Quinta Tesoro de la Sierra Madre
This is your invitation to visit and stay at a Bed and Brunch,a
birdwatching paradise, and a wildlife refuge in the Mexican
Please stay with us for a whileand come to know
Read through our descriptions of places and pertinences that
make up our environs.
YOUR PRIVATE ENTRANCE
Thanks for having stopped by.
We appreciate your time and interest. We think we have the
ideal setting for *relaxation and for rejoining a time gone by,
We are fixed in a theatre designed to frame a really good old
movie. Always check backwith us with information and/or
questions and/or for reservations at
It would be our pleasure to welcome you to our little adobe home situated about
225 miles south-southwest of the international metroplexof McAllen, Texas -
Reynosa, Tamaulipas, or between four and six hours of easy driving,
depending on your number of stops. We are situated about 28 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.
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
to the kilometre
post. We have
Quinta Tesoro de la Sierra Madre
(a friendly tip - click onto the little square on
the lower-left for satellite view. Much better!)
Over the years we have had the pleasure of receiving many visitors
and guests who enjoyed our grounds, location, and the attendant
opportunity to see, hear, and experience the bounty of birds
and butterflies that occasion our precincts.
The Old Gringo appreciates these folks
They are the people who have made our establishment of a place
"at the end of the road" a truly rewarding adventure.
We have arrived at that pleasant point where we
can say "We have the best and nicest guests in
Mexico, no matter where they come from"
with reference to our visitors.
We have been favoured to receive an eclectic clientele, from as far
away as France and Japan, to as close by as our pleasant little
Capital city of Tamaulipas, Cd. Victoria, just a bit less
than 25 miles to the southeast of our little home.
The overwhelming majority are folks essentially looking for
a respite from urbanity. Thlooking for birds, butterflies,
dragon flies, and/orcertain other forms of wildlife,
especially mammifera, or vegetation,such as
bromeliads, types of yuccas, and tropical
We have had photographers, painters, horse trainers, even
reporters and ghost hunters. All our folks seem to enjoy
going about their pursuits knowing that they have a
private room with a private bath in a private home
where access is restrained, traffic is slight,
parrots and hummingbirds are many,
and, while rustic, all the
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 make 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 migratory.
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. And, we
have scores and scores of other
species of butterflies many
not seen in Texas.
This is a place where you can be pleasantly bored. You can drink beer
or not drink beer, Cuba libres, Gin and Tonic, Grapefruit Juice
w/ Hornitos Tequila and even Margaritas sometimes
when we have a little notice. You can feast or fast,
or do almost anything that is tolerated by the
somewhat antiquated social standards of
our peculiar little rural community. It is
still pretty much the quintessential
place to be laid back and to relax.
We even permit smoking, but
never inside the house.
Come unto this place all ye who travail and are heavy laden, as it is said
in the Old .Book, and visitor, client, and/or Creator will do well here.
Or, perhaps one might just like to see and appreciate a place
that is truly particularly and peculiarly interesting on
the face of this planet. A lady said one time, during
one late afternoon, with the birds preparing for
the nightfall and things becoming quiet and
the sun setting on the nearby mountains,
"This must be where the Lord comes to
to gather His thoughts and lower
His blood pressure".
It just 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 four types of parrots, at least 13 types
of hummingbirds, 4 types of orioles, or more, seemingly
enumerable types of warblers, wrens, and ground
birds, various seed and gnat eaters, and two
types of trogons, who come by at times.
There are always the jays, mockingbirds, ani's (both grooved
and smooth bill), Kiskadees, Kingfishers many different
raptors, including various 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
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 had a couple who came back a year later and did the walk
to Tiger Springs and back, specifically for the mix of birds.
They anticipate coming again in April. The walk is
about 11 miles round trip, and takes about 8
hours, including bird-watching and
They know what they are doing and are in good shape, so it should be another
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.
This particular amble goes only to about 1,270 fasl.
The Quinta Tesoro de la Sierra Madre receives only one,
two, or (rarely) three guests at a time.
Therefore, when you arrive,
you are obviously members
of the same family
This means that when you are with us, you are, in fact,
the exclusive guests staying in a private home that is
essentially yours. Because we are at the end
of the road, it must be understood
that we are, in a way,
on the edge of
The electrical service ends with us and thankfully includes us.
