Back Issues and Subscriptions available.
Talpa de Allende
by Georgia Stasi
Georgia Stasi is a
native-born Californian hailing from Big Sur. She has traveled extensively in
Europe – and lived there for several years. These days, between visits to
Mexico, she lives in Tampa where she enjoys hours spent with her grandson,
Talpa de Allende...a small,
typical Mexican town whose charm is her people. For those who wish to know the real
Mexico and true Mexicans, this is where you will find both. The
“locals” are the friendliest of any I have encountered. Talpa’s elevation
is about 4,000 feet, giving her a climate of perpetual springtime. Finding your
way to Talpa is relatively simple – from Puerto Vallarta, there is a daily air
service, my choice being Taxi de la Bahia (322-110-90). Looking out at the
breathtaking scenery, this 15 to 20 minute flight seems almost too brief. For
the brave-hearted, you may prefer the four-hour drive from Puerto Vallarta on
the gravel road (until the new highway is completed). Otherwise, from
Guadalajara, a three-hour drive on a paved highway will get you to your
Talpa is a religious center.
Our Lady of the Rosary is one of three “little sisters,” the other two being
the Virgin of Zapopan and the Virgin of San Juan de Lago. The Virgin of Talpa is
the patron saint of three states – Jalisco, Colima and Nayarit. Throughout the
year, tens of thousands of her pilgrims journey to Talpa during four fiestas.
The largest of the fiestas is in March and the most colorful is in September.
Once in Talpa, my personal
choice of places to stay is the Hacienda Jacaranda which is run by my long-time
friends of 45 years, Bill Worth and Guy Lawlor (who, long ago, had a guest ranch
in Mendocino, California, for sixteen years). Words can hardly describe the
Hacienda and its beautiful location. From the moment they pick you at up Talpa
International Airport (airport? this is an airport?) to make your way two miles
to the Hacienda, you will be treated to such beautiful sights as clouds of
butterflies (mariposas) flitting in the arroyo. Depending on the time of year
the drive to the Hacienda treats the visitor to a vibrant wildflower display
which complements the orange, red, purple and salmon-colored brush.
At the Hacienda the
beautiful grounds and wonderful accommodations are surpassed only by Guy’s
cooking (he’s a gourmet chef). Inside, the Hacienda has several beautiful
guest rooms, though one in particular I like to consider my “own.” It is
exquisitely decorated and has an indescribable view from the bed where one can
lie and, when dark (but only in July and August), watch the fireflies decorate
the huge ficus trees outside the second-story bedroom window. This very special
treat is exceeded only perhaps by taking a walk outside of the room, down a long
corridor to stand on the terrace, and marveling at a field and hillside
illuminated by these tiny, amazing creatures. Every evening Guy walks me to my
room where we stand in awe of the fields aglow – a truly breathtaking sight.
Here are some of the
wonderful picnics we have taken, courtesy of Bill and Guy, who have lived in
Talpa for 18 years and know it like the back of their hand.
– about 40 minutes from Talpa. (This trip can be taken on horseback, which
Bill and Guy can arrange.) Take a half-mile hike through meadow and open forest,
cross a couple of streams, and suddenly you’ll hear it before you see it...the
most spectacular waterfall I’ve ever seen (outside of Niagara Falls). You will
see 80 feet of water rushing and tumbling into a clear, cold pool where you can
swim. A few in our group ventured above this fall and discovered yet another,
almost as big. And they also found a cross, a memorial to a fallen revolutionary
war hero. We spent several hours in Aranjuez, lounging on a fallen tree,
grilling food, taking hikes into the woods, napping...all while listening to the
roar of the waterfall. This is a “must” picnic trip. Even as I write this, I
am looking forward to returning with a friend whom I am fetching from Puerto
Vallarta and bringing to Talpa. I am sure he will love Aranjuez as much as I do.
– or, as we call it, “The Angel.” This picnic requires about an hour of
driving and not much hiking. Soon after our arrival Guy asked me to cover my
eyes and then he led me to what I soon discovered was the edge of a small cliff.
