Quinta Tesoro de la Sierra Madre
Guest House and Wildlife Refuge
The ideal setting to relax and rejoin a time gone by in a setting that seems
to have been designed to be a backdrop for a really good, old movie.
YOUR PRIVATE ENTRANCE
Thanks for having stopped by. We appreciate your time and interest. Always check in for up-dates, or to email us for information or reservations at firstname.lastname@example.org .
It would be our pleasure to welcome you to our little adobe home situated about 225 miles south-southwest of the international metroplex of McAllen, Texas - Reynosa, Tamaulipas, or between four and six hours of easy driving, depending on your number of stops. We are situated 30 miles north-northwest of Ciudad Victoria, the capital of the Mexican State of Tamaulipas, in the middle of a truly majestic geographical and cultural settings. ALSO, We enjoy giving very specific details to those not quite familiar with our area. Simply by enquiring via our e-mail, we can give all kinds of pointers about road conditions, clean restrooms, snack-stops, and so forth. The highways range in quality from very good to excellent, so for veteran travellers in Mexico it is pretty easy work to make it down to our place. We shall be more than glad to give directions down to the kilometre post. We have never "lost" a guest.
One can fairly easily chart a path to the very door of the Quinta Tesoro de la Sierra Madre by using the joy-stick that is provided. Do not be afraid to fiddle with the controls. Also, be sure to amplify alternatives by clicking onto the various control devices. The clearest resolution and operations versatility is with the "Earth" category.
A Gringo in Rural Mexico
A voice from the Sierra Madre Oriental
El Gringo Viejo with Cleo the Crazy Cat, and Prince,
the Lazy Dog on the "long, west-facing corridor
The Quinta Tesoro de la Sierra Madre and the the blog site named A Gringo in Rural Mexico - Voice from the Sierra Madre Oriental are identical twins who are completely different. One is a physical place of great beauty and tranquility; Great Birds & Butterflies, cold beer, lime-ades & orange-ades, smoothies of varied and sundry types depending upon the season, soda pops, great food, and accommodations with the comforts of basic luxuries. The reader can communicate at length with questions and/or comments at our page designed for such things, as well as for matters pertaining to reservations, dates, rates, special considerations here. The reader can read about various political and cultural matters pertaining to the United States, Texas, and Mexico at the linkage provided above the picture in this frame.
That linkage is a literary experiment, with opinions and observations pouring from glands full of acidic gizzard bile, tempered with a bit of humour, all flowing from the keyboard of a mean old man. All who visit are invited, at their own risk, to check in with our blog. It is an eclectic set of running observations about life in our little area along with the grumpy comments of an Old Gringo Curmudgeon who lets things like pampers in parking lots and park benches bother him a little too much at times. He is seen here on his "long, west-facing corridor" actively involved like the lazy dog Prince, and the neurotic cat (is that redundant?) Cleopatra, in doing absolutely nothing.
Any and all are welcomed to email comments and criticism and approvals. All mail is read and all should feel at home, both at the Quinta and the blog. We are glad to respond to requests for information about Mexico on almost any front. Remember when asking, however, that El Gringo Viejo tends to be very conservative in political and cultural matters. Your responses will be filtered through such thought processes. But, his analysis will be truthful and sincere. His favourite parable is that of the Samaritan, so you will receive fair treatment, friend or foe.
BUTTERFLIES & BIRDS ABOUND
Over the years we have had the pleasure of receiving many visitors and guests who enjoyed our grounds, location, and the attendent opportunity to see, hear, and experience the bounty of birds and butterflies that occasion our precincts. The Old Gringo appreciates these folks and our
We also really do have 430 species of birds, on an annualised basis, who call the Quinta, and the area within 25 miles radius, home. A normal bird count for a person just trying to do numbers and see a lifer or two during a day's watching can be as high as 170 different species. Because of our geographical situation we attract mountain, desert, chaparral, prairie, pine and oak and cedar forests, ground birds, riverine, coastal, tropical, maritime, and migratories. We have had people record numerous songs of scores of different species, declaring later their recordings to be the best they had ever made. We are also on a major monarch butterfly corridor and have them either coming down to Michoacan in the late Autumn or heading back to Canada in the Spring each year, about two months for each episode. There are scores and scores of other species of butterflies, most of whom are not seen in Texas.
Come unto this place all ye who travail and are heavy laden, and wish to establish or re-establish yourself with your ancestors and/or your Creator. Or, perhaps you would just like to see and appreciate a peculiar and particularly interesting place on the face of this planet. A lady said one time, during the late afternoon, with the birds preparing for the nightfall....things becoming quiet and the sun setting on the nearby mountains, "This must be where God comes to gather his thoughts and lower his blood pressure".
It might be.
When the Old Gringo has the cats and dogs fed in the late afternoon, he can sit on the long, west-facing corridor, and he will be able to see weasels, racoons, opossum, bear, puma, bobcat, coyote, fox, and other beasties but more especially birds. Some of these beasties are seen rarely, others more frequently, but they have all been seen. Of the birds, we have 4 types of parrots, at least 13 types of hummingbirds, 4 types of orioles (probably more), enumerable types of warblers, wrens, and ground birds. Common and Elegant Trogons come by at times, but there are always the jays, mockingbirds, ani's (both grooved and smooth bill), many different raptors, including eagles and hawks. During the Spring and Fall, migratory birds come from all directions. Geese and ducks, and even pelicans, cranes, curlews, and so on can appear to delight the serious or amateur bird enthusiast. We have three different types of kingfishers that come up to visit from our nearby Rio C0rona. During recent times birders both as guests and just passing through, found your adobe hideaway to be among the very best they had experienced in terms of rustic comfortability, and surprisingly good food and drink. We have a couple whose intent it is to come back next year and do the walk to Tiger Springs and back, specifically for the mix of birds. They anticipate coming in April. The walk is about 11 miles, round trip, and should take about 8 hours, including birdwatching and photographic episodes. They know what they are doing and are in good shape, so it should be a really good experience. There is no scaling or rugged terrain, although it does go from our groves and woodlands up to the base of mountains that shoot up fairly quickly to elevations well over 10,000 fasl.
