We were only stepping out for cereal milk and fresh papaya for breakfast that early morning when Noah and I stumbled upon the source of the soft corn tortillas we had been enjoying since we arrived in Sayulita.
If there was any signage on the street that pointed out the small factory, we had missed it entirely, and it was only as I went deeper down the narrow aisles of the Mini Super convenience store that we discovered a completely magical production room hidden away in the back.
The scent of toasted corn drew me in, and I inhaled that pungent smell of maize tortillas that was now so familiar to me. Morning light from an open doorway illuminated a long piece of machinery, lightly dusted with white corn flour. A petite Mexican lady was lifting an armload of masa the size of a beach ball into the funnel-shaped top of the machine. Below was a conveyer belt, and the perfectly-formed tortillas formed a procession downward to the tune of the clickety-clack of the moving parts.
I motioned to Noah to come have a closer look and he stood small next to sacks of whole white maize kernels heaped six-high onto wooden pallets. The lady handed him a piping hot tortilla, which he tore in half and shared with me. It was supple and meltingly tender.
No one spoke above the hum of the machine. A few workers glided about the room, performing their actions so smoothly, it was apparent that they had been doing them each morning for years. A delivery boy stood waiting for his cooler to be filled, while another small Mexican lady stood behind a table with a large scale and weighed out the hot tortillas, pound by pound. I bought a stack of my own, handing over the required diez pesos (about 80 cents). A bargain breakfast if there ever was one.
I took a step back to survey the scene, completely captivated by this quiet hub producing the mainstay of the Mexican diet: the humble tortilla. My camera was at home; I didn’t even have my iPhone in pocket to record the moment, yet in some ways, I didn’t regret my oversight. Making a photo that captured the soul of the room and the moment would have been a challenge.
Noah crouched down to get a better look at the mechanics of the tortilla maker – he’s such an engineer’s son – and a ray of sunshine illuminated the million miniscule maize dust particles that slowly whirled around him. I caught my breath with the magic of it all.
Minutes later we were hand in hand, walking back to our bungalow, and nibbling warm tortillas. I felt deeply grateful for the opportunity that our early morning walk delivered.
It had captured the very essence of why I travel with children: a chance to look through a window into the culture of another country and glean a greater appreciation for its simplicity, its perfection.
We are back! I observed on my Facebook page yesterday:
“Home is where…the coffee is the best, the shower pressure is the strongest, the pillows are the softest, and the knives are the sharpest.”
It really is lovely to be home, although I don’t even need to close my eyes to see the waves crashing on the beach, hear the song of the surf, or feel the weight of the sand between each step. Two weeks stretched into an absolutely blissful vacation full of as much adventure and discovery as it held relaxation and rejuvenation.
This week I’ll be sharing from our trip to Mexico: a few stories, some of my best travel tips, and my favorite images. It is a little different content than what I usually serve up here, but don’t worry, there will be a few recipes tucked in too. If you enjoyed my Instagram feed from the trip, then you’ll love the postings, also.
I hope you’ll read along.