Hola, unicornios! Welcome to part deux of my blog posts on exploring Tequile and Guadalajara, Jalisco, México. I’d be sipping on some tequila right now if it wasn’t 8 a.m. on a Saturday. Also, tequila on an empty stomach? 2/10 do not recommend.
In part one, we talked about the Jose Cuervo Express experience and how it’s indulgent, worth it and even slightly luxurious. But it’s also touristy, pricey and restricted to a schedule. While I loved it, I understand it may not be accessible to all. So, I’d give it 3.5 stars out of 5.
Now, I’m going to tell you the story of how I ended up hiking in a dress and combat boots and accidentally ruined a couple’s special cantina moment. My second visit to Tequila and Guadalajara was a different type of wild ride. Unforgettable, surprising and … well, why don’t we get into it?
I was in Guadalajara, Jalisco, last year for Corona Capital, a one-day music festival where I got to see the Yeah Yeah Yeahs for the first time in my life (an absolute dream come true 10 years in the making; see below!<3). It worked out perfectly that the festival was only one day because it gave us extra days to explore — and so we did.
The friends I traveled with and I went with the more-accessible, a-little-off-the-beaten-path route this time around and we booked a couple of Airbnb experiences. The concept of Airbnb experiences is pretty cool because the idea is that your experience is curated by a local and not necessarily a big tour company. Plus, the group sizes for Airbnb experiences tend to be much smaller.
The first experience was a day trip that cost about $65 USD and included stops in Los Guachimontones archeological site and interpretive centre, the town of Teuchitlán for lunch, a blue agave field for photos, La Cofradía tequila distillery for a tour and tastings, and then the town of Tequila. Our super nice and knowledgeable tour guide Carlos picked us up at our Airbnb, drove us and was with us the whole time.
The first stop was Los Guachimontones — an archeological site discovered in 1969 where you can see circular pyramids that have had conspiracy theories made up about them. Some people used to say that the government built them to attract more visitors to the area and others said that they were built by aliens (Duh?!). But archeologists later discovered that they were built about 2,000 years ago by the Teuchitlán culture and that the site was home to 40,000 people at some point.
Don’t be a nincompoop like me and make sure you pack sunscreen, a hat and better shoes than Steve Madden combat boots to visit Los Guachimontones because to get to the site you have to walk up a steep hill. And maybe, just maybe, wearing a dress on this particular day wasn’t my brightest idea. So, don’t do it unless you’re ready for a sweaty crack. Don’t come for me, I was doing it for the ‘gram!
There’s also a really cool interpretive centre where you can learn about the history of the area and also catch great views of the site and La Vega dam/lagoon that’s near.
After a little too much hiking in a dress for my liking, we moved on to our next stops. First, we headed to Teuchitlán town and had tacos de birria (the real kind) for lunch, and then, we drove to Tequila town to tour La Cofradía distillery. Lunch was included in the price for the experience as was the entrance to the interpretive centre.
The distillery tour was a lot more relaxed than the Jose Cuervo tour (you could actually take video and photos inside). We really got to see an in-depth behind-the-scenes look at how tequila is made at La Cofradía, and it was so intriguing to watch the artists paint each bottle by hand. We also got to try different tequilas — no open bar, though.
This experience was definitely more personal given that it was only four of us on the tour. We got to ask questions throughout and the distillery tour guide was super friendly and knowledgeable. There were opportunities to buy other drinks or food throughout the tour, so keep that in mind. But I never felt pressured to buy more. This Airbnb experience ended with a little more time in the actual town of Tequila where we ate, shopped and people-watched for a few hours before being driven back to our Airbnb.
Our next Airbnb adventure in Guadalajara cost about $45 USD, and it kicked off with us showing up at an indicated address with my stomach in knots and not really sure what to expect (I mean, it just feels weird to show up at a stranger’s home!). After a couple of minutes of waiting outside, the guide’s wife let us into their patio setup, where she began to bring out several bottles of different tequilas and mezcals without saying much. The three of us were just sitting there feeling slightly uncomfortable for a bit, when out of nowhere this dude in a lucha libre — Mexican wrestling — mask and cape jumped out onto the patio and started making a racket.
We stared in awe not really sure how to react and I totally felt like I had just fallen into an alternate dimension. I mean, it truly was equal parts unsettling and amusing. After introductions, our guide Alejandro went into sharing his expansive, and I accurately mean EXPANSIVE, knowledge of the history and technicalities of lucha libre with us. Then, we ate delicious tacos that Alejandro’s super nice wife made and tried about five different tequilas and mezcals within a span of like 10 minutes. This first part took about 45 minutes.
Afterward, Alejandro drove us to the Arena Coliseo where we got to witness a marvelous, dramatic, technical, like-nothing-I’ve-ever-seen lucha libre show with everything from the full-out glamorous costumes to the foul-mouthed heckling older Mexican ladies.
It was thoroughly entertaining to hear the most low-down, hilarious insults come out of this 60-year-old woman’s mouth aimed at the luchadores as they did flips, intricate moves and jumps that I’d be too afraid to ever make. Even though I lived in México for about 12 years, this was my first time going to the lucha libre, and I’ll never forget witnessing a tradition that’s been around since the early 1900s. We even got pick out a luchador mask to keep (mine’s purple of course!) and two beers or a snack.
After lucha, we went across the street to a lucha-libre-themed cantina for a couple of beers, also included in the experience, and just hung out for a little bit. Stepping into the cantina was like traveling back in time — Mexican oldies blasting on the analog speakers, older men with their beer buckets and a couple of questionable characters at the back of the bar.
This was after the festival and all-day Tequila trip so my friends and I were pretty exhausted, but we got to know Alejandro a little bit better there. Alejandro then asked if we wanted to take a photo with the big lucha libre mural at the back of the cantina before we took off. We, of course, accepted and all began to walk over to the back of the room with Carlos in the lead. As soon as Carlos set foot in the back room, he let out the biggest laugh, covered his mouth and turned around to almost walk into me. He couldn’t stop cackling and I kept going, “What? What?! What’s going on? What’s happening?!” as my friend Gabe and the guide continued walking toward us.
My eyes quickly darted around the room desperately spying for the joke because I wanted to join in on the laugh. I took a couple of steps into the back room where the mural was and my eyes immediately went to the back corner. It was dark, but not dark enough to save my eyes from fully catching an older woman and her man … how do I put this? Well … he was … going to town. Yes, that town. Yes, legs on the chair and everything. My eyes immediately went wide and I totally felt bad that I had interrupted someone’s special moment. OOPS. And what else can I say about it?! To that lady I say, “Get it, girl.” To the world I say, “Yes. It absolutely is etched in my mind FOR ETERNITY.” And now, I give you the most awkward photo I have in my possession.
Well, that’s all for now! Add Tequila, Jalisco, to your bucket list, and if you ever book an Airbnb experience, please come tell me if you end up seeing too much!