The Quinta Tesoro de la Sierra Madre receives only one, two, or (rarely) three guests at a time. Therefore, when you arrive, you
The Saltillo tile floor is set at the same level throughout the Quinta, so there are no footing "surprises" as one moves about the home. Your guest room has two large-sized single beds which we move into a queen-sized configuration gladly, at your request. Please advise us before your arrival. Your room also has a bit of air-conditioning which actually works. We do advise that nights are quite cool, even in the Summer, so most guests wind up openning the window and putting the fan on.
The bedroom itself is large, with a panoramic window overlooking the valley of the adjacent Rio Corona. It is pictured here, readied for a Winter night's stay. The room has a nice heater, just in case, although normally the adobe construction prohibits much invasion of the overnight chill that comes down from the nearby mountains. And, as stated above, we have air-conditioning that actually works. We have reading material, games, a standard reception television that also has a linkage with the SKY satellite service, and a nice radio to pick up your favourite overnight radio programs. The radio picks up Spanish transmissions from all over Mexico and even the Gospel according to Fidel from Radio Rebelde in the Citadel of Democracy. Yanqui Imperialist stations come in clearly after nightfall. KTRH - 740 Houston, KRLD - 1080 Dallas, WOAI - 1200 San Antonio, and WFAA - 820 are good selections. Electrical adaptation is not necessary since our electricity speaks standard Gringo volts and cycles.
The Guest Room has its own private bath, complete with full-time hote water, (something of a luxury in these parts). The Guest will encounter nice fluffy towels and face-cloths, a selection of shampoos and con
So long as we are talking about running wate, please advise us about any plumbing or water matters. We can usually fix anything in a matter of seconds or minutes. It is a bit more important than that, however, since any unrestricted flow would cause us a bit of a problem with supply. The ejido's water supply sends us about 400 gallons of potable water, usually for a period of three hours in the afternoon. So, if we lose water, we have to wait for a 99.3% reliable delivery on the next day to replace our supply. The number of days we have missed a resupply with guests present, in any regard, has been zero.
The Parlour - El Salon Grande
The parlour serves as a dining area, a reading room, a television room, and a conversation site during the colder times. Guests can feel free to raid the refrigerator, or retrieve some secret goody or necessity that has been entrusted there. Sometimes the guests make themselves their favourite tea or one of our own availabilities.
It should be pointed o
ut again that anywhere in our little adobe hut the
water is potable. Our water supply from the Ejido is of very high quality.
We also provide triple filtered water from this supply, as well as bottled water at any time requested. Your room will be stocked with two bottles per person, which will be found by your bed upon arrival. There have been birthday parties, office parties, and even parties associated with weddings and funerals centered here. There have been Presidential candidates, government under-secretaries, and secretaries of this or that Ministry of this or that State and/or the Central Government. The magic of adobe walls and a cane ceiling always seems to provide the perfect setting for conviviality. No arguments are permitted.
We often lament not having taken live pictures of the various personalities and groups who have taken refuge in front of our fireplace during cold snaps....or who have dried out from being caught in a sudden thundershower.
There are touring options:
We frequently joke that we guarantee "absolute boredom"......which actually means that ours is a place of "soledad y tranquilidad", or solitude and tranquility. Many of our clients want nothing more than to have a chance to read their Agatha Christi....drink beer and/or margaritas....and siesta on the corridor. Like the lady told me one summer, "It beats the heck out of paying a therapist". Other folks put on the trappings of combat birdwatchers and trek two, three, or even five miles roundtrip while making scores of species sightings during a four hour jaunt (the record for a mid- afternoon to sundown sortie is 170 species). Then they come back, have some refreshment....eat well....and then sleep without moving for 7 hours.
We have had folks with tripods, easles, ghost monitoring & sensing equipment, night nature photography gear, and even reporters. All seem to agree that there is something restorative about being at the Quinta Tesoro de la Sierra Madre. But, when and if you want to do a bit of moving around, there are things to do and places to see that are neither distant nor difficult.
THE APPARITION of the VIRGIN of El CHORRITO
The above image is carved into the limestone of the cave behind the altar of the Basilica. The carving came long before the Basilica. It was either put there by shepherds in the middle 1700s who were paying homage during idle moments by employing their stone carving skills, or it appeared supernaturally replacing a voice heard by children and animals when walking by the dripping springs known as El Chorrito. The Basilica came afterwards. The site was recognized by the Vatican as a place of interest and as an appropriate venue for contemplation, pilgrammage, and religious devotions. This was a fairly bold move in a Mexico that still had the prohibition of outdoor religious celebrations and/or the wearing of religious vestments by the clerical class outside of a church...by force of the Constitution of 1917.
This is a morning trip, leaving around 08:00 from the Quinta and going back to the main road and then to the north a little ways, to Hi
aulipas, (our county seat) and then west, up to the mountainside of the Sierra Madres. On a very clear day, one can see the Gulf of Mexico almost 120 miles to the east. A basilica sits upon the site of a cave where Saint Mary, Mother of Jesus is said to have appeared, both with and before the Apparition of Fatima.
