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Restrictions Loosened in Chapala

Friday afternoon the governor of the State of Jalisco, in which Chapala, lakeside and Guadalajara are located, loosened the restrictions he imposed some four weeks prior. Public spaces were opened and, thankfully, stores were re-opened to adultos mayores (senior citizens, defined here as 60 years of age or older).

Not surprisingly, people turned out over the weekend. The weather was beautiful and the malecon was busy.

People were out enjoying the sun and the clear views up and down the lake and the pelicans. Everywhere, people were posing for photos.

During the four weeks people weren’t allowed on the malecon, a large flock of pelicans gathered on the west side of the malecon. Beautiful!

Moreover, it turns out that lots of work was accomplished on the malecon during the lockdown. Lots of cleaning and sprucing up. The beaches were cleared.

Fisherman’s Pier was given a facelift.

On the west side of the malecon, the stone wall of the malecon was thoroughly cleaned.

One of the most iconic spots on the malecon is a statue display that over the years had become both damaged, with parts of it broken off, and thoroughly tarnished. Two local artists treated it with some TLC and it’s been restored to full glory.

On the west side of the malecon, a group of bikers gathered to enjoy the day, laughing and taking photos along with so many Mexican families.

Perhaps the biggest surprise was yet another extension of the bridge to nowhere. And it’s no longer the bridge to nowhere. It’s now out in the lake.

Local reports say that the pier is funded entirely by the restaurant on the malecon from which the pier extends. Construction projects like this often happen over the course of time. As builders have the funds, they build. If they run out of funds, they wait until they have them and the construction continues.

Supposedly, this pier will be used to deliver boating passengers to the restaurant. We’re looking forward to seeing how far out the pier ends up being.

Yes, it was a lovely weekend! And hopefully the worst of the virus is behind us here in Mexico (and all around the world!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Restless in Chapala

And the covid played on.

We’re in the middle of another (sort of) lockdown here in our state, Jalisco. This time, seniors, persons over 60 years of age, are not allowed into stores. Guards are posted to police this policy, at least in Guadalajara, as my neighbors and I learned a couple of weeks ago, much to our disappointment and chagrin.

Even invoking “woke” culture, saying that I may be over 60 but only identify as 59 didn’t work here in what is arguably more sane Mexico!

Still, life goes on.

Down in el centro, a bright new shoe store opened after months of building. And I do mean bright!

While parks and some outdoor areas are open, the malecon and other popular areas where folks tend to congregate are still closed and pretty closely patrolled. The locals here seem to be getting a little restless with it all.  At the very far end of the malecon with a boat ramp and launch and several restaurants there’s a pier that is still open. Lots of folks turned up there presumably to re-assure themselves that both the lake and the malecon are still there despite being unable to use either.

It’s sort of pathetic to see people huddled around the one small area where they can be near the lake and see the pelicans.

Meanwhile the lakeshore off the malecon is deserted.

How much longer this uneasy truce can hold is to be determined. Not that it feels sinister or that there’s the potential for riot or protest. Just a sort of disquiet hangs in the air.

Here in Mexico the government doesn’t have a magic printing press and thus cannot simply send checks or bank deposits to citizens. Here, people have to work or they don’t eat. It’s an uneasy balance.

We’ll see what happens as we go through February.

 

 

 

 

 

Chapala Extends a Bridge

Remember the infamous “bridge to nowhere”? Some years ago it was the favorite project of an Alaskan politician and funding for it slipped into an omnibus spending bill in Congress. Oddly enough, there was sufficient uproar about the boondoggle that the project was never executed. (Instead, a road to nowhere took its place.) Learn more here.

Chapala entered the race for the bridge to nowhere title in late 2019 and early 2020.

Here in Chapala, the local government was not called upon to finance this bridge. Instead, local press coverage reported that the restaurant which the bridge is in front of funded the effort. The suggestion was that the bridge would allow boats to offload potential customers for the restaurant.

However, the lake would not rise during the rainy season to allow such boat traffic. So the bridge just sat…………until recently.

Then a couple of weeks ago, a flurry of activity materialized, extending the bridge closer to the water.

 

Workers extended the bridge to basically double its original length and added the slats so that the bridge would be actually usable.

Then they creosoted the woodwork and added roping to create sides for the walkway.

So now we have a finished bridge, privately financed, to nowhere. Will it turn out to be a profitable project? We’ll be watching!

 

 

 

Chapala Changes to 2021!

