Saturday, June 21, 2008

Goodbye, Baltimore

Mike and Sarah Batley hosted a wonderful sendoff for us at their home. It was a delightful evening. Mike cooked burgers and regaled us with tales of Packers fans, in an authentic Wisconsin accent.
Sarah is from the Lakewood, Ohio, Blakeslee family. Her brother Mark and I used to run around together in elementary school. Naturally we would end up on the same block in Baltimore.

Cindy's co-workers -- Patti, Val and Linda -- were sad to see her go.

Dave Kuntz and I used to lunch together and talk books and the future of the human race.

Andi Broom was a ski instructor in Chile and Argentina and helped me practice my Spanish.

Constellation Energy brought Maureen Brown to Baltimore and the Candler Building recently. Coincidentally she and I started work at the Columbus Dispatch on the same day in 1977.

Patti and Cindy.

Carol Vellucci, left, went on to great things after serving as marketing director at the Baltimore Business Journal.

Our daughter Christine and our son Patrick's girlfriend, Emily.

Scott Broom, cultural observer, news commentator and Renaissance man.

Scott Rykiel and David Jackson.

Larry Fultz and Bob Baummer.

Cindy and Becky Baummer.

It's going to be OK, Mom.

A Columbus reunion of a Brooklyn Dodgers fan and John McNeely, Yankees fan and former sports columnist for the Columbus Dispatch.

John and his wife, Terri Leist.

At Graceland, Elvis's home.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

The Tequila Express

Guadalajara is famous in Mexico as the birthplace of mariachi music and tequila. The heart of tequila production lies to the northwest of the city and is reachable by a special tourist train called the Tequila Express. It is the only passenger train that runs from the city's station, and it only runs on Saturday.
The pokey train takes you through vast expanses of cultivated agave cactus, a kind of spiky plant that thrives in the volcanic soil and provides the juice that is distilled into tequila. After about two hours, and a couple of shots of a special reserve tequila, you arrive at Atitlan, hometown of the famous Herradura distillery. Although it is obviously an industrial plant, it has the look and feel at the same time of a public garden and a museum. The architecture is Spanish colonial and the grounds are meticulously and beautifully kept.
Lalo, an employee of the University of Guadalajara and one of my hosts on this trip, introduced me to the burro and his handler.

Authentic tequila is a denomination of controlled origin referring to the beverage produced in a half-dozen towns near Guadalajara, much as the name burgundy can only be applied to the wine of that region.

After a tour of the plant you pass into a vast hall where you are served an enormous lunch with every variety of local delicacy and are entertained by a mariachi band (violins, guitars, trumpets), dancers, singers and a demonstration of charreria, Mexican cowboy rope tricks. Then it's back onto the train and more music from musicians and singers strolling through the cars. A nine-hour day.