Friday, April 3, 2009

Tepic, Tonala, Luis Moya and Back to Parras - Spring 2009

Leaving Mazatlan early in the morning, we drove to Tepic where we bought orchids from Jose Francisco Tovan Abad at Vivero La Orquidea in Pantanal, Nayarit. Street address Carr. San Cayetano KM 2.5 Rumbo al aeropuerto. All that information will mean nothing to anyone unless you are looking for beautiful orchids at reasonable prices from someone who really knows about orchids. I was so excited I forgot to take pictures. Oh, well . . .

On to Tequila. We were on the search for barrels to be used for wine aging. The story behind these barrels is rather interesting. According to US law, whiskey barrels can only be used once. Then, many of them are sold for aging and storing tequila. They may be refurbished several times during their life in Tequila, but finally, too thin to rework, they are sold to enterprising folks like David. He completely disassembles the barrels, selects only staves that are solid enough to rework and creates new barrels. They are somewhat smaller than the originals but serve our purpose beautifully. We bought three plain barrels from him and two more decorative ones from another company. It was a good buy!

The little town of Tequila is growing leaps and bounds. Just a few years ago it was impossible to find a place to stay, but now there are several very nice hotels and nice restaurants. The infrastructure for tourists is certainly improving. However, after procuring and packing all our barrels - made all the more difficult by all the orchids we had purchased the previous day - all the nicest places to eat were closed. Dinner consisted of tacos purchased from a street vendor and eaten on a park bench. Delicious!

On to Guadalajara and Tonala. By the time we reached Tonala the truck was full, but I did manage to squeeze in a couple of items I couldn't live without. Stanley made no purchases, but he did see an interesting sight that he thought we needed to capture on film.
Tonala was just as busy as ever. So much stuff! What a shame I have such a small home. I would buy more if I only had the space.
A quick stop in Luis Moya to make arrangements for grapes we would pick up in August, and we were back on the road. Just in case anyone is wondering, it's a long way from Guadalajara to Parras de la Fuente.

Shortly after we returned to Parras, Estella's grandson was baptized. Of course, there was the mandatory feeding opportunity and I was honored with an invitation. The lovely woman is my friend Estella. The charming little boy is Ramon - not so charming at this very moment, but he was still half-asleep.

The always charming Pable Montero paid us a visit. He's probably the most famous entertainer I ever shared a glass of wine with. He is as controversial as he is talented, but we throughly enjoy his company. Check him out on wikipedia at

And finally, Stanley got started clearing the site for the new vineyard. Look carefully and you can see 75 Zinfandels, 25 Cabernet Sauvignon and 25 Petit Sarah.

Included in the plan is space for a new vegetable garden. The entire area will be fenced, netted and ready for shade cloth when needed.
I can hardly wait.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

The Durango Highway March 2009

The road to Copala is always long, but the kilometers fly away in a blur of beauty. I never grow tired of the scenery or the people. We usually stop in Durango for the night, but since so much of the new highway was finished, we pushed on into the mountains .

Having left the desert on a typical warm sunny day and knowing our destination was an even warmer Copala and a still warmer Mazatlán, we had not packed quite enough warm clothes to ward off the frosty chill of Mexiquillo. Even a brisk walk through the woods didn’t do the job.

However, after a trip to the local "super," we had the ingredients for a hot soup and Stanley made quick work of starting a fire. In the nick of time, we held frostbite at bay, but it was a close call.

Getting out of bed the next morning was not an easy thing to do. It would have been much easier to stay under the covers until spring, but Copala was calling. We stopped in El Salto to buy a supply of tomato stakes. They come in handy for so many things in the garden and vineyard and knowing that we planned to put in another 100 or so vines in 2010, we loaded up. Then lunch and on up the road.

We stopped at the Devil’s Backbone rest area for a snack and a look at the canyon then on to Potrerillos to buy calla lilies for my old lady friends in Copala.

Last point of interest before we reach Copala: the tunnels which will cut hours off the time between Durango and Mazatlan. They are so huge they take my breath away.

Copala just doesn’t change. People move in. People move out. Someone paints. Someone digs up an aggressive bougainvillea. Someone plants roses. The essence of the town remains unchanged. I do not regret that we moved to Parras, but I will always treasure the days we spent in Copala. Walking down those ancient streets, heat radiating from adobe walls, I can feel my whole mind and body slowing down.

Bad news was waiting for us. Our very good friend Daniel was very ill. He and his wife Bertha were with his sister in California. Lupita was still there. Still the same. Still very much in charge!

We enjoyed our days in Copala: a lunch with Luis, dinner with our friends Russell and Barb and Barb’s mom, beer at one café, banana cream pie at another, supper at still another.

A niece of Luis was in town visiting and when we went to Mazatlán, we took her along. She was a delight. As always, being with Luis and Rossana was like good medicine. You feel better just being there.

The boys were great. We had reading, science experiments, a fabulous dinner and bird watching.
The hummingbird was nesting in a tree right outside the dining room window.

We also took in a book fair, wine in Machado Plaza and a walk along the malecón. Too soon it was time to leave. We had other fish to fry.


Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Looking Back on Early Spring at Perote

I well remember March 23rd. We were to leave the next day for our annual trek to Copala and Mazatlan and I was determined to finish piecing together our Christmas vacation on the blog before embarking on yet another adventure.

I won’t say we were exhausted when we returned from Oaxaca, but we were very tired. It felt so good to be home! Aside from a mid-February trip to San Antonio to visit family and pick up the mail, we didn’t go anywhere for several weeks. We planted an early garden, read, marveled at the spectacular sunrises that opened almost every morning, and made a daily inspection of the vineyard for signs of spring.

A word about the trip to San Antonio. I often joke about being a middle child - the youngest of the first four and the oldest of the younger set. My mom is only 17 years older than I and I am 15 years older than my youngest brother. I think that makes me a middle child - I certainly have the personality. At any rate, I don´t get many opportunities to see the older set so this was a special day. The two gentlemen in the photo are my uncles, Jerry on the left with his bride Patsy, and Joe on the far right. And where did they put me? You got it - right in the middle!
I also invested a fair amount of time on week-ends developing a relationship with Estella, a lovely woman just a few years younger than I. She teaches in Monterrey, but she comes to Parras almost every week-end. The more I know her, the more I like her. She has a slew of sisters and brothers, daughters and grandchildren. They are all wonderful, but Estella is my favorite. Aside from how much I enjoy her friendship, she’s also good for my Spanish which is still a long way from as good as I would like it to be.

Interesting people are always showing up at the hacienda and we enjoy them all, especially on lazy winter days. One particular family was exceptionally enjoyable. They found themselves in Parras as they toured around Mexico before making their way to Bolivia. A professional winemaker, John works for a large winery in New Zealand. He was able to take the opportunity of spending four months in South America due to the difference in seasons. We heard from them a couple of times during their time in Bolivia and followed their travel log on the internet. With few exceptions, it seems their experience was a good one. While they were here, they tasted our wine and gave it high marks. Oh, how we do revel in praise!
Lindsay, Haley, John and Galen

By the time I wrote the last entry in March, the vineyard was all leafed out and growing leaps and bounds. The garden was showing signs of promise and we were already planning on how we could enlarge both the vineyard and the garden next spring! That’s what happens when we spend too much time at home.

It was time for a trip! Off we went!