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Old Timey Chapala

Hola, mis amigos!

Again, I’ve been a little tardy in writing. I keep thinking I’ve got to have a full post full of profound thoughts or actions or something. I recently realized I can do what I want here. It’s my blog afterall. So you’ll be hearing from me more often (at least I expect so) and sometimes with tidbits, updates, the way daily life works around here.

Today I took my usual walk along the malecon. A beautiful sunny clear day. Just lovely. And by the Beer Garden (a local restaurant primarily for turistas) and the great Chapala sign, I came across a display by the Chapala Archive.

Photos from the turn of the century. The turn of the twentieth century that is, when Chapala was slowly transforming from a sleepy fishing village to a playground for wealthy Mexicans who began to build mansions along the lake that were vacation homes.

D. H. Lawrence visited and stayed here as did many luminaries from that time.

So without further ado, here are photos of the photos with kind permission of the Archive.

Note here the burros being ridden by ladies. This was actually a transportation system that took ladies along lakeside as far as a community called San Antonio Tlaycapan.

Note too the greeting for the arrival of the train to the train station which operated (sadly) for only a couple of years.

And if there’s interest (hint, hint), I could slowly contrast these photos with the same viewpoint in today’s Chapala. LMK.

New Friends in Chapala

Hola!

I’m finally back again. How time goes by.

Writing a blog can be a lonely business. Even now, I have no idea how many people are reading this notes I write or who you are (well, I do know some of you, Hi MOM!!!) Then, just as I’m wondering whether or not this blogging thing is worth continuing, a reader will send me a question or a comment and it helps me keep going.

I was recently in touch with a gentleman from Texas who lived in Chapala for years. He and I corresponded several times and he even passed along a donation to help me keep this blog alive. (It’s doesn’t happen for free, just so you know.)

And then I heard from Valerie. She told me she was planning to move to Chapala and had a few questions. We chatted electronically, which I’m always happy to do.

And her big day came. She moved to Chapala with her trusted aged dog. And she wrote again to ask if I’d be willing to get together with her just to chat. Would I? Of course I would.

We arranged to meet at a popular gringo hangout right on the major carratera (road) that runs just North of the lake. There, I met the delightful Valarie.

Valarie is from the great Northwest, up Oregon way. She told me she’d traveled to Mexico a number of times and had fallen in love with the culture, the people, the climate, and the lifestyle. She’s a brave lady. Packed up and flew down, all with her beloved dog.

One can do that here. Mexico is very welcoming. There’s a reason we call it the fun side of the border.

And I have a correction: Valarie has two loving pooches! And both came with her.

She and I chatted for a good while. I’m afraid I dominated the conversation (I do like to yaw) but we managed a good exchange and I must say it is a delight to meet one of my readers in person!

So thank you Valerie and may your time here be happy and healthful and lots of fun.

I’ll be back soon, I promise!

Lake Chapala Rises

It’s been a busy summer here for me. I had a friend visit from the States and he tested positive for covid. So his visit was extended by a couple of weeks! Even so, while I haven’t been writing here (I’ll do better!), I have been taking most of my daily walks on the malecon. I’m very pleased to report that the rainy season has really helped. The lake is rising and perceptibly. So, while this post is light on words, I’ll present you with several photos that contrast the low levels of the lake from back in May and June to the latest levels at the end of August. I hope you enjoy and “see” you again here soon!

Current:

From June:

Current:

June:

Current:

June:

Current:

June:

 

Hot Springs at the Monte Carlo

Last week I had a a friend visiting from the States. His back was bothering him, so we thought that spending some time in a hot spring would help (and feel good too).

One of the properties along the lake here in Chapala is the Hotel Villa Montecarlo. Along with a beautiful ground right along the lake, the property has a large cold water pool and a natural hot springs pool. Lakeside has numerous hot springs.

We checked in and got to spend considerable time on the property and in the hot spring pool. Not only is it quite warm, it’s full of minerals. Warm and soothing and delightful to just float in.

The property is beautifully maintained.  We had a delightful time there and it is just down the road.

I also learned that you can visit for the day for only 150 pesos (about $7.50 US at the time of this writing) and take advantage of the grounds and both of the pools.

So without further words, I’ll let the pictures tell the story. Enjoy!

