Hacienda Heaven – Lagos de Moreno, Mexico

This post is part 1 of 5 in the series Lagos de Moreno, Mexico

It’s a travel truth that applies even to lifers like us: The more you travel the more likely you are to find the place that makes you want to stop traveling and stay for a while. For us, Lagos de Moreno in Jalisco, Mexico may be that place. Over the next five posts we’ll do our best to convey the appeal of this sleepy, dusty, little-visited spot in central Mexico. Is it the people? Is it the history? Is it the desert? Is it the horses? Is it the horsemen and horsewomen? Is it the haciendas? Is it the pride? Is it the tequila? Let’s get started at Hacienda El Ahito.

Hacienda El Ahito, in Lagos de Moreno, Mexico, was built many generations ago by Pancho’s ancestors and has been in his family ever since.

Hacienda heaven at El Ahito in Lagos de Moreno

We start our little Lagos de Moreno-arama in the very first place we saw with the very first people we met when we first visited Lagos in 2009. What was meant to be a brief stay turned into almost three weeks thanks to the hospitality, peacefulness, wisdom, and grace of Jorge “Pancho” Serrano Zermeno and Lena Kissling at their Hacienda El Ahito.

El Ahito is not one of those luxuriously restored haciendas (we’ll get to some of those in upcoming Lagos de Moreno posts). The floors tilt a bit, the hinges creek, the paint peels. But it all adds up to a laid back, atmospheric ease that brings to mind cowboy hippies, if such things existed.

El Ahito is also a working hacienda where registered charolaise and simmental cattle and registered appaloosa horses are raised. It’s also Pancho and Lena’s home and home to an aging caretaker and his family members who have lived on this piece of Mexico for their entire lives. Nothing happens on the sprawling, cactus-covered El Ahito ranch without one of them knowing about it. It is as if the dust and the lake and the fences and the mesquite are connected to each of them.

Karen says hey Pancho, move your ass!

Unless he’s in trouble (a frequent condition) no one calls Jorge by his real name, preferring to stick with Pancho. It’s a nickname he picked up in Wyoming where he spent a few years working on the Willow Creek Ranch. That’s also where he met Lena who had left her native Switzerland to go work at the guest ranch too.

This is why he’s called Pancho and you’re not.

We’ll let you know as soon as the devilishly “imaginative” Pancho tells us the real story behind his nickname. For now, just believe us when we tell you that it’s fitting.

In late 2005, Pancho and Lena packed up their favorite horses and made a road trip that impresses even us: they drove thousands of miles in December from Wyoming to central Mexico pulling horse trailers.

Once back home at El Ahito, Pancho and Lena started building their dream and now they welcome guests and take riders from around the world into the wonderful landscapes of Jalisco. In the process they also bring them into the world of El Ahito, teaching you how to ride more like a Mexican charro (cowboy), which is surprisingly different from the western riding we’re taught in the US.

Long tall cowboys. Believe it or not, that’s us.

You’ll also learn how to slow down and appreciate, well, everything including the fact that you still can’t persuade your horse to move sideways along a gate so you can open and close it without dismounting.

Lena and Karen pushing cows at Hacienda El Ahito in Lagos de Moreno, Mexico.

Fittingly, the word ahito means satisfaction and as long as you’re drawing breath you should be able to find it here. It’s in Lena’s delicious scrambled eggs mixed with bits of luscious mango and chiles. It’s in the way their dog Max is dying for you to throw him a stick, then can’t seem to find it even though its right under his nose. It’s in the daily fashion show put on by the hacienda’s peacocks, including a few stately albinos. It’s in the way Pancho uses one of his many enormous hand-crafted pocket knives to slice the most delicate slivers of his beloved habañero peppers before laying them onto hunks of pineapple and watching (with a Cheshire Cat grin on his face) as you pop it into your mouth. It’s in the sound of Lena and Pancho’s leather working tools as they whoosh and thump through the stages of hand-tooling belts and handbags and bridles and saddles and chaps (leave room in your luggage).

Pancho grabs a little escapee from the roundup.

At El Ahito, what’s normal is extraordinary. If you want to go see for yourself shoot Pancho and Lena an email at indianboymx at yahoo.com (allow some time for a response, they’ve both got far better things to do than check their email).

Read more about horseback riding in Lagos de Moreno in our story about horseback vacations for the Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune.

Here’s more about travel in Mexico

Series Navigation:<< On Horseback Through History – Lagos de Moreno, Mexico

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9 comments on “Hacienda Heaven – Lagos de Moreno, Mexico

  1. Pingback: Horses, haciendas & the Camino Real in Lagos de Moreno Mexico

  2. Just returned a few weeks ago from visiting Pancho & Lena. Being their only guest I was treated with meeting their friends and family. I had the experience of a life time, even participating in Team Penning. I have a SmileBox made of my trip if you would like to view it, send me your email.

  3. I’m always inspired by your seemingly tireless traveling. “Mi esposa Mexicana” and I are taking a three month trip to Europe, partially on the example you’ve given all of us. Keep up the fine work.

  4. Loved this article. I found it by mistake when i was looking for a place to go and learn more hands on horse training. I want to do something different . Being that my husband is spanish this place seems like the perfect place. But! I wonder if they offer what I am looking for?

  5. My mother used to live in that Hacienda, I believe she was 16 years old when my father (a horse man soldier) “kidnap her” (the old times saying) from there or from Lagos de Moreno. She is now 67 years old, my father is dead and she has never being there since she left, she said that she tried to go visiting about 12 years ago, but couldn’t make it all the way to the Hacienda, A man on a horse told her that nobody from the old times was there any more, due to time and transport she had to go back, but I promised her I would take her some time to that place before she dies, I live in California, and now thanks to this article, I will plan a trip to that hacienda some time in the next 2 years. I will love to see a big smile on the face of my mother, and I want to see the Hacienda also.

    • I will be waiting for you and your mother to come back to Hacienda El Ahito. My name is Leonardo and I am the great grand son of the original owner.

      I want to start a proyect to bring back to life the Hacienda and have people stay and experience what living in one of these wonderful places used to be.

      Please feel free to contact me anytime. I would love to know your mother history.

      [email protected]

  6. Pingback: Travel Mexico: Karen & Eric of the Trans-Americas Journey - travelinksites.com

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