This time, however, our experience was totally different…so…we are revisiting Taplapa once again! If you’re joining us for the first time, you should know that Tapalpa is a little mountain getaway for folks from Guadalajara. The weathly families of Guadalajara (and there are many) often buy weekend homes in Tapalpa or Chapala. We live in Chapala…so we enjoy taking our weekend break to Tapalpa!
This time, our friends invited us to go with them to stay in the cabin owned by their Aunt from Guadalajara. We crammed them into our van, and stopped at their favorite pit-stop on the way into town. Apparently it’s the catch-all type of convenience food store that also happens to bake their own breads, drinks, and cheeses. We got a lesson in Mexican cheeses!
First…if you’re planning a trip to Mexico…let me warn you: Mexican cheese is NOT American cheese. Not even close. If you want an American-style cheese, expect to pay big bucks for it. Mexican cheese is less salty, doesn’t melt as well, and seems kind of tasteless. We don’t eat dairy in our home, and typically avoid it elsewhere, as well. Our distaste for their cheese helps us stay away from it!
Okay–so–they do whatever they do to make cheeses (hey–I didn’t get a full tour or anything), and then they put them in this cheese cabinet with screen doors. Some cheeses are made into loafs, as you can see on the top shelves. But the cheese our friends were after was Panela, the one in a basket on the bottom shelf. This cheese is put it in the basket to help drain all of the liquid out after making it.
The cheese therefore has basket imprint on it, adding to its authenticity! It is a mild white, crumbly cheese. It doesn’t really melt…well, not in the American-cheese sense. But it gets a tad creamier. It is commonly crumbled over salads, tacos, and chili. It is quite jiggly, and comparable in texture to firm tofu. Yeah–lovely.
Our friends said it is best to leave out the cheese overnight so it dries up and looses its liquid. They said it is best when the outside gets kind of hard–maybe over the space of a couple of days. The novelty of this fresh cheese inclined everyone to eat it up quickly, so we didn’t get to test that out.
Typically they suggested we could have stayed in the Aunt’s large fancy home, but it was unavailable that weekend, so we stayed in the smaller casita instead. It was plenty sufficient for our needs, and we had a great time exploring a completely different side of Tapalpa. Their Aunt’s home was in a wealthy neighborhood buried in the pine-covered woods, outside of the city.
Our 2 bedroom casita in the woods (the big house is hidden to the right of the camera):
The big house we didn’t stay in (it’s full-time caretakers were outside gardening, washing windows, working in the kitchen, etc. Can you imagine having full-time staff for a weekend home?):
A back view:
And the coolest glassed-in patio on the back. You’d want it in a place like this–because it can get quite cold!
As the sun start falling, we bundled up in more coats and enjoyed watching our friends chase a bat that had snuck into the casita. I don’t know which was funnier…the bat racing around our screaming heads…
or watching them accidentally hit each while swinging for the bat! After a draw-out battle, we were finally able to get the bat safely coaxed outside. Luck–pure luck.
We slept in this room with two single beds that we pushed together. Thankfully they had electric blankets on them, which we found we used almost all night to stay warm! It is cold in the mountains in brick-built homes without insulation!
Breakfast consisted of pancakes and delicious berries we had brought with us…compliments of the Driscoll berry fields flanking Lake Chapala.
We enjoyed the enclosed soccer field on the property. Everyone had a chance to play!
It even came outfitted with bleachers! How cool is that?
The Aunt’s property is on a hill, and has beautiful landscaping all around. We thought it was kind of fun to pull out this old fleece outfit for Ethan, from our Alaska days. It has now been given away (but the photos will last forever!). Why own something that you can only use so rarely–especially something so bulky?
Maiya throwing yet another fit, I believe. I can’t remember this fit in particular–she has so many.
Next, we took a walk “down the street” to a nearby “town”. It was at least a 1/2 hour walk (with kids, that is), and the town consisted of perhaps one little store that had a small selection of produce and junk food. Seeing the variety of large homes and goofing around the woods was entertaining!
Our goal was to get down to the lake to play for a little while (see lake at bottom). However, we never found access to it. These farm fields in the picture are the location for Tapalpa’s Las Piedrotas (the Big Rocks)…crazy gigantic rocks in the middle of fields for no apparent reason.
On our way back, we hung out for a little while in a little median that was quickly taken over by sheet, sent here to graze. We moved on!
Next, we went into town to see a few thing before heading out.
Typical transportation for street vendors.
Either a bicycle as above, or a wheelbarrow is another common vehicle for goods. This guy was selling some local wood that is naturally flammable. I looked closely and found it was heavily coated in a resin, and apparently is great for adding to a fire to get it going!
We then broke down and bought some nieves de limon (lemon ice cream) for the kids and I. It was a ridiculous price…such as .50 cents or less. And I loooove the Limon flavor. I really wouldn’t call it ice cream–it is like a shaved ice!
And I saw a window of some of these hand-knitted (or crocheted?) dudes with lots of spunk and style. My eyes never stop wandering for products that have US wholesale potential! Haha!
The end. Thanks for joining us on yet another Tapalpa adventure! I promise we’re done now! (well, maybe)