Teuchitlan: a trip to authentic Mexico

I was thrilled to be able to immerse myself in Mexico’s interior landscape and a more authentic Mexico on two enlightening itineraries in 2015. If you’ve been following my journey through the state of Jalisco, you’ll recall we left Tequila heading for Guadalajara. Enroute, we stopped in Teuchitlán, Mexico, where we experienced a more authentic spirit of the country. We enjoyed true Mexican hospitality at two very different haciendas, and visited a 2000+-year-old archaeological site called Guachimontones, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of 950+ confirmed archaeological sites in the state.

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Guachimontones is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with approximately 20 pyramids that are being excavated. The main pyramid is 60 feet high (compared to the 79-foot high pyramid at Chichen Itza) and was an important ceremonial site for the Nahuatl people.

What’s unique about Guachimontones is that the pyramids are circular in structure. There was once a thriving city at this site, but it was abandoned about 1,500 years ago. Our guide was knowledgeable and passionate about Guachimontones, making me glad that we’d made the diversion to visit this historic and cultural site, just 58-kms. west (an hour’s drive) from Guadalajara.

Guachimontones-Mexico

There is signage at Guachimontones that explains the layout of the grounds and the archaeological work being undertaken at the Teuchitlan site. Below, our guide demonstrates the ball game often played by the Nahuatl people who lived in the ancient site of Guachimontones, near Teuchitlan, Mexico. The ball court here was the largest in Mesoamerica during its time.

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accommodation options in Teuchitlán, Mexico

After exploring the ruins, we had a super lunch and tour of the grounds and facilities at Hacienda El Carmen Hotel and Spa.

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The Hacienda El Carmen Hotel & Spa near Teuchitlan is a dramatically beautiful property.

I was lost in the beauty of the grounds at Hacienda El Carmen.

I was lost in the serenity of the grounds at Hacienda El Carmen and could have very easily spent a number of days there relaxing and enjoying the spa and natural beauty of this captivating property. But alas, my next stop was awaiting …

visit the annual Molé Festival at Hacienda Labor De Rivera

Haciendas of Mexico are former large private residences that have been converted into small boutique inns. Each has beautiful grounds and a distinctly different personality. I had the privilege to stay at the Hacienda Labor De Rivera, a boutique hotel and spa located near the village of Teuchitlán that is perfect for horse lovers. And lovers of authentic Mexican cuisine, as it is home to an annual Molé and Tequila Festival. In addition to a good helping of authentic Ibarra Mexican chocolate and fresh cocoa from Vera Cruz, the Hacienda’s special molés include a number of delicious seasonings such as the spicy black Barossa chili peppers pictured below.

mexican-mole

 

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This is what a molé sauce (pronounced molay) looks like after slow cooking all those delicious ingredients together.

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My room at Hacienda Labor De Rivera was spacious and had a Spanish flair to it.

Hacienda Labor De Rivera is a property devoted to the love of horses. There are beautiful outdoor spaces like this throughout the property to enjoy the great outdoors in comfort and with the inspiration of equestrian art.

Hacienda Labor De Rivera is a property near Teuchitlan devoted to the love of horses. There are beautiful outdoor spaces like this throughout the property to enjoy the great outdoors in comfort and with the inspiration of equestrian art. The hacienda also buys and sells horses.

hacienda-labor-de-rivera

The Hacienda Labor De Rivera is located on 200 hectares of property near Teuchitlan, Mexico, and is the perfect venue for a private wedding or event. There are 200 horses at the ranch and horseback riding is also offered as a guest activity.

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As you enter the grounds to Hacienda Labor de Rivera near Teuchitlan, Mexico, you are transposed to a peaceful place where you can connect with nature. We passed turtles sunning on rocks on the shore of the small lake, herons in the water, and butterflies enjoying the fresh air. This was a place I did not want to leave.

I had the pleasure of visiting three very distinct properties that are members of the Haciendas Y Casonas de Jalisco, a cooperative of hacienda/boutique property owners throughout the state of Jalisco. I’m quite certain you will be pleased with any of the member properties featured on this site if you do your homework and find the location best suited to your individual preferences. In this post, I feature La Villa del Ensueño, a member property in the artisan village of Tlaquepaque located just 20 minutes from Guadalajara, yet also a world away from the hustle and bustle of the big city.

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Doreen Pendgracs

Known throughout the Web as the "Wizard of Words", I've been a freelance writer since 1993. I'm currently researching and writing volume II of "Chocolatour: A Quest for the World's Best Chocolate". Volume I was published in September, 2013.