The place is clean, calm, and dignified, although we try go on dates that are not tradit
onally periods of heavy pilgrimmages. We'll also visit the colonial-era aquaduct of the Hacienda La Meza, and the Waterfall of El Chorrito. There is a pleasant place for lunch. This is a 92 mile roundtrip, and can be accomplished in an unhurried 4.5 to 5 ho
urs. It should also be noted that the journey, most frequently,
takes up the entire day. The people at the little restaurants and stalls are very engaging, albeit passive. A short conversation leads to other things like tales of personal experiences, storms, miracles seen and heard about that were done by the Virgin. People delight in showing their plants, animals, and home projects, especially to foreign visitors. Shopping is something that the Gringo Viejo avoids, but he always winds up buying some previously un-realized necessity. So...while the distances are relatively short...the time can be pleasantly longer. It must now also be pointed out that the site has become increasingly organised and clean even during our visits during pilgrimmages. It is really a pleasantly strange place.
This Basilica, somehow or another, remains amazingly clean in spite of the literally hundreds and sometimes many thousands of worshippers who arrive to its portals. There are little stalls selling numerous
THE SPRINGS OF EL TIGRE
Also a morning-type trip, best to leave around 09:00. This is a very close-by jaunt, and takes the client through some of the very final settlement areas since the time of the agrarian reform's entrance into the Santa Engracia area in the mid-1920d .
Our jaunt can be done easily in three hours. Various brief stops for photos at homes, businesses, and other points of interest can be made, depending on the guest's inclination. We have had guests walk to and from the Quinta and the Springs, round trip. It is about 5 hours of ambling, birdwathing, jawing, and gossiping with the locals.
They are actually a shy lot, but engaging once engaged. They really like to see the Gringos meandering around, because it gives them a break from the restraining schedule required in a farming area. No coins to children, only Godfathers have the right to give coins. But, pens with advertising, and new, yellow #2 pencils with new erasers and the like are great gifts to the little sqirts in primary school.
Los Man~atiales de El Tigre, which are actually several clusters of springs coming out at the base of the first ridges of the Sierra Madre Oriental, effuse over 400,000 gallons per minute at low the base low flow, and they provide life to much of the Santa Engracia area as they form the beginning of the Rio Corona.
A DAY IN CIUDAD VICTORIA
On days that we might be scheduled to go
into Cd. Victoria for supplies or other business, it might be possible to accompany us, especially if it is going to be just a matter of a very short period for us to attend to our affairs. This will give you the chance to see an environment that is very foreign, yet very familiar and therefore typically Mexican, from the point of view of a resident. You will notice a certain "benign neglect" that is afforded to Gringo residentes. This town visit might include a stop at the supermarket, drop off some paperwork with the attorney or bank, and/or a stop at the typical market area to buy a couple of new serapes for use as bedspreads for the Quinta. A couple of sightseeing stops and a light lunch at some popular place ....there are scores from which to choose.... and we can pretty much call it a day and go back to the Quinta.
Nearby places of great interest
The area around the Quinta has scores of lesser and greater attractions. Whether it be something as simple as a walk through the gravel streets, admiring the luxuriant flowers, bushes, and trees that the people care for, almost reverentially, or visiting other places....some quite magnificent....some quite humble.....the area provides considerable opportunity for memory building, photography, and general learning about the human condition in rural Mexico.
La Hacienda de Santa Engracia
bled place has endured in this area since the first quarter of the 1700's, mid-way into the Spanish Colonial Period. Although not the largest Mexico's haciendas, it was originally nearly one-half million acres....say roughly the size of half of an average Texas county. The braiding of genealogy brings us to the present fact that there are still descendants of the original Spanish grantee involved in the o
wnership of the remnant properties pertaining to this place....which was essentially a duchy located in the wilderness that would be roughly equivalent to a present-day outpost on the Moon. Now it is about one kilometre from the Quinta Tesoro de la Sierra Madre.
To-day, the ownership is not one solitary Spanish Don lording over a thousand adult male peons, overseeing essentially
a completely self-contained, self-supporting, self-defending enterprise. It is a complex of individuals and corporations, including Cementos Mexicanos, S.A., and it is operated as a guest lodge....open to the public. Most, if not all, of the members of the directorate do, in fact, have genealogical roots in the ancestry of the Hacienda. But, to-day, the Hacienda is thoroughly modernized, 5-star facility with rooms both recently constructed and quite antique, nice grounds, swimming pool, bar, and elegant dining facilities, along with tennis court
s, traditional rustic sauna, and other amenities one would associate with such an installation, It is worth a visit and the staff is normally very tolerant of folks just dropping in to enjoy the grounds. They will probably even show a couple of the rooms in the colonial section, if requested, and if it is tactically possible..
The owners of the Quinta Tesoro de la Sierra Madre at one time owned an excursion company which was the first to bring groups to the Hacienda after its rehabilitation in the late 1970's. During the time of operation of our excursion company we probably introduced four or five thousand different folks to the Hacienda. The first group came in during late January for a couple of nights' stay, and
was surprised on the second night with quite a sleet and snow episode. It was all very pleasant....most of the 29 adventurers were from the Mid-West and were not overly concerned with a couple of inches of snow....and the fireplaces kept everyone cozy.In any regard, this
endary facility isfull of lore, legends, ghosts, and gossip. It would behoove the visitor to invest a morning or a day or a meal or a couple of beers there. We have clients who come and stay at the Quinta for three or four nights and then stay at the Hacienda for three or four nights on the same trip.....and on a somewhat regular basis: seems strange perhaps, but it makes sense to our clients who do it.
La Hacienda de La Vega
Only a fe
w hundred feet from the Quinta Tesoro de la Sierra Madre,
one can enter into another place that demonstrates Mexico's past and pres
ent effortlessly. This entrance-way leads to The Hacienda de la Vega (aka Huerta La Vega), passing by Valencia
orange trees that are over 80 years old. The orchards are being modernized and have been fitted with an elaborate drip-irrigation system in recent times. The property is owned by a family that is essentially "on the register" in Ciudad Victoria. They would be embarrassed to read this,but they really are well-placed, well educated, socially,politically, and profesionally involved in the life of their community.
