Visiting the Tequila distillery in Tequila - or Not
Leaving Tepic we wanted to get as far as Guadalajara, Jalisco only 165 miles away. The highway wound through more mountains but it was cooler because they were higher and we didn’t get stuck behind any trucks. The scenery was changing some, not so many farms but more industry. We passed tobacco plantations, Coca-Cola and Pepsi bottling plants, and a cigarette factory. There were Maguey farms, the cactus that tequila is made from row upon row of them.
In fact, we were going to pass through a town named Tequila. Reading the guidebook I discovered there were 24 distilleries in Tequila and I thought it would be interesting to visit one.
The day was beautiful, the boys were content and Bill was agreeable. “Just tell me how to get there.”
I did. “Turn right here,” I said, my finger tracing the route on the map. “Now left there.” The distillery I picked to visit was down towards the center of the old part of town where the streets were still cobblestones. Cobblestones were very rough to drive on, everything inside bounced and rattled around and the motorhome creaked in every joint. The bunk bed bounced up and down, each time getting closer to The Driver's head. In the mirror I could see the scowl on his face getting more intense. But he just gritted his teeth, clutched the wheel and continued to follow my directions. I pretended I didn’t notice the look or the racket or jarring and continued to call out directions. By now we were into a very narrow one-lane, cobblestone street.
“Now turn left,” I told him, "it should be just around this corner."
Warily he turned the motorhome and trailer into another one-lane, cobblestone street. The tequila plant was smack dab in front of us. In fact the street ended at the entrance of the plant.
Bill braked, threw his hands up in the air and turned to look daggers at me. I carefully folded the map in my lap while acting as if I was very interested in looking at the massive stone buildings that surrounded us on three sides. John came up to sit next to me and we sat there looking out the windshield at the four or five blue clad workers who had been lounging next to the building in the shade. Now, cigarettes hanging from their lips, they were staring opened-mouthed at us.
So there we were head first, trailer behind, up against the entrance and loading dock area of the tequila plant. The one I wanted to visit.
Inside the motorhome there was dead silence. One thing the boys had learned was when to keep quiet.
Outside, one of the workers standing between the dock and us straightened up and started toward us. He was frantically gesturing, arms above his head, motioning for us to back up. I could hear him yelling, “No! No!” as he continued to make pushing motions at us. I couldn’t understand what he was saying, but I was pretty sure he wasn’t inviting us in for a tour.
Bill, released the catch on his seat, spun it around, braced his hands on the arms and propelled himself up out of it. All the time glaring at me. Another dirty look came my way as he grabbed his black Stetson and jammed it on his head. With a hitch of his pants he went out the door and down the steps to talk to the gathering crowd. The motorhome rocked with the force of the door slamming shut. One man shuffled forward to meet him. With a shake of their heads they both turned to study the motorhome and trailer. After a few minutes of discussion Bill and the worker started walking towards the back. The rest of the men fell in behind as they walked around the motorhome and trailer, twice.
The only thing to do was back the 24-foot motorhome with the ten foot trailer on the back down a one-lane cobblestone street around a corner.
“Why don’t Randy and I get out and take the trailer off. We can get it out of your way so you can back up,” says John Mc as Bill comes back inside. He is brave, maybe because he isn’t actually related to Bill. His offer is not received with good grace.
John, Paul and Gil slink back to the back bed. Randy keeps dealing his cards, not looking up. I sit there keeping my mouth shut as we ever so slowly back down the street towards the corner. A couple of the workers walk to either side of us giving Bill directions. Getting the trailer around the corner was the hard part, but he finally made it and soon the motorhome was also around the corner and backing towards an intersection. The workers wave good bye their faces bright with smiles (laughter).
Within a few minutes, we are out of Tequila back on the main highway heading to Guadalajara, without visiting a distillery.
Everyone found something in the back of the motorhome to occupy them.
I alone remained up front ready to give more directions. When asked.
“What the heck is that noise?” Bill demanded.
“It sounds like it's under the motorhome.” I ventured.
He pulled over, got out and walked around the motorhome. Nothing seemed to be wrong, no blown tires, no broken hoses.
“Something smells awful out here!” He followed the smell to a compartment under the front end. Something amber in color was seeping out the door. He unlocked and propped open the compartment
“John McClung, get out here now!”
The home bottled beer. The bottles were exploding! Just a little too much heat and one too many jolts. (Probably that cobblestone street leading to the distillery.) The broken bottles were put into a sack to be disposed of later. Bill slammed the compartment door closed. When they got back inside John Mc said he would clean up the rest of the smelly, gooey mess when we stopped for the day.
By Feburary 1st we had traveled 1882 miles on the Pan American Highway, about 1/5 of the way to Argentina