47 Responses

  1. Donna Janke says:

    Both the food and the Haciendas look wonderful. How interesting to see circular pyramids.
    Donna Janke recently posted…Carnaval in PedasiMy Profile

    • Hi, Donna. Yes, this really was an amazing journey. So very often, we miss really cool places and attractions as they are but a dot on a map. I’m really grateful to my travel colleagues for pointing me in the right direction. Thx for stopping by.

  2. The hacienda accommodations and grounds look lovely. I like the idea of staying in small boutique properties. I love visiting UNESCO World Heritage sites and these round pyramids are so unusual. Looks like you had a fascinating trip!

  3. Beverly says:

    The haciendas featured in your article evoke such peace and beauty. I would love to stay at one of them.

  4. Linda says:

    Wonderful post, Doreen. I’ve never heard of circular pyramids before. Very cool. Absolutely wonderful photos of Teuchitlan.

  5. Just Beautiful! Looks so peaceful and serene. Definitely interested in seeing the ruins.

    • Hi Janet and thanks for your comment!

      I know you recently spent time on the Pacific Coast near Puerto Vallarta. If you’re looking for another ‘beach’ holiday, but want to see something different, including some ruins in Mexico, try the Gulf Coast next time. The ruins at Tulum are breathtaking and located on the coast just 80 miles from Cancun. Tulum has its own very beautiful, private, and serene beach, although I imagine at times, it may get busy. There is also Uxmal in the Yucatan that has amazing ruins and is far less crowded than Chichen Itza. Stay tuned for on Uxmal, as that post will be coming up in the next month.
      Doreen Pendgracs recently posted…Teuchitlan: a trip to authentic MexicoMy Profile

  6. Linda says:

    I’ve been told to keep photos to 10 or fewer. But I thought you had just the right amount. They all showed a different aspect of your visit and each was interesting in its own right. I didn’t count, I just enjoyed.

  7. Christine says:

    All I’ve really read or heard about Mexico has been about the resorts and resort towns and cities. These areas look much more appealing. I love and prefer to stay in small hotels or inns and these look lovely. Thanks for the wonderfu tour.

    • You’re more than welcome, Christine. Being a beach baby, I was drawn to all the beach resorts as winter getaway destinations when I was younger and just wanted to escape winter. And we’d crossed the US-MX border and visited a couple of border towns in the past as well. But it was on my 2 trips in 2015 that I actually got to explore a few locations in the interior of the country and now realize that I’ve got to go back and see more!

  8. Mar Pages says:

    Those peppers look terrifying! The mole looks fantastic though, reminded me of BBQ sauce in its richness. Love the ballgame demonstration by the guide! What a character. 🙂

  9. Susan cooper says:

    Hi Doreen, these pictures are spectacular. The haciendas are so incredibly beautiful. Would like that so much better than some big hotel. What a great idea. The history of theTeuchitlán area sounds fascinating. It’s always better when you have a guide that obviously loves the area and the history.

    • Hi Susan. Thx for your sweet comment. 🙂 I truly feel blessed to have had the amazing experiences I did in Mexico over the past year. For the special experiences it has given me, I will definitely be having a Mexican launch for the second volume of Chocolatour. Stay tuned!

  10. Esther says:

    Many of these sites were mentioned in a recent book I read called, “Serpent of Light” in which sacred sites were visited by groups of light workers. Ceremonies were held in order to heal the sacred feminine energy of the planet. I’m fascinated with the spiritual stories from around the world. You are privileged to visit these places. Do the travel guides ever mention the sacred stories?

  11. Looks like a great place to visit. I will have to add it to my list of trips.

  12. Chris says:

    I’m so glad you got to Guachimontones!

    Incredibly, we missed it (somehow it didn’t squeeze its way in to our 3 months there), but you can’t do it all hey!

    Those haciendas look divine!
    Chris recently posted…“What is Lake Titicaca?”My Profile

    • Doreen says:

      I know what you mean, Chris. There never seems to be enough time to see and do everything. My problem most often is that I rarely have time to find time to join the amenities at many of the places I visit. The nice thing at the Hacienda Labor Del Rivera is that they gave me a spa treatment in my room! That was absolutely divine.
      Doreen recently posted…five things you should know about TequilaMy Profile

  13. Ashwini says:

    The concept of Guachimontones is absolutely new to me and happy to know about it! And the Hacienda properties are worth staying in and definitely something to look out for !

