GENIE IN A BOTTLE

Mexico 2014 | TOURISM | FOCUS: JALISCO STATE

To describe Jalisco State as diverse is to understate just what awaits the fortunate visitor, regardless of their purpose, or their personal definition of a good time.

Most visitors to Jalisco State begin their journey in the capital, Guadalajara. Known widely as the Florence of Mexico, Guadalajara combines the vibrant pulse of a modern metropolitan city with world-renowned cathedrals, frescos, and peaceful parks and squares. However, Jalisco is mostly known for two other international symbols of Mexican identity: tequila and mariachi. Jesús Enrique Ramos Flores, the Secretary of Tourism for Jalisco, puts it this way, “To talk about Jalisco is to talk about Mexican culture, specifically mariachi and tequila, which are two internationally renowned symbols of our country. These are gifts from Jalisco to Mexico, and to the entire world." Appreciation for mariachi music, both domestic and worldwide, has never been greater. In 2011, UNESCO granted mariachi official recognition as part of the shared cultural heritage of our planet, saying that, “Mariachi music conveys values that promote respect for the natural heritage of regional Mexico," combining both Spanish and indigenous elements into a unique form. Throughout Mexico, the music accompanies many of the key moments in cultural and family life. Another quintessentially Mexican tradition, Charreria—a style of horsemanship, also hails from Jalisco, and is considered a national pastime with deep cultural roots.

The town of Tequila is known the world over as the center for the production of Mexico's national drink. The green and blue fields of agave plants, from which the eponymous drink is extracted, roll on for miles and extend into neighboring states. All of the tequila in the world, estimated at some 60 million gallons a year, is produced in this region. In 1978 the “Appellation of Origin for Tequila" was instituted, assuring that only the agave drinks made within the region could have the honor of being called tequila. And like most states in Mexico, Jalisco is also known for its own unique and flavorful local cuisine. The signature dish of Guadalajara, tortas ahogadas, is commonly known as "drowned sandwiches," and is usually stuffed with pork and covered in spicy salsa. Another particular specialty of the region is a spicy Mexican meat stew called birria, which is typically made with lamb or goat. The meat is baked slowly with spices and served with minced onions, cilantro, and lime.

If eco-tourism is more to your liking, Lake Chapala—Mexico's largest freshwater lake—is an hour from Guadalajara and offers visitors a peaceful and silent retreat. Surrounded by mountains, it is a particular destination of choice for bird watchers. Many migrating birds, including the white pelican, spend their winters on Lake Chapal. Slightly further afield in the Pacific coastal city of Puerto Vallarta, visitors can swim with dolphins, surf, whale watch, or enjoy the sunset along one of the towns many lovely beaches. Because of its stunning natural beauty, Puerto Vallarta is also a popular destination for weddings for both Mexicans and international visitors alike, and there are a number of specific businesses catering to this market. And so, whether it is business, pleasure, or even wedding vows that brings you to Mexico, you would be well advised not to miss out on all Jalisco has to offer.