Wednesday, March 21, 2018

tequila without the tequila

Tequila. I have avoided it for ten years.

The town, that is. The drink has never interested me. And I suspect that is why I have never steeled myself to drive the four hours into the highlands to visit it. But Darrel and Christy convinced me to join them on a visit while my Escape is in the Ford hospital for the remainder of this week.

There is an old saying that we find what we are looking for. And it is true when it is; but it is not when it is not.

One reason I avoided the town is its reputation as being the crown prince of tourist traps. And there is a lot of that. Starting with the little boys that dart into your car's path while entering town to present you with the card of the world's best ever guide of distilleries.

But the evidence that the town is designed primarily to suck lots of pesos out of tourist pockets is legion:

There is the schmaltzy tour bus in the shape of a guitar.

Tourists posed before the large doors of the church. Posed by me, in this instance.

Or posed in front of the Don Cuervo crow.

You can buy expensive tequila.

More expensive Bustamante sculptures.

And even more expensive Pineda Covalin scarves.

Or walk down streets that are just one degree short of being a Disney reproduction of what an upper middle class Mexican street should look like.

I was in danger of slipping into a cynical coma (I think it was Oscar Wilde who said a cynic is someone who knows the price of everything -- and the value of nothing), when I fell into one of those Mexican moments that gives meaning to the label Magical Pueblo.

We had heard that there was a mural in the courtyard of the government building that should not be missed. When we walked in, a film crew was moving furniture around in front of the mural.

Contemporary furniture. Furniture that very well might fit in a Barragan style house in Barra de Navidad.

I chatted with the designer. And he just may be able to help me finish the living spaces of my house. At least, the library.

That, of course, did not change the fact that even though Tequila is a vaguely charming colonial town, it is a one trick pony. This is the capital of tequila production. And the symbols of that industry surrounds visitors.

There are agave-inspired street grills.

Abstract agave forms on fences.

Even the benches wear the brand of the source of tequila, like some odd Medeval cult.

Considering the amount of tequila being gulped on the street, I suspect several revelers wondered if they should have had that last drink when they ran into this swarm of becostumed children. Dumbo dreamed in fewer colors.

And, thanks to the Don Cuevos ticket office, I can pass on one of my favorite sentences in pun-ish Spanish. "Necesito una taquilla para ver el tequila."

Tomorrow, we are going to put that joke to the test by visiting a distillery or two. Even though I have no love for tequila, I am interested in seeing anything done well by an expert.

We will see what happens.

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