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In 1991 Billy and Akaisha Kaderli retired at the age of 38. Now, into their 3rd decade of this financially independent lifestyle, they invite you to take advantage of their wisdom and experience.

Atotonilco El Alto

(Pronounced: Ah-toe-toe-NEEL-coh)

Billy and Akaisha Kaderli

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For quite some time now, we have wanted to get up to the Mexican Highlands area to pursue the tasting of some of the best tequilas in the world.

We had already visited the town of Tequila and learned how Mexico's national drink was made.

Now it was time to step up our game and sample the finest.

First stop: Atotonilco, home of Siete Leguas, a premium tequila.

Our route from Lake Chapala to Atotonilco el Alto

Our route from Lake Chapala to Atotonilco El Alto

Leaving for the Highlands we made previous arrangements with our favorite taxi driver, Arturo, to pick us up at 9:15 am.

It was a gorgeous morning to drive through the Mexican mountains, with the early sun catching the colors of the weeds (salmon and cream, moving to rust and coffee) and wildflowers, the green hills (from lime green to forest green), and the gray-blue agave fields.

We made it to Atotonilco (using the cuota roads) 1.5 hours later. The taxi ride was 1,400Pesos and the tolls were 291Pesos. At today's exchange that was about $89USD.

cuota road toll receipts, Chapala to Atotonilco, Mexico

Our toll receipts

 

 

 

 

As you can read here, the amounts of our tolls were 223Pesos and 58Pesos.

All the folder numbers, date and time, the road and our location were all stamped.

Atoto painted colorfully on a wall, Atotonilco, Mexico

Atoto!

As you might know already, Mexico loves to paint the letters of their town brightly and colorfully. You will find full size, singular letters in Morelia, Chapala, Puerto Vallarta, Guadalajara airport, Comitan, El Fuerte and even the old, old town of Patzcuaro.

These painted "Atoto" letters are on a wall in Diego's Pizzeria.

Atotonilco means "place of hot waters" in Nahuatl.

Hotel de Cervantes, Atotonilco, Mexico

Hotel de Cervantes

This was our hotel and we stayed on the 2nd floor in a lovely room.

The hotel had an excellent location, with hot water in the shower, two beds, and plenty of space to put our clothes.

A local taqueria in Atotonilco, Mexico

A local taqueria

After getting settled, we were hungry and looked for a place to get a quick snack. We had plans for the afternoon, so didn't want to have a full, sit-down lunch.

This was perfect!

Plate of beautiful tacos, Atotonilco, Mexico

Billy ordered tres (pronounced "trace") tacos and received seis (pronounced "sace")

Aren't these tacos beautiful?

Tasty too!

Billy ordered 3 tacos but received 6. No big deal, they were very affordable at 10 Pesos each and we gave one away to a homeless man who was walking around looking quite lean and hungry.

Yum!

Plaza at Atotonilco, Mexico

Atotonilco's Plaza

The Plaza is where "everything" happens in a Mexican town or city. It's a big square with a church, gazebo and places to sit and enjoy the weather.

Sometimes there is dancing, vendors selling balloons or food, and many times there are musicians.

This Plaza was well tended, with painted wrought iron, lights for the night time, and manicured gardens.

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Alcurnia rooftop bar and restaurant

Alcurnia rooftop bar and restaurant

Billy and I love to visit rooftop bars and restaurants in these Colonial towns. They have great food, and a super view.

We found out about this one, and couldn't wait to try it out.

Alcurnia special plate, Atotonilco, Mexico

Look at this plate! YUM!

We went to visit Alcurnia in the afternoon to see what was going on and to take a look at their menu.

This "special" appetizer plate appealed to us for the variety it offered and it was plenty of food for two people.

Starting at the top, you have grilled fresh vegetables, then grilled arrachera (marinated flank steak), Guacamole, salsa, roasted onions and grilled sausage with melted cheese. In the center are refried beans.

We were served hot tortillas as well.

Moon over Atotonilco, Mexico

When a moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie That's amore!

We stayed at Alcurnia until the moon came up. Gorgeous, isn't it? Look at those craters!

If you can see the sides of the crater from here... or the top of a moon mountain, how big ARE those things, anyway?

