Study Tour 2007

Mexican flag

2007 Study Tour Participants

2007 Study Tour Participants
From Left to right: Derek Grisbeck, Dia Lee, Jordan Matthews, Meaghan Loy, Suzie Benoit, Petra Brown, Jennifer Blazek, and Katie Behnke.

Calendar Itinerary
Mexico Study Tour January 3rd-14th
Jan. 3rd
Jan. 4th
Jan. 5th
Jan. 6th
Sunday Jan. 7th
Fly to Guadalajara
Tuxpan -
Tropical Dairy Grazing
Tecoman -
Dual-purpose Tropical Livestock Farm
Zapotlanejo -
Tequila Factory
San Juan de los Lagos
Corn Harvesting
(side visit)
Manzanillo -
Pacific Coast
Colima - Ejido Fernandez
El centro histórico de Guadalajara
Small dairies w/Pedro Esqueda Co-op.
Real de Mendoza
La Posada
Real de Mendoza
Real de Mendoza
Estancia Real
(San Juan)

Monday Jan. 8th
Tuesday Jan. 9th
Wednesday Jan. 10th
Thursday Jan. 11th
Friday Jan. 12th
Saturday Jan. 13th
Sunday Jan. 14th
Industrial Farming
Feed Mill
Chicken Unit
Dairy Unit
Historic Guanajuato
Queretaro - Monterrey Tech Campus Visit & Alej. Ardilla Lecture
La Hondonada - Grazing Jersey and on-farm processing
San Felipe del Progreso -
Mazahua campesinos
Teotihuacán -
Olmec Pyramids
Fly back to Wisconsin
Gold and Silver Mines
San Miguel de Allende -
La Serpentina - Dairy Goat and Cheese Factory
Aculco - Smallholder dairies
Historic México City - Zócalo, Palacio de Bellas Artes
Real de las Minas
Casa Inn
(México City)
Casa Inn
(México City)

Travel with Universidad de Guadalajara - Centro Universitario de los Altos
Travel with Instituto Technológico de Estudios Superiores Monterrey - Campus Queretaro
Travel with Universidad Autónoma del Estado de México

**To see descriptions, stories, photos, and movie clips of each of the visits and locations were we went, just click on the links above or below to take you to a new page!**

Click on the following link to download the itinerary of the 2007 Study Tour.

Our Route
Mexico Map

Detailed Timeline

Wednesday, January 3rd

  • Began our trip in Madison at 5:30AM where we experienced a flight delay of about 3 hours while our plane was being fixed.
  • Safely made it into Guadalajara International Airport in the evening where we met Othón Reynoso (Universidad de Guadalajara - Centro Universitario de los Altos), who became our tour guide for the first five days of our trip. We also met the students who would accompany us on the trip: Miguel and Jaime.
  • Took a night tour of the historic area around our hotel, ventured into the city of Guadalajara, and ate our very first meal in Mexico.

Thursday, January 4th

  • Left the hotel after breakfast to on our way to our first visit but took time to watch a sugar cane harvest.
  • Our first visit was INIFAP in Tuxpan, an experimental research station which conducts research on legumes, fish, and grazing Holsteins. Right after we made it out of Guadalajara Michel realized he had left his luggage at the hotel, but he made an executive decision to carry on and ended up having to buy clothes when we reached Manzanillo.
  • While driving to Manzanillo, we stopped alongside the road at a local restaurant for lunch. Some of us tried freshly picked coconut milk along with other tasty dishes made with fresh seafood. During our drive we inmediately noticed the change in landscape and weather into a more tropical climate as we went further west and got closer to the ocean.
  • In late afternoon we arrived in Manzanillo, got checked into our lovely beachside hotel, and spent hours playing in the ocean and in the hotel pool until well after sunset.
  • For dinner the students wanted to see somemore of Manzanillo so Miguel and Jaime drove us into town and we ate delicious supper at a family-owned covered taco stand.

Friday, January 5th

  • Early in the morning we left the hotel and drove to Tecoman, going east towards Guadalajara, following a return route from the day before. Tecoman is the site of our next farm visit: the Dual-Purpose tropical livestock system. We were able to observe the milking taking place, both by hand and by machine.
  • Instead of lunch, we decided to stop at a little convenience store in Tecoman for snacks and fruit before we started our journey towards Colima.
  • We were too late to see the milking at our next stop, Ejido Fernandez, but we were able to see the extensive beef operation they have. During our tour, we were astonished by the spewing of ash from the volcano, "El Fuego", while our tour guides laughed at our touristness and told us that it was a relatively frequent occurence.
  • Since we left Ejido Fernandez later than we had originally planned, the new plan was to head back to Guadalajara instead of heading to Tepatitlan for the night.

