The 36th Annual Mexican Chilli Cook-Off was held in Lake Chapala at the Tobolandia Water Park on February 14, 15, and 16th, 2014. I attended on the 15th and there was quite a crowd. I have never been to the Cook-Off when there was not a crowd. It is the biggest social event and fund raiser of the year. If you like great food, beautiful arts and crafts, meeting friends and making new friends, interesting entertainment, sensational photo opportunities, then you will love the Chili Cook-Off. Oh, yes, if you like chili, this is the place to try out the best in Ajijic.
On the second day there was a parade that started at six corners in Ajijic. I took some photos as it was coming into the Tobolandia grounds.
After a long drive from Ajijic Mexico and spending five nights in the first class hotel, the Westin, in Puerto Vallarta, we drove on to San Blas. My friends had invited us to spend a few days at their house. It was an easy drive. What a relief from the first part of our trip. The road was fairly new, no potholes. It was a free road. We drove through beautiful countryside that turned into jungle when we got closer to San Blas. There were mountains in the distance in varying shades of blue. This time, we only stopped to take photos. The car didn’t overheat. There was little traffic on the road.
As we were getting into the jungle and close to San Blas, we saw the Yaka trees. It is also known as Jack Fruit. I bought a small package. We took it as part of a housewarming gift for our friends but I am the only one who ate it. Yaka is something you either love or hate, no in between. The smell is so strong that many airplanes ban it. It mostly grows in the Far East. I ate a lot of it when I was in Thailand. There are many Yaka trees close to San Blas. (more…)
Efren Gonzalez had an art auction at the Ajijic Plaza on Friday, January 3rd, 2014. It was at three thirty exactly. Efren said that he had converted to American time instead of Mexican time and he would be starting all his auctions at the advertised time, on the dot. Since he was a few minutes early, he waited awhile before starting. If you have never been to any of his auctions or talked with him, you will be surprised and delighted to get to know him. He is a very funny man. He puts on no airs. He readily admitted that he knows nothing about being an auctioneer. But his auctions are a delight to attend, even if you have no intention of buying anything. Efren might change your mind.
Efren often has auctions at the Ajijic Plaza. He waits until he gets enough paintings and then puts up signs. At this auction, fifteen artists had donated paintings and sculptures. These are well known artists and also some of his students. The money raised goes to help support the Ballet Folklorico. (more…)
The Ranch Illusion, located off the libramento, had a fund raising fiesta on Saturday Dec. 14th, 2013. It was for the Equine Therapy program. This ranch is also called the Pepe Martinez Equine Therapy Center (CET). Dr Pepe is in charge of the program. The event started at two in the afternoon and lasted until after midnight. I guess people were having too much fun to go home. The entrance fee was only 50 pesos. There were events going on all the time, and sometimes several different things at once. It was a fun day.
I went at four in the afternoon. I left before it got dark but my friend stayed longer. She said around three hundred people showed up at nine in the evening. Even in the parking lot, there were interesting things going on. People were riding their horses all over the grounds, including next to the tables where people were eating. (more…)
The time around the Day of the Dead is filled with interesting things to do and see. I have already written about the big celebration in the Ajijic plaza with the Zombie Thriller dance and parade, pumpkin carving contest and art and craft show. These life sized, actually larger than life sized, Catrina Dolls were also out on the Ajijic and Chapala plazas. They were created by the school children with help from local artists. Most of them were made out of recycled materials. They were a lot of fun to see and photograph. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.
Each Doll had a plaque with the doll’s name, yes they were named, and the school and artists who helped make it. One of the things that I enjoyed most was photographing people as they related to the dolls. Some of the dolls were named after famous people, such as Frida Kahlo. (more…)
Saturday, October 26th, was a big day for Ajijic. There were several things happening in the Ajijic Plaza and the entire area was packed with participants and curious onlookers. The Michael Jackson Thriller Dance was one event. This is a worldwide dance to raise money for different charities. In Ajijic, it is for the Local Red Cross. People dressed in the zombie makeup and costumes were mixed in with the crowds before the dance. The children loved this event.