I found myself standing by the side of a rushing river, and the vista took my
breath away. What I saw was the side of a mountain with a huge angel that had
been carved from its steam vents and cinder cone. Colors of copper, gold, and
brown form her wings, and if you look hard to the top left, you will find her
head in profile. Cappy Ortega, the owner of the property, told us he sculpted
The Angel himself. This is a wonderful spot to spend the entire day. You will
find a covered picnic area with table and benches. There are park benches
overlooking the view, or, if you choose, steps down to a rope crossing the
river, put there so you can get to the other side without being swept away.
– our next outing, a green, peaceful getaway. We traveled a dirt road up into
the mountains (an adventure unto itself!) to visit my godson’s (Cesar)
grandmother at her home. Later we proceeded to a nearby stream. This is a
beautiful area where we had our most elegant picnic with linen tablecloths and
napkins spread on the ground, candelabra and wine glasses. The stream held giant
boulders with the smoothest of patinas formed by years of flowing, rippling
CHARCO DE TAMBOR
(Pool of the Drum) was our last picnic. You can drive there, but we made the
hike through open forest, crossing several streams. Once there, you come across
another waterfall (though not as spectacular as the one at Aranjuez). There is a
large pool fed by still more falls up above – and one can walk to the top to
drink in the view of all below. For me, the most memorable experience of the
trip to Charco de Tambor was the rain on the walk back. This was an absolute
joy. I had forgotten how clean and fresh rain smells. There I was –
rain-drenched, water dripping over and down everywhere, and I couldn’t have
been happier. And this was all because of the simple, pure fragrance of rain.
In spite of what you may
think, picnics are not all we do to while away our pleasant hours in Talpa de
Allende. Going into town every day is a must. Doing the daily shopping with Guy
is an experience I would not miss. In town you will see young men making
huaraches while you buy your plane ticket for Puerto Vallarta. You watch
fascinated as J.J. works his splendid horses in front of the plaza which houses
the church (J.J. is known as the “horse whisperer” of Talpa!). Fresh, hot
rolls can be bought from the bread boy, who carries a huge basket of rolls on
his head, as you stop and chat with people. Often, we go to Alfredo’s El
Campanario, a restaurant/bar which is upstairs from the plaza. There we eat,
drink and people watch – and, on special days, we enjoy an unobstructed view
of the Virgin Walk. This is a fiesta not to be missed. The street around the
plaza is cordoned off and the ground is decorated with flower petals in
beautiful designs of purple, orange and yellow over which the Virgin is carried.
If you are fortunate enough to be in Talpa on September 10th or
October 7th, be sure to witness the fiesta – and Alfredo’s is the
place for a front-row seat. They serve typical Mexican fare, but their menu also
includes hamburgers, seafood and mixed drinks. If you want a gorgeous view and a
restaurant which is just a little different, I recommend Casa Grande on Vista
Panoramica, up the hill from downtown. My favorite dish is served there (with
cheerful service) – Camarones Ajo (garlic shrimp). They also offer a choice of
steak, seafood and Mexican fare. This is a family owned and operated place, and
my standing joke is that I want Casa Grande as my home. This is a beautiful
place with Mexican tiled tables, dishes and bathrooms – and it’s the
cleanest I’ve seen in any country (and, rest assured, I’ve been in a few).
This is a restaurant well worth a visit – or two.
There are many other
accommodations and restaurants in and around town and other pursuits to follow,
but the ones I’ve described are my favorites, my particular choices, the ones
which best reflect the unspoiled beauty, warmth and charm of Talpa de Allende.
These places are why Talpa caught my heart and reels me back at every
Meanwhile, back at the
Hacienda Jacaranda – grab a drink and go for a swim in the 60 foot
solar-heated pool. Perhaps you would rather wait until evening to relax in the
hot tub and look out at the lights of Talpa. The Hacienda has two lakes you
might want to visit and take in a tranquil hour or two for relaxation before
heading out to enjoy another day in Talpa. One of the lakes is stocked with fish
and lies within groves of limes, lemons, oranges and avocados that Bill and Guy
planted themselves. Years ago, when I first came here, sleep did not come
easily. Those of us who are city-dwellers will find this haven a treasure –
with stars and fireflies and silence so deafening it hurts the ears.
If you wish to reach Bill and Guy, call 011-523-447-7366 or fax them at 011-523-385-0669.