They are a
usion of upper-middle class and "poor-rich", titled colonial people who always seem to come o
ut on top of any adversity or op
rtunity. They are typically civilized, generous, and even-handed folkswho have been better than good neighbours to the Quinta, its ownership, and its guests
The Hacienda de La Vega is not as old as the Hacienda de Santa Engracia, but it has its own tales of war & peace, conflict & resolution, dating back into the most troubled period of the Agrarian Reform....following the Mexican Revolution of 1910 -1917. The 1920's and early 1930's were especially difficult in the area around the Hacienda de Santa Engracia, and the story behind this property has much to do with the resolution of the contentious issues of the period. The second picture is of the front yard and present "manor
house" which is an uninspired structure that brings to mind the architectural style of "Mexico City Concrete Earthquake Bunker" . But, it serves well as a center of operations and country home for the owner, his family, and friends. The house is actually very well built, considering that it was put out in the middle of nowhere in 1961. In those years, of course, there was no electricity or much of anything else. The family had rural traditions, but had been long urbanized. The grandfather received the land in the form of payment for services rendered by him to the government's agrarian reform efforts and essentially pioneered there from homes and business interests in Monterrey and Victoria.
The second house is the original "manor house", built in 1934. One can only imagine the difficulties involved in the construction of this home. No roads, no electricity, no propane, no nothing. Try to imagine
Then we have the old barn and smithy area. This Anglo-Irish standard structure is from the same period as th
e original manor house. In style and configuration it is the brother of the old Manor House, but with
out the massive limestone "sillares". The future guest-room is on the second floor, if and when. The present owners have been gradually bringing this fine old stucture into a new servicability. We think about putting together a package of "country stays" for people looking to be bored.....a place to truly and completely unwind.
resent task o
the owner of the Hacienda de La Vega is to finish the replanting of the old original grove. (PLEASE NOTE: the replanting work has been accomplished successfully and full production, with luck and the
intervention of the Saints, will be in 2013. We are leaving the old wording in place so that our visitors can appreciate the nature of change in this region) Many of
the trees are from the original planting back in 1936. In other words, they are pushing 80 years of age.
Another piece of lore is that during the violence of the 1920s post-revolutionary disorders, a
THE OFFICE on the CORRIDOR
THE FAMOUS "LONG, WEST-FACING CORRIDOR"
From here a person can pick his own avocados,or take a long siesta in the cool shade of a warm day. Imagine with one of
those really great Mexican Coca Colas, or a cold Mexican beer, sweating in its little bucket of ice, or tropical smoothy,
or just being left alone to study the mountains to the west. The biggest bother might be a dog or a couple of cats who
think they deserve some special attention. Shoo them off,or give them atreat, as you will. Just lookout for the cats'
tails when you are rocking back and forth.
WHAT WE DO, WHAT WE OFFER, and WHAT
We provide....a nice breakfast or brunch usually served between 07:00 - 11:00, or to the extent possible, when the client wishes. This can be a combination of Mexican, American, and Continental fare, which will follow early morning wake-up service of coffee and juice. Breakfast (or brunch) is quite ample and is included in your room charge. We also can provide nice light meals for later in the day ...deli-sandwiches, home-made soups and the like for mid-day, and suppers that can approximate gourmet quality. Lunches and suppers carry an additional charge, albeit quite moderate. It is requested that you advise us before arrival of your intention to take additional meals on premises. We will have selections available from which you can choose for your additional meals, and we can recommend other alternatives, both nearby and in Ciudad Victoria.
Also, at times.... folks like to have an old -fashioned Texan - Mexican parrillada (mesquite & charcoal grilling) and this can be arranged as well.To describe such a thing, we are a bit hard-pressed. It is rather much a controlled disorder, perhaps a man's thing, beginning around mid-afternoon with the lighting of the charcoal, mixed with orange and mesquite wood that has been placed in the parrilla (an outdoor grill). Background music from somewhere (not too loud), dogs ever-lurking around the edges sizing up food-lackeys, the cooking of beef cuts, chicken, even fish and shrimp, potatoes, beans, onions, chili peppers, carrots, broccoli, continual chilling of beer and soda pops, deploying of citronella anti-mosquito candle buckets, serving and being served, and just generally having a good time without a script, while buying ice and and tending the fire......is all part of the parrillada In the summer it is ideal in the late afternoon on into the night, while during the winter everything will start outside and retire indoors fpr a bit of dessert away from the even's chill. These events are more social than commercial, might involve a very limited number of third parties, like neighbours or other highly-filtered participants, and really has no fixed charge. Each puts in a bit here and there. Usually the house bears the brunt of any cost overruns, because it is an hospitable way to be and because it's just such a pleasant episode for the Old Gringo. A fully private parrillada can be arranged and provided at a fixed price, depending upon what is desired by the client.
We do earnestly request... that you give us at least three weeks of anticipation before your arrival, so that we can do the kind of shopping for native goods and products that will make your stay special. Mexican supplies and qualities are quite good, so with your ample notice we can then keep up with what is available, and make our purchases in an effective way so as to ensure an excellent dining experience with us. We grow a considerable amount of our own vegetables and herbs.There is no micro-wave at the Quinta, and we make almost everything up from scratch. We generally have very cold beer, usually Corona and/or Bohemia, and we can usually make a limited selection of mixed-drinks...ie. martinis, cuba libres, margaritas, tropical smoothies (a house specialty).....and we have a bit of white or red wine for before, after, and/or during mealtime. All alcoholic beverages are sold at a very reasonable charge. Wine served at meals has no further charge, when it is part of the overall meal. To the left above, one can see the Old Gringo hard at work (?) at our special "parrilla".
It is required that El Gringo Viejo confess with a bit of humility that our visitors seemed to be pleased with our culinary efforts.
