If you're in Mexico and you feel like getting drunk in the morning, no problem. You could kick back a michelada, a beer-based version of the bloody mary. Or if the weather's cooler, you might sip a champurrado, spiked Mexican hot chocolate often served with a warm, sugary fried dough called a churro. But the most interesting way to get a sunrise buzz south of the border is to find a cattle ranch, milk a cow, and fix yourself a typical Mexican drink known as a pajarete.
On a warm Sunday morning down a dead-end street in Riberas, a neighborhood in the Lake Chapala area in the state of Jalisco, Braulio Limon, a rancher from a long line of ranchers, is showing me the callouses covering his palms. As the international community in the area grows, many cattle ranchers have been pushed into the hills, but Limon has so far managed to remain lakeside with a nice chunk of government-subsidized land and a view of the mountains. "The government could kick him out any time," Limon's friend and doctor Adriana Gonzalez tells me. She's among the handful of people who have wandered over to the ranch to hang out, chat, and drink.
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That this idyllic place might one day not exist is tragic: In my life, I've stumbled onto only a few spots, mostly old-timey bars, that have this particular hidden-treasure feel – where the people are so welcoming, so unpretentious, you're immediately swept into the fold. Limon's cats and dogs and chickens and ducks scurry among the cattle. A child cradles a tiny puppy and then passes it to me. Limon's wife Lupita sweeps dust from the ground, dressed like high society in a skirt and high heels, deflecting the strong sun with a "Bienvenido a Mazatlan" straw hat. Limon wears cowboy boots any New Yorker would swoon for. "You Americans use a lot of tractors," he tells me. By contrast, his ranch is a no-frills affair. He prides himself on being totally natural, totally organic. He doesn't even use fertilizer.