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021909PuertoVallartaMexicoTripMP0532

SHOT 2/16/09 5:43:42 PM - A cow amongst the rows of blue agave growing on a hillside near San Sebastian del Oeste, Mexico. Agave is a succulent plant of a large botanical genus of the same name, belonging to the family Agavaceae. Blue agave, the tequila weed of the Agave tequilana species, is an agave plant that is an important economic product of Jalisco state in Mexico due to its role as the base ingredient of tequila, a popular alcoholic drink. Tequila is produced by removing the heart of the plant in its twelfth year, normally weighing between 35-90 kg (77-198 lb). This heart is stripped of leaves and heated to remove the sap, which is fermented and distilled. Other beverages like mezcal and pulque are also produced from blue and other agaves by different methods (though still using the sap) and are regarded as more traditional. The tequila agave grows natively in Jalisco, favoring the high altitudes of more than 1,500 m and sandy soil. Commercial and wild agaves have very different life cycles. Both start as a large succulent, with spiky fleshy leaves, which can grow to over two meters in length. San Sebastián was founded as a mining town in 1605 during the Spanish colonial period. Gold, silver and lead were mined around the area. More than 25 mines and a number of foundries had been established by 1785. The town was declared a city in 1812 and reached a peak population of some 20,000 people by 1900. The prosperity of the city declined after the revolution of 1910. At the start of the 21st century, it has a population of less than 1,000. It receives some tourist visits from nearby Puerto Vallarta, as it is served by an airfield and recent road improvements have cut the transit time by car from Puerto Vallarta to less than 2 hours. (Photo by Marc Piscotty / © 2009)

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SHOT 2/16/09 5:43:42 PM - A cow amongst the rows of blue agave growing on a hillside near San Sebastian del Oeste, Mexico. Agave is a succulent plant of a large botanical genus of the same name, belonging to the family Agavaceae. Blue agave, the tequila weed of the Agave tequilana species, is an agave plant that is an important economic product of Jalisco state in Mexico due to its role as the base ingredient of tequila, a popular alcoholic drink. Tequila is produced by removing the heart of the plant in its twelfth year, normally weighing between 35-90 kg (77-198 lb). This heart is stripped of leaves and heated to remove the sap, which is fermented and distilled. Other beverages like mezcal and pulque are also produced from blue and other agaves by different methods (though still using the sap) and are regarded as more traditional. The tequila agave grows natively in Jalisco, favoring the high altitudes of more than 1,500 m and sandy soil. Commercial and wild agaves have very different life cycles. Both start as a large succulent, with spiky fleshy leaves, which can grow to over two meters in length. San Sebastián was founded as a mining town in 1605 during the Spanish colonial period. Gold, silver and lead were mined around the area. More than 25 mines and a number of foundries had been established by 1785. The town was declared a city in 1812 and reached a peak population of some 20,000 people by 1900. The prosperity of the city declined after the revolution of 1910. At the start of the 21st century, it has a population of less than 1,000. It receives some tourist visits from nearby Puerto Vallarta, as it is served by an airfield and recent road improvements have cut the transit time by car from Puerto Vallarta to less than 2 hours. (Photo by Marc Piscotty / © 2009)