Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Juan -- Happiest Man in Mexico

And I´ve only got 9 minutes to tell you about Juan.

Our first day here, we took a sort of "Introduction to Puerto Vallarta" tour, which piled us all into an air-conditioned bus, took us into the city, gave us a walk around the historic Church, took us to a store where we could get "the best prices on good silver" (which is code for "kickback for the tour company"), a small square where merchants were selling more, uh... crappy goods (kickback also, we´re pretty sure) and then drove us way into the mountains where we had lovely views of the city, drove through a very poor town (to see the "other side of Puerto Vallarta") and eventually met Juan.

Juan works at what was, for some, the raïson d´être of this tour. Juan works at a Tequila factory.

Not a big place. Up in the mountains. Sort of a giant carport in which there are various vats, barrels, and stills. The first distillation of a batch of tequila is not drinkable (being ethanol or something) so they use it to hose down the place. Which gives it a nice alcoholy smell before you even step inside.

Juan takes pride in his work. He tells us all about how Tequila is made. He tells us how to tell good tequila from bad tequila. He tells us how to tell girl agave plants from boy agave plants. He tells us how many bottles of tequila we can take back to our respective countries without violating Customs regulations.

And he has samples. About 6 shots per person, to taste various tequilas. I stopped after the second. Juan says we should never drink alone, so drank with the group on all 6.

Juan drank my unconsumed third shot, too -- as we should never waste tequila.

And after our tour group left, another group came in, giving Juan another opportunity to proudly show off his tequila-making operation, and to continue to get toasted with the tourists.

This repeats all day long.

Juan loves his job.

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