Take Flight with Wing

Pink Horchata and Mini Mexican Mysteries

What do you imagine when you think of Mexico? All-inclusive resorts amongst white sandy beaches, mariachis and bottomless margaritas? Normally, I would agree, but the experience I just had in Mexico has given me great insight into a few historical traditions that I didn’t even know existed.

After visiting Leon last week, my friend took us on a slight detour before heading back to our hotel in Guadalajara. Let’s call this, mini mystery number 1. Jalostatitlán, or Jalos (sounds like HA-los) is a small town located 1.5 hours north east of Guadalajara. The main, one-way street through town barely had enough room for a row of cars to park on the left and a lane for moving traffic on the right. It was already night when we arrived, but it was clear to see that this was best time to visit Jalos. The main plaza was bustling with people strolling in and out of the food and retail carts. We finally stopped in front of a small restaurant with a cheerful wolf character out front and metallic streamers hanging from the ceiling inside. It turns out, this was my friend’s family’s restaurant — one of two in Jalos, actually. The menu offerings were limited so we ordered one of everything just to make sure we didn’t miss out on anything. Tacos, burritas (not to be confused with burritos), enchiladas, sopes and quesadillas. But what did we wash it all down with? Horchata, of course! But when the drink came, I was amused to see that it was pink. Coming from California, I’d only seen this sweet, cinnamon rice drink in a white milky form, but instead, this one looked like Nestle strawberry milk. But, it tasted magical. It was as if my usual known horchata had been infused with a hint of strawberry. It was definitely the best horchata I’d ever had. What a treat!

Mini mystery number 2 during my trip to Mexico included a visit to Tlaquepaque. My friend informed me that this area was known for its clay pottery, blown glass and leather shops. You could even smell the beautiful leather just walking through the quaint pedestrian street. There were star piñatas hanging above the pathway, which I was told were still there from Christmas. The story of these piñatas is that the seven points on the star represent the seven deadly sins, and when broken, faith triumphs over temptation and evil. But this wasn’t the only fun piece of history I learned in Tlaquepaque.

When we rounded the corner and entered the plaza of this adorable town, I noticed a very tall pole — maybe two stories high — with four men sitting on top wrapping rope around the frame they were sitting on. When they finished wrapping all the rope they had, a fifth man climbed up the pole and sat in the middle of the other four while playing a wooden flute of sorts. Then, all four men on the outside leaned backwards and started spinning upside down while the pole turned in circles as each of the ropes unraveled. After a few minutes, all four men were safely on the ground. This ritual has taken place in this town for many years in hopes to receive a bountiful harvest. To a visiting guest, this act may seem like a cultural Cirque du Soleil performance, but to the locals, it’s simply a traditional way of life.