We have empty plates coming back from the table and very few crumbs and leavings under the table.
It is all much easier when Diana is down at the Quinta when we have guests, essentially because she does all of the work and is much more pleasant company than I. It also helps when our Mayordomo, Alvaro, is on site since there is very little that he cannot fix or do. If he cannot do the fixing or doing, he can always seem to quickly locate the person who can. He is also always warmly greeted by our returning guests.While this petition might be redundant, we do earnestly request that the client give us at least three weeks of advanced notice so as to stock the larder and make as close to perfect as possible preparations for the arrival. We truly are, without complaint, on the very, very edge of civilisation in many ways. Things that are simple take a little extra preparation to accomplish. Since it is Mexico, the impossible is easily accomplished. It is only the simple things that are difficult for us to do.
These next pictures to the left might seem a little silly, but if one imagines a cold winter's night, while we are getting ready to watch an old English movie on A&E, like something with Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce preparing to do battle with the nefarious Dr. Moriarity. The Old Gringo is finishing a kettle of "Chocolate FeliBUT Wait! There's More. Our breath condenses with the chill, appearing much like a vapour made of silver dust. A little further to the East, a Dallas to Mexico City evening flight is seen, running lights flashing, at 33,000 fasl, just preparing for the descent into Mexico City's relatively tiny airport, surrounded by 23,000,000 people within 25 miles radius. Far higher, a couple of satellites are seen, one on polar orbit, the other on neo-equitorial orbit, mindlessly revolving around the planet they are either studying or defending from some point of view or another.
The moonlight filters through the branches of the frangy-pangy tree, (aka: plumaria, or
We head inside, away from the 39 F chill, and find Alvaro lighting the small fire in the fogata (fireplace). He then bids us a hearty "Buenas Noches!" and leaves, holding the main door open for a second for the two sister cats to make their entrances. Smokey, the long-haired, nervous one, and Cleopatra, the neurotic tortoise shell, bound in joyously, eying us for some un-deserved treat. Failing that, they move on towards the fogata, to watch the dancing of the flames, and await their time for using the Old Gringo as a bed warmer, later in the evening. We can hear Alvaro close and lock the front gate and then ride off on his nice bicycle the short distance to his small castle....about a quarter of a mile from the Quinta. We settle in after the Old Gringo serves one and all a bit more Happy Chocolate (reg.us.pat.off.)
With the old English movie done and everyone ready for a good night's sleep, we take another look at what is truly a "silvery moon" and listen to the nightbirds for a bit. Even with the coolness, the lightning bugs amaze the guests with their brightness and numbers. During the Summer six-months it is even more intense, but our guests can hardly believe that. It seems as if there is a veritable convention of the glowing insects.
Here, at night, one must study the growlings and snortings of the dogs who sleep on the corridor, and one must be sensitive to the eye-intensity of the self-involved cats; a puma might be nearby, or a coven of foxes. The "home-animals" have their signs and El Gringo Viejo has learned what each inflection's meaning carries. To-night, we can hear the simultaneous laughing and howling of the coyotes, along with their cousins, the red foxes, yipping a bit closer to the Quinta. The guest asks, "Do you train them to do that?" and it seems as if he is a little more than half-serious.Who can know?
While this little assembly of pictures and descriptions might seem a little mushy or over-romanticised, it is pretty much the nature of things at the Quinta. On clear nights it is still one of those places where stars are within arm's reach. It is still a magical place when, a little later on, as dawn begins to think about breaking in a little while, the guest might see the full moon setting on the mountains to the west during those few remaining moments of pleasant, cool darkness, right when the first pot of coffee is finishing its brew at 05:00, starting another day at the end of the road. I hear the door open and close from the guest room. "The coffee is ready. There's half and half, brown sugar, honey, and cups on the table. Fresh juice is in the little ice chest. I'll be feeding the cats and dogs."
The Out of Doors
There is a long, west-facing corridor, where folks frequently choose to relax in a mesadora (large, rustic rocking chair). From here, they
During the nighttime hours, when the mountains flash with with almost incessant lightning, the guests will repeat their occupation of the "long, west-facing corridor" to watch the greatest show on Earth. There are other times when the rains, usually night-falling rains, will make everyone retire to drier quarters, but it makes us anxious to see how much greener and florid we shall encounter our surroundings in the morning. In any regard, We have come to think that this corridor must have been built over some kind of magic stone that pulses tranquility and relaxation out to any who sit above it.
Your property fronts onto the banks of the Rio Corona, a spring-fed, mountain stream that has never gone dry in its known history.
The Rio Corona is lined by cypress trees that can reach up as high as 200 feet. There are some that are thought to be, or have been otherwise proven to be, around 1,300 years old. These are the famous Bald (Montezuma) Cypress. There are some of this same specie of Cypress, a time and a half older in Tehuacan, State of Puebla and, of course, just outside of Oaxaca, State of Oaxaca further to the south in Mexico in a village named Santa Maria del Tule. We have been present in the area off and on for about half a century, in various postures and purposes over those years. When we bought our property, it was somewhat depressing to see how folks had used the banks of such a noble River as a garbage dump. The expression was, "It's okay, because when the floods come the water carries away all the garbage." While the war has in no wise been won, we are able to claim at least a running victory, because we can go through two or three weeks at a time between episodes of abuse. Before the dumping was daily. With the efforts of our mayordomo, Alvaro Balboa Huerta, and the rest of the Quinta's "extended family", our river's edge is in really good condition now, perhaps 95 percent of the time. At first our grumpy nature and demanding posture was not so well received by those who sought convenience in ridding themselves of litter and garbage. Now, however, even some of those same people come by to say that things are much better when they are cleaner. Go figure.