Chapala welcomed the new year with a change! The Chapala 2020 sign which has graced fisherman’s pier for a year now clicked over to 2021. Literally. We’d been wondering here whether the change would be made and we’d pretty much concluded that it won’t. Too much difficulty.

But New Year’s Eve my neighbor and I walked along the malecon in the late afternoon only to happen upon workmen making the change, while two police watched and guarded the work. After taking a couple of pictures I practiced my Spanish on the police, with rueful apologies for my still stumbling efforts, whether there would be a party on the malecon that evening. No, they said, emphatically. How about la musica, I asked. No, again, more emphatically. And how about fuegos artificiales (fireworks), I asked. No, most emphatically. Oh well, hopefully next year.

As a reminder, here’s the 2020 version:

The flocks of pelicans here in Chapala are growing too as 2020 turns into 2021.

But the prize, so to speak, for the most patriotic bird on the lake doesn’t go to a pelican. It belongs to a heron.

Happy New Year from the fun side of the border! Hasta luego!

Snow in Guadalajara and Christmas Doggerel

Hola, friends and Christmas greetings! Feliz Navidad!

Earlier this week my neighbors and I made our way to Guadalajara to finally take in a movie and to enjoy some of the festivities there just before Christmas. Like the U.S. and Canada, Mexico has protocols in place for covid, so we were checked for face masks and had our temperatures taken before we could go into the Andares Mall, one of the upscale malls in Zapopan, a town in Guadalajara.

Christmas decorations festooned the place and a generally festive atmosphere pervaded. And, then, suddenly, it started to snow!!!

As you can see from the video, the mall here is open air. It’s essentially a mall as in the U.S., only without the roof.

Everyone seemed to be enjoying the sudden storm.

In case anyone is still wondering, no it didn’t really snow, as in naturally. Way too warm here for that to happen. But using snow-making equipment and powerful fans, it did seem like it was snowing. The flakes were real; just generated just above the mall.

On another note, we did get a very clear and sharp look at the Christmas “star” last Monday night. We walked down to the malecon and the star was immediately identifiable–it was so bright! And it seemed to dominate the sky. It was easy to imagine how awestruck the Three Magi might have been to see this natural wonder appear in the sky.

Thanks to my neighbor Lonnie for his photo of the star.

So Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all of you.

 

 

 

 

Christmas 2020 in Coming to Chapala

Christmas is indeed coming to Chapala, albeit in a muted, be calm and carry on manner. The usual raucous parade was cancelled–alas, it was one of the highlights of the year and the entire town turned out for it. Guess that’s why it was cancelled (pretty sharp I am!).

Yet people are finding ways to express the festive sense of the season despite the covid precautions.

Last night I walked down to el centro around 8PM. It had been dark for a half-hour or so.

On my way I noticed a few homes where ambitious residents had expressed their holiday spirit.

Earlier yesterday I noted that the city was putting up Christmas decoration in the median/park that splits the main avenue leading directly to the malecon with the central church on one side and a refurbished hotel that is now city hall on the other.

Each year it’s been festooned for the holidays. Resourcefully, the city uses the same basic decorations, a nativity scene with life-sized statuary as well as lots of lights. And each year they’re in a different arrangement. Lovely. You can see Christmas 2018 pics here and Christmas 2019 pics here.

Lots of folks were out last night to see the newly-lit decorations.  Everyone was respectful and it appeared that everyone was enjoying themselves. Yeah!

This year I spotted two new additions, or at least I think they are new. First, a piñata-style star  above the main fountain in el centro.

Second, the orange globes decorating the sidewalk above city hall.

The nativity scene this year was separated into sections rather than being one large display.

Finally, one of the very tall trees in el centro appeared like this:

So take a cue from the locals here. Enjoy life despite the gloomy news. We’ve got a lot to be thankful for in spite of everything.

I wish you and yours a most happy Christmas and joyous holiday season.

A Chapala Thanksgiving 2020

I’m often asked whether Mexico celebrates Thanksgiving. Oddly enough, it does, at least in areas with lots of expats and gringos.

Here at lakeside, many restaurants provide the traditional American feast of roast turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, and pumpkin pie.

And retailers indicate that Mexicans also celebrate. I received several emails from a Mexican upscale grocery chain called La Comer, all in Spanish, announcing ingredients and dishes available for El Dia de Accion de Gracias (note that the accents in Spanish are missing here).

Thanksgiving was quiet here. Covid seems to have slowed everything down.

