Today was a day to just relax by the pool. Susan and I have had a week of relaxing, but we also learned about some of the culture of Mexico, and especially about the state of Jalisco. I am always open to learning new things.
We took a trip up to two of the towns in the Sierra Madre mountains, Talpa and Mascota. Although I had been there before, I learned new things about these towns this trip.
Both of these villages are listed as Magical Towns (Pueblos Magico). This is a designation given to the by the board of Mexican tourism. To qualify, a town must have:
1). A history of a significant event, either real or legendary,
2). A unique everyday life, and
3). The town must be well preserved.
Once the town has this designation, it receives money from the tourist board to keep the town clean and in good repair. One thing one village did was put all the electrical lines underground, rather than have the unsightly mess so often seen, of lines running all over the place.
Mascota also has a high school where students can elect to learn a trade, as well as obtain the usual high school education. The specialties of this school include cheese making and butchering, as the countryside has many farms. We also saw two woodworking classes, one for boys and one for girls. We could not discover why the classes were segregated. Both classes made furniture, cabinets for houses, and other practical wooden items.
The products from this school are sold in town, or at the school, and all proceeds return to the school.
The other town we visited, Talpa, has a lovely city center dominated by a church. This town’s historical event was a miracle where a statue of the Virgin that was made of leaves and grasses was converted into a beautiful golden statue. That statue now resides in the church. Pilgrims come from all over to pray to the Virgin.
The area, despite being in the mountains, is very dry. It must be extremely hard to grow things in this arid climate; however, sugar cane flourishes, and several stores in this village are candy stores, making their treats from the sugar cane, as well as some of the tropical fruit of the region.
Another town in Jalisco that has the Magical Town designation is Tequila. Yes, that is the name of the town. This town is also a UNESCO World Heritage site. It is known for the blue agave from which the liquor, tequila, is made. I did not visit that town, so I don’t have any pictures, but I did learn something about tequila.
The true tequila from the blue agave is only produced in Jalisco, with limited amounts being allowed to be produced in other states. If the tequila is not made from only the blue agave, and is made with a combination of juices from other agave plants, the liquor is called Mezcal. Therefore, all you tequila lovers, the Mezcal with the worm in it is not a true tequila.
That is only one of some well-known facts (to me) that was shot down during my cultural lesson. I also discovered that Mariachi music is not Mexican in origin, but Austrian, although it sounds more like German polka music to me. That makes sense, given that Maximilian from Austria, was a king here for a short time, before he was assassinated. Mexican beer also has its beginning with Austrians.
Last night, we took a boat trip to the island of Las Caletas for dinner and a show, depicting the culture and some of the fables of the native Indian cultures. The show was more like a Cirque de Soleil, in that many acrobats, a flying butterfly who was playing a violin, a walking tree, along with the fire jugglers. A mermaid greeted the boat as we approached the island.
Our dining tables were along the water’s edge. A harpist and a guitarist played soft background music. The lighting was torches and votive candles. It was truly a relaxing evening, with good food and wine.
When we left on our boat to return to Puerto Vallarta, we were entertained by our ship’s crew, who did a tribute to Kiss, the 1980’s rock group. They did a pretty good job of singing the songs, although their guitars were made of wood and had no strings. To me, the epitome of the evening, though, was when the captain turned off all the overhead lights, allowing us to see the full moon overhead, with barely a wisp of a cloud in the sky. We could still see the Sierra Madre mountains in the background of the city of Puerto Vallarta as we travelled back to the Marina. The lights along the shore of the city lent an air of a place of festivity and holiday, but also a place of peacefulness.
Today, I just enjoyed the quiet and solitude of Club Regina.
Too soon I will leave this enchanted place and return to cold weather. Until I write again,