Well, just a few more words. There are numerous peacocks wandering around the property. Tame and friendly and beautiful!

 

Trip Around Lake Chapala, Part 2

Back in May, my Qi Gong instructor Hector, his wife and another friend and I circumnavigated Lake Chapala. You can read the story of the first part of our expedition here.

We visited the beautiful lakeside town of

As we’ve come to expect in all Mexican towns, somewhere toward the center of town is a square with an iglesia (church) or even a cathedral. Tlapan’s was especially impressive and we spento some time here communing with the beauty.

And we caught some glimpses of the town just off the square.

A lovely tree in full blossom waved goodbye to us as we were ready to depart.

Our next stop was in Palo Alto. This time we made our way down to the lakefront by just turning down a street and driving to the end.

We were rewarded with a view of the southern shore of the lake.

Right down to almost to the water’s edge was farmland.

And an interesting contrast to the the north side of the lake.

Soon, your journey will continue!

Lake Chapala in Transition

Hola, folks! Sorry to have been away from here for so long. Wish I could say I was engaging in some exotic travel (or even some boring travel for that matter). But no, I’ve been under the weather for a couple of weeks. Nothing serious, at least not yet. And I feel that I’m coming to the end of it.

One catch-up note: The work on the house across the street is proceeding apace. The second floor is appearing rapidly and delivery after delivery of bricks have been deposited on the porch and then carried up to the second floor.

Yes, the bricks arrive by the truck load. One worker piles three or four bricks and then tosses them to another worker who piles them neatly on the porch.

But this is not the main subject of today’s blog. Indeed, it appears that we have turned the corner on the shrinkage of the lake. The rainy season has arrived. We’ve had a number of nights with storms and a few days as well, with gentle rain for at least part of the day.

Hopefully we’ve hit the low level of the lake for this year and from here on we’ll have sufficient rain to replenish the levels.

With that, here are photos from the end of June, showing just how low the lake has fallen.

And here are two paired photos of the same general area off the malecon, the first photo being the current view and the second being last Fall. Quite a contrast.

Slip Sliding Into Summer 2021

Hola, readers!

Here’s a grab bag as we head into summer. The lazy days are here again.

Well, at least Kato is taking advantage of it. I’m busier than ever and keeping my eyes open for items to share with you.

First, renovation continues to progress on the house across the street. This week another load of bricks, two actually, appeared and lo and behold, a second story is going up. I haven’t yet had a chance to look around from inside the house again so a view from the outside will have to do. I’ll keep working on that.

Second, covid restrictions are being relaxed again here. Public areas are allowed more capacity. The state orchestra has started concerts in the beautiful Teatro Degollado in Guadalajara. Good old rock ‘n roll is coming back too as soon as the Fall. Wonderful!

Here in Chapala, the train station is holding shows out on the lawn. Seems like Sunday is the day, so I’ll be headed up there today.

We’ll see if the show will go on today, however, because, TA-DA!, it’s raining. Has been for two days now. Wonderful! Yeah! ‘Cause the lake has fallen below 50% capacity. It’s lost almost 25% over the last three years.

This week while I was taking my daily walk on the malecon, I noticed that workers were out mowing the beach. Yes, you read that right! One of the newly-exposed strips of beach starting growing tall grass and so the mowing crew has been chopping away.

Thank goodness the rain has started. The section of the lake facing the breakwater is very low. Just a few short inches until it becomes beach.

And last, another reason to celebrate, we’re enjoying mango season here in Mexico. Turns out mango trees are huge! There’s no picking mangos off the tree without a long pole picker.

And so it goes. Life is good here in Mexico regardless of what you might read in the sensational media. But quiet please, let’s keep that our little secret!

A Mexican Renovation, Part 1

For a couple of weeks now, one of the row houses across the street from my apartment has been a hive of activity. About a half-dozen young men are working and truckloads of dirt and bricks and rebar and steel beams and cement bricks have been delivered and disappeared into the house.

The young men are very friendly and we say hola and acknowledge one another whenever I venture out. I started looking inside with interest and they would smile and wave. So the other day I asked one of them if I could take a tour and take some photos. In Spanish, of course!

He was very happy to take me in and gave me the grand tour.