The man who delivers our propane gas has to drive to the
end of the road. Our telephone is a peculiar
combination of stationary instrument,
antennae assisted, and cellular.
There are major mammals hanging around in the river
bottoms and all the way up into the nearby
mountains, (bobcats, tejones, puma, bear, fox,
coyote, racoons, o'possum, weasel, and others
that do not come to mindreadily as I write).
Your home is all adobe. It is built in the
same way and on the same basic plan
as what was used for building of
quarters for Spanish military
officers during the Colonial
Period.....(1521 - 1821).
It is not very imaginative and it is built so as to be easily and
economically repaired with native materials. Most of
the electrical wiring runs on the outside of the wall,
just as if the house had been built before
the time of electrical service.
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 opening 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
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
Yanqui Imperialist stations come in clearly after nightfall.
For instance: KTRH - 740 Houston, KRLD - 1080 Dallas,
WOAI - 1200 San Antonio, and WFAA - 820 are good
selections. Electrical adaptation is not necessary
since our electricityspeaks standard Gringo
volts and cycles.
The Guest Room has its own private bath, complete withfull-time
hot water, (something of a luxury in these parts). The Guest
will encounter nice fluffy towels and face-cloths, a
selection of shampoos and conditioners. There
are even some things to replace necessary
items that might have been left behind.
to dress for he wedding and even
Dolly Parton could do her
coiffure up real proud.
And, so long as we are talking about running water, 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 600 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
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
Sometimes the guests make themselves their favourite
tea or one of our own availabilities.
should be pointed o
that anywhere in our little
adobe hut the
Our water supply from the Ejido is of very high quality.
We also provide triple
filtered water from this supply,
as bottled water
at any time requested.
be stocked with two bottles
per person, which will
bed upon arrival.
There have been birthday parties, office parties, and even
associated with weddings and funerals centered
There have been Presidential candidates,
government under-secretaries, and secretaries
of this or that Ministry
of this or that
State and/or the
The magic of adobe walls and a cane ceiling always seems to
for conviviality. No
often lament not
having taken live
pictures of the various
who have taken refuge
of our fireplace during cold
who have dried
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
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, pilgrimage, and religious devotions
This was a fairly bold move in a Mexico
that still had the prohibition of outdoor
religious celebration and/or the
wearing of religious vestments
by the clerical class outside
of a church building.
by force of the
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
(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
cave where Saint Mary,
upon the site of a
of Jesus is said
appeared, both with and
before the Apparition
The place is clean, calm, and dignified
, although we try go on dates that are
periods of heavy
We'll also visit the colonial-era
of the Hacienda La Meza, and the
Waterfall of El Chorrito.
There are pleasant places for a lunch. This is a 92
and can be accomplished
unhurried 4.5 to 5 hours
It should also be noted that the journey, most frequently,
up the entire day.
The people at the little restaurants
stalls are very
engaging, albeit passive.
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
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
It must now also be pointed out that the site has become
organised and clean even during our visit
It is really a strange, and very pleasant 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 varied
and sundry goodies for sale.
It is good to note that most of the little gift ideas are inexpensive,
considering isolation of the place, and that the vast majority of goodies were "hecho en
Mexico" or "Made in USA". Quite a refreshing departure from the tsunami
of "made in china" junk. Many people buy jars to take back some of the
waters that are encountered running in various natural and amended
channels. The water is thought to be spiritually charged for healing,
protecting, or comforting a faithful person who is in communion
with Saint Mary.
the water in their auto's radiator, and that
the leak healed itself. This is not a joke.
During the period of the "Fiestas Guadalupanas"
(shortly before, during, and after 12 December),
there can be as many as 300,000 visitors
from all over Northeastern
Mexico and Texas, over
a 10 day period.
That date commemorates the apparition of Saint Mary,
not here, but on the Hill of Tepeyac in Mexico City,
known as the Virgin de Guadalupe, Patroness
de Mexico and the Americas.
