Wednesday, November 11, 2015

A Second Look at Tequila

World Heritage Sites

I owe it to myself to revisit Santiago de Tequila in Central Mexico.  To this day, Tequila is the benchmark on which we compare all our worst travel experiences.  "It can't be as bad as Tequila," we say.  And so far, nothing has.

But much has changed down there in thirty years.  Now the region has been placed on the World Heritage Site list because of its cultural and historical influence. And its beauty.  The vast blue agave fields have provided fermented drink and cloth to the natives for 2,000 years.  Today there are luxury hotels, tours of factories, a Tequila Museum and a Tequila Express, a tourist train that operates on Saturday and Sunday with mariachi bands and bilingual guides.  Reviews have been good.

Not so much in 1981.  My husband and I rolled into town, hoping to find a good hotel for the night.  We had been camping and were in dire need of a shower.   Surely there would be something in Tequila, right?

We found one hotel in town with a child manning the reception desk.  He showed us a room.  We popped our heads in.  There was a bed.  And a shower.  "We'll take it," we said in unison.  We paid our pesos (I don't think it was much more than $10) and expected him to hand us a key.


"No llave," he said and escorted us back to the room.  We hadn't noticed the missing doorknob. Just a round hole in the door, but big enough for anyone to peek through and see the double bed.  Or simply walk in, for that matter.  But we shrugged.  We were too tired to do anything about it.  After unpacking our bags, we pushed the dresser in front of the door.  We skipped dinner and crashed.

"Man, it's hot in here," I said, sitting up.  It was pitch black.  "Can you open a window?"

My husband obliged, but paused before cranking the window pane. "Um, there's no screen," he said.  "Still want it open?"  I knew what that meant.  Big moths.  Mosquitoes.  But I was drenched in sweat.  I needed fresh air.  A cool breeze.  "Si, por favor."  But just as we were about to doze off again, a big swish, swish, swish above our heads made us jump up in fright.  "What the hell?"


I threw the sheet over my head and screamed.  Richard ran around the room like a mad man, swatting the little devils with his pillow.  The battle raged for the next hour, but he finally got them all out and closed the window.  I never did get back to sleep.

As soon as the black sky started to lighten, I decided to get up and take a shower.  I was once again drenched in sweat.  It must have been over a hundred degrees in that room.  Cool water.  That's what I needed.  And lots of it.

"TARANTULAS!"  came my scream from the tiled shower stall.

I could not get out of that hotel fast enough.
And that's why we owe it to ourselves to go back.  

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