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Our bill at Alcurnia Restaurant, Atotonilco, Mexico

Our bill at Alcurnia

Our bill at Alcurnia was just under $17USD without tip. The appetizer sampler was almost $9.50 (and this fed the two of us). Two Dos XX beers came to just over $3USD, and my pour of very fine Don Julio Reposado was under $4USD.

Delicious food, a wonderful view, lovely tequila and beer, all at a super price!

Night view of the church at Atotonilco, Mexico

The church at night

Some churches in the plazas in Mexico are lit up so beautifully. This one only gets half the job done, unfortunately.

The face of the church is able to be seen, but not the spires, which have faded into the darkness.

Closer view of the church at night in Atotonilco, Mexico

A closer view

After dinner it was great to walk off our meal, so we went to the church to look inside.

Parts of the interior were under repair, so it was curtained off and scaffolding was up to the ceiling.

A native Atoto woman, Mexico

A native Atoto woman

 

 

 

 

One of the things I notice frequently is how in other countries, people often sit on steps and curbsides. In my native country of the US, this would happen less often.

This Atoto woman has her bag of purchased items on her right, her purse neatly tucked in the corner between her body and the wall, and a Styrofoam cup on the step beneath her.

I wonder what she is waiting for?

Leather boot and shoe store, Atotonilco, Mexico

Leather shoes and boots

People in Atoto are friendly. We asked this young lady to pose for our photo and she happily obliged.

In this area of Mexico, it's cowboy country. Stylish boots and leather shoes are sold everywhere.

Hats and piteado belts, Atotonilco, Mexico

Hats and piteado belts

Again, being in cowboy country, there is a certain style that is common - hats to keep the sun off the face, and decorative belts embroidered with maguey fiber.

Maguey is an agave plant, and in this case since we are also in tequila country, it's probably the blue agave. But it can also be made from the mezcal plant as well.

This piteado embroidery is quite expensive, sometimes 9,000Pesos or more for a belt (almost $500USD). You can see these designs on shoes, belts, headbands and other leather items. It takes about 48 hours of labor to embroider a simple belt, up to 3 months for one more complex.

A local cantina, Atotonilco, Mexico

A local cantina!

Billy loves these old Mexican cantinas. They are places for men to drink, hang out, watch TV, and conduct business.

No kidding.

Years ago in Chapala, Billy would meet the Presidente or the Treasurer of Chapala at a local cantina and discuss the matters of the school gym, the tennis courts or the city park.

If you look closer into the darker left side, you'll be able to see the swinging doors of an old Mexican cantina

Inside a cantina in Atotonilco, Mexico

Hemmingway would drink here

 

 

 

 

Ok, so this is worth noticing. As I mentioned, these are "guy" places. Not much on decorations, but they have all the "necessities" covered.

On the left are pictures of Jesus and another saint, a music speaker and a juke box. In the center is a photo of a pinup girl and a floor fan. On the right there is a line of chairs and a table.

Bathroom is behind the pinup girl.

What more does a guy need?

Bathroom, beer, Jesus and a Girl.

Diego's Pizzeria, Atotonilco, Mexico

Diego's Pizzeria

Here's the entranceway to a local, family-owned Pizza House. We ate upstairs with a nice view of the church at the Plaza.

Photo of the tequila, 7 Leguas, Atotonilco, Mexico

The real reason we are here

We are in tequila country, where the finest tequilas are made. Siete Leguas (named after Pancho Villa's horse) is a premium tequila made in blanco, reposado and anejo. Ranked #5 out of 106 according to Tequila Matchmaker App. This was a must-see.

We had plans to visit this boutique distillery the next day.

For more information on tequila click here

For more information, photos and stories about Mexico, click here

The most extensive tequila database on earth, Tequila Matchmaker

VIDEOS, VIDEOS, VIDEOS! See Mexico for yourself! Beaches, Bars, Babes, Great Food, Live Music.

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About the Authors

 
Billy and Akaisha Kaderli are recognized retirement experts and internationally published authors on topics of finance, medical tourism and world travel. With the wealth of information they share on their award winning website RetireEarlyLifestyle.com, they have been helping people achieve their own retirement dreams since 1991. They wrote the popular books, The Adventurer’s Guide to Early Retirement and Your Retirement Dream IS Possible available on their website bookstore or on Amazon.com.

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