We reviewed La Mansion de Los Suenos, a historic and luxurious place to stay in Patzcuaro, Mexico, for iTravel iShop. There aren’t too many towns that meet the government’s criteria to be a Pueblo Magico (Magic Town) and Patzcuaro is one of the most beautiful among them. If you like ice cream and lovely boutique hotels, start planning a visit now.
Also, Jeff Blumenfeld, editor and creator of Expedition News, wrote a book called “You Want to Go Where?” and it comes out today and we’re in it. Jeff included our Trans-Americas Journey in his book, discussing how we’ve attracted such awesome product partners. We’re still in Mexico and it may be weeks before we get our hands on a copy of the book, so do us a favor and go get it and tell us how it is.
We’ve been in Mexico for about five months now and we have yet to find a single person who needs more than the vaguest excuse to throw a party. First, second, third or fourth Wednesday of the month? Good enough. Got to the gas station before the morning rush? Let’s celebrate! Cat had kittens? Party at my house! So when a town like Union de Tula celebrates its 188 birthday you can be sure of a good time.
No one in the plaza in Union de Tula, Mexico can resist the driving rhythm of a banda band, even at 1 am.
Celebrating the 188th birthday of Union de Tula, Mexico
The only thing that seems closer to a Mexican’s heart than a good party is his or her hometown. Between the family ties and fond memories, Home has an almost cosmic pull on most Mexicans. So when your hometown throws a week long fiesta you clear your schedule.
We were invited for the first weekend of the 188th Anniversary Celebration of a hte creation of a town called Union de Tula which is where our friend Iliana’s father, Cosme, was born and where his heart still lives. Cosme has built up the virtues of Tula (as everyone calls it) quite a bit so our expectations were pretty high and Tula does not disappoint.
The town has a gorgeous and extremely well-kept plaza, sunny streets, and an ever-growing crowd of revelers many of whom have returned home from other places in Mexico or even from the United States and Europe just for the party.
The party doesn’t disappoint either. A general air of fun (and the steamy pre-rainy season weather) inspire us to grab a refreshing michelada (a mix of beer, spices, salt and lime juice over ice–like a Mexican bloody Mary) at El Torreo bar and restaurant right on the square. Properly hydrated, we head for the La Loma neighborhood where a central street has been blocked off and filled with folding tables and chairs around s stage.
Check out our video, below, of late night banda music in Tula’s main plaza.
Neighborhood celebrations for Tula’s birthday
Everybody knows Cosme and his beautiful wife Cristina, but Eric and I are strangers. However, we soon have a heaping plate of birria (a sort of slow cooked delicious stew) and rice and beans in front of us along with a cold Sol beer. It’s delicious and loud and friendly and hot and all the best things about Mexico rolled into one mega street party. If only we could do it like this in New York City!
During each day of the week-long anniversary celebration in Tula, a different neighborhood hosts a street party complete with free music , food, and beer for all.
Just when things seem as festive and colorful as they can get, a group of women dressed in layers of colorful skirts and shockingly white blouses arrives. They are escaramusas, or cowgirls, who perform in Mexican rodeo events riding side-saddle. They are Karen’s new heroes, by the way: pretty, talented, and proud.
Cowgirls, or escaramusas, come in all sizes.
Enjoy a small portion of the formidable horn section of Banda Nueva Union in our video, below.
We all talk and laugh as the band, Banda Nuevo Union, plays loudly (even without amplifiers). Banda music is an offshoot of military bands and retains a relentless marching rhythm that, love it or hate it, gets the feet moving. One tiny cowboy plants himself in front of the band and dances is little heart out. And he’s GOOD. So good that our video of him, below, has become one of the most popular videos on our Trans-Americas Journey YouTube Channel.
It’s not a party without a rodeo…
It wouldn’t be a Mexican fiesta without a daily rodeo.
Full and happy and banda’d out, we leave La Loma and head for the rodeo (called charreada in Spanish) where entrance is free for the whole week of the fiesta. Our hosts from La Loma are not far behind and the charreada kicks off with some of them taking to the ring and hurling candy and oranges into the stands. Dangerous, but fun. By the end of the weekend we are exhausted and happy.
Enjoy the church bells going wild in the Tula plaza in our video, below.
If we ever forget what we love so much about Mexico, we’ll book a return trip to Tula during a fiesta so that we can be reminded that no one in the world (that we’ve met, anyway), knows how to throw a fun, friendly fiesta like Mexicans.
Abraham (left) and Edgar (right) have lived in the United States for much of their lives (long enough to have picked favorite teams in the NBA playoffs), but their real roots remain in Union de Tula, where they return for fiestas and family.
It’s taken lots of time, sweat, and late nights as well as plenty of frustrations but it’s finally here: Welcome to our New Travel Blog!
We made several attempts in the past to incorporate a WordPress blog seamlessly into our site, but we were always stymied by the complex code needed to conform a WordPress theme to the look and feel of our site. But it had to be done since the Tumblr blog we had settled for turned out to be terrible and our travel Journals & Photo Galleries are not getting updated frequently enough due to a lack of time once we keep our Journey on the road and finish our web, magazine and newspaper assignments.
More than two weeks of work and lots of guidance from @rivergirlcancun finally ended in success. As you see, we’re starting off with a bunch of posts from our old blog covering everything from fancy resorts on the Costalegre in Mexico to the making of a video application for a Really Goode Job. Check it out and enjoy.
“This job is so for you!” That’s our friend Nikki D talking after we told her we were applying for a Really Goode Job as Lifestyle Correspondents for Murphy-Goode Winery in Healdsburg, CA. It’s a sweet gig but they’re not just giving it away. Nope. All applicants have to submit a 60 second video job application.
The making of our very Goode video
Mexico’s wine industry is growing and improving, but it’s centered mostly in the Valle de Guadalupe area of the Baja Peninsula. Here in central Mexico tequila is king.
Since tequila has an official geographic denomination, like Chianti and Champagne, and only stuff made in approved areas with approved ingredients can legally be called tequila. Which brings us to the El Cascahuin Tequila Distillery in El Arena just north of Guadalajara on the Ruta del Tequila.
We figure Murphy-Goode will get plenty of video applications shot in vineyards, so why bore them with another one? Instead we headed into a rolling field of gorgeous blue agave with our trusty Flip Video camera and a stack of cue cards and our iPod and a whole crew of supporters including Javier there in the background, Carlos (whose family owns El Cascahuin) and our littlest guest star, Tedeo.
It was hot, it was dusty, and blue agave is brutally sharp (yes, there was blood) but we had a ball shooting our application video complete with our own theme song written by our friend, the amazing Scott Metzger, art help from our friend Iliana, and post-production polishing courtesy of Nikki D, who was the very first one to come right out and say that this job is so for us.