Mazatlan is known as the Pearl of the Pacific because of it’s friendly people and the beauty of the beaches. It is the second largest city in the state of Sinaloa. It was founded by the Spanish and Indigenous people in 1531. In the mid 19th century, the Germans came and they settled and developed the area. It is located directly across the gulf from La Paz which is located at the tip of Baja. There are car ferries that go from one city to the other. Also, many cruise ships dock at the Harbor in Mazatlan. The word Mazatlan is a Nahuatl word which means Place of deer. I didn’t see any deer when I was there. But It was a quick trip for me. It took me an entire day to travel by first class bus from Guadalajara to the bus station in Mazatlan. It was an easy trip, even though we stopped often. The first class buses are really comfortable.
I also have a DIF card. This is a card for old people, like me, and I can travel for half price on the nice long distance buses. I was only in Mazatlan for two days and then another day to return to Ajijic. My friend took me to Old Town, the Historic District, and we walked around there before most of the stores opened. It reminded me of Tlaquepaque. There were craft shops, restaurants and coffee shops everywhere. It was clean and beautiful. Many of the buildings were old. (more…)
The 37th Annual Mexican Chili Cook-Off was a great success. It started on Friday, February 27th and went through Sunday. It ended at five p.m. on Sunday, March 1st. It was held at the Tobolandia water park. This year the parade was very small. The Shriners were in it and the tour bus from Chapala. Instead of starting at six corners as it did on previous years, it started by the bank up on the Carretera. What was the reason for such a small parade? I was told that Lent was the reason. The priest at the six corners Catholic church did not like having a parade during lent. So it was cut back to just the Shriners and the tour bus. Usually Lent is after the Chili Cook-Off so it wasn’t a problem. But don’t worry, a small parade did not mean small pleasures for the Chili Cook-Off visitors. Tobolandia was jumping with excitement! Below is a photo of the Shriners as they arrived in the parking lot at Tobolandia.
The Chili Cook-Off is the biggest fund raising event of the year here. Proceeds from it go to eight local charities. I will list them later on in this article. Last year the Cook-Off raised 36,550 pesos for each of the charities. This year they are hoping for more. (more…)
This is my third year of writing about the Fat Tuesday parade. Unfortunately, I was too sick to get out of my house to see it. My friend Ramon took these photos for me with his wide angle lens. The lens gives an interesting perspective. Since I didn’t take these photos, I can’t comment much on them but I will give you some background information on the Fat Tuesday Parade. I hope next year I will not have to miss this parade. It is my favorite one of the year.
The Fat Tuesday parade is also called the Mardi Gras Parade. It is always the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday. Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent. The carnival season starts on Three Kings Day which is January sixth. It lasts until midnight before Ash Wednesday. Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of forty days of prayer, obligations, fasting and confessions. So you can see why Fat Tuesday is a huge blow out celebration. No more fun for forty days. This year Fat Tuesday was on February 17th. Mardi Gras Carnival literally means farewell to meat. Carne (Meat) Val (farewell.)
The Guadalajara zoo is at the edge of town, next to the Huentitan Canyon which is a natural park. The cost is sixty pesos up to two hundred pesos, depending on what you want to do there. If you want to go on everything that takes people around to see the animals, the cost is two hundred pesos. That includes the sky ride, the safari truck, the train, plus entrance to the aquarium. There may have been other things that we missed. I know we missed the snakes. Not too unhappy about that.
There are many statues at the zoo. Some of them are in water or have water shooting out of them. Some are with the animals. The zoo grounds are beautiful and clean. I have never been to another zoo that was as clean as this one and during the entire time we were there, I didn’t smell any animals. They are kept in large areas. Not so much like cages as natural areas, similar to where the various animals lived in the wild. None of the animals seemed crowded or enclosed. It was more like the people were in the caged off areas and the animals roamed free. The zoo opened in 1988 and is considered to be the most important zoo in Latin America. (more…)
My Christmas holiday was very special because my son and daughter-in-law came to visit. They live in Portland, Oregon where it is cold in December. They appreciated the beautiful warm days here. We all stayed at the Hotel Tapatio. It is located not far from the airport. We had spectacular views of Guadalajara from there. We only had one week, Christmas day to New Year’s day. We took taxis everywhere. I was surprised at how inexpensive they were. Guadalajara is a large city, second largest in Mexico, and many of these taxi rides were from one end of Guadalajara to the other. I took about a thousand photos during that week. Unfortunately, I could only put a few on here. I hope you enjoy them.
You can see from the above photo that the downtown area was extremely crowded. Every time we went into the central area, we were in crowds. It was fun for me because I had not spent any time in Guadalajara. Now that I know how easy it is to get there, I hope to go often. It takes about forty five minutes to get to the Guadalajara bus station from Ajijic. The cost of the ticket is less than three dollars. From the bus stop in Guadalajara you can easily walk the ten or so blocks to downtown or take taxis to other areas or hop on a bus. Buses are difficult unless you know where they go.