We advocated for a scheduled garbage pick-up, which was initiated, with many people saying that it would never work. Now after about five years, it has become a twice-weekly institution, giving us more than a little pleasure to see the garbage cans, boxes, and other containers lined up along the highway when we go to town on certain early mornings. The people even sweep clean the dirt around their garbage cans. Some times the smallest steps have the greatest effect.
Some of our land adjacent to the Rio Corona's banks is kept in a nearly primeval state. Various of the property owners on both
Our "green zone" is not something caused by any solidarity with Al Gore or the Peoples' Democratic Tree Hugging Alliance Against Normalcy. It is simply the extension of the normal practices of a farm boy whose father taught his sons conservation, respect for the land, and the things in and on it, and to exercise an Anglican catechism which includes stewardship over the affairs of Creation. This has led us to have several thousand square yards of terrain that is chocked full of birds and where anything from bobcats to red and grey fox can be and are seen. Just to the side, and in the River-course proper (called an avenida, like "street" or avenue, in Spanish) we have encountered puma and coyote. Birds are too numerous for us to mention accurately. Now, at this writing, after over ten years of listening, and witnessing, it is clear that the bird specie count might actually surpass 500 for our place and 25 miles radius around us. The dragonfly, butterfly, and other such beasties are equally impressive, and as stated elsewhere in this website, we are situated on a very heavily trafficked flyway for the mariposa monarca.
THE QUINTA TESORO de la SIERRA MADRE
does receive visitors. There are very few rules and/or regulations.
The first and foremost is that the minimum estancia is three (3) nights. The charge for one person staying three (3) nights is $150.00, for two persons $175.00, and for three persons $185.00 . This charge include a substantial breakfast or brunch depending on the wishes of the visitor. There are special considerations for stays of six (6) nights or more, in terms of charges.
ESTANCIAS of six (6) nights or more will be charged at the rate of $40.00 per night for one person and $45.00 per night for two (2) persons. For these clients a complete breakfast will be served between 06:00 and 09:00 each morning.
ESTANCIAS of twenty (20) nights or more will be charged at the rate of $35.00 per night for one person and $40.00 per night for two (2)persons. For these clients a complete breakfast will be served between 06:00 and 09:00 each morning.
Rates are listed here in American currency. Mexican currency is also a preferred method of payment, and will be fixed by the rate of exchange for the day. That rate will be the average between the purchase and the sale of the dollar for the peso. The Quinta receives One, Two, or at most Three guests at any given time. All guests must be in the same party. The minimum estancia is three (3) nights. There is no variation from these two rules.
Prepayment is made by communicating with our e-mail and arranging for a bank deposit to our bank in Texas or by the forwarding of a personal check to our home address in Texas. Precise directions to our little place will be forwarded to you. We have never "lost" anyone. While the route may seem complicated, all of our visitors have commented about how easily we are found.
PLEASE TAKE NOTE:
At this time, the Quinta takes 20.00 American dollars in Silver Coin, minted from 1964 and before in the denominations of silver mintage as payment for two persons for three nights accommodations and breakfast/ brunch included.
The same package can be had for 30.00 Mexican pesos in Silver Coin, minted before 1965. Certain conditions and exemptions are in force.
Suggested Menus and Meal Prices at the Quinta Tesoro de la Sierra Madre
This will give our clients some idea of what a menu for a three night stay might include.
Breakfast or Brunch
Chilaquiles - a delicate combination of chicken, shredded onion, cheeses, mixed in a cream sauce with fried tortilla strips and grilled strips of poblano pepper. Exotic sounding but actually a mild welcome to a new day. Covered with our famous,homemade green tomatillo sauce.
Shrimp Omelette - three jumbo shrimp, grilled to perfection and served in omelette presentation, with a nice Swiss cheese and cream cheese filler. Served over a bed of select-quality asperagus spears, freshly prepared for a special wake-up.
100% Mexicano - a desayuno (break your fast) for the alban~il (bricklayer) and the arriero (donkey train driver). Menudo, gorditas stuffed with classics of the region like newly gathered free range eggs, scrambled with dried beef, chorizo, and white queso casero, bowl of stewed Oaxaca-style black beans (with or without diced or whole serrano pepper).
El Texano - Grilled select-quality pork steak strips, scrambled eggs with deli-cheddar, two large pancakes with maple syrup, and/or our incredible miel del monte (honey from the chapparral).
Southern Pride - with poached eggs on toast, grilled shredded potatoe, fried green tomatoes, with extra crispy bacon. Served with toast and sweet bread. A simple, but ample approach to confronting the challenges of a new day!
El Oaxaqueno - prepared with two fried tortillas, mounted with a black bean pate', grilled onions, poached eggs, on top of grilled, select, sliced deli-ham, then covered with thick crumbles of excellent white cheese, topped again with rings of fresh sliced onion, black beans, select-quality English peas, and a thin but generous layer of Swiss cheese. Known as Huevos Motulenos, this is a classic breakfast of festivity times in Southern Mexico.
El Vaquero - which is a simple breakfast with scrambled eggs, done our own secret way, placed in a circle on the plate and smothered with carne con chile. Eaten frequently with only totopes (tortilla chips), it's okay if the guest uses his/her fork/spoon. It is something like a cowboy's comfort food.
These brunches are very ample, and further come with toast and/or pan dulce, jams and/or jellies, coffee, mexican breakfast salads of tomatoe, avocado, and/or citrus fruit sections, and our special salsas...some picante (really hot), others suave (kinda poofy, but flavourful). These meals are included in the room charge for those on a B&B plan.
Light Lunch Suggestions
Club Sandwich - three deli-quality meats, two cheeses, pickles, chips,and a refreshment, with Country Club presentation. Triple decker...big enough to share with your companion 4.00/am.cur.
