John and Bill were busy blowing up the raft so they could go float around the lake for a while.
I looked out the window and saw Paul and Gil heading back to the motorhome. As I open the door to call to them I smelled something awful - putrid even. The closer they get the worse the smell. It was dreadful.
I stood in the door, blocking their entrance. “You STINK. What have you been doing? What’s that all over you? Don’t you even think about coming in here.” I exclaimed.  By now I was out side closing the door. I'm holding my nose and trying not to breath the smell was so bad.

“It was neat Mom,” answered Paul. “After we fished we got to help Raul sort his fish from yesterday.”
This close I could see that their clothes and hands were dirty and slimy. I'm afraid to ask but I do, “What do you mean 'sort fish?"
Grinning, Paul answered, “You know, take out the squishy ones and just keep the ones that were hard and dry. And then we turn them all over and then we got to spread today’s fish out too.”
“Paul was throwing the smelly ones at me, but Raul made him stop,” piped up Gil who, if possible, reeked worse then Paul. Even his hair was sticky and standing up in spikes. “He says we can help again tomorrow.”
I threatened them with their lives if they set one foot inside. “Get over to the showers, now. I’ll bring you clean clothes. Go on, get.”
Several showers and lots of pink skin later I finally let them in. Their clothes had to be thrown out. Burned or buried comes to mind. John Mc and Randy were laughing and didn't seem to mind the stink; I think they managed to drink some of that beer.
Every year Raul’s son came down to Chapala to help his father fish during the season of whitefish. In real life he was an accountant who lived in LA.  While in Chapala he shared a battered old cabin cruiser with his father. The cruiser was “docked” 40 feet from the water next to the campground. On their  “patio” were a big color TV, some easy chairs and a BBQ grill. A gigantic TV antenna was attached to the roof of the cruiser.

After everyone was cleaned up we wandered over to see what was happening. Raul was cooking some bright red chilies on a big curved metal pan over a grill. The fumes floating through the air made my eyes water. Do people really eat these things?  Curious, I went closer to watch. Making sure I stayed upwind of the fumes. How could Gil stand so close? Raul added chopped tomatoes and some of the white fish and wrapped it all in fresh tortillas. John Mc and Bill joined the old man and his city son for fish and chili tacos. UGH. The rest of us ate Corn Flakes.
The wind moaning through the tree woke us up early the next day. Or maybe it was the crowing of the rosters. They were better than an alarm clock. Actually, the rosters crowed all day, maybe it just seemed louder when they were looking in the door and it was only 6:15. After breakfast before anyone could sneak out to sort fish we decided to take a ride around the lake. We admired the big homes and wondered about the old shacks mixed in among them.
There was a good market in town. We found Sugar Pops and Sugar Smacks. The names and boxes were a little different, but the cereal was the same. Milk and cold cuts were plentiful. Bill wanted to know how many grams of salami I wanted? Good question. I pretended I didn't hear and let him figure it out. At least I could buy bread. Just point and pick. It was freshly baked and wonderful. We all had learned to love churros, kind of a long skinny fried donut type of thing that is covered with sugar and sometimes stuffed with dulce de leche (a caramel sauce).  Especially when they were warm.

After we got back to camp Raul asked if Bill and the kids would like to go out on the lake with him in his rowboat. Because of the wind the water was too rough for fishing. His nets were hanging in the trees drying. Bill and the older boys took off their shoes and walked over with Raul to his old wooden rowboat. The boat probably used to be white and green; at that time it was gray weathered wood with a little green paint still on the rail. It was sitting upside down on a couple of wooden sawhorses. They carried it to the water's edge and set it into the water. One by one they carefully climbed in and took up the oars and started to row out towards the middle of the lake. I pulled a chair up to the edge of the water, dangled my toes and read. When I looked up again the rail of the boat seemed to be closer to the water. There wasn't as much boat showing as there was before. I shaded my eyes with my hand and took a longer look. Why were they all moving around so much? Why was everyone taking their shirts off?  Good grief, they're using them to stuff the cracks in the boat in a futile attempt to stop it from taking on water. Now two were bent over stuffing and two were rowing as fast as they could back towards shore. When the boat finally went completely under they were almost to shore where the water was only a couple of feet deep. They stood up, stepped out of the sunken boat, reached under water and tipped the boat over to right it. Then here they came dragging the boat behind them.  It went back on its sawhorses. To quote Bill, “The damn boat had more holes than boat!”

I caught Paul just before he started to help “sort the fish” again. We couldn't keep throwing away clothes. And this is the kid who complains that his brother's feet stink if he takes his shoes off.
After three unique though pleasant days it was time to leave Chapala. Instead of going back the way we came we drove around the bottom of the lake and followed smaller back roads for a while. Some of these were as good as if not better than the main highway. There were a lot of farms and more small towns with very narrow streets.
We stopped to get gas right across from a pretty plaza in La Barca.  All of the benches in it were made of ceramic tile, yellow, blue and a rust color with scenes of the town in the center section. They were just beautiful. I wondered if the towns' people even noticed them any more.
Through this town as with most of the villages and small towns there was only one paved road. That made it a challenging if there was a problem with or on the road. A problem like a very large blue truck stuck in a very large chuckhole. That effectively blocked our passage.  Other pick-ups and cars had tried to go around him and were wedged in tight between the truck, chuckhole and the buildings. So there we were in the middle of nowhere and in a traffic jam!  Bill turned off the engine and we waited for a while but it didn't appear there was much hope for getting the truck unstuck very soon. And no one else was willing to give an inch. No tow truck in sight either. Because of the delay I decide to make some sandwiches for every one for lunch.

