Today, ELAL hosts up to 120 tours per month. Clients—from enthusiastic foodies to top restaurateurs—come from all over the world. Itineraries include everything from mezcal-tasting brunches and nighttime street food experiences to ‘Badass Mexican Women,’ inspired by stories of the women who shaped the country’s history, culture, and food scene. What’s more, ELAL offers its employees some of the best wages in the industry, along with numerous benefits, such as workshops, field trips and mental health check-ups.
“I’m now thankful that I’ve been through that experience because it allowed me to create ELAL,” she says. “The women that work with me are free, living full, happy lives, and accomplishing their dreams.”
Ever mindful of the learnings from her travels, Rocio is keen to maintain a high standard of responsible tourism within her business, saying: “We have a close relationship with our vendors. We promote fair wages while staying conscious about gentrification because we live in the city too. Our tours are small so that they are not disruptive to the community.”
That said, she expects clients to hold up their end of the bargain: “Travel is a privilege, not a right. It’s important to have patience and empathy.”
Rocio has also founded 80IQ, a program dedicated to broadening the horizons of young girls from the areas around Tacubaya and La Merced Market. Its name references computer scientist Alan Kay’s assertion that “a change of perspective is worth 80 IQ points”. On weekends, 80IQ children practice English on tours while learning about the world from their international guests. Additionally, mentoring and workshops cover subjects as diverse as finance, human rights, and sex education.