The Chapala Malecon Re-opens

Yeah! Time to do my happy dance!

Last Thursday, the malecon re-opened.

For months now, I’ve only really seen the lake for fleeting moments driving in and out of Chapala. Not long after the virus crisis began, the city closed the malecon and closed the city to all but residential and essential services traffic.

Now, Mexico is slowly re-opening.

It’s been tough on many Mexicans. This is still largely a land of independent shop owners and crafts and trades persons. A lot of families are dependent on their small shops to put food in their mouths.

Last month some of the shop owners along the malecon marched in protest of their continued closure while other shops in town (off the malecon) were allowed to re-open.

At last, they’re coming back.

And we get to see the beautiful lakeside again.

The timing also corresponds with the beginning of rainy season. Here in Chapala that generally means storms at night and clear sunny days. Still, on occasion, we do have a few overcast days and last Thursday was one of them.

Nevertheless, I took advantage of the opening to walk the malecon for the first time since late February.

As you can see, not many people were yet aware of the change. I only heard about it from my neighbor. I suspect that the city quietly made the decision and thus had a “soft” opening.

Not surprisingly, the lake has significantly decreased in volume. The shoreline has receded extensively. Six months ago, the pier in the photo above was almost under water. Now, dry land.

Over the course of Friday, Saturday and Sunday, the malecon was busier and busier. Musicians were returning as were vendors and shop owners. The shop area is still separated from the main part of the malecon by a plastic fence you can see in some of the photos below, in part, I assume, to divert foot traffic to areas where city personnel can monitor the volume of visitors and see to social distancing and masking.

 

Oh what a joy it is to be back near the lake!

 

 

 

 

 

Chapala’s Renovated Mercado

In the midst of the coronavirus reaction, life goes on. Yes, that’s a cliche…but it happens to be true. By life goes on here, I specifically mean that projects and business continues, even a different and more leisurely pace.

One of the projects that’s been going on for months now in Chapala is the renovation of the town mercado (or marketplace). While the term mercado is used to refer to any market, especially outdoor markets that are often present weekly, each town in Mexico seems to have a town mercado. These mercados are housed in public buildings where space is rented to individual or family enterprises who provide all types of food.

There are butchers and vendors of beef, chicken, pork, lamb and fish. There are fruit and vegetable vendors. There are prepared food stands. There are flowers and tortillas and cheeses. All sorts of consumables.

Chapala’s mercardo was a dreary, worn-out looking building in very serious need of a facelift. I don’t know when it’s last update was but I would seriously guess sometime in the sixties. No joke. It was dark and dingy and it was a testament to the vendors that they survived and thrived in spite of the much less than inviting environment.

Several months ago, maybe even a year ago, funds were secured through the state of Jalisco and with contribution by the city to seriously renovate the mercado.

The building was closed and the vendors all moved outside to the little park area in front of the building on the main drag of the city.

For months it seemed as if nothing was really happening. And then a couple of weeks ago, voila, the renovated building was dedicated and opened.

What a change! Much more inviting and bright.Very glad to have a “new” mercado here in Chapala.

Chapala in Transition

Over the last few weeks, this sign has been popping up more and more often here at lakeside.

It’s actually a popular phrase being repurposed for COVID times. Literally translated, it means “no one thunders here”. It’s a catchphrase, used like “no child left behind” in the U.S.

Currently, it’s a designation or declaration to shop local, to support local businesses and shops or tiendas as they are known in Spanish.

Chapala and lakeside are in the process of re-opening, albeit slowly. Businesses and restaurants are back online so to speak. Larger venues, such as malls, movies, concerts and sports events, are still in the future (or at least I dearly hope they are).

The sign is a reminder to shop locally, to support the literally mom-and-pop (and often the kids and pets) that are the owner-operators.

There truly is a feeling of we take care of each other here. It’s a beautiful thing.

For readers outside of Mexico, you might be hearing horror stories about Mexico on the mass media. I’ve gotten a few concerned calls from friends asking if I’m okay and recounting the horrors of which they hear.

So, let me tell you want is reality here.

First, there are not piles of dead bodies in the streets. The healthcare system is working just fine thanks.

Second, the police are still on duty and behaving.

Third,  Mexico is certainly not a “failed state” as some have described it. At least not here.

And recall too that Chapala and lakeside are basically suburbs of Guadalajara, the second largest city in Mexico.

I look out my floor to ceiling windows at bright sunshine, puffy white clouds, a slight breeze, nice and warm, birds chirping and luscious green vegetation.

Part of the joy of living here is that I can easily avoid the mainstream media in the U.S. and its carousel of horrors. Yes, Mexico has news too, but I don’t yet speak enough Spanish to watch the news on television. And I stay away from all the news websites. My twitter feed gives me a nice cogent summary of anything I need to know.

Last, I’m say that I’ve heard from my primary care physician several times during the lockdown, inquiring about how I’m doing and staying in touch.

Just saying.

This is Mexico!