We veered away from the sun & surf excursions in Cozumel, Mexico to explore the more wild eastern side of the island. We began with a trip to the Hacienda Antigua, where we tasted authentic Mexican tequila and learned more about this potent potable.
Much like champagne, tequila is only authentic if it is produced a specific area of Mexico. The name “Tequila” has been protected by the Mexican government since 1974, and its use is limited to products distilled from agave grown in the town of Tequila and surrounding municipalities. What most of us think of as tequila is actually mescal; you know — the mind-altering drink with the worm at the bottom of the bottle. That’s not tequila. And as soon as we started tasting the smooth, velvety liquor, we could tell the difference. I’m not even sure how the two drinks are confused with each other now that I’ve tasted the real thing.
Our tour started with a walk through a crop of blue agave plants. It included an overview on how tequila was made historically and how it’s produced with modern technology. It was brief enough to hold our attention before we got to the main event — tequila tastings.
Our tour guide was charming and charismatic. He truly seemed proud of his Mexican heritage, the product they produced, and ensuring that we enjoyed our time at Hacienda Antigua. We did. He encouraged us to try all the different types they had to offer. We did. Then we bought several bottles (my favorite was the Amaretto-flavored tequila) and piled into our taxi to travel to the eastern side of Cozumel.
This is the wilder side of the island. There are few tourists and no electricity. A couple of rustic beach restaurants dot the beaches. You have to bring cash; they can’t run credit cards. The tables are set in the sand, and I loved sinking my feet deep into the sand while we sat under an umbrella and waited for our grilled fish tacos.
The tequila did make me want to take my clothes off. Or maybe it was the gorgeous sunshine and crashing waves of the ocean. I had my bathing suit on under my clothes, so it wasn’t as risque as the song makes it sound.
But it only took a short wade into the water to realize why these beaches are so wild and undeveloped. They’re rocky. And painful. Even getting to the water hurt. We all got scraped up on the rocks beneath our feet, or the even crustier, coral-like rock formations jutting out of the water. The wind whipped up and water turned frothy. If I were going to live on this island, I’d love to be near these views. But as someone who’d spent the morning drinking tequila and then gingerly tried to walk into the sharpness of the surf, I knew it was time to put my clothes back on and head to the ship.
Have you ever enjoyed real Mexican tequila?