Turning Mexican in Chapala

It’s Christmas Eve here today in Chapala. And it’s quiet. Bonnie is off visiting family; our neighbors are away as well.

Even the locals seem to be busying themselves with Christmas preparations. The malecon was as deserted as I’ve ever seen it on a Monday.

Got me pondering.

Yesterday I went out to breakfast to La Casa Cacau, a wonderful vegan restaurant that specializes in cocoa beverages, snacks, and desserts as well as bountiful vegan dishes.

It’s run by a lovely couple, Greg and Nora.

Greg and I were chatting, as we are wont to do, about anything and everything. Greg asked me what I’d observed about ex-pats’ insistence on replicating their lives in the States or Canada here at Lakeside.

Touchy subject.

And I thought back, interestingly enough, to when I accepted a corporate transfer from New Jersey to a new business unit in Jacksonville, Florida. This was 1990, well before the Jaguars put Jacksonville on the map. It was pretty much a backwater then, a city you drove through on your way to Miami or Orlando. It’s only claim to fame was that it is, oddly enough, the geographically largest city in the U.S.

There was a prejudice then (and I suspect it’s still pretty much alive and well) among Northerners that Southerners were all hillbillies and rubes, dull and dim-witted. And most annoyingly, given to lecturing Southerners about the proper way to do anything.

As more and more Northerners appeared in Jacksonville, along with the grumping and grousing that Southerners didn’t know what they were doing,  some enterprising wag started selling a bumper sticker around town that perfectly befit the situation;

“We don’t care how you do it up North”

I’m been thinking about reviving this tradition here in Chapala, but, alas, bumper stickers are not widely used here in Mexico.

And I’m doing my best to learn from and appreciate the lovely people here in Chapala who welcome us gringos so openly and warmly.

We’ll adapt to life here, thank you.

 

A Chilly Christmas-y Week in Chapala

Brrrrrrr. It’s winter here. What that seems to mean is temperatures can drop into the low fifties and even the high forties (F). What it mostly seems to mean is that Christmas is coming and everyone’s pace is a little more brisk, even with jackets and sweaters and sweatshirts.

Yet, all seems and feels calm and peaceful here.

Pretty much every day we walk on the malecon, just taking in the beauty and the subtle and not-so-subtle changes that just emerge over time. One of the most startling is the rising of the lake due to the past rainy season.

 

This photo is of the west side of the Chapala malecon. Not six months ago, a volleyball net stretched between the two poles and there was still plenty of beach beyond them. And every evening, folks would play. 

And with the rise in the lakeshore, several repairs to the waterfront are underway. A new dock for the tour boats and an overhaul of the middle pier on the east side of the malecon. Looks like it’s going to be a big improvement when it’s complete. 

The nativity scene that graced the median of the main entry to the malecon has appeared once again this year and is lovely in its simplicity. Political correctness doesn’t rule here in Mexico (except among some expats). The prevailing attitude among the Mexicans seems to be live and let live.

Last year, at the big Christmas parade (yet to happen here this year), we witnessed Santa Claus, Christian iconography and LGBT floats all in one glorious mash-up. 

As I walked the malecon this morning, I was greeted by calls of hola (hello in Spanish) and buenos dias (good morning in Spanish). I too greeted others. 

Part of the holiday spirit seems prevalent in everyday life here: respect of and appreciation of others. 

It’s a wonderful feeling.

Christmas Is Coming To Chapala

Ho-Ho-Ho, welcome to Christmas time in Chapala. While it won’t be a white Christmas, as you can see in the photo above, many of the trees around the city centro and the malecon are wrapped in bright white lights. Here, that’s as white as it gets (except for lots of gringos, but I jest). 

Last Friday was the official opening of the Christmas season in Chapala and, true to form, featured a parade, tree lighting, and fireworks.

We suspect there will be another, much larger parade a little closer to Christmas itself. We seem to remember one from last year. But, the days slip away here as do sometimes our memories. 

The parade on Friday was short and sweet, all motorized vehicles, some with “floats”; other not. There were fire trucks and police cars and trucks, and part of the fun is that several of the vehicles featuring floats with Santa and/or Santa’s elves, tossed penny candy out to the waiting crowd. Great fun to watch the kids scoop them up. 

We watched from front row seats, so to speak, on the island in the middle of the main caratera between the Cathedral and the middle of the malecon.

Hope you enjoy the following brief videos of the parade in action.

Thus begins a festive holiday season here. It’s refreshing non-commercial. Yes, one can buy decorations and you can see lights strung up around town in some of the homes. Walmart is stuffed with the gills with Christmas goodies. But the focus of the holidays here seems to be exactly where it is best: on the meaning of the holidays.

The Great Flood in Chapala and Other Minor Matters

Ah, an ordinary week in Chapala. The adventure continues.

While Bonita is visiting the States, I am maintaining the home front.

And what a week!

First, we had our first two days of overcast weather. On Tuesday, we experienced a first: a full day of rain. Starting just after I got up around 7AM (Central Time), it started raining and continued all day. We’ve lived in Chapala for one year now and this was my first experience of a fully rainy day.

We’ve had rain before, but typically only a brief shower or an hour or two at the most. This is during the day I emphasize. Usually when it rains here, it rains at night.

Then Wednesday I awoke to what looked like could be another day of rain. Overcast; low cloud cover. A little windy. In the early afternoon, I was at my computer and on the phone with a financial institution, when I moved my feet and felt sloshing. Looking down, I was horrified to see water streaming out around the pc. I ditched the call and went around the counter to the kitchen to see water pouring out from the cabinet below the sink. I went to get the mop and bucket and saw the hallway and much of the bedroom flooded.

So I ran over to my neighbor to have her call the caretaker. But there he was in the backyard.

He shut off the water and the flooding stopped and the long clean-up began. The caretaker and both my neighbors pitched in, mopping and sweeping and carrying out items that were soaked. Fortunately, I had shut down the electronics and they escaped unharmed.

Quite a little adventure. And all just part of life here in Chapala.

Saturday evening, my neighbor knocked on the door to ask if our electricity had gone out. No, not since I’d returned home. His place was dark. No electric. Then, 20 minutes later, on it came. Of the three units here on the ground floor, his was the only one affected.

Just happens. And one thing we’ve learned about life in Chapala is that you learn to take such events in stride or you’ll make yourself crazy. This is not the States and it’s not Canada and things just happen differently here.

Another story: one of our neighbors was expecting a package to be delivered to the door by Amazon (of Mexico). He asked our other neighbor to accept the package if the delivery person range their bell. She agreed. Then our neighbor got an email saying the package delivery date would be moved out a few days that the package would be delivered by the post office.

Post Office??? Here in Mexico? We’ve heard rumor that there is such a service, though we’ve seen absolutely no evidence it exists in Chapala. I thought it was a myth. Yet, when we made our trip to Mexico City back in September, we did actually see a post office, so we knew it existed, just no evidence of one here.

And sure enough, on the appointed day, the caretaker had found the delivery notice at the front door to the complex and had retrieved the package for the neighbor.

Who knew? So there actually is a post office here. Where? We have yet to determine.

It’s just part of life in Chapala.