Have you ever fantasized about living in the lakeside area before it became popular with the expats? When it was just a small town? I have and sometimes I have wished I could go back in time for just a day to see it as it was then. Well, I took the bus to San Nicolas yesterday and it looked very much like the photos of Ajijic many years ago. It isn’t too late! It is just a short walk to the water from the bus stop in San Nicolas. I went with my friend Tammy and this is what we saw. I hope you enjoy these photos as much as I enjoyed taking them.
The local church can be seen from the lake in San Nicolas. There are corn fields all around the road that goes to the lake and the views are beautiful from there. (more…)
Before I moved to Mexico I had the idea that I would settle near the smaller lake instead of Lake Chapala. I figured it would be less crowded than the popular Chapala area and less expensive. But I have lived here for eight years and never bothered to even visit it until this last weekend. I had forgotten my previous plan of settling there. (Life was too good at the Lake Chapala area.) It was not a bad plan if I could have spoken Spanish enough to have had a social life. My friend and I were there all afternoon and we didn’t see any other expats. That would make life hard on a day to day basis. But it is a lovely area.
Lake Cajititlan is only nine kilometers long and two kilometers wide. There are interesting areas all around the lake, enough for many more day trips. The area is about half way between Chapala and Guadalajara. (more…)
This parade must be one of the the most liked by the Mexican children. It is their parade and they get to play the rebels, similar to the children in the United States who enjoy playing Cowboys and Indians. This first group of boys dressed like rebels, was an inspiration to the crowd. They showed so much enthusiasm! What fun!
The girls came along after the boys. Some of them had their baby dolls strapped on with their rebosos. Some were carrying baskets of pretend food. (more…)
The thirteenth annual Feria Maestros del Arte was held at the Chapala Yacht Club on November 14th, 15th, and 16th. It was from ten a.m. to five p.m. (Ten to four on Sunday) and the entrance fee was just fifty pesos. I went the first two days and had a wonderful time. There were many beautiful crafts from all over Mexico. I could only afford two small bowls. But for people who wanted to buy some of the more interesting things, there was a free van parked out front that would take them to the ATM machine in town and back again.
I picked up a map on my way in and saw that there were 74 tables. Some of the tables were co operatives of many different crafts people. Everything was professionally arranged and all the vendors were friendly and happy to pose for me. (more…)
I was a bit disappointed in the Catrina dolls this year, both in Ajijic and Chapala. You can form your own opinion after reading this article and referring back to the one I wrote last year on the same subject. The main problem–not as many as there were last year. In Chapala last year the dolls were all along the main malecon. This year, they did not start until the end of the malecon and then over to the newer area. In Ajijic, they were not on the malecon at all. There were just a few and they were located around the bandstand in the plaza. I still enjoyed them and I am going to repeat a little bit of information about the origins of them that I put on the article last year. Just in case you don’t want to go back to that article.
The Catrina, also spelled Katrina, Doll was first created by an artist. His name was Jose Guadalupe Posada and he is known as the father of Mexican Modern Art. He called them La Calaca which was later changed to la Catrina. The first doll was an etching of a skeleton, Lady Posada he called it. It was also called La Calavera Gabancara which means Dapper Skeleton or Elegant Skull. It represented the indigenous people who did not want to admit their humble origins. They were pretending to be European. Their skull faces were painted white, which also represented death. This image took off and now it is seen all over the world and the accepted symbol of the Day of the Dead. (more…)
The Day of the Dead is one of the most popular holidays in Mexico. It celebrates the great circle of life–the passing of some and the birth of others. The dead are always remembered and kept alive in spirit in the hearts of Mexicans. Altars are put up on November 1st and 2nd. Sometimes these have been started weeks in advance and Mexicans put lots of thought and money into creating these altars. They are created to bring back their dead loved ones for a once a year special visit. People also buy flowers and wreaths and put them on the graves of their loved ones and they visit the graves during this time; play music, dance, eat and sing. Catrina Dolls are also an integral part of the Day of the Dead celebrations but I will go into them in the Catrina article.
Every year in Chapala a street is closed off so people can put up their altars. Mostly, they are done by the young people. They have fun visiting with each other and being creative. This year it was held close to the malecon. I went on Sunday the 2nd to see them and most of them were not finished yet. Yet, I could see all the work that was going into making each one special and memorable. (more…)
Have you ever thought of having your own TTW dance? TTW stands for Thrill the World. It is easy. Apply through their website. Thrilltheworld.com. Fill out the forms. Pay the 25 dollar registration fee. Get a bunch of people together to practice the dance. Dress everyone up as Zombies and have the dance. Collect money for your favorite charity. This Michael Jackson TTW concept started in 2006. At that time the world record was set at 62 people. Since then it has expanded to countries all over the world. Last year 6,451 Zombies danced at 134 events in 6 continents. An estimated 68,000 dollars was raised, plus food and clothing.
The biggest zombie dances were in Redmond, WA with 256 people. Istanbul, Turkey with 221 people and Eugene, OR. with 213 people. Besides raising money for charity, the goal is to break the world’s record for the biggest event. Don’t think Ajijic will break that record. It was smaller this year than last year but it was still a lot of fun. Some of these women zombies still manage to make themselves beautiful. Now how do they do that? (more…)