My back was to the driver as I started to set out the sandwich makings. I heard a muttered curse. The engine came to life and Bill gunned the motorhome off the road up over the hard dirt bank at the edge of the road and around behind the buildings.  We started moving just as I opened the mustard. It is amazing how fast a jar of mustard can side across a counter and land on the floor. Was the lid off? Of course. Did it land right side up? No. I very calmly explained to Bill that he needed to warn me when he was going to start up. Especially if I am preparing food. He answered me. The woman sweeping her front yard turned to see what the commotion was all about. Future sandwiches would have to be made without mustard until we found a store.  I got out some paper towels and started mopping up. I remind myself this is why we have plastic on the carpet.
By now we were going over land behind the village. (Thank goodness it hadn't rained for a while and the ground was hard.) After much bumping, banging, rattling and grabbing of the bunk bed we made it around the last building and back onto the main road. Behind us the traffic jam was even worse. The rest of that days drive was uneventful, if you ignored the fact that the motorhome now smelled like a sandwich.

A MOTEL, we stayed at the Motel Azteca in Queretaro. This was really a treat for all of us. We ate in the motel dining room and I tried the regional specialty chivo or as we call it, goat. It was pretty good. No one else was adventurous. They stuck to spaghetti that was a rather strange looking orange. It was nice to sleep in a real bed, one with no wheels under it. Too bad Gil was in it with us.
We rolled out of bed early and started for Mexico City our next stop on the Pan American Highway. We had to buy a tire gauge for $220 pesos, how could we have left home without one? Also propane, it was cheaper than the gauge, only cost $48 pesos
We left Guadalajara early Friday morning and drove South to Lake Chapala, only 45 miles away. It was the beginning of Carnival Week so Chapala was getting ready to party. There were decorations strung across the street and hanging on all the buildings. Big flowers and bunting made from bright colored crepe paper and piñatas everywhere. Later there would be parades and dancing.
We stopped in town at the Post Office to call home to let my Mom know we were okay. It was very difficult to make a long distance call in Mexico as only certain telephones were set up to call out of the country. Mom tells us that an offer had been made on the house, but quite a bit below what we wanted for it. We told her to accept it. We didn't have much choice. Also she told us, some jerk went in and stole the furniture we left for Joe and someone stole the fish from the Koi pond. Ah, California. I tried to convince her not to be upset; it was less for her to worry about.

Chapala had a big American retirement community. Their big beautiful homes surrounded by tall, stately palm trees and flowers of every color and type bordered the lake. They were a startling contrast to the homes lived in by the less afluent townspeople. Most of them were little more than lean-tos, made out of corrugated tin with palm frond roofs. 
Red, magenta and orange bougainvillea grew wild everywhere. Water hyacinths crowded together along the shore of the lake. Immense trees growning up out of the lake water had strings of moss hanging from their gnarled branches. An eerie scene.

We found a small l0-space trailer park 1-½ miles out of town right on the lake. It had plenty of shade trees, electricity of sorts (an extension cord run from a post), bathrooms and clean water. With everything that was packed on the roof, the motorhome was too tall to fit under the trees that sheltered the campsite.
"No Problem. Cut them, whatever you need, " said Raul, the owner, as he pointed up and handed Randy a machete. Randy climbed on top of the motorhome and chopped off enough branches for us to fit underneath.
After settling in we wandered down to the lakeshore to watch Raul. He was fishing for Cornalitos tiny (about 2 to 3 inches) fish in the lake. They’re a delicacy and in demand by the restaurants in town. To catch the fish he stood on the shoreline holding a big round net. He casted the net into the water, and then wearing shorts, tee shirt and a big straw hat he waded out into the lake and pulled the net in by twisting it towards him. Back to the shore and the fish that were caught in the net were emptied into a basket. This was carried to a clearing next to the campground where the fish were spread out on a concrete slab to dry. Paul was enthralled. In fact he and Gil found the process so interesting they wanted to help. For a while they worked with the net casting it out and gathering it back in. Not many fish were caught. This seemed harmless enough. They were busy and happy and I got a chance to relax.
Back at the motorhome Randy and John Mc were sampling the rest of the beer to see if it tasted okay. As they opened the bottles the beer inside frothed up and ran down the front of them. They weren't getting much into their mouths. What they did drink must not have tasted too good judging by the way they screwed up their faces with each sip.
Lake Chapala

Lake Chapala

Motorhome in campground chapala

Motorhome in campground chapala

Catching white fish

Catching white fish

Paul looking at the fish

Paul looking at the fish

Cooking the white fish

Cooking the white fish

Sorting White Fish at Lake Chapala, Mexico