This month I visited the town San Sebastian del Oeste, located about 90 minutes from Villa del Palmar Puerto Vallarta. I booked a tour with Puerto Vallarta Tours at the Activities Desk in the lobby that departed from the resort at 9:30 am and returned around 5:30 pm.
Upon leaving the resort, we drove up 4,500 feet into the Sierra Madre Mountains. We were surrounded by lush greenery for the majority of the ride and the beauty we were about to see. I learned that San Sebastian was a mining town that was founded in 1605 and was once a spot that had over 25 mines full of gold, silver and lead.
Before we arrived in the town, we made a few stops. First, we stopped at a family-owned Tequila Distillery. The owner provided us a tour and explained the process of how tequila is made. He explained that sometimes people do not like tequila because they are not drinking “good” tequila. He recommended that when buying tequila you make sure that the bottle says “100% Pure Agave Tequila.” If it says “100% Pure” without the word “Agave” it could be a mixture of manufactured sugars, juices or other additives, which could lead to a very bad hangover!
After the tour, we tasted at least ten different types of tequila that were all made at the distillery. I generally do not like tequila, but this tour changed my perception of tequila. I enjoyed all of the quality tequilas that we tasted and we didn’t need to mask their flavors with lime or salt. My favorite tasting was the hazelnut tequila paired with the coffee tequila; it tasted even better than my morning coffee fix and I have yet to taste an alcohol so exquisite where I live in the US.
The second stop was the local coffee factory, called La Quinta. Upon entering we received a handmade cup to taste the locally grown coffee. After the tasting, we took a tour to see how the coffee was grown, picked and processed. I learned that the coffee factory harvests coffee January thru May each year and that the coffee plants produce 25-40 tons of coffee per season.
Now that we have had time to work up an appetite, we drive less than 10 minutes to Comedor Lupita, which is the restaurant where ate lunch. Our small group sat at a long table sharing mole, beef, rice, tortillas, vegetables and cantaloupe juice. The local food was delicious and this was a charming spot to give us a taste of San Sebastian.
Now that we have refueled, we drive about five minutes into the center of San Sebastian. We walked the streets of the town as our tour guide pointed out the sights and explained the history behind them.
When you visit the town of San Sebastian, you feel like you are embarking on a journey into the past. This town still has the cobble stone roads, haciendas (large estates), the Baroque style Church of Saint Sebastian, local produce stands, small businesses and a population of under 1,200 people.
When you walk the streets of this town you see life without the hustle and bustle that we often encounter in the city. Our tour guide pointed out the small clothing store in the town and explained that if you can’t find the outfit you want here, you’re not getting it. The city of San Sebastian relies on local production of food and goods due to the fact that it is a remote town in the Sierra Madre Mountains, making it difficult for the locals to leave town to buy items. As we walked, we saw many families spending quality time together amongst the charming backdrop of the Sierra Madre Mountains.
Visiting this colonial town is a must for anyone looking to experience some real Mexican history and culture.
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