Saturday, January 6th

  • One of a few not-so-early mornings began with a trip to a Tequila Factory, where we were treated to a thorough explanation of the process of tequila-making. The factory was concerned with competition so we were not allowed to take pictures, but enjoyed a taste-testing of their tequila.
  • Humberto Vega from the Universidad de Guadalajara - Los Altos campus was our tour guide and took us on an impromtu visit of a smallholder harvesting his corn crop.
  • The rest of the afternoon was free for roaming Historic Guadalajara and most of us took advantage of the huge indoor three-storied market, Mercado Libertad, Latin America's largest covered market. We also visited the Instituto Cultural Cabañas, of which the walls and ceiling display murals painted by Mexican painter Orozco in 1937. Walking through historic downtown Guadalajara was beautiful in itself as it boasts numerous fountains, many lions which are the symbol of Guadalajara, and local art, and while we were there the Cow Parade was in town with cows sporting cultural designs, like a mariachi cow.

Sunday, January 7th

  • We left Guadalajara and headed to San Juan de los Lagos where we met with our new guide who would be with us for the next couple of days, Jesus Olmos (Universidad de Guadalajara - Centro Universitario de los Altos). Instead of going right to our next visit, he had an idea of a side visit to a local rodeo.
  • Everyone enjoyed the festivities of the rodeo so much that we ended up staying there for over 2 hours instead of the 1 hour we had decided on. The Mexican rodeo is quite different from the rodeos in the U.S. involving bull-fighting-type activities and a lot of rope twirling.
  • We continued on to our scheduled visit of a small dairy which was a member of the Pedro Esqueda Coop. The owner of the farm, was actually a close friend of Jesus and they are going into business together by increasing the milking herd to about 20 cows. Carlos took us to his neighbor's farm down the road as a side trip where we saw a completely different milking operation involving hand-milking compared to his automatic set-up.
  • We checked into our hotel in San Juan de los Lagos and Jesus took us into the town for a great meal which included music by local mariachis who played for us during dinner.

Monday, January 8th

  • Again in the morning we checked out of our hotel and headed to an all-day visit at PROAN. Jordan and Suzie, our resident dairy experts, were especially excited about this trip because PROAN is one of the largest operations in the country and definitely the largest in the state of Jalisco. But by the end of the day, we all were impressed and slightly awed by the sights of PROAN.
  • Our first stop in our PROAN tour was to headquarters where we picked up our two tour guides and were officially checked in. Next involved a short van ride to the PROAN feed mill which produced all of the grain and supplements for each unit of PROAN. The feed mill itself was amazing; it's automation and scale of production rivals feed mills in the U.S.
  • After the feed mill visit, we again had a short drive to the PROAN chicken unit. For sanitation and biosecurity reasons we all were outfitted with fashionable face masks and hair nets, which encouraged everyone to take a lot of pictures of each other, especially of Jaime and Miguel our student guides. The chicken unit is also fully automated where the eggs go directly from the chicken to being boxed without being touched by more than one set of human hands. Only one person is needed to care for tens of thousands of chickens in one room each day and their mortality rate - amazingly enough - is about 2 chickens a day for each room.
  • Once we were completely astonished by the chicken unit we were driven to the calf-raising unit. One employee fed and managed over a hundred calves and white calf hutches were as far as the eye could see.
  • Then it was on to where the heifers were kept, just down the road from the calves. We didn't stay very long here because everyone was hungry and excited about th food we heard we were going to get.
  • We weren't disappointed by the food or the owner's weekend house; everyone commented on how it was the best meal we had to date on the trip. Besides the delicious food and the service by our tour guides who served us, the house itself was lovely with peacocks roaming the lawn and huge artistic pottery overflowing with flowers. By the end of the meal, we were all quite content.
  • Next came the milking dairy unit. We were all very impressed with the size and efficiency of the operation. Naturally we spent the most amount of time here and saw everything from the rotary parlor, the sheds that hold thousands of cows, and their management practices. Our tour guide was the on-farm veterinarian who was more than happy to answer our never-ending questions.
  • After dropping off our tour guides at PROAN headquarters, we started the journey to Guanajuato, which began the second half of the trip. We arrived into Guanajuato late at night, checked into our rooms, and said a tearful goodbye to our Othón, Jaime, and Miguel. For this second part of the trip we would be travelling with Marlene from the Instituto Technológico de Estudios Superiores Monterrey - Campus Queretaro. We also had to say goodbye to our two vehicles which made for comfortable driving, and say hello to one big van with a professional driver.

Tuesday, January 9th

  • Before we had to get in the van to travel to our next visit, we had a few hours to spare where some of the group went with Marlene and the van into lovely downtown Guanajuato and the others walked to breakfast near the hotel. The group that saw downtown stopped by the Kissing Alley and toured Diego Rivera's house.
  • We all piled into the van after meeting back at the hotel to go to the Boca Minas in San Ramón. As part of the tour, we were able to go into one of the mine shafts that had caved in and were outfitted with hard hats.
  • Today was mostly a travel day to Queretaro, but on the way we stopped in San Miguel de Allende for lunch. Part of the group went to the market for lunch and the rest, looking for local artisan crafts, found lunch at local bakeries and shops. While we were only there for a little more than an hour, it was a great place to stretch our legs and experience a small, less-touristy town.
  • On the long van-ride to Queretaro all of us slept, worn out by all the new and exciting experiences. It was evening when we reached Queretaro and checked into our very fancy 5-star hotel. Marlene took us on a little tour of the downtown and we ate at a local restaurant she recommended.

