Ranch Stories

When part one of our pilgrimage to Mexico to eat every street food delicacy we could find came to an abrupt halt due to gastrointestinal circumstances, Carlos and I turned our attention to the other purpose of this trip: a visit with family.

Carlos has been visiting Mexico since he was a babe and I’ve pictured the ranch where he and his brother spent their childhood summers in my head. It was time to see this magical place in person and meet the strong women behind the Valle/Orozco family.

We landed in Guadalajara and spent a couple of days visiting the family members from the Orozco clan. Carlos’ mom is the eldest of nine so typical of large Mexican families there were always aunts, uncles and cousins popping in and out of the house. Food was constantly on the table and whether we were hungry or not, we were obligated to eat. After meeting all the extended family, we hopped in the truck and went out to the ranch to see the small town where Carlos’ parents grew up.

San Jose de Gracia is a ranch town where Carlos’ paternal grandmother still lives. The cows, goats, chickens and pigs are long gone but the corn still grows beautifully. We toured the old ranch where Carlos and Eduardo spent summers in the vibrant red dirt playing with the animals. We walked through the plaza where the boys went for ice cream on Sundays after church (and the week’s only shower). We made tamales from scratch with the fresh corn from the fields and I suddenly understood what Carlos means when he says “just like grandma used to make.”



Talk about farm to table. We husked the corn and used the husks for the tamale wrappers.


This is the old mill that Carlos has been helping grandma with since he was a young boy.


The Valles in San Jose de Gracia


Ranch hazards. Gotta watch out for the barbed wire!



Carlos imagining where the cows used to graze when grandpa was in charge.



Farm girl.



The old adobe house where grandma was born is still on the ranch.



Things have changed but I feel lucky to have seen the place that makes the childhood legends




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