Arguably there is no state that is home to more Mexican traditions known worldwide than Jalisco!
Our Ay Jalisco series of tours will introduce you to some of the hidden and also well-known areas, artisans and special locations within this amazing state.
Here below is a bit about the locations we visit that can be combined to form one of several itineraries:
Cajititlán: A medium-sized lake located just north of Lake Chapala and south of Guadalajara, stocked with several species of fish which are caught locally for food. Here we visit the home and workshop of Melchor Macías and take part in a small class where we learn about his work with horsehair to make stunning crafts.
Guachimontones / Teuchitlán: This not so well known archaeological site is a hidden gem not too far from Tequila volcano. It sits above the town of Teuchitlán and has a commanding view of lake La Vega and the valley below. It is unlike any other site you will see in Mesoamerica, with its circular pyramid-like ceremonial structures. This visit also stops at the wonderful interpretive museum below the site.
Las Navajas: This small and un-signed village located south of Guadalajara is home to a small group of workers led by Don Eleno who work the local obsidian mines to then carve, grind, and polish fine and intricate figures and objects from the volcanic glass. These pieces are sold all over the country to collectors, massage specialists, and tourists alike.
Mazamitla: This picturesque town with its pitched tile roofs and wooden floors is a popular weekend getaway for the Guadalajara crowd, yet in the week it is quiet and wonderful to walk around and to visit the local market, candy, and punch factories, or the many small nurseries selling beautiful plants. Whilst here, we also visit, taste, and learn about what makes Tequila Tierra Noble so special due to its distilling at 7,200 feet above sea level.
Zacoalco de Torres: Located to the west of Lake Chapala, Zacoalco is known for huaraches, belts, and wallets. More importantly, however, it is known internationally for the generational tradition of equipales. Made from locally harvested wood and cured pig leather, the masters of the town make these durable and comfortable furniture sets. Traditionally only chairs and tables, now there are many options being made from footstools to bars and chests, or drawers.
San Lucas Evangelista: Just on the edge of Lake Cajititlán is the tiny village of San Lucas, home to Don Goyo and his family. They are one of several families who mine the only hill in the area with just the right kind of stone to make molcajetes (mortar and pestles). By the sound of the hammer blow on the rock, Don Goyo can tell if it is good or bad and what kind of piece he can ‘extract’ from the rock. Once the rocks are transported back to the family home/workshop, within a short time using a small angle grinder and a hammer a 7″, 8″ or 9″ molcajete with the face of a pig starts to take shape. Located in front of the family house in the village square is the world’s largest molcajete which measures over 2m in width!
San Miguel Cuyutlán: A small lakeside village located at the western extreme of Lake Cajititlán, San Miguel Cuyutlán is home to a truly generational craft that is still practised to this day in the traditional methods. Craftsmen here take a wild maguey and extract its fibres, before drying and then spinning them into a series of cords and ropes which can measure up to 60 m in length and can be used to take down a charging 450kg bull, time after time. Don Eduardo, who we visit here, and his workers make these strong ropes that are sold all over the world and are the gold standard for Charros.
Sayula: Located on the edge of the Laguna de Sayula, which is an overwintering home to thousands of migrating birds, is the town of Sayula. Nationally it is known for its legends and ‘animas’, as well as its cajeta and knives. We visit the Lugo family and their factory to learn how they transform goat’s milk into a wonderful and creamy caramel spread, as well as other products. They are world record holders, having created a piece that weighed in at 1,615.5kg, presented in a traditional wooden ‘canoe’. Whilst here, we also visit one of several families who handmake exquisite knives – the Ojeda family. Perhaps one of the oldest and most well-known producers of fine knives for all sorts of uses.
Tequila: This ‘Pueblo Magico’ is the home and birthplace of the iconic drink enjoyed by millions around the world. We take you into one of the oldest distilleries (Jose Cuervo) to learn about the process and also try some of the finest tequila available in a guided tasting session after a visit to the factory and distillery. Tequila has a growing reputation over the last few years as a quality drink and not just a cheap shot to get you drunk. In 2019 alone close to 352 million litres were distilled and shipped.