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Secrets of the Hacienda Hunters

Haciendas, whether in ruins or restored, inevitably have fascinating stories to tell, but many of them are hidden away, sometimes in the most unexpected places.

pg8aHow do you find them? And once you have located one, how do you get inside?

To answer these questions I sat down with Jim Cook, co-author of the blog “Jim and Carole’s Mexican Adventure” and long-time leader of a group of explorers unofficially known as the Hacienda Hunters. They are based in the Lake Chapala area but are ready to track down haciendas wherever they may be found.

Like many foreigners living around Lake Chapala, Cook and his wife Carole started exploring the area guided by Tony Burton’s book “Western Mexico: a Traveler’s Treasury.”

One of the interesting sites recommended by Burton is the plaza of San Isidro Mazatepec, located 45 kilometers northwest of Chapala, where visitors can see the entrance to the well-preserved casa grande (main house) of what was once a hacienda.

“We were in the plaza and one member of our party needed to find a restroom,” Cook told me. “So she went over to a peanut seller in the plaza and asked if there were any nearby.  A young man buying peanuts spoke up: ‘Why don’t you come with me? You can use the bathroom in my house,’ and he pointed to the casa grande.  ‘No, I can’t do that because I’ve got my friends with me here,’ she replied. ‘Bring them all along!’ he answered to her surprise.

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