One by one, we all flew in. From Texas, North Carolina, Boston, Chicago, San Fransico, Albuquerque, Miami, we all landed in the steamy, palm tree-laden town of Puerto Vallarta to drink lots and lots of tequila...but I'll come back to that at a later post.
After 14 years, we finally returned to Mexico. While we didn't head off to our normal spot, the ranch in Tamaulipas, we headed to Jalisco to go to two small mountain towns, Mascota and Navidad. This trip was to meet my grandma's paternal side of the family, the Quintero's, who graciously welcomed their crazy American family into their homes to eat, drink, sing + dance.
After climbing up through the Sierra Vista, spiraling back down cliffside, finding a mariachi band stuffed in a Suburban with a beautiful blue Volkswagen Thing nearby, and trudging on our bus through jungles with many topes, speed bumps, we arrived hungry and sweaty to hugs and kisses in Mascota.
Angelita and her husband Sergio brought us to their bright yellow Mascota house, which Sergio built into a mountain with two other men. After touring their garden and home, we settled in their "play room" a large covered patio with an outdoor kitchen, and open-air dance floors, and devoured fresh mango, papaya, coconut, cucumber and jicama with chili limón. The breeze was cool as we sat surrounded by Sergio's family farm heirlooms on his handmade property.
As the afternoon winds brought in a cooling rain, the rest of the Quintero's and their families arrived for a huge fiesta. Silvia, Irma, and David dropped in from Guadalajara, and Anna Rosa from Mascota. Chorizo and chicken were grilled, beans were smashed, and tortillas were toasted...then all quickly consumed with a side of tequila, raicilla, and salsa.
And in typical Flores-Dueñas fashion, the music started. Little did we know, however, the Quintero's were going to bring out their rancheros and corridos! Los primos sang and danced, shared traditions, and drinks all night long. Music is such a huge part of our family, passed down through my great grandfather who played the trombone in a big band, and will forever be a tradition. It's evident when you look at both sides of our families that music tells our stories.
The day after the family fiesta, we drove up the mountain to a small town called Navidad. Yes, Christmas town. No, Santa does not live there. My great grandpa, however, is from this colorful village known for it's huge festivals in July. We first stopped by the cemetery to look at old family graves, then headed into town to explore the square, the church, and the home where my great grandpa grew up.
On the way back down, we were determined to find some Raicilla, or as we like to call it, Mexican Moonshine. Made from agave, but different than tequila. It's smokier and until recently, illegal. We asked a gentleman on the street where to get some, and he pointed us to some houses, which led us to some other folks, who then led us to the house who made raicilla. Very strong and not to shabby, actually. And I don't know how it made it home, but it did.
When I was asked what was my favorite part about my trip to Mexico, it was a no brainer. Family is my favorite part. It's who we are. It's our heritage and the sense of togetherness. It's the notion that no matter what, even if you just met, someone will always have your back. I'm so very glad to have finally met that side of my crazy large family, and it's a side I do not want to forget. Thank you for all the memories, Quintero crew! Here's to a trip back, soon!