Adventure to Talpa de Allende with John Benus

Adventure to Talpa de Allende with John Benus

First, I'd like to know how many of you have ever been to Talpa? Here's what I found that will enable you to experience the real culture and flavors of Jalisco.

Just 2.5 hours by car or 3.5 hours bus you can be in another world without traffic lights, stop signs, no condos or buildings over 3 stories plus cowboys riding down the cobble stone  streets. Talpa is a "Pueblo Magico", that means a historical town, according to the Mexican Government. 

Here's my suggestions for a weekend get a way in Talpa de Allende. The weather this time of year is 75 F days and 45-55 F at night so bring a jacket or sweater. First make a reservation at the newest 4 star Dona Francisca Hotel 388-385-0549 or the more moderate Hotel Real Posada 388-385-0616 managed by Erma & Jessie, who speak English. 

Getting there in 3 hours & 15 minutes is easy via a 7-14 passenger clean van, for only 200 pesos pp. Call Lanutran at 388-101-0052 to make a reservation and pick up location in Vallarta or call Adan, their English speaking driver,at 322-147-8056 for a special charter. 

Off to Talpa de Allende

Day 1 On the road to Talpa, there's a must stop, just before you cross the "El Progreso" San Sebastian Bridge. It's Carmen's Bakery for some freshly baked muffins and coffee. They're open weekdays (closed on Tuesdays) 7 am- 3 pm, Friday, Saturdays & Sundays 6 am-Noon. Carmen and Jesus, the owners speak English. They often sell out so you might call ahead at 322-132-0620.

After passing through Mascota your next stop is Talpa where you can visit the Cruz de Romero lookout for a birds eye view of the town and valley. After checking into your hotel, have lunch at the Molino Rojo Restaurant 388-385-0262. It's just one block from the Main Plaza & Cathedral. The owner, Lupita, not only speaks English, but also lived many years in San Francisco. My favorite dishes are the shrimp cocktail or chili relleno. Next visit the Guadalupe Cathedral. Next stop that is across from the back of the church, there's a narrow street called Oaxaca, that has over 20 murals painted on the walls. Now take time to relax at your hotel. Just before sunset go to the Burrita Restaurant & Bar for a perfect view overlooking the plaza. Call ahead to Ivan, the manager and reserve my favorite table. 388-385-1126. The lights of the cathedral go on about an hour after sunset.

Day 2 For breakfast, have an omelet at the El Patio Restaurant on the Calle Independencia, the main street.388-688-0187 It's just 4 blocks from the main plaza. Efran, who speaks English, will take your order.

Today's your opportunity to experience  the Visencio Clay Brick Factory, one of the oldest clay brick factories in Jalisco.  Operated by the Visencio family for 4 generations. It's located just 15 minutes from downtown on the road to Ocotes. It's easy to spot. Look to the right for the stacks of bricks and firewood for the baking process. Go to the second entrance and ask for Juan or Luis ,who'll show you where to park. Remember making these bricks is very labor intensive, so just observe and allow them to continue working.

Best to arrive between 9 am - 10 am (closed Sundays) to experience how they use horses to mix the secret ingredients of mud, horse dong and shredded dry cane or corn stalks. You can observe the entire process in one hour. Bring a bottle of tequila or 6 pack as a thank you.

Now head back to Talpa for some handicrafts or souvenir T- Shirts at the Mercado Principal next to the Main Plaza. Ask for "Pancho" in stall #51 and check out his leather smart phone holders.For a quick lunch, try La Gaeta Pizza restaurant next to the Cathedral  Just one block from the Cathedral are two places I recommend. 

The first is the El Milagro Taffy Factory located at Calle Juarez & 23 de Julio, you can see the entire process from the fruit to finished sweets. They're open Monday - Saturday 8 am -7 pm. Ask for Flavio or Ivan. The second place, next door to the El Milagro Factory, is the Ocampo Sandal Factory that's open daily 9 am-7 pm. All the sandals are hand made by Arturo & his son. If you like a quick mid day snack go to the Gaeta Pizza Restaurant next to the Cathedral for the best pizza in Talpa.388-385-1306 ask for Eloy, the owner, who speaks English. My favorite is the veggie pizza with extra avocado. A medium is enough for two people. If you'd like to have a special dinner experience, I'd recommend the Casa Allende Restaurant that's in front of the Main Plaza. Open 7 pm-10 pm.388-101-7443. The pasta shrimp is the best I've ever had.

To walk off your dinner plus have another unforgettable experience take a 15 minute walk to the Gallegos Family Horse Shoe Factory located across from the only gas station in Talpa. An alternative is to take a taxi for 50 pesos and walk back to your hotel. The workers making the horse shoes start about 9 pm and finish at 2 am.Closed Sundays. Just knock on the gate and Juan, Jose or Victor will let you in. This is labor intensive and dangerous work, so be a good observer. Buy a set of 4 shoes for 70 pesos to share some luck with friends. 

Day 3 Try breakfast at the Molino Rojo Restaurant with Lupita,who lived in San Francisco many years. For those  who'd like to take a moderate hike for 2 hours, have a taxi take you or drive to the trail head of the Camino de Las Nueces at the end of Calle Ramon Corona. Take a little bug spray if you hike with shorts & short sleeves. It's a great way to get in touch with nature plus experience panoramic views of Talpa's surrounding farmland. You can walk back to town, but first stop at the La Costa Restaurant 388-385-1489. It's 2 blocks down hill on Calle Ramon Corona from the trailhead. A cold beer and maybe a light lunch or taco de marlin is in order. Maria, the owner, can make some suggestions. From the restaurant it's just 30 minute walk downhill to the Main Plaza or she can call a 50 peso taxi. After a hot shower it may be time to head back to Puerto Vallarta. You now can say YES, we've been to Talpa!

John Benus