However, some verities are eternal such as the pelicans along the lake in the winter. They are returning!

It’s the little changes that I note on my daily walks on the malecon. Over the last couple of weeks, workers have been making improvements and changes to the skateboard/bike park near fisherman’s pier.

For a while, they literally broke up several of the walls there, by hand.

Then, they filled in the surface with large stones and mortar.

After reinforcing the walls in this manner, they finished the surfaces as if nothing had been done.

Finally, they built stairs in one section of the park. Not sure why and I haven’t seen any of the youngsters playing on them to know what purpose they serve. Maybe just aesthetic.

The city and its citizens seem to take a real pride in the upkeep and presentation of the malecon and its components. It’s a joy to behold!

 

 

Day of the Dead in Chapala–Lockdown 2020 Edition

This year Day of the Dead was a subdued celebration. The governor of Jalisco, the state in which Chapala is located, had ordered a limited lockdown once again because of covid. During the week, businesses could be open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. On weekends, only grocery stores could open with the same limited hours. Restaurants could deliver but accept no dine-in customers. Everyone was (and is) encouraged to stay home.

Lakeside in general has been pretty quiet. Little traffic; little activity. So when Day of the Dead arrived on November 2, a Monday this year, the cemeteries were closed and no public celebrations or memorials were allowed.

Normally, Day of the Dead is a colorful holiday with a somber undertone of remembering those who have passed. Its symbol is Catrina. Developed by a Mexican artist back at the turn of the prior century, Catrina have come to decorate and dominate the holiday. Part of the tradition of laughing in the face of death. A hint of defiance of the inevitable. I’ll live life anyway, I hear her say.

There were Catrinas in el centro.

This was as much of a public celebration as there was. Compare this to past years in my post here.

Even though the altars were not displayed in public in el centro, individuals and households still made their own declaration. Across the street from us, our neighbors honored one of their own.

And just down the street, my barber honored another.

In from of the newly-refurbished mercado in Chapala, the cabana too was decorated for the holiday.

Mexico is keeping calm and moving on. Day of the Dead will be back again next year, hopefully with a very public celebration in the spirit of facing life with equanimity. Here’s to it!

Dancing in Chapala

Yesterday my neighbor and I went to Guadalajara on a grocery run. We arrived back rather late in the day and I ended up taking my walk on the malecon at twilight. Typically I walk in the late morning.

The energy of the malecon is distinctly different in the evening than the day. There’s a really festive atmosphere. Groups of musicians play for couples or families who dance or simply enjoy. It’s more crowded, as the locals take advantage of the leisure of the evening to enjoy the beauty of lakeside.

Last night, I encountered a troupe of dancers performing at the entrance to fisherman’s pier.  Simply delightful.

Was this practice for the upcoming Day of the Dead, one of the most important and widely celebrated holidays in Mexico? Or was this an early manifestation of that celebration? Or something else?

There was a typical Day of the Dead display of a person who has gone before and is being remembered and honored. I learned that he was a relative of some of the celebrants.

Periodically, rides appear on the malecon and evening is a great time to enjoy the color and noise.

This reminded me of a Halloween video from the long ago past.

We’ll see how Day of the Dead is celebrated in the age of covid.

Boys and Their Toys in Chapala

Slowly, slowly, life is stumbling toward a new normal here at lakeside.

We’ve got a drive-in theatre basically next door. Periodically a local concert is staged, with social distancing for seating. We still have to wear masks in stores and places of business. Still, folks are out and about more and more.

If you’ve read this blog for any length of time, you know that I love the malecon and that I walk it basically every day. Doing so lets me observe small changes that I probably wouldn’t notice if I was observing over a wider time interval.

This week is seeing some changes to the skate/bike course that’s a favorite of the local kids.

Workers have been out with their sledgehammers chipping away at some of the course structure. It’s not at all clear what’s being done or why it’s being done. The biggest changes I’ve observed over the almost three years I’ve lived here now is that the park is periodically painted over in white and then the local artists have a new canvas for local street art. I’ll keep my eyes on the changes as they progress.

Another change is a unique “ride” that recently appeared on the malecon.

Four small Cat Mini Excavators appeared lined up in front of a trough of nice clean gravel which you can operate for forty pesos (about $2 U.S.dollars)

How could I resist????

Likewise, how could my neighbor?

It was my birthday and it was finally time to let out my inner boy!

And yes, I even had a cigar for the big event.

Time to let loose just a little.