This morning I come across a word definition for “caravan”. Quite simply, “a company of travelers wandering through a dangerous or hostile region”. Yeah, I say to myself, that about fits our small wandering group right now. For those concerned about my safety in Mexico while traveling on my Honda Africa Twin motorcycle I sincerely thank you! However, there is really no need for concern. Even if you throw in the narco groups and U.S. state department warnings Mexico is still safer than an over 40 U.S. adult male riding a motorcycle on Los Angeles freeways. Right now Mexico is even safer than visiting San Francisco on account of the possibility of running into an overly aggressive homeless person; certainly safer than living in the path of the recent wildfires. Please note today is November 14, 2018, the situation can once again change. Also note, even though I live in the Los Angeles area I don’t travel through say Compton or South Central after dark.
Our ten plus gringo caravan in the picture I took from far away resembles biker bad hombres without their motorcycles. But, the moment you begin to get up close enough to us – we could easily be mistaken for a wandering group of geriatric grey haired pony tailed pensioners. The real danger to our gringo caravan started the moment we hit the edge of Banamichi town – someone could’ve twisted a foot or sprained an ankle. The town drops down almost a straight hundred feet of elevation. The hard cement like road quickly begins to give way to a sketchy boulder packed road but, once past here. The road fizzles out to a beautiful rustic and sandy country road. The small aquifer cement lined creek rapidly flows bringing bees, birds and flowers to the farmers fields. Here is where you also find happy Sonora beef cows. I know this story is about Bacadora but, don’t forget the beef!
Our goal – Bacanora and Mexican cuisine! Around ten of us continue to follow the one old guy in the group who says he came down this road several years ago, perhaps before the onset of old age memory loss. Bacanora if you don’t yet know simply put is – illegal moonshine. See, I told you there’d be some danger in this story. Bacanora starts off by harvesting the root of the agave heart. The entire three or four-foot around heart is then roasted with mesquite wood in an earthen pit. Then the hard work begins. The La Choa family then uses the blunt edge of a large ax to mashed up the fibers. Then they are taken and placed inside of a large 500 litre plastic container and mixed with plain water. The sugary fibers provide their own fermentation.
Today we can thank the Spanish priests for introducing the distillery process that softened up the bacanora so that its taste is less harsher than moonshine. This drink was long ago popular throughout Sonora. It continues to be called bacanora today because lots of the agave grew near the town of Bacanora. Bacanora is another town also founded by the Spanish Jesuits in the year 1627.
Enter the prohibition era in Mexico. From around 1915 until 77 years later bacanora production was forced to go underground. It wasn’t until 1992 when it became legal for the residents to obtain licenses from the government to not only transport the agave but, to produce and sell it.
The Third Annual Banamichi Motorcycle Meet-up at the Los Arcos hotel was a great success. Our host Tom, his wife Lynn and professional staff (Vivian and Beto too!) made this a trip to remember and cherish until the next one comes around. Riding the Rio Sonora roads, meeting new friends, savoring the wonderful cuisine of Mexico. That is what it’s all about. And somewhat “off the beaten track”.