It is easy to get a bit lost in Valle de Guadalupe.
You can fret about it, or you can get into the spirit of a GPS treasure hunt.
I believe our GPS has a mind of her own and thoroughly enjoyed messing with our heads. Since there are few helpful road signs, she played us with circles and turns we didn’t need to do. I swear we heard a peal of soft laughter come through the speakers, or was that just in my head?
So we entered that scavenger hunt gladly and took part in it fully. Even the confusion and U-turns.
Have you ever heard the English GPS woman try to pronounce Spanish? The names get mangled, and that is often a giggle in itself. I think she was as exasperated as us.
I wondered “who is this woman of mispronunciation” as I voiced my occasional cuss word. They were, of course, ignored and she went on playing. Maybe she was tired of her job, needed a distraction.
Or was this all to teach us a lesson? Be open to where life leads. You don’t have to know everything in advance.
Glenn was driving on Mexican roads for the first time. In the Valle, those roads become dirt tracks littered with potholes and the Mexican topes that pop up everywhere.
The roads can be longish, with sharp turns – left then right. What the hell were we skirting around? There was nothing there. That we could determine anyway. Was there a mystery to traversing the valley? Or a story of family lands and demarcations?
And the topes? We weren’t going fast enough to hit them at a car crunching speed. I guess they were just thrown in for good measure. To remind us of where we were.
We moved to Mexico a bit under four years ago. Sometimes we forget where we are, just absorbed in our lives and what is becoming familiar. The real Mexico is not what it is purported to be in conversations north of the border.
We have so much more to explore. So much to learn. To be a part of. It will take the rest of our lives; a challenge we love undertaking.
Other times, Mexico is right in our faces, stretching out in front of us with her exuberance and soulfulness. Beautiful and heart-wrenching. Subtle and explosive.
Now, on day two, we were in search of a winery in Baja. We believed the winding roads would land us at our destination.
We had known nothing really about Mexican wines before moving to San Miguel from California.
We were about to be surprised.
Please, don’t say that Valle de Guadalupe is the “Napa of Mexico.” The Valle should stand on its own measure. We need to learn to not compare new with things familiar.
It is what it is.
Valle de Guadalupe has its own character. In the land and in the people.
And the land is worked by proud sturdy souls. We need to read up on the local history, understand the amazing people, share their amazing stories.
There are no rolling green hills of vines stretching out in Baja. There are no “chateaus” or huge hotels with spas, no big flashy cars. There is no hours-long line of traffic, so many crowding a two-lane road. Often, we were entirely by ourselves.
There are “boutique” places to place your head on a pillow at night, and there are scatterings of eateries – taco stands to large BBQ joints, and amazing places next to ponds or on hillsides. We were going to let our diet be ignored for the week. Sure, we both had slight paunches, but we had gotten rid of the muffin tops. We could indulge and enjoy.
Food is Mexico. And we had fortified ourselves with a big breakfast at Hacienda Guadalupe’s restaurant where we sat outside and overlooked the valley before setting off.
We only had time for one winery before meeting up with our friends Phyllis and Kim back at Xaroma.
There are dusty pale pink mornings and hot air balloons. And the quality of the light changes with the passing hours of the day. The heat of the desert was rising. I reveled in the warmth. My whole attitude changes with sunlight. Let me go barefoot, sink my feet into the earth.
We saw lots of brown this time of year. The desert dust rises and surrounds our slow-moving car in puffs. Dirt crunches under the tires. The music of the desert.
On day two is the car still white? Probably not, but we take that thought and enter it into our minds as a badge of courage. Besides, it is rented; we don’t have to return it clean. Maybe the workers at the car rental will create their own story of the car’s adventures.
To us, a GPS brings about excitement. Whether on foot or in an auto, not knowing where you are going is full of possibilities. We can get lost safely, then find our way out unscathed.
We were crossing from the more southern road to the upper road and heading to “Las Nubes Bodes y Viñedos”, a wine tasting facility up on a hill. Well, we weren’t really heading there, but that is where we ended up.
Tastings in the Valle can require reservations, and if you are going to one of the small wineries and don’t have one, you may be turned away. Our first, Las Nubes, had a big terrace and there was only one other couple, so Glenn and I settled in for a tasting and had a wonderful conversation with them.
I don’t profess to know anything really about wine – except I love the taste of it and the romance; the stories surrounding it, both those of the wineries and their families and those we make with our loved ones. Shared bottles, sunsets, and a slow pace. Don’t chug wine, savor it. It has meaning. You have meaning with it.
I am not going to even try to talk about vintages or review the wines we tasted. I know if I like one or don’t and I might pick out some of the underlying flavors. But, I hate to say it. I won’t remember anything as we move on to the next winery.
I could never be a wine snob.
I remember a wine based more on how my surroundings were at the time I tasted it; who were my companions, what was our conversation about, what was the weather like, how was I dressed. It is all subjective. I have my own rating scale.
With that in mind, we loved the wines that brilliant day. Some more than others, but sitting in the sun on a terrace overlooking a valley in Mexico, fun music wafting from the speakers, with the best man ever, they were all scrumptious.