  14. Gemma says:

    Chili and chocolate is a mix I’ve not tried yet. What’s in the pastry type things in food photo number one? Looks tasty.
    Gemma recently posted…Chasing the Shade in Colonial LeonMy Profile

    • Hi Gemma and thanks for your comment. I can’t quite recall exactly what was on that plate of ingredients. But I believe what you are referring to is a piece of enchilada/tortilla. Nearly every authentic Mexican dish has corn in it, which is used to make all forms of tortillas. The tortillas are used to wrap the chicken or beef that is featured in the mole dish.
      Doreen Pendgracs recently posted…Teuchitlan: a trip to authentic MexicoMy Profile

  15. Adrienne says:

    Wow Doreen, the scenery is breathtaking and I LOVE that drive leading up to the Hacienda Labor de Rivera. Your room looked very spacious, comfortable and just gorgeous. Not too sure about that food though, I could eat the rice but I’m not much on all the other and you couldn’t pay me to eat a pepper. LOL!!! I’m a wimp, I admit it.

    Thanks for sharing this with us and sounds like you’ve been having some wonderful travels. I’m sure you have plenty more on the agenda for this year too.

    ~Adrienne
    Adrienne recently posted…Do You Want To Know Why You Are NOT Making Money From Your Blog?My Profile

    • Thanks a lot for your comment, Adrienne. It’s been awhile since I’ve seen you here.

      Glad that you enjoyed the post. A word of advice: Don’t paint all peppers with the same brush! There are indeed hot chili peppers that most of us should avoid, but there are many peppers that just touch a very mild tinge of heat. You might like to talk to your grocer or market and see what options they have locally for you to try.

      • Adrienne says:

        Hey Doreen,

        Yes, it’s been a very long time but I like the new look of the blog.

        I had to come back because I like bell peppers but that’s it. If anything lingers on my tongue more than 2 seconds it’s too hot for me. I don’t even like lightly mild heat. I don’t like spices at ALL. Like I said, I’m wimp – it’s just not my thing. So any pepper that doesn’t have any kick at all I’m all in. Most don’t though but thanks for your suggestion.

        ~Adrienne
        Adrienne recently posted…How to FINALLY Succeed With Your Blog Even If You Feel CluelessMy Profile

  16. Absolutely BEAUTIFUL hotel! Wow! And the food… mmmm thankfully I just had a late dinner or I would be ravaging through my fridge. We should totally have a chocolate swap!

  17. chandi says:

    Those circular ones are very interesting. Been to about 4 such archeological sites in Mexico but haven’t seen those before. The hacienda looks lovely.
    chandi recently posted…The Best Italian Wine Event West of the AtlanticMy Profile

  18. Those are very wonderful photos! I believe those lovely flowers on the walls of the hacienda are called Bougainvillea.

  19. Doreen — thanks for the tour and beautiful photos. I haven’t been to this site but I did visit Chichen Itza many years ago and climbed to the top of the pyramid. Unfortunately, when I looked down it was so scary that I “sat” my way down step by step. It’s one of those memories from traveling that you never forget. This is a beautiful and historical look at Mexico and makes you sad at all the drug problems and violence in other parts of Mexico.

    • Hi Jeannette and thanks for your comment. I “bummed” my way down the ruins in Uxmal, as like you in Chichen Itza, I found it more difficult to make my way down than I did making the vertical climb.

  20. Erica says:

    I’ve never stayed in a Hacienda before nor have I ever been to Mexico. It looks like it was an enjoyable stay. We have lots of authentic Mexican food where I live, but I tend not to be able to partake since I am gluten-free. However, it looks like you really took advantage of what the locals have to offer.

  21. Chris says:

    My next trip to Mexico keeps getting longer! I thought I’d seen all of Mexico’s pyramids, but clearly not so!
    Chris recently posted…Free Walking Tour Product ReviewMy Profile

    • Chris, Mexico is a country that never ceases to amaze me. I’ve been back 3x in the past 2 years and am already planning a visit in 2018. They keep uncovering and excavating more ruins, so you will never be able to say you’ve seen them all!

  22. Aditi Kapoor says:

    Mexico was always on my wishlist! After reading your post, I want to pack my bags right away and book a trip to this beautiful place! Bookmarking your post for future reference. 🙂

  23. Aditi Kapoor says:

    Will keep that in mind. Thanks for your valuable input. 🙂 🙂

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