Blog

Chapala Tidbits–Pueblo Magico?

A new series here! Brief tidbits about life at lakeside.

I arrived here almost four years ago now. During that time, there was a major push to have Ajijic designated by the Mexican government as a “Pueblo Magico” which is an ad campaign to stimulate tourism within Mexico. You can learn more here.

Some of us were stumped; I among them. I’ve visited several Pueblo Magicos and wondered what qualified Ajijic for the designation.

Ajijic did receive the designation two years ago.

But I’m not alone in wondering.

Last week I was shopping at Pancho’s, a local store primarily geared to gringos. I’ve gotten to know one of the employees there and practice my Spanish with him.

He told me a joke that’s widespread among the locals.

Is Ajijic a Pueblo Magico or a Pueblo Trafico?

You can guess which one the locals vote for!

 

 

The House Across the Street in Progress

Finally (and by popular demand!), here’s an update on the construction across the street. You can read the first post here.

The men have been very busy. Since that first post, they’ve built an entire second story, added stairs, torn down the old living room, added space for two bathrooms and added an open space for a patio facing the street (and one facing the back).

Here’s a photo of the start of the upstairs building. Note that the front of the house is close to the street. Entering the house in this form took one into the living room.

Construction here is typically done in brick or cement. Wood is for emphasis and decoration.

Here’s a look at the current front.

Note that the “front” of the house in no longer on the street. What was the living room was taken down, a second floor added, and a space for a front patio is on top and a garage now where the living room was.

Now at the rear of the house a backyard patio is under construction. This in comparison to the back of the house when I last visited.

New stairs to the new second floor.

And two bedrooms are under construction on the second floor along with the patio facing the street.

As the house progresses, more updates to follow.

 

 

 

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.