Chapala in Summer Is……………

Okay, time for the first exam. Write an essay describing your summer living in Chapala in summer. Oh, wait. Summer school??? After all these years? So, we’ll go ahead and discuss what Chapala in summer is, during this, our first summer in Chapala.

Chapala in summer is………rainy season.

At least that’s what the data at tells us.

Average Precipitation
Years on Record: 53 Chart This
in 34.6 0.5 0.2 0.2 0.2 0.9 6.9 9 7.7 6 2 0.6 0.4

There it is, in black and white.

When we first investigated the weather here, from the wilds of Wisconsin, we were taken aback at the rain in June, July, August, and even September. On our exploratory trip to Chapala in September, 2017 we experienced some rain, and clearly it had rained heavily prior to our arrival, with large puddles almost flooding some of the roads closer to the lakeside.

So, we’ve been expecting lots of dreary rainy days here this summer.

No so.

We were quite wrong.

Our experience so far is that the rain comes at night. We’ve awoken to discover outside on the street lots of run-off and puddles, which, I will add, quickly dissipate. And we’ve heard thunder in the night as well.

Yet during the day, we’ve had very little rain. Yes, it can be cloudy and rain-threatening. Typically though, the dark clouds clear and the sun bursts through with blue skies dotted with puffy white clouds just as I see looking out our back windows as I write.

Moreover, we expected the temperature to rise into the “hot and muggy” zone. What we’d always experienced in the U.S. (at least in humid climates). This despite what weatherbase said. We just didn’t believe it.

Average Temperature
Years on Record: 50 Chart This
F 66 60 62 66 69 71 71 68 68 68 66 64 62

We thought, “Nah”. Too good to be true. But it is. We are living it. Glory hallelujah!

So why, exactly, is this such a popular area for snowbirds? The expat populations swells between October and April and then drops precipitously as the snowbirds fly back up North. To what? Well, as far as we can tell, temperatures that are way warmer than here. No thanks, we’ll stay put.

Chapala in summer is………a lake in transition.

We love that summer here is not a series of rainy days. Yet, there is all that rain, over more than fifty years of history. Where does all that rain go? A lot of it ends up feeding the tributary rivers for Lake Chapala. From what to us was disturbingly large dwindling of the level of water in an already shallow lake, so far this year I am told the lake has risen more than a foot.

The rise is readily apparent at the malecon. The shoreline itself is closer to the malecon. Docks and jetties that during the winter were abandoned by the lake are once again out over the water.

Perhaps most surprising, the rise in the lake has been accompanied by a rash of vegetation on the lake close to the shore. We haven’t yet discovered the science behind this phenomenon; we’re just quiet observers of the ebb and flow of life lived close to the lakefront.


Chapala in summer is………the locals wearing t-shirts in English.

Most of the locals we meet in Chapala speak about as much English as we speak Spanish, which is to say, not much at all. We get by easily enough though. We make the effort to communicate en espanol and they in turn do their best to understand us. They try in English. Together, with these exchanges and some charades-like acting out, we come to an understanding.

So we’re a little surprised by the sheer number of t-shirts we see on the locals with slogans in English. Some are rude (with English four-letter words); most are simply cute. Our guess is that the wearers don’t know what the t-shirts say, they like the design or got a good deal on them. This is apparent too from the selection at Walmart, which is filled with English-language t-shirts, especially for infants and young children.

Chapala in summer is………eating at the malecon.

They’re grilling corn, making tortillas, firing up carne (meat), serving ice cream and sorbets. It’s all here and it seems everyone enjoys it. Hawkers pass by with what look like delicious large tortillas slathered with honey and generously sprinkled with cinnamon. And don’t forget the cotton candy.

Chapala in summer is………discovering the difference in ATMs. Okay, maybe this is not directly related to summer. But we experienced it today and think it’s well worth sharing.

We’ve been going to an ATM in the center of Chapala at a BBVA Bancomer branch. El Centro has at least four locations with ATMs. There’s often a line at most of them.

We’ve been paying a fees of 80+ pesos for withdrawing cash from these machines using our bank cards. That’s about $4 U.S. We also then pay about $2 for the exchange to our bank. Okay, the price of doing business.

Then today I needed some cash to shop at Walmart. There’s a couple of ATMs there. BBVA Bancomer machines.

Inserting my card and clicking through the screens, I arrived at the point of withdrawal. The fee? 32 pesos. Nice, huh? Quite a difference. Guess where we’re going for our pesos from now on?

Yes, we do love Walmart. Thanks, guys and gals.


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