Another Visit to Lake Chapala and Ajijic in our Motorhome.
Moving On 1
Spending another Winter in wonderful Mexico
Follow along with our adventures in Jennie the RV and Willie the Jeep
Things we've done and places we've been on this trip - Mexico 2009
We left Guadalajara around 10:15 and took the Periferico Sur across the city then the road to Chapala. Shorter and easier than going through Jocotepec with its narrow streets and all its topes. The trip took a little over an hour and we arrived at Hugo’s campground. There was one big rig there right in the middle where we parked three years ago. This year Hugo says there is 30amp electric and the plug is in a solid post with breakers instead of wires coming up out of the ground like last time we were here. For an account of that adventure click here I think there are some “before” pictures of the campground too. The big motorhome left a couple of days after we got there. It took quite a while and lots of maneuvering with lots of people giving the poor guy directions to get it off the grass and on to the driveway.
But they are gone now.
There are a lot of changes here, but some things stay the same. The electricity is really 30amps. The pipes sticking up out of the ground that we thought were for the sewer turned out to be “pipes sticking up out of the ground” - connected to nothing. Between the day we drove down here in the car and talked to Hugo and the day we got here in Jennie Hugo had his workers dig a “septic tank/hole” about 30’ away from where we parked. Then he had them lay a long 4” PVC pipe to a couple feet from us. It is on an angle down towards the hole. But not a very steep angle…. Not every one has a sewer connection dug and set up just for them. Will it work?
The first night there we discovered that the city turns off the towns electric water pump at night. This doesn’t bother the houses as their water is on their roofs in tanks - but we end up with no water pressure - have to turn on our water pump - so we have to remember that before we turn in for the night.
The campground is really with lots of attractive plants - banana trees, papaya and peach trees, of course palms and lots of flowers and sculptures. It all over looks the lake. The gate into the place is on a remote so no one can come in. We have the company of several hens and chicks - but no rooster - One of the hens has lost all her tail feathers to the owner’s puppy - hen seems fine - just looks funny and there are feathers all over the yard. Lots of pretty birds. One with a bright yellow breast and another little red one. And of course the garzas and some white pelicans. Very tranquil.
Hugo’s house, another completed house (that is for rent) and yet another house being built are also in the campground area. They are up along the street. When we were here three years ago he was working on both his house and the rented one. The new one was just a gate house then.
There are people living below the campground wall - between it and the lake - they are called “paracaidistas” translated as paratroopers - ‘cause where ever they land they stay. Basically what we call squatters. The woman washes the dishes in a big galvanized tub - later she did her laundry in the same tub. Don’t know where they get their water - hopefully from a hose and not the lake.
The man of the house goes out on the lake fishing either in his dilapidated boat or walks into the water and uses a net. Sometimes there is a big brown cow with a limp wandering around down there.
One of the reasons we went to Ajijic was my cousin Jeff lives there and we wanted to visit with him some. We only managed to catch up with him a few times ‘cause he is so busy. Two nights a week he teaches an English class. He is taking part in a play and is going to rehearsals during the week. He goes to Karaoke on Monday nights. This past weekend he was directing traffic both days for the annual Chili Cook Off. He also belongs to a Culinary Club and has old movie night one night a week for his friends. Busy, busy guy. And I think I’ve left a couple of things out. I have to mention that Ajijic has a very big Norteamericano population. Canadians and people from the US have retired here due to the good climate and inexpensive living.
You hear mostly English spoken here. The exception is houses are pretty expensive. Nice ones seem to range from at least US$250,000 and over. There are plenty of doctors, dentists and vets here. All speak English. There is a new Wal*Mart since we were here three years ago. Cable and satellite TV is available with all US major channels.
The streets are very narrow - parking on one side and just barely enough room for a car to go by. When we park The Driver pulls the roadside mirror in - just in case.
The plaza has the requisite gazebo and a very old small church. There are a number of wood carvings in this area. And an art gallery with a magnificent mural inside. Unfortunately it is in a very narrow hallway and I can’t get decent pictures of it. It is about the legend of the lake and the area. About a block away there is another bigger church - it was started in 1821 and has been added to a number of times.