Inside the front door is the living room, or sala.

It’s a fairly small room and a holding spot for tools and implements required for renovation.

Next, and the main focus of activity on that day, is the kitchen, or cocina. The living room is the only part of the house that currently has a ceiling and the men were busily putting a new ceiling in place.

This is quite a process. Having built some new walls of brick and rebar, steel beams are put in place and then cement bricks (large bricks to be sure) are laid between the beams to build the ceiling.

Once complete, the men explained that wet cement would be poured on top to seal the structure. And, a second story will be added.

Other work was busy in the kitchen as well. One young man was busy demolishing, carefully, and old wall.

Behind the kitchen is the dining room, on the left, and either a closet or utility room on the right.

I’m guessing it will be several more weeks of work for these men and I look forward to seeing how the renovation progresses. I’ll keep my eye out for more opportunities to record it.

 

How Dry It Is!

The big story here at lakeside is that the lake is shrinking, seemingly faster and faster. It’s palpable; it appears each day that I walk the malecon, the lake has fallen a little bit lower.

Among residents here, few have seen the lake at lower levels. It’s really quite an astonishing sight and the topic of much discussion.

Here’s what we’ve come to expect as “normal” for the level of the lake. Specifically by fisherman’s pier. The picture immediately blow is from a typical “dry” season. The lake is low, about as low as it gets. Not that the areas under the pier are all well covered by the lake.

Contrast this with the level of the lake by the pier after a rainy season (June, July, August, September).

Note below, again after a rainy season, that the lake is very close to the malecon and the pier is just above the lake.

Compare this to now:

The pier is totally exposed and even sports a little (rocky) beach around it.

Of course, your intrepid reporter just had to venture a peek under the pier. So along the beach and around the corner I went!

Definitely rocky and definitely required care in walking.

And sure enough, the four openings below the pier which are normally covered by the lake are now dry enough to walk to the end of the pier.

The opening closest to land was the most dry.

This afforded me a good look at the structure and craftsmanship of the building of the pier.

The second opening was the most precarious. Only a relatively thin line of stones led from the land side to the lake side.

The third and the fourth openings were dry dry dry.

Here’s a look back. Hopefully a rare sight!

And up and away!

One final comparison.

We’re all hoping for an abundant rainy season upcoming to restore the level of the lake.

Trip Around Lake Chapala, Part 1

A couple of weeks ago, I met with Hector, my Qi Gong instructor, in Christiana park where we have an early morning session. Joining us was Hector’s esposa (wife), Ilda, and another student and professional, Lolita. I’m the odd man out in the conversation given my lack of Spanish, although I’m working on that. They are very conscious of including me, despite my communications challenges.

I asked them to speak only Spanish with me so that I’d have to learn. At some point I mentioned, in Spanish, that I’d love to take a trip around the lake one of these days. Well, lots of Spanish flew and before I knew it, a trip was planned for Wednesday (it was Monday). Wonderful!

We met at the main entrance to the park at 7AM and drove off in Hector’s car. We drove west, headed through Ajijic and other populated lakeside towns along the north side of the lake.  Lots of restaurants and houses and several towns. After Ajijic, the populations are mostly Mexican. There’s several expat enclaves that are gated communities, little fortresses of the homeland here in Mexico.

After an hour or so of driving, we arrived in Jocotepec at the west end of the lake.  It was time for some coffee and some breakfast and a little stretch.

Every town in Mexico, at least all I’ve encountered has a public square which is anchored by a Catholic church. We parked just off the square and walked toward the mercado area, or the public market.

Jocotepec was just coming awake. Vendors were setting up, preparing good and cooking.

We even encountered an old but still functional foosball machine!

After some sustenance and a breath of Jocotepec, we headed off to the road around the south side of Lake Chapala.

After Jocotepec, we’re in local Mexican territory. No gringos here, except a few renegades.

The south side of the lake is primarily farming territory. Miles and miles of covered crops, in this case, lots of berries. Blueberries and raspberries. Tomatoes. Lots of goodies!

The shore of the lake here is wild. Farms extend right down to the shore. There are no beaches in the traditional sense of the word.

And there’s the occasional town.

After another hour or so, we arrived at Tlazapan. An inviting town!

More to follow.