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 the very final settlement areas since
the time of the agrarian reform's entrance into
the Santa Engracia area in the
Our jaunt can be done easily in three hours.
stops for photo
s at homes,
on the guest's
walk to and
and the Springs, round
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
No coins to
children, please, for
right to give
But, pens with
the like are
The Springs of El Tigre, which are
at the base of the first
the Sierra Madre
life to much of the
Santa Engracia area as they form
the beginning of
and its attendant
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
from the point of view of a
will notice a certain
that is afforded to Gringo
This town visit might include a stop at the supermarket,
a drop off some paperwork with the attorney or
bank, and/or a stop at the typical market area
buy a couple of new serapes for use as
bedspreads for the Quinta.
A couple of sightseeing
stops and a light
There are scores of popular places from
and we can
a day and return
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.
place has endured in this area since the first quarter
of the 1700's, mid-way
into the Spanish Colonial Period.
not the largest Mexico's
haciendas, it was originally
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
a duchy located in
the wilderness that
roughly equivalent to-day
an outpost on the Moon.
Now it is about one kilometre from the Quinta Tesoro de
the ownership is not one
Spanish Don lording over a thousand
vaqueros,and five thousand
supporting and defending
During these times, it is a complex of individuals and corporations, including
It is operated as a guest
lodge, and is open to
Most, if not all,of the members of the
infact. have genealogical roots in the ancestry of the
Hacienda. But, to-day, the Hacienda is thoroughly
with rooms both
recently constructedand quite antique,
grounds, swimming pool,bar,
and elegant dining facilities,
along with tennis cou
traditional rustic sauna
and other amenities
with such an
It is worth a visit and the staff is normally very tolerant of folks j
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 thousand
or more 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.
The clients were mostly adventurers were from the
and were not overly concerned with
a couple of inches of snow. Plus, we
the fireplaces keeping
In any regard, this
isfull of lore, legends, ghosts,
It would behoove the visitor to invest a morning
or a day
or a meal or a couple of beers there.
even had clients who come and stay at the
for three or four nights
at the Hacienda
for three or four
nights on the same trip. S
but it makes
sense to our clients
who have done it.
Only a few
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.
Valencia orchards80 years old, we can see orchards
that are being
modernized and have been fitted
with an elaborate drip-irrigation system
for the new plantings of special
limes, for which there is an
Victoria. They would be
The property is owned by a family that is essentially "on the register" in Ciudad
embarrassed to read this, but they really are
well-educated, and well-placed socially,politically.
involved in the life of their community.
They are a
people who always
of upper-middle class and "poor-rich" and titled colonial
seem to come out on top,
regardless of any adversity or op
They are typically civilized, generous, and even-handed
to the Quinta Tesoro de la Sierra Madre
its ownership, and its guests.
They have been better than
The Hacienda de La Vega is nowhere near 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 first 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 urbanised.
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
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 the delivery
of sillares, huge hewn stone blocks weighing one tonne each
The expropriation of land from theHacienda de Santa Engracia in the
mid-1920s resulting in a brief but intense skirmish with defenders
of said Hacienda. Oddly enough, this particular text and the
associated picture have always been difficult to hold in
place. The here text seems to squiggle and
disorganise and picture will have been
found to be "dancing" during our
and we will have to
struggle to put it back
in its correct place.
In these days the family has put substantial effort into restoring the two bathrooms and bringing the previous
lustre of the home back to normal. The owners have been gradually bringing this
old structure into a
We think about
together a package of "home stays", and a sedate bar,
EZ-gourmet meals, tele-sports, and snacks place. Pictured in the final frame is the old smithy and
barn area. This Anglo-Irish standard structure is from the same period as the original manor
house. In style and configuration, it is the brother
of the old Manor House.
datacheck - 1 October, 2015 - 17,117
A Gringo in Rural Mexico
Voice from the Sierra Madre Oriental
YOUR PRIVATE CORRIDOR
Thanks for stopping by here, too!
El Gringo Viejo with Cleo the Crazy Cat, and Prince, he Lazy Dog
west-facing corridor". This is a place
"keep an eye on things". Birds, butterflies,
and cats, visitors, and all nature ofwonderment. It is a
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 one might well not expect on the edge of the
wilderness. Rustic comfort is the theme.
Then, the reader can communicate at length with questions and/or comments at our page designed
for such things on the blog-site. The reader can read about various political, historical, and cultural
matters pertaining to the United States, Texas, and Mexico at the linkage provided above the
literary experiment, with opinions and
from glands full
tempered with a
bit of humour,
all flowing from the
keyboard of a
who visit are
invited, at their own risk, to check
in with our blog.
