Miles Hutchins

High Desert Life

Took the Herradura Express from Guadalajara to Tequila the other day. Best little train ride I’ve ever taken.

Part of a tour package we purchased from our local travel agent that included a van ride from Ajijic to Guad, and back again, after a long day of tequila tasting and history lessons.

Where to begin?

I guess the beginning works. We joined five other foreigners and the guide, Rosa, and driver, Pablo for our nine o’clock departure in the van.

Over the hill and through the farmlands to Guadalajara we went.

An unusually traffic-free ride of less than an hour to the train station. And a busy place it was.

Lots of folks departing for somewhere before we tequila seekers, but finally our turn for six cars of passengers for the hour or so ride to adventure.

Bobbi and I opted for one of the two club cars, and the great snacks, libations and pampering.

As a bonus, we met and visited with three very interesting young people from the UK.

The two women own two restaurants in Brighton, allegedly the only authentic Mexican restaurants in jolly olde England.

One lady is a Brit, the other Irish.

The third part of the trio, is Charley, himself the manager of the two restaurants.

Seems they had been researching Mexican foods, drinks, etc. both in Mexico City and in Guadalajara.

And it was not the first time for such research, they were well traveled and well informed about their craft and specialty.

But, mostly, they were just delightful travel mates.

As to the train crew and goodies, let me just say that regulations for liquid refreshments were limited to coffee, juice and such whilst in the city limits.

But once beyond that boundary, tequila and who knows what else flowed like a constant stream — without placing an order.

And tidbits of food accompanied the liquid refreshment.

Our trainload of happy campers finally arrived in the town of Tequila, to be greeted by youngsters selling Mexican sombreros.

Not just the big tourist decorative type, but the practical stylish hats that look good and still provide shade from the sun.

Our guide, from the train station, led us onto a small fleet (three) of large buses that took us to the Herradura distillery.

A new guide took over for the tour of the grounds.

Thus began our history lessons.

The distillery is on a very large old hacienda, complete with the casa, now offices instead of a house, beautifully landscaped lawns, trees and shrubs, not to mention the brick ovens and other processing buildings.

One such is called the museum because it has not been used for many years following the modernization process of making tequila.

After walking over cobblestone roads and paths leading from one building to another, we sat down to a tasting of the fabled drink itself.

From the young bottling, to the well aged we tested the elixir.

Our guide explained that in this particular part of the state of Jalisco, tequila was born, even before the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors.

As in the Champagne area of France declaring that is the home of true Champagne, Mexico declares Tequila area of Jalisco is the only true home of tequila.

The next treat was to sit down to a wonderful meal, graciously served, while being serenaded by, of course, Mariachis.

In addition, dancers entertained us in colorful traditional garb.

Four young men, each with machetes twirling, scared me a bit as our table was quite close to the large dance floor.

Finally, the return train ride itself provided yet more treats and libations.

A young man from Monterrey, fully bilingual, and his friends kept us entertained with their youthful antics as we watched the sun set just before arriving back in Guadalajara.

— Miles Hutchins is a retired former Redmond resident who grew up in Central Oregon. Contact him at milesredmond@gmail.com .

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