Wednesday, January 10th

  • In the morning we visited the Monterrey Tech campus where Dr. Alejandro Ardilla, Professor in Economics, gave us an insightful lecture on the Mexican economy. After the lecture and a brief presentation from the International Studies program on study abroad programs they offer, Marlene took us on a tour of the campus while Michel, our fearless leader, had a meeting with another professor.
  • Our second visit scheduled for today was by far our most unique. Carlos, a reformed professor and Frenchman, owns and operates a small dairy goat farm and cheese processing operation called La Serpentina. He manages his farm and goats naturally, using the natural vegetation as sources for feed and medicine. He told us many stories and showed us his fascination for living sustainably and enjoying the beauty around him. He even wined and dined us with a cheese brunch, where he served us quesadillas, all the different types of the goat cheeses he produces, even a cheese dessert! Everyone ate so much cheese, quesadillas, and bread that we ended up skipping lunch. Meaghan ended up talking Carlos into possibly arranging an internship with him because she was so interested in coming back.
  • The evening was free so a few of us wanted to try out the fancy restaurant within the hotel for dinner. We ended up embarrassing ourselves because we couldn't figure out the tip and how much we each owed. Because we felt so bad for our waiter he received a really nice tip that night and the four of us took our picture with him to immortalize the moment.

Thursday, January 11th

  • Our morning visit was to La Hondonada, an organic grazing Jersey farm with an on-farm processing operation. This farm was unique to the other farms we've seen because they were one of the few farms that built an operation around added-value products and finding their own specific niche, especially using 100% Registered Jerseys. Jennifer, our only graduate student on the trip was particularly excited about this farm as direct-farm marketing and added-value is goals on her own dairy farm. While we were there, the owner, Manuel, was telling us how he was interested in entering the European market with his organic products. His on-farm processing plant produces cheese, yogurt, and dulce de leche besides selling the milk itself. At the end of his driveway he operated a roadside stand where he sold his products. The highlight of the trip for the group was the free yogurt samples he offered us and taking a lot of pictures of the Jerseys.
  • We traveled to Aculco and met with Angélica Espinoza of the Universidad Autónoma del Estado de México and her two students who took us to our next visit of smallholder dairies who are a part of the local Coop. We visited two farms who sold their milk to the Coop. who processed it into cheese and sold it in the community. We had a chance to see the processing facilities in town and witnessed them making Oaxaca cheese, a huge ball of string cheese. Most of the group dared to try the cheese and some of us weren't too brave after hearing that last year's group got sick off of the cheese. Luckily though no one ended up sick and actually except for one of the group having a cold at the beginning of the trip, no one got sick!
  • After purchasing some cheese, he headed to Atlacumulco to check into our hotel, which was the most American and less enjoyable of all of the hotels we stayed at.

Friday, January 12th

  • The morning visit to the ejido of Mazahua campesinos, San Felipe del Progreso, was also with Angélica Espinoza. One of her students completed a year's study living and working with the campesinos for his Ph.D. He acted as our go-between because through his work with them he had become a trusted member of the community which is wary of outsiders. The ejido is a community of different families who range from subsistence to more technologically advanced: we saw one farmer use mules and a plow to till his fields and his neighbor had a John Deere tractor. At the ejido we were also introduced to the importance of maize in Mexican culture, where it is more than just a crop, but a food staple and way of life.
  • After our visit to the ejido we had a short visit to Alpura, the second largest dairy processing plant in Mexico. While we were expecting a tour, instead we were given a short presentation and that was it.
  • In the evening, we walked through Mexico City to find a good restaurant for dinner. We found the U.S. Embassy and loitered outside of it trying to decide where to go which perked the interest of one of the guards, almost getting us into trouble. The group was undecided about dinner and so we ended up splitting up into two groups to go to two different restaurants, a Mexican chain restaurant and a Japanese restaurant. The people who chose Japanese for dinner were luckier than the other group who found out that arguing with the waitress resulted in a bigger bill.

Saturday, January 13th

  • The whole day was open for sightseeing so we had to hold a vote to determine what we were going to do. It was decided that in the morning we'd start with a visit to the Teotihuácan pyramid ruins. We tried to get to the ruins before the heat of the day, but unfortunately got caught there at noon when the temperatures rose to over 80 degrees. All of us climbed the Pyramid of the Sun, but then split up with some going to climb the Pyramid of the Moon and the others going souvenir shopping and exploring the rest of the ruins.
  • Our next stop was to the historic part of Mexico City. The group again split into two groups with Michel and Marlene leading one of the groups. The group with Michel and Marlene visited the Zócalo and the National Palace which was filled with wall-size murals from Diego Rivera. We didn't get a chance to visit the Palacio de Bellas Artes, only as a quick stop for the bathroom. After meeting back together again, we headed off to find dinner and get back to the hotel for an early bedtime.

Sunday, January 14th

Keywordsitinerary   Doc ID56684
OwnerAntonio A.GroupDS 473 Field Study Abroad
Created2015-09-23 21:42:31Updated2015-09-23 22:01:47
SitesDS 473 Field Study Abroad
Feedback  1   1