Our family made our annual trip to Mexico this Thanksgiving and, rather than just relax at sea level (like we usually do), we hit the road for a couple of days and headed straight up 9k feet into the mountains to visit our friend, Jose Luis Alvarez. We have dubbed this amigo, the Dos Equis guy. We went to stay in his 500 year-old hacienda so we could go with him to see the monarch butterflies. Not only does this most interesting man in the world take the likes of scientists, senators and National Geographic photographers to the butterflies’ hang out, he is also knee-deep in saplings —acres and acres of them— which he gives to farmers to encourage reforestation in the mountains. Between the bark beetle and the local woodchoppers, it’s looking a bit spotty up at 13k feet where the butterflies congregate. I’m going to show you where huge numbers of monarch butterflies float between the trees while wintering in Mexico next week. This week I thought you’d like to see where Jose lives.
Jose leading the way through his front door
All fifteen of us follow him inside
And we’re inside Jose’s hacienda
The hacienda is an open courtyard with rooms running the length of the two side walls
The courtyard is filled with fruit trees, palms and lots of stuff you’d never expect
The top of this urn is covered with antique irons
This is the hacienda’s “backyard”. Note the oxen yokes decorating the back walls and the antique Renault
Mr Dos Equis said it’s the only Renault in Mexico
This carriage and carved ox cart are parked against the front wall
The back door to the dining room
These guys flank one of the outdoor corridors leading to the kitchen
These outside stairs lead to the second floor…and the roof
This is a detail of those stairs. Note the water pots… and that mural!
According to Jose, the water in this pot is the real “Smart Water”. You half bury these pots filled with water and cover the opening with fabric. The ground keeps the water cold and the pot keeps the water aerated.
I ventured out onto the roof and found I wasn’t alone.
A view from the roof
Another roof view
On a lower portion of the roof I spotted this sink made out of a Singer sewing machine base
Found this carved cactus chair in a canvas-covered area in the back of the hacienda — a treasure trove of pieces parts of furniture and art
Doors leading to the dining room, which, according to Jose, were made by Frank Lloyd Wright
Dining room fireplace… big enough for all 15 of us to get warm while waiting for dinner
Looking into the kitchen from outside
Cooks in the kitchen. With 15 guests, Jose called in two friends from nearby Patzcuaro (more on this city in another post).. one runs a taco truck and the other is an expat from California
So many rooms in this place, why not dedicate one to Jose’s collection of stirrups?
Random exterior wall vignette
View from a second floor window
Small bedroom door with pressed monarch butterflies
Detail of the door
Peeling paint in the living room reveals the original mud walls
Another shot of these walls… no way to duplicate this
Great prints, charmingly water damaged
And random little sketches
Found these when I was lost in some back hall
View from my bedroom
View from my bathroom… yes, that is a copper bathtub, and carved copper molding around the window
When Jose told us that he had built a jacuzzi in his living room and it was under the rug we were standing on, my 15 year-old nephew turned to us and said, “I feel like such an under-achiever”.