It is an eclectic set of observations about life along with
curmudgeon who lets
in parking lots and park
Any and all are welcomed to
bother him a little too much at times.
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.
Another link, www.bnb-directory.com will connect the visitor with a registry to a
directory where literally hundreds of places such as ours, some very elaborate,
others rustic, all good and interesting, are displayed with pictures, costs,
locations, service and accommodation format, and other
information is readily presented
in readable fashion.
We now have a somewhat semi-official "historical
marker - road sign" for our little mud hut.
Its production was overseen by our neighbour at the adjacent Hacienda de La Vega.
He has a similar sign that announces his more extensive acreage about 50 feet from
this sign, placed near the main entrance gates. Alvaro moved the sign closer to our
main entrance about a week after this picture was taken.
The first and most important condition concerning rates and availabilities is that the Quinta Tesoro de la Sierra Madre takes reservations only on the basis of 'estancias' of three (3) nights more. We have only one guest
room, and it has its own private entrance and bath. We take one, two, or three individuals and no more.
There are special rates for weekly (six nights or longer).
Three to five nights - One person with brunch: 1,000 Mexican pesos per night,
Two persons with brunch: 1,200 Mexican pesos per night
(total room charge)
Six or more nights - One person with breakfast: 850 Mexican pesos per night.
Two persons with brunch / breakfast: 950 Mexican pesos per night.
(total room charge)
There is no deviation nor exception to the 3 night minimum rule, for friend,
foe, extraterrestrials, angels, or family. The same applies to the rates.
There is no smoking permitted within the walls of the Quinta.
One may smoke freely in the out-of-doors.
We accept Mexican or American cash money at the rate of the day as established by the average of the purchase and sale of the American dollar as evaluated by the Mexican Peso. Guests can prepay by forwarding a personal check or bank transfer to our account in Texas, as per the very simple instructions we shall provide if the client wishes to prepay by that manner
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 a 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 a treat, as you so will.
Just look out for the cats' tails when you are
rocking back and forth.
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 well 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
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 mezquite wood that has been placed in the parrilla
(an outdoor grill).
Background music from somewhere (not too loud),
dogs and cats patiently waiting for
bones and morsels, around the
edges, sizing up food-lackeys.
These things complete the
The cooking of beef and/or pork cuts, chicken, even fish and shrimp, potatoes, beans, onions, chili peppers, carrots,
broccoli, continual chilling of beer
and soda pops, deploying of
candles, serving and
generally congenial. This 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 early twilight, while
during the winter everything will start outside and retire indoors for 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 pleasure
of the Old Gringo.
A fully private parrillada can be arranged and provided
at a fixed price, depending upon what is
desired by the client. This would
normally be for anniversaries,
birthdays, and such.
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 herbs and seasonal fruit. 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 such as martinis, cuba libres, margaritas, tropical smoothies which are a
house specialty, and that depend upon the availability of fresh tropical produce.
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. Below, one can see the Old Gringo hard at work (?). We confess with a bit of humility to having a bit of culinary ability, developed at this late stage in life. We have empty plates
coming back from the table and very few crumbs and leavings under the
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 the very 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. Oddly, 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 might seem a little silly, but if one can imagine a very chilly Winter's night, very clear, and
very, very still, perhaps he/she can also smell the fragrance of a rich and
rough Mexican chocolate (the real stuff) being prepared on our humble little stove.
We put in measures of sour cream and whole cream. Then we slowly mix
in, at different but specific times during the process other goodies such as
brown sugar, and other nice things like a couple of
capsful of a good reposed Tequila such as Hornitos, or perhaps a good rum
along with a generous pouring of mesquite log honey, a specialty of the region. Lacking that, we might be forced to use the orange blossom honey instead. The
variations for this potion are almost endless, and we always have little
adaptations that might enhance the guest's enjoyment. We prepare to watch an old Sherlock Holmes classic with Dr. Moriarty fight to the death with Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce defending all good things English against that nefarious master of crime.
Winter's Moonlight filters through the Frangy Pangy tree's leaves, when we hear the call from Diana, "The movie's starting, come on inside."
"Come, Watson! The game's afoot! Bring your revolver!"
