After a short detour to Moscow, I arrived in Guadalajara, the second stop of the Sep7imo Dia tour in Mexico.
This region is the birthplace of two of Mexico’s most archetypal exports: mariachi music and tequila.
There is the Plazuela de los Mariachis here but when I cycled past it, there were no mariachis. I eventually met one – Vicente Fernandez Gomez, who also happened to be the owner of the Arena VFG, where we played. He is a famous Mexican singer, nicknamed El Rey de la Música Ranchera, and although he is not technically a mariachi musician since he plays no instruments, he is accompanied by a mariachi group. When we met, he was dressed in traditional charro suit and observing a charreada, a Mexican rodeo at his rancho.
Just as champagne must hail from France, tequila has Appellation of Origin, meaning that it has to be produced in one of five Mexican states. There is a store in Guadalajara that holds 1827 different brands of it. In the mid-20th century, tequila sales spiked in the States when California residents thought it had psychedelic effects, confusing mezcal with mescaline (the psychoactive alkaloid of peyote).
About 60km from Guadalajara lays the town of Tequila, from which the name of the drink is derived. I unpacked Greengo, my Brompton and cycled there. Once there, it wasn’t all that pleasant to cycle around as most streets in the town are cobblestones but luckily, it’s a small town so neither Greengo or I suffer too much.
Tequila is home to a few distilleries, the most famous of which is Jose Cuervo. I took a tour of it and learned that they use the heart or piña of the blue agave, and not the leaves to make tequila; that tequila is distilled to 55% alcohol and then diluted to its desired percentage; that there are five types of tequila; that the most popular tequila in the world, Jose Cuervo Especial Gold, is only 51% blue agave and meant to be used in cocktails, not for shots. After the tour, there was the requisite tequila tasting.
Since I wanted to try different brands and types of tequila rather than just Jose Cuervo, Greengo and I went to a tequila tasting bar. I tried tequila blanco, reposado and añejo from different producers. I couldn’t resist and bought a bottle of tequila produced in Tequila.
I came back to Guadalajara by bus – don’t drink and ride!
I also went to Sayulita, a beach town a few hours away from Guadalajara, to even out my cyclist’s tan. This time “sans” bicycle.
These weeks in numbers:
127 km – distance cycled
6 – brands of tequila tried