Hector and Me and More in Chapala Spring (Redux!)

A few weeks ago, my neighbor told me that someone was teaching a class on Qi Gong, sponsored by the city, and free to participants. This immediately conjured up visions of Chinese geezers slowing pantomiming around in Beijing parks. Nevertheless, I was intrigued, never having experienced Qi Gong and happy to try something new.

Little did I know.

We went to a “preview” class over in the park. There we met Hector, a gracious Spanish wizard. Dressed in white and speaking only a smattering of English, he ended up teaching one gringo and four gringas Qi Gong over the course of several weeks.

Hector has a heart of gold, or pure crystalline water as I’m sure he would prefer me to say. And he was truly generous with his time and energy and attention. We all enjoyed the class and his sharing.

Life moves on slowly here as we move into the hot season in May and June until the rains start during the summer.

With the pandemic still being in the headlines and on people’s minds, the usual activities here are fewer and life a bit slower. And that’s just fine. One of the little things I’ve noticed is a delightful discovery when I tried a delicious new (well, new to me at least) Thai food delivery service. They serve the mango coconut tapioca dessert in a container made of fast renewing, biodegradable bamboo. Yes, indeed!

A neighboring friend told me about all the products now being made of bamboo, inviting me to check out bamboo undergarments on Amazon. Sure enough, there they are. And he presented me with a covid mask made of bamboo fiber. Very comfortable!

Finally, finally! We’re slowing getting music again. My favorite venue recently hosted an outdoor event with Orchestra Tipica of Chapala, our old friends. Crank up the volume and dance!

Last for now, I witnessed a work of nature that I’d not seen here before. I leave you for now with a video of this wonder!

 

 

How Dry It Is: Lake Chapala is Shrinking!

The winter and the Spring here at lakeside are dry, sometimes, like this year, very dry. I literally can’t remember the last time it rained. Yes, the water tables have dropped as well with warning about excessive use coming from local authorities.

And it’s slowly and steadily getting warmer and warmer during the day. Up into the low 80s. Before long, that will yield to the mid to high 80s at the peak of the day. And then as we enter the summer months, we’ll start to have rain.

At night, thank goodness. Not that it doesn’t rain during the day. Sometimes, it does but only for an hour or two before the sun bursts through again.

Right now though, it’s sunshine and warmth and delightful days.

The lake is as low as I can remember in the four years that I’ve lived here now.

The easiest way to observe this is by looking at the water levels around the piers and the shore.

The bridge to nowhere is now all on the beach. Won’t be landing any boats there for a while yet.

It’s easy to see where to waterline was. Just above the dark patch of shore visible in the foreground and extending down the entire shore. This is a view from the west side of the malecon looking east. The main and most vibrant area of the malecon is yet further to the east of the white pier toward the back of the photo.

Notice too that the stairsteps down to the water have been refurbished. Pained a nice vibrant Mexican color.  During the wet season the palm tree in the foreground would be deep in the lake.

Note that the first opening under the pier is typically full of water. During the height of the rainy season, the lake almost touches the bottom of the bridge there.

And finally we observe the pelicans. Today, they’re lined up on some high ground that almost makes it possible to walk to the breakwater without getting one’s feet wet. To do so this day, you’d have to deal with the pelicans.

To me, this photo just screams that it needs and deserves a caption: So I offer mine:

NONE SHALL PASS!!!

Other captions welcome.  Drop me a comment.

Until next time, Bob

 

 

 

Spring Has Sprung in Chapala

Life is rolling on here in Chapala. Life is vibrant here; the days are getting warmer; more and more people are out and about, yes, even with the current health problems. Little changes abound.

The avocado trees are full and lush and dripping with their delicious fruit. My neighbor and I went to the local vegan restaurant. He pointed out the avocados hanging way above us close by.

Last year I was lunching at another local restaurant. Many of the restaurants have mostly outdoor seating. A table, chairs, and an umbrella. My neighbor and I observed that the mango tree growing nearby was groaning with ripening mangos. We also observed  another couple seated in the open (no umbrella) right underneath the tree.

Well, you’ve probably guessed the rest of the story. We heard a bonk and an ouch and we all dissolved in laughter.

Not an uncommon experience here.

At a gathering of our neighbors last week we were talking about the differences in the food environments between the U.S. and Mexico. Here, the produce sections are huge and the frozen sections small, pretty much the mirror opposite of the U.S. And here the fruits are vegetables are available fresh and pretty much local year round.

A few items, such as numerous varieties of potatoes are not found here. Pretty much we only have a handful of varieties here. No Russets, no Yukon Gold. Plain old white in a couple of varieties and a few different sweet potatoes.

In Guadalajara, more can be found. A couple of weeks ago, we headed up to the Mercado de los Abastos (the market of supplies). Supplies there are. Rows and rows and rows of fruit and vegetable markets and prepared foods. Simply lovely!

 

 

 

The Return of the Voladores

There’s been a major shift here at lakeside. At least, it feels that way. For the voladores have returned!

It happened just this week.

I went for my usual walk along the malecon, soaking in the sun and watching the pelicans glide around on the lake. Then I noticed that the voladores, the flying men, were back.

They’ve been gone for almost a year. I assume they were prohibited from performing their skill because they tend to draw a crowd, a no-no in these days of fear. But now, they’re back!

Likewise it seems that the spirit has lifted locally. There’s a spring in everyone’s step. Earlier this week I went with a couple of neighbors to the park across the street for a lesson in Qi Gong. The professor spoke almost no English and we spoke little Spanish but that didn’t matter. We followed along and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. And we’ll return for more lessons in the upcoming weeks.

I also strolled out on the bridge to nowhere to get another view of the lake. Lovely!

I’ll leave you with yet another video of the pelicans. I hope you find them as graceful and soothing as I do!

 

 

 

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.