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 so the two sister cats
can make their royal entrances. Smokey, the
long-haired, nervous Rag-Doll, and then
HRH Cleopatra, her even more neurotic
Maine Coon sister, who both bound in
joyously, eyeing us for some treat
that is totally un-deserved.
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
Gringoserves one and all a bit
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 haslearned
what each inflection's meaning carries.
To-night, for instance, we can hear the simultaneous laughing and howling of the coyotes along with
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 a bit 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. One
can hear the red foxes, yipping a bit closer to the Quinta.
The guest asks, "Do you train them to do
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 a bit 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, where during those
remaining moments of pleasant, cool darkness, right when
the first pot of coffee is finishing its brew at 05:00, I can
hear the door open and close from the guest room
I call out,
"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
The gate squeaks.
Alvaro arrives.Another day begins, with guests, the animals, the visitors, and all such things that come to us, at the end of the road.
There is a long, west-facing corridor, where folks frequently choose to relax in a mesadora (large, rustic rocking chair). From here, they
alcohol. They all attract, in a passive way, the
dogs and cats of the Quinta Tesoro de la
Sierra Madre who think there might be
a canape of ham & cheese, or even a
hidden doggy-bone as a reward for
being cute. The view from the
corridor, both close and
distant, seems to absorb
the poisons of life. Birds
come close by.
Butterflies fill the air after 10:00 in the morning. Hummingbirds, sometimes by the score, whirr
and flit from one shrimp plant flower to another in their frenzied search for nectar. Bees stay
busy all day long. Almost all guests can be found on the corridor at one or all the following
times; in the morning after brunch, or in the earliest part of the afternoon, when the
searing heat is just beginning and a strange sense of normalcy seems to permeate
everything, and then, of course, during those mystical couple of hours before the
late afternoon sun slowly slices into the Sierra Madre that forms the western
horizon. Birds are the theme of these moments. Tranquility is the sub-plot.
The main plot is....that this is life. No horns, sirens, traffic lights, and few engine noises. Roosters crow
a bit, birds call and sing, at times one can hear children and families playing or swimming in the Rio
Corona. People come and go on foot, horseback, or an occasional pick-up truck.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.
recorded such things comes from the latter 1500's
although settlement in the area came much later.
It is generally understood that the base flow of
the springs that feed the Rio Corona is a little
more than 400,000 gallons per minute. That
seems like quite a bit, but that water is
heavily used to irrigate several-score
thousand acres of citrus and grain in
and around the area of the Santa
Engracia cultural zone.
Our little ejido is a part of a legendary Valencia orange, Persian lime, and Texas-Variety red grapefruit producing area,
famous throughout the citrus industry in the world.
Many of the "huertas" (orchards) are now
irrigated by well-water,
if necessary, during the dry season or in case the
wet season is late.
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 this 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
to this measure so as to ensure reasonable predictable
habitat for the riverine beasties as well as the birds
and other critters. There was a time during my life
when it was just accepted that prepotent
individuals who did not feel themselves
to be constrained by law, morality, or
reason would hunt to elemination of
any mammal larger than one pound
adult weight. The people of lesser
means were in the business of
gleaning what few animals
out of the wilderness that
they could, edible or
It seemed to be a pretty bleak outlook, and a certain one,
for many years. Just recently however, during the past 10 to 15 years we have been witnessing a very
significant re-population of bears, deer, mountain lions, bobcats, and even ocelots, crocodiles, and
things such as the mink-like weasle known locally as an "onza". All repopulation has been from
native population already in place.
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.
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
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/or 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 freshly 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
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; includes one beer/Coke
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
Cheese & nut bowl - cubes of quality cheese, dried beef, and a selection of domestic Mexican and imported nuts, includes the first beer or Coke
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.
All visitors need to be aware that we serve no diet nuthin'. Everything is heavy, and we have no sucaryl, artificial sugars, light or lite anything, no de-caffienated nuthin'.....margarine or "spreads" etc. are not allowed. Sugar to us means brown sugar, agave syrup, the heavy mesquite, wild flower, or citrus flower honey of the area, or a combination of all of those things.
People who stay with us comment that they wind up losing weight in spite of the lack of "diet" alternatives. We chalk this up to the signal that the body gives when it says..."Yes, I have the necessary stuff, and will not store up fats because of the fact that you are using Same-as-sugar and drinking diet Cokes and life-beer. I do not sense a bout with starvation coming."