Super Nachos - totopes with beans, cheese, and carne con chile or dried beef or steak pieces, topped with serrano peppers or jalapenos. 18 nachos, enough to share, and a refreshment 4.00/am.cur.
Cheese & nut bowl - cubes of quality cheese, dried beef, and a selection of domestic Mexican and imported nuts, includes the first beer or soda pop (sneak-up-on-you filling) 4.00/am.cur.
Whole Huachinango - (red snapper) a la VeraCruzana or grilled al mojo de ajo, served with generous portions of a nice steamed vegetable and a white rice mountain, includes white wine - 9.00/am.cur.
Tampiquena Plate - including a sirloin strip (7 - 9 ounces), two enchiladas, guacamole, rice, and beans, a classical preparation of the region, includes red wine - 10.00/am.cur.
Rib Eye Steak - with (Mexican prime, 9 ounces) our over-stuffed potatoe, a nice steamed vegetable, includes red wine - 9.00/am.cur.
Enchiladas Suizas - four overstuffed corn tortillas, filled with excellent chicken, and drenched in, out, and over with our homemade salsa verde...topped with Swiss and fine Mexican white cheese (almost a sin), finished in a 500 degree oven for four minutes and served with red/white wine - 9.00/am.cur.
On colder winter nights, we sometimes have caldos (stews) of beef, or chicken, or seafood. These are rich and traditional makings for the cold in this neo-mountainous area. Because they are "caldos", they are made up from scratch and take several hours in the preparation. With the little extras that our meals always present to the table, they make a perfect response to the intimidations of El Viejo del Invierno. With a room temperature or chilled beer, or Coca Cola, they make a good meal that warms a person from the inside out - 6.00/ am.cur. or 6.50/with wine.
Also, during the Winter, or any time requested, we are famous for our special Mexican hot chocolate, known as "Chocolate Feliz" (happy chocolate) which we take almost two hours to whip up. Very slowly we produce an almost sedative taste experience that truly presents the best of the Mexican kitchen. Served at the whim of the owner or at the request of the guest at no extra charge.
Some of our folks say that just the fragrances of the "caldos" simmering their flavours together is worth the experience. And, in keeping with the habit of the mean old man who is the chef, we generally make enough to serve a healthy round of seconds to our guests. These are actually stews that require a fork, knife, spoon, and a good cooled (not cold) beer, coca cola, or wine.
SPECIAL NOTE: For couples it has been popular for both to order the same thing, and we essentially super-size a single order, and serve family style, after a fashion. The clients receive 1.8 times the single order and pay 1.6 times the price for a single order.
Dessert is usually our Brownies a la Cantinflas, which brings rum, vanilla, homemade cherry syrup and, of course, dark chocolate happily clashing onto your platito de postre. Sometimes, when the better half is around it might be her very famous Red Grapefruit Pie or classic American Apple Pie, with Sharp Cheddar Cheese sticks on top! Dessert is included in the guest's fare. House white wine is normally served chilled, and red wine is normally served at room temperature.
OUR DINING AND DIET PHILOSOPHY - Please take note
Our meals are based on 1930s farm reality. We serve no non-fat, no diet, no low-fat, no light-beer, no diet Coke, no 2% milk, no Spandosweet nor sugar substitutes. While we serve standard process white sugar on request only, to us, a sugar substitute is brown sugar, semi-refined sugar, molasses, and/or wild honey from a nearby apiarist. We serve half and half with our coffee, and the coffee we serve is a low-range deluxe blend and is caffeinated. We use considerable olive oils, vinegars, canola oil, and butter in our cooking. We have tea of various types...green, poofy, and regular black. To the extent possible, and every effort is always made, we serve citrus juices derived from the orchards immediately around us, and we squeeze it ourselves or it is done by the sister of our manager.....this includes the world's best red grapefuit juice and valencia orange juice. Tomatoe and mango juices are reconstituted by the very high-quality producer, JUMEX.
We provide impromptu, simple snacks....especially when Diana is around... but even El Gringo Viejo makes little goodie plates....to accompany your beer or soda pops. The Cheese and nut bowl w/ one beer or soda pop is essentially a full meal. But, we provide a bit of munchy even if you don't want a medium-large bowl of goodies.
And, while trying to discuss this with some deference, we find that those who are a little heavier than they might like, lose significant weight during their stay, in spite of (actually because of) our culinary preparations. The longer the stay, the more weight lost. We attribute this to the "I'm full now" signal the system sends to the brain when the vital fats have been reached on the fat-o-meter in the guest's metabolism. Complementing this is the amount of walking up and down gentle grades that lead to and from the Quinta. Very little walking, even around the grounds of the Quinta Tesoro de la Sierra Madre, necessarily works muscles that might have been in a bit of retirement. Nothing strenuous even, just a bit of re-awakening.
The few children we have always eat everything....oatmeal, brocolli....everything. The people who are a bit on the thin side, seem to gain a little weight. Therefore, although we know the truth of what is stated here, if the prospective guest cannot deal with these parameters, it is best that he go on with his diet and remain with the debilitations that that same diet causes. But it is best if it be continued at some other venue. If the client can put up with three or more nights of the gruel we serve, he will feel better and rejuvenated. This we believe and this we know.
What about the weather?
To be sure, the area is hot during the Summer, although the mornings and late afternoons, and the nights are blessedly pleasant to even
cool. Early morning low temperatures in August can go into the 50s. In our years of being there, and receiving guests, we have only had the clients use the air-conditioner on eight nights. An honest
observation is that Winter nights can be quite bracing, due to our position away from the coast and adjacent to very high mountains. Temperatures in the 40s F are not rare in December and January during early morning hours. But, even in the depths of winter the daytime highs will range from the 70s to the low 80s. We might have three or four cold fronts of any significance during any given Winter that might drive the daytime highs into the 50s for a couple of days.
