after the other, promising a smooth, soft sipping experience and delivering a luxurious libation experience.

jessica 4

Jessica 5Dinner was soon offered by our personal chef, Josue Bañuelos (Now rated “THE WORLDS GREATEST CHEF” by this writer-I ate really well all week and lost weight!).  As we sat down at the table, I took it all in. High above the cobblestone streets of Guadalajara, the pocket doors pulled all the way back so the soft breeze added to the “Al Fresco” mood. The delicately seared Sea Bass with a caper minieure sauce, fresh grilled asparagus with agave honey, and cilantro carrots plated on immaculate Villeroy and Boch White Bone China, the beautiful, carefully selected Reidel glasses, for the Chillean Chardennau chilled to perfection, all finished with a refreshing homemade Fresh Lemon Ice with red and black raspberries and mint; I began to understand the methodology behind the image of the brand. The first impression spoke volumes and the ideas began to formulate in my mind, like the flavors exploding in my mouth, so too were my pistons exploding with ideas!

 

jessica 2Before I knew it, the evening had passed and I found myself on my way to my hotel to check in and settle in the for the night. I regretted emerging from the car, not yet done with the day, eager to see and learn and taste so much more, and dragged myself up to my room.

Unpacked and comfortably settled in to my room, I took a deep contented breath. I called the front desk and in Spanish asked for the wake-up call. I pulled the drapes on the traffic of Guadalajara, and submerged into the dark folds of the room, the breeze blowing the curtains in the window and sleep coming over me. I closed my eyes, eager for the next day to begin.

Read the continuation of Jessica’s Journey coming soon!

 

jessica ArentJessica 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.

 


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