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…)
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…)
Every year the Globo Event happens the weekend before the 16th of September Revolution Day festivities. It is the kickoff for an entire week of celebrations. These Globos are made out of very thin, slick and light paper. They are fragile and will burn or tear easily. Many of them do not make it into the air. Especially the larger ones because they bend down in the wind and then the fire below them burns them up. I put the ones made for Access Lake Chapala first since these are ours.
Most of the larger globos have advertisements on them and they were made by professionals. Sometimes they go up and sometimes they don’t but even if they burn up on the way, the advertisers still think they are a good investment. The ones that burn up get a lot of attention from the onlookers. The entire crowd moans at once. It is a lot of fun. (more…)
The festivities during the week before Revolution Day include many things in the Ajijic Plaza. Almost every evening something is going on. One of my favorite events is the Reboso Parade. It took place this year on Sept. 15th. It is a special time for the young girls and older women to shine. Rebosos are shawls and the Mexican women take great pride in their shawls. They have a parade around the plaza wearing their finest.
The plaza is very crowded for this event. In the photo below you can see a small part of the parade. The two women in front are carrying a large bread. I do not know the significance of that bread. Many of the women are also carrying fresh flowers and umbrellas. (more…)
I took a boat ride to Scorpion Island over the weekend. Or as it is called in Spanish, Isla Alacranes. First off, it is not called that because it is filled with Scorpions. It is because from above, it looks like the shape of a scorpion. I had been putting off this trip because we are in the rainy season and there is no telling when a downpour will arrive. Fortunately, there was no rain on Saturday when we took the trip. I went with a family. There were four children and they were a lot of fun. Children see things with fresh eyes and they have so much energy to explore everything.
We waited at the fountain for their father to find us a boat to rent. He thought that if the boatman were to see an Expat in the group, the price would go up. But that wasn’t the case. The boats are all the same price, depending on where you want to go. You rent the entire boat, not individual tickets. If you just want to go out to another area of Chapala, the boat costs 250 pesos. If you want to go to Scorpion Island, the boat costs 350 pesos. It will take up to twelve people at one time. If you had twelve friends, it would be very inexpensive. (250 pesos as of today is 18.95 American dollars. 350 pesos as of today is 26.54 American dollars.) If you are reading this article in the future, please don’t expect the same prices. It will be more expensive. Everything goes up, always. (more…)
Another Can Am Day celebration has rolled around. This is my third year of writing about it. If you are ever in the area at this time of the year, be sure to be part of it. It is always between the Canadian Independence day, July 1st, and the American Independence day, July 4th. This year it was held on July 2nd. It is held at the Lake Chapala Society.
The gate opened for Can Am Day at ten a.m. and closed at five p.m. It was busy all day long. I know, because I was there all day. We had one rain storm but it only lasted about an hour and then the sun came out again. (more…)
This year’s Mardi Gras parade in Ajijic was on Tuesday March 4th. It started around eleven in the morning and went from Constitution to Ocampo to six corners and back to the Plaza. There was also a night parade. This was Fat Tuesday, the last day of the carnival season which always falls the day before Ash Wednesday, the first day of lent. Lent is the beginning of forty days of prayer, fasting and alms giving.
The ten days before the Mardi Gras parade were days of many parties and smaller parades. Every night I could hear the cohetes (fireworks) shooting off in my neighborhood and lots of music in the streets. Some of the previous parades were horse parades with a few men dressed like women in the front, throwing flour on the excited children, mostly boys. It is a bit too rough for the girls because the boys run quickly ahead of the parades to try to outrun the flour. Not likely. Every boy was always covered in flour. Great fun for them. (more…)