The RV Park in Ajijic
One of the attractions of the town is that there are lots of art/craft galleries here. Lots of clothing stores and stores that sell handicrafts from all over Mexico. From something as simple as a corn husk doll paddling a carved wooden boat to furniture and beautiful works of art. Lots of things to look at and buy for the tourists and the Norteamericanos who live here. There are also many restaurants there. One we went to was called Tango - it has excellent Argentine food.
Down by the lake is a pier with a restaurant at the end. And a Malecón you can take strolls on. In the road in front of the water behind a multicolored display of blankets a woman sat on a piece of cardboard on the ground weaving material. Her loom tied around her waist and the other end to a big old tree.
Many of the buildings have murals on them. Some whimsical, some depicting the history of the area. Others just pretty and interesting. A few of the light posts are painted all different designs and themes and several of the street signs are tiles. Never know what we’ll see as we walk down the street or turn a corner.
We drove a couple of miles to the town of Chapala to walk around the Malecón one nice morning.
The lake is pretty clean now. No more acres of water plants along the shore. And all the dead trees that were in it 32 years ago are gone. There is a new little “island” built just off shore with a big statue on it. Couldn’t find out who it is - but the birds sure seem to like it. From the Malecón leading to the pier are new iron gates with a copper fish motif on them. In front of the Malecón is a small park with an interesting fountain sculpture of four fishermen bringing a big net out of the water. Throughout the area were power poles for the night lights. Even now it doesn't seem like electricity is a big safety issue here.
More pictures from Ajijic Click here
We had lunch at a restaurant we ate in three years ago. From it we could see that the marina at the yacht club. It is actually a marina now, with three sail boats docked there, and it is not filled with floating plants as it was three years ago. But the breakwater seems a little in need of some repair. Near the outer end of it is a big hole that you can see through. We saw a snake swimming through the water - the ducks chasing him. Lots of black small ducks, white pelicans and the elegant garzas. They just ignore everything going on around them. Bill was feeding the ducks pieces of tortilla and they showed us a whole new meaning of "walking on water."
After we finished eating the vendors along the Malecón were all getting ready for the day’s business. When they first got there there was trash all over (from the day before) but by the time we walked through it was completely clean. It’s also a really great place for people watching. From the very young to the old - from the fancy dressed to the worn out clothes we saw it all there that day.
Suddenly there were what sounded like cannon shots. BAM, BAM, BAM - (didn’t count them that time but found out later there were 31.) They were fireworks, not the pretty kind, just the loud kind. While we were walking around there were three sets of them. And while they were going off the church bells were ringing too. It was March 1st and the bangs were offered to Providence to ask for good times for the month - 31 days. And they were coming from the church. If they didn’t get Providences attention they sure should have. We about jumped out of our shoes. To listen to what we heard Click Here
Leaving that area by car is always a challenge - at one place four lanes of traffic all coming from different directions has to merge into one lane heading towards the center of town. It’s basically a case of who is bigger - or - who has the most guts to cut in. I just close my eyes and hang on. At the main corner with the road leading back to Ajijic there is a police man who stands with the button to control the lights and a couple more that stand in the street directing. Still there is a lot of horn blowing and nosing in.
On the road to Ajijic there is a new mural - again outstanding work - and again about the history of the area.
There have been a lot of changes since we were here 32 years ago and it was just a sleepy little town.
There is lots of clothing for sale. And lots of food places. Fruit cut up in plastic cups, lots of candy and sweets and even hot food prepare on a Coleman stove right there in the vendors stall. The hot food place also sold beer. One guy who said he was from Chicago and wishes he was there now tried to talk us into eating some of the little dried white fish from the lake. They were either deep fried or just dried and still. No thanks. Also stands selling drinks with liquor in them. Even ice cream stands with the ice cream in metal containers set in baskets with dry ice around them. There are even public bathrooms available. Three Pesos to use one, two more Pesos for paper. Didn't check them out.
What always stops me though are the older women who sit on the ground and weave beautiful material with intricate designs in it. There were two of them the day we were there. One had her bare feet straight out in front of her covered with some cloth. The other lady was sitting on her feet. They both were sitting on a couple pieces of cardboard covered with blankets. The looms are tied around their waists on one end and around whatever is handy on the other - in this case poles holding up tarps. Another younger lady was setting up her loom as we left.
Chapala pictures Click here
Ajijic Buildings and Art Click Here