During the p
eriod from late April through June and then again during the tropical episode of the Autumn, say from September through mid-November, we have fairly predictable periods of heavy rains. Nighttime thunderstorms against the nearby mountains are very common during the Summer, and provide very attractive, if a bit humbling, lightning shows. There are times when one could possibly read a newspaper from illumination provided by the lightning.
Medicines, film, regular lap-top and other computer devices, etc.?
There are supplies for your laptop fairly readily available in the area. More certainly there are always place in Cd. Victoria where a person can obtain necessary supplies for almost any conceivable computer situation. At this point, however, we have no cable or telephonic wire connection for the internet. Wifi is very much available, but one must use the TelCel plug-in. The cable remains only a half-mile away....but another few months away, perhaps in 2012 we'll be able to log in with our old PCs. It is best to make sure that you have a good supply of any necessary back-ups and/or expendables in hand before arrival. Charging batteries is no real problem because our electricity is the same voltage and cyclage as American. Old-fashioned film and digital camera loads are pretty much same story. You will want to arrive with a good supply in-hand but Cd. Victoria will almost always have what is needed if we cannot find it in the locale. Medicines are generally available in the community, and wierd or specialty presecriptions of any kind can be filled in Cd. Victoria.
Water, food, diseases, shots, UFO abductions....etc.?
While we might style this topic with a bit of humour, there is reason to ask and to be answered. Water, for instance, is always an issue for people travelling outside the United States, especially for the first time. Water issues in Mexico were always a much more complicated issue than generally assumed.....It was "here, yes but there, no" . In some nowhere place like Matehuala, or Santa Engracia, one could drink the water from the taps without concern. Other places with decent water were Real de Catorce, Villa de Santiago, and even Reynosa. BUT! For instance, Mexico City, Guadalajara, most coastal areas...almost always "NO!" Public water supplies continue to improve throughout the country but you are still well advised to carry bottled water and inquire locally of a reasonable respondent about your supply at the tap where you are. YOUR PLACE HAS VERY HIGH QUALITY TAP WATER, which I use (for me) straight from the tap. We also filter (three times) what we place in your room as well as providing bottled water. Our granddaughter as an infant and toddler used the straight stuff, as have my wife, daughter, and son-in-law, son, and my parents-in-law, and it seemed to do them good. In Cd. Victoria the tap water and any water served to you in any reasonable looking place is 100% potable. Food standards and qualities range from good to excellent.
The biggest disease concern we have is the Dengue (DEN -gay) fever. Last year (2012) there were more than 1, 230 confirmed and/or suspected cases within a Tamaulipas Statewide population of 3,900,000. You all might recall the outbreak of Dengue in the Florida Keys - Tampa Bay area during the Summer of 2010 which has returned again, this year, 2013. Most of our outbreaks here are usually in the far southern part of the State, around the Tampico area, and result from laxity on the part of people in neighbourhoods in the Tampico area who fail to police their grounds for standing water, which provides the breeding ground for the mosquito.
The State of Tamaulipas in general, and our little area especially, have done and continue to do a very good job in the control of this problem....one which affected my daughter who was infected in Texas back in the mid-1980's and my father who was infected in the late 1930's, also in
the 1950's. During the past several years we have had neither rabies nor dengue reported in the this county, so perhaps we are on the way
to putting those problems into the dustbin along with polio, smallpox, and diptheria and the other childhood diseases which used to affect most other areas of Mexico.
There is no need for any preventative vaccinations or shots, and certainly not for the "preventative use of antibiotics" for warding off digestive problems. The latter will almost always seem to cause more problems than solutions. Shots, innoculations, vaccinations are all un
necessary either for entering Mexico or returning to the United States, (except for pets, who require an active rabies certificate).
The master bedroom, ready for a long Winter's night
MEXICO MIKE'S CORNER
Click this address to gain access to a wealth of worthwhile information. Whether driving or taking the
plane or bus, what you might learn here is more than worth the effort. Each of us has a lifetime of
experience and a myriad of experiences in the neighbouring Republic to the South. There are a few folks
whom El Gringo Viejo respects in terms of the quality of observation and analysis. About four or five
tie for first place. But, Mexico Mike Nelson is the only Generalist among them....archaeology, travel
routes, destinations, cultural insights, political analysis, weather, geography, warnings, all-clear
advisories, legal pitfalls and solutions, food, customs, mechanics, doctors and medicine, etc.etc.etc.
This is a good stop. It will be stated, however, twice here. Mr. Nelson is a world renowned authority,
and he is a paid consultant. My experience in speaking to his clients is that any money they spent on his
prosaic analysis of a set of questions needing answers was either worth 100 times or more than what was
spent, or it saved them 100 times or more than what was spent.
We urge that as you feel the urge to ask questions....please avoid asking questions that are already
answered in the text of his blog and site. Also understand that Mike is a paid....a highly paid...consultant
who charges as does a veterinarian, a lawyer, or a dentist. He has guided many investors and people
involved in confidential business operations. He is highly regarded as an authority in many different
areas and at many different levels about Mexico.
He and I, along with various grumpy old men might appear to be high-handed and short with people.
But he and I, along with various of the cartel of grumpy old men are actually generous and kindly in
most respects. We do not do well when the Mexican topic is broached with the assumption that everything
in the USA is good and perfect, and that everything in Mexico is either bad or suspect or both. I think that
sums up the best warning I can give good people of good faith...who have their standards and moral code,
and who want to have a good time...permanently or temporarily in Mexico. Mexico Mike and El Gringo
Viejo are not friends or relatives. We are certainly not enemies.
We are the proverbial two ships passing in the night. Our styles are different, but our experiences
and conclusions are remarkably concurrent or in agreement. Our visitors would do well to see if his
web-site offers a clearing of any fog obstructing your way.
El Gringo Viejo