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 work
muscles that might have been in a bit of retirement. Nothing strenuous even, just a bit of re-awakening.
The few children we have had 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/she 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/she will
feel better and rejuvenated.
This we believe and
this we know.
Avocado in bloom, Spring of 2014
and now below, heading for
the old guacamole bowl
Our bouganvillas invading into the bramble that is our
natural zone as one approaches the Rio Corona from
the house that lies about 200 feet to the left,
and about 15 feet above the level from
whence this picture
STATEMENT CONCERNING SECURITY ISSUES:
It is only reasonable that folks should ask about security issues. We do state without fear of being incorrect in the least that the Cut and paste United States State Department Advisories are of little worth, quite frankly. They are mainly out-of-date or impertinent to specific destinations and/or trip purpose.
The military offensive impulsed by past-President Felipe Calderon Hinojosa did massive destruction to
the cartel structure and organisation. Of the very few correct actions taken by the present
administration of Jose Enrique Pena Nieto is the continuance of the
military pressure against the disorganised
leadership of the cartels.
Folks are surprised to note how much military is on the highways and byways when they are travelling
in our area. Our little zone has a deployment of about half a regiment at this time, situated in the
middle of the Estacion de Santa Engracia, about 4.5 miles from our little adobe hut. Every
engagement between the military, to a 99.999% level, and the "cartel" people results in a
total destruction of the "cartel" opponents. The Mexican military is a substantial
Triple-A minor league to very major league operation. The cartels are now,
sociologically and militarily, mainly assemblies
of inter-feuding "pandillas" (gangs).
And, truth be known, there are precious few engagements anymore. Pleasantly, when there is a flare-up, it is almost always small fragmented gangs killing each other, a la Waco Biker War style. In our area, there is a feeling of normalcy, although people still have their stories about "three years ago, my cousin...."
There is now a willingness to report criminals and criminal activity underway on the Army and Naval Infantry hot lines. Such reports have become the norm, and not the exception. The response within an hour to however long forensics might require....perhaps 36 hours if they are working a group of slavers.
In short, one might well be aware that he/she is safer in Mexico....save for very, very few well-known
and small in geographic scope, areas. Safer than what? Anywhere in the United States in a
community of 250,000 or more with a substantial inner-urban population. This is just the
truth...actuarially, sociologically, and in fact.
Even my channel, the FOXNews folks, does horribly misleading articles about Mexico....and one might remember the Corporal in Brownsville - Matamoros who was detained and Sergeant Tamorisi who was
for several months in Tijuana - Tecate....and Greta and O'Reilly and so forth railing
about the matter. Both of those stories were substantially different than what
was presentedby Greta and O'Reilley. From O'Reilley one could expect such a blowhard,
but we expected better of Greta. And if they say, "Well, we gained knowledge of the
issue that El Gringo Viejo could not possibly know....I respond, "Pigs' wallow!"
Both of those fellows have, since their ''liberation'' created quite an
shall we say...life archive.
FOXNews and especially the Obsolete Media totally misled, for instance, the public concerning "The Missing 43" which was a classical Communist sham meant to cover up a Stalin/Trotsky feud of the sort that frequently develop amongst the Reds. The blame was engineered by the Obsolete Press to shift to the hapless
Pen~a-Nieto, leaving the common Gringo with the head-shaking lament..."There they go again"
when in fact the misunderstanding lies with the sloth of the American listener/viewer who
is unwilling to do his/her own research.
UPDATE - The escape of El Chapo Guzman from the Maximum Security prison north of Toluca has been a true setback for mainly the Pena-Nieto administration. The military is holding in, but the shame and chagrin
affecting the administration is pervasive and palpable at the same time. There seems, however, to have
been no effect in terms of the improvements to the general social scene. We shall keep all and everyone
up to date concerning this and all other matters concerning personal security. (addenda - 29 august 2015)
We need to point out that there were seven of the "worst of the worst" cartel heads in the prison
from whence "El Chapo" escaped. At this writing, six are still incarcerated. Attorneys are
attempting to get some of them out, others are attempting to avoid extradition of their
clients to the United States or Europe.
In any regard, we still can say that we guarantee boredom at our place. Birds, butterflies, boredom, and brunch....all in abundance.
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