The Holidays Are Coming to Chapala

This week I had a conversation with one of our neighbors. She asked what I was going to write about Sunday (today) on the blog.

“I don’t know,” I said. “No idea.”

“So what are you going to do?,” she asked.

“I don’t know, but when I sit down to write the blog something always comes.”

Maybe it’s the magic of Chapala.  I like to think so.

We were headed for lunch at one of the local vegetarian/vegan restaurants. And low and behold, they had a table flyer announcing their version of a traditional holiday party coming up in December.

I asked the owner/chef what a “Posada tradicional” consisted of. Ohhh, he said, we’ll have bands and pinatas and finger food and desserts for a local specialty chocolate shop.

Sounds great and I signed up.

The signs of the holiday are everywhere too.

At the restaurant, the veranda for outdoor dining (viable year-round) has a lovely herb garden and, to our surprise, a poinsettia tree! It was the first I’d ever seen. Every poinsettia plant I’d encountered was basically a potted plant. Yet, there was a true beauty.

The local Walmart is stuffed to the gills with holiday merchandise. And in Mexico, Walmart not only has a Black Friday, but an entire Black Week. (They don’t have the hype here though for Black Friday–it was just another shopping day here.)

And down on the Malecon, workers are busy stringing holiday lights around the palm trees. Decorations are doing up too.

Yet, as we observed over the Day of the Dead festivities, there is a reverence that accompanies the holidays here. Maybe it’s the absence of the hyped consumer economy here (although you sure can find it in Guadalajara and Mexico City). Maybe it’s part of the laid-back sense that permeates Chapala. Maybe it’s the wonderful weather.

We don’t know, but we certainly love it.



Revolution Day in Chapala

Today is a national holiday across Mexico and Mexicans are celebrating. It’s Revolution Day! For some details, see the Wikipedia write-up here. Suffice to say, back in 1910, Mexicans were called to overthrow a long-reigning Army general and to establish what we now know as liberal democracy. Enough of that though.

The closest I can come to a description of Revolution Day here is like the Fourth of July in the U.S.

Some, but not all shops are closed. As are banks.

And it seems as if the entire population of Chapala has come to the malecon. It’s as busy as on New Year’s Eve.

Families are together, as always here. And cameras everywhere. Selfies galore!

For some reason too, lots of horses and riders.

Lots of fun items for the kids are on display. I’ve just got to get myself one of those bubble guns!

Kids lead plastic dogs on leashes while the family dog(s) are walked by dad or cuddled by Mom (yes, cuddled. Many locals have small dogs that are carried, not walked.)

Great day today for a boat ride. Bright and sunny yet not at all hot; just right.

Or, for a walk on one of the piers.

The pelican flock seems to have grown too along with the crowds. They’re a major attraction on the western side of the malecon.

Note that just a few months ago, the tree in the photo above was on dry shore. The water at that time was up only as far as the pelicans you see to the left of the picture.

It’s a perfect day too for getting a photo opportunity with the Chapala sign.

And to top it all off, what would a day at the malecon be without some street food and dessert? Yes, you’ll have to get in line.

So another delightful day passes in Chapala. We’re so glad to be here.

Doings on Lake Chapala–Return of the Pelicans and Other Matters

Well, big doings here in Chapala. The pelicans have returned. And in the spirit of a picture is worth a thousand words, maybe a video is worth even more?

Where do they come from? Where do they go? We’re not sure. Online sources say they fly into the U.S. and even up to Canada during the Spring and summer months.

As we recall, they departed Chapala in either April or May this year and re-appeared just recently.

These are stately birds. And they are HUGE. I certainly wouldn’t want to tangle with one. Thankfully that seem quiet and content and graceful.

Mostly they paddle around in flocks such as in the video above and sometimes they like to hang out, literally, on the many little boats that line the shore and shallows of Lake Chapala.

That’s them on the farther boat with one paddling by. Even though the pelicans are more distant, you can get a sense of their size in comparison to the heron perched on the motor of the nearby boat above.

It’s wonderful to have them back again.

On another note, the lake is filling, given the abundant rains of this year’s rainy season.

Note the shoreline in these photos from July:

Compared with a photo from this past week:

Quite a difference.

It’s one of the great pleasures of living here and taking an almost daily assessment of the shore. Not a study; nothing scientific. Just leisurely observation on daily strolls along the malecon.

We love it here; it’s our paradise.






Day(s) of the Dead in Chapala

I suspect that if you quizzed Americans about the most significant holiday in Mexico (other than Christmas), the response would be Cinco de Mayo. What this one is singled out is a mystery to me.

Having passed through Cinco de Mayo here in Mexico, I can say with assurance that this particular holiday is not THE national holiday here.

Day of the Dead is. (Rivaled, I might add by the five days of celebration at Carnival; known in the U.S. as Mardi Gras.)

Yes, Day of the Dead really comprises three days. One day is dedicated to children who passed. Another is dedicated to ancestors.

Yes, Day of the Dead is full of costumes and color. Yet, there seems to be a sacred reverence that suffuses and permeates the holiday.

This was evident last Friday on ancestor day.

On the main square between the malecon, the cathedral and the main downtown intersection, dozens if not hundreds of mostly young people constructed booths dedicated to the memory of a deceased loved-one.

Using wood chips and sawdust painted in a wild menagerie of colors along with mementos of the deceased and day-of-the-dead bread and fruit and photos and signs encapsulating the life of the deceased, these memorials are meticulously erected as a tribute to those gone by.

Many of those participating were elaborately painted. (When I passed by the barber/beauty shop that both Bonita and I patronize, every chair was full and there was a line waiting to be painted.)

This was not the revelry associated with Halloween in the U.S. No one that I saw was passing out candy. There were no tricks; no treats. The spirit of the day was respect and reverence.

So, for once, I will let the pictures tell the thousand stories.