Lagos de Moreno, Mexico

As I mentioned in my last post, the second part of our shoot required some travel. We flew from Mexico City to Guanajuato International Airport, and then traveled by van to Lagos de Moreno, where one of our commercials would take place. We were shooting at Hacienda Sepulveda Hotel & Spa, and the agency booked accommodation here the production team as well. So I slept in the most beautiful honeymoon suit, with a dreamy canopy bed while in Lagos de Moreno, all by my lonesome!The room was gorgeous, but the old wooden building creaked and groaned, convincing me that this room was actually incredibly haunted. That said, I appreciated having a bigger space. There’s nothing I hate more than setting off for a week-long work trip, and finding myself in a tin can for a week, hopping over my suitcase every time I need to crawl into bed or go to the bathroom. In addition to having lots of living room inside, Hacienda Sepulveda had many courtyards, gardens, and pastures. While others unpacked their bags and met in the bar for a drink, I wandered around the estate with my camera in tow. That comment makes me sound like a recluse, but I actually found this to be quite a difficult work trip, as the agency and production company we were working with really only spoke Spanish. Although I have an elementary level understanding of the language (thanks to seven years of Spanish studies in school!) I had a hard time keeping up, and felt horribly guilty when the team would awkwardly fumble through a sentence in english for my benefit.So I kept mostly to myself when we had down time, enjoying the company of the hotel’s many inhabitatnts.Like these little guys! I was frankly delighted at discovering the horses, and thought they would be the most exciting friends I made that day.That was, until I rounded the corner and discovered . . . . the peacocks!!It’s been years since I’ve seen a peacock in person, and I embarrassingly spent quite a bit of time casually walking around, snapping photos of these guys!I was then treated to the dazzling sight of some male peacocks strutting their stuff.

 

How many peacock photos are too many peacock photos?!

I’m guessing we’ve reached the limit, so let’s pivot to chatting about the rest of the property. I only strolled around for about an hour, but in that time I got entirely lost.There were large, stone courtyards with tall brick archways.

Antique wagons.Lush landscaping.

And some awfully tidy looking cactuses. There was an outdoor shower that romantic dreams are made of.And so many shady nooks to relax. I somehow made my way to the property’s restaurant, which was so dazzling! My design style is incredibly minimal, but this vintage, velvet space is probably one of the most impeccably designed eateries I’ve ever seen. After my gander about the estate, I met up with the rest of the team, and we went out for pizza for dinner. I don’t know WHY on earth we didn’t eat at the hotel (also, why the heck are you taking the client who LIVES IN EUROPE out to an Italian restaurant for dinner while IN MEXICO?!) But not eating at Hacienda Sepulveda is definitely one of my biggest regrets of the trip!

After a freezing night in my haunted hotel room with no heating, a 6am call time where I stood outside waiting for the van by myself for 30 minutes while the rest of the Mexican team took their sweet time doing whatever (except arriving on time) I was then viciously attacked by a rooster! Seriously!! Let me back up here . . .

As mentioned, I struggled quite a bit on this trip as it was long, and I was really isolated due to the language barrier with most of the team (we did have an Account Manager at the agency who spoke English, and helped communicate my input from a work perspective, but obviously it wasn’t her job to translate every last detail in social situations as well!) I also was staving most of the time, because of the cultural meal-time differences. All of our meals were eaten as a team, as we had quite a packed production schedule that had specific break times for food. We would pause around 10.30am for breakfast, 3pm for lunch, and 10pm for dinner. My body found this eating schedule *impossible* and I spent most of the trip starving. Most of the meals were also quite greasy and fried, which is not how I like to eat every day. And then there were the delays – delays for EVERYTHING. If we had a pick up time at 6am, the last person would scuttle out of the hotel at 6.41am. If we were set to start filming at 2pm, we would start at 3pm and lunch would then be at 5pm. It’s vey frustrating when you’re the client, and you’re the ONLY one consistently on time. So all of these things combined – the hunger, my inability to communicate, and the team’s inability to respect the production schedule made the week very frustrating. That first night in Hacienda Sepulveda only made matters worse, because it was FREEZING and there was no heat. My alarm went off at 5.30am and I shivered my way into a drafty shower where the water trickled out but never really got warm. I layered up as much as possible, and then went outside at 6am on the dot to wait for the production van. No one else showed up for at least 30 minutes. I stood in the freezing cold by myself, so frustrated with the team who had literally said, ‘We will meet out front at 6am to get in the van and go.’ AND THEN. As if this all weren’t all frustrating enough, as I stood there, sun rising slowly in the cold, a ROOSTER darted at me from out of no where, hell bent on destroying my literal freezing soul. He rammed into my leg, giving me a good bruise and scaring the shit out of me in the process! At this point, all I could do was laugh. The agency slowly trickled down, and we got in the van, and I did my best to warm up and check my bad attitude at the door.But oh my god, remind me to never go on another shoot in Mexico!!That day we shot at a few different places around town. Our first location was at the iconic Lagos de Moreno sign, where we had a mariachi band play music in the square!And then we staged a fictional street market running up to a beautiful church.I wish our commercials were still live, so I could post them here (they ran last summer!) But overall it was a beautiful day out, and we had so much fun capturing some of the great domestic gems in Mexico!After our shoot, we headed back to the hotel, where some folks got a spa treatment, and others met up for a quick beer. I had some work to get done since we’d spent the whole day roaming the streets without much down time and connectivity, so I grabbed a quick beer with the team and then fired off a bunch of emails from my hotel room.THANKFULLY, that second night, the hotel offered me a bundle of sticks for the wood stove in my hotel room, so I loaded it with kindling, threw in a match, and my freezing cold room got nice and cozy in no time! This didn’t help with the ghost situation, and every time I woke up in the night, I kept my eyes squeezed shut extra tight!!The next morning, we were shooting at the hotel, which meant that despite the early call time, I didn’t have to go far! I rolled downstairs (looked left and right for roosters) and wandered around outside the property until we had the shot in frame and were ready to shoot.

My room was in the oldest building, blanketed by a thick sheet of greenery. You can see my window in the above photo!

And this little guy lived in the courtyard below my room – an adorable face to wake up to each day!That was also the morning I discovered . . . the hotel had a pool! I didn’t dare venture in, as it was a chilly January, AND I was there for work. But wow!! My peacock friends were also out that morning, picking insects and small lizards off the lawn for breakfast. We shot two scenes at the hotel, before wrapping up and heading into the city.
We spent the rest of the afternoon shooting at beautiful look out points, churches, and squares.

Our ads were meant to inspire domestic travel with Booking.com in Mexico . . . But the experience also influenced this gal to put Mexico high on her bucket list for a leisure holiday someday!!

What a whirlwind!

xo Ali

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