The women in the photo above were part of the zombie dancers. They were posing for another photographer but I jumped in and took one too. They were too cute to resist. Cute? Maybe that isn’t the right word. (more…)
This year we were lucky. The Globos Celebration came off without rain but as you can see from these photos, the sky was very overcast. The next day it started raining and we have had rain for days now. The gods must have been looking down on us last Saturday to keep the rains at bay for the day. The date was Sept. 14th and the place was the grounds on Revolucion street. In order to save myself a good seat, I arrived almost three hours early. I will have to remember next year. Don’t go before around four thirty in the afternoon. By the time the bigger globos are being put up, I am too tired to stay when I arrive that early. No reason to have a seat in the grandstands anyway. It is better to arrive late and just walk around in the field. You can get much better photos from the field and it is like a giant party out there.
The globos are made out of what is called China Paper. It is extremely thin paper and slick. It is light so there won’t be much weight on the globos as they go up but also it burns quickly. The photo above is the globo commissioned by Accesslakechapala.com. Of course, I wanted to put theirs on at the beginning of this article. Since I left before it went up, I don’t know if it survived the launching. Access paid a group of young people to make this globo for them. Many of the larger ones have the names of their sponsors on them. (more…)
I decided to take some of my favorite photos and write an overview of living in the lakeside area. My first impulse was to put on photos of all the holidays and celebrations. That proved to be too large of a task. I looked online at Mexican Holidays. There were nine major holidays listed and twenty nine ones that are called Observance days and four Season days. I have no idea of how many other days the actually Mexican’s celebrate. It feels like one every week. There always seems to be at least one celebration and several parties going on at once. Don’t come to Mexico to live if you don’t want to experience celebrations, parties and parades.
There are so many parades in the Lakeside area that I can’t even begin to remember them, let alone list where these parade photos came from. I guess it doesn’t make a great deal of difference. They are all beautiful and fun. But if you are at a parade and you get tired, you can just sit down in a quiet place and rest for awhile, like the little girl in the next photo.
Children’s Day was Tuesday April 30th in Mexico. No classes on that day, just games and parties, pinatas and other great things for the children to do. In 1954, the General Assembly of the United Nations recommended that all countries institute a Universal Children’s Day. So this is a huge holiday all over the world, not just in Mexico. Most countries celebrate it on June 1st. The celebration in this article was held on Sunday, April 28th, a few days before the official Children’s day.
The town plans for this holiday for months in advance, collecting money from different organizations and individuals. I talked with a man from the Association of Charros (the Cowboys). He said they were helping out with everything, including donating money. Check out the photo below. They were mixing up the sweet drinks in garbage cans because those were the largest containers they could find. (more…)
Escaramuza in Spanish means skirmish. Another meaning is, “Riding from the heart.” This one took place at the Ajijic bull ring on Sunday, April 7th. 2013. It was an all woman’s horse show. It was a combination of equestrian skills, handcrafted tack, beautiful costumes, music and food. It is a rich heritage of living folk traditions dating back hundreds of years.
Tickets were eighty pesos at the door. I loved watching the little boy helping his father collect the tickets. He was so proud to be of use. (more…)
Mardi Gras is a French word meaning Fat Tuesday. Fat Tuesday refers to eating rich and fatty foods the day before fasting of the Lent Season. Ash Wednesday starts off Lent. Fat Tuesday is sometimes referred to as Shrove Tuesday from the word Shrive. Shrive means “confess” which relates to the Lent season. Fat Tuesday is the last day of Carnival season, a time of parties and letting go of inhibitions before the season of fasting, obligations and confessions of Lent. For sure, people at the Mardi Gras parade in Ajijic yesterday were letting go of their inhibitions and having fun.
Crowds were gathered all along the road, anxiously awaiting the parade. The tradition of wearing masks and costumes, overturning social conventions, dancing, and parades was very much alive at this year’s Fat Tuesday.
The second annual Open Studios Tour was the weekend of February 9th and 10th, 2013, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. It was a benefit for the Artists of the Ajijic Society for the Arts and the Children’s Art Program at the Lake Chapala Society. The locations of the studios were given out in a booklet form along with photos of artwork done by the different artists. Cost was only 50 pesos for two people. The work ranged from textile, jewelery, paintings , photography, weaving, to ceramic sculptures. All high quality work.
A table was set up at Johanna’s Restaurant for the work that was done in the Children’s Art Classes at the Lake Chapala Society. Several other artists also had displays in their garden. Unfortunately, I didn’t get good photos because of the bright sunshine. This is a good place to apologize to all the wonderful artists that I didn’t photograph and put into this article. I only have a limited space to work with and there were over seventy artists and twenty locations. I didn’t have time to get to all of them. So, please forgive me if I didn’t get you in this article.