Chapala, Jalisco, Mexico

Photo Essay Chapala

Chapala, Jalisco is eleven kilometers (7 miles) from Ajijic, an easy taxi ride or bus trip. To take a taxi it was 50 pesos, to take the bus it was 10. I usually took whatever came first. But the bus rides could be quite an adventure. They were always crowded and some times if you got a local they got off into the neighborhoods and the traversed the narrow cobblestone streets.

Chapala is a pretty little town a little larger than Ajijic and is a bit nicer. A lot of of tourists come down to visit from Guadalajara which is about 50 KM away. It is nestled between the mountains on one side and Lake Chapala on the other.

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The Fishermen of Chapala

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On the Malecon

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Parish of San Francisco

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Parish of San Francisco Interior

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The Fisherman of Chapala

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I am the way and the light

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Meat Market

 

Travel Light, Move Fast

This is the title of Alexandra Fuller’s latest book and my new motto.

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I just received this book in the mail after a long waiting period. It didn’t come from the Amazon Warehouse right around the corner where most books come from. Oh, no, no, no. This book came from a book depository in Jolly Olde England and it took it’s sweet time about arriving here. Some weeks in fact. Well, it was much anticipated and I am sure it will be much loved. I had pre-ordered it as soon as it was available. Not to worry, I am sure I will enjoy it all the more .

This will be the fourth book I have read by Fuller. The first three: Cocktail Hour Under Tree of Forgetfulness, Don’t Let’s go to the Dogs Tonight, and Leaving Before the Rains Come. She is a terrific writer and I can’t wait to get started on this book.

Alexandra was born in England and raised in Africa where she lived until she was in her twenties. She then moved to Wyoming. Her stories of growing up in Africa with her eccentric family are fascinating and endlessly entertaining told by a gifted story teller.

Review to follow.

Day 16 – Ajijic, Jalisco, Mexico

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The last full day I was in Ajijic I climbed this mountain

Jan. 4, 2020. Last full day in Ajijic. My plan was to tackle the mountain and climb up to the shrine. But first breakfast at Scallions with Buddha and the boys.

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As I made my way up Calle J. Encarnacion Rosas on the way to the trail head I stopped at a little shop to pick up a liter of water. It was chilly that morning so I wore a jacket and a sweat shirt. But soon as the day wore on it got warmer and I had to peel some of those layers off. Of course I wore a hat to protect myself from the glare of the sun.

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I found the trail head and headed up the mountain to the Shrine of La Crucita. On the way there are many smaller shrines bearing crosses which represent the 14 stations of the cross symbolizing Christ’s journey on the way to his crucifixion.

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There it is. The trail head.

I had to sit and rest several times on the way up. Coming down was much faster but not any easier. I had to pick my way in order not to fall and there was a lot of stress on my knees and hips. And hips don’t lie!

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I took a lot of pictures on the way up to the the shrine and once there there was quite a good view of the town and the lake from my vantage point.

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Once I got back down off the mountain I stopped at Min Wah’s for lunch. I had the Moo Goo Gai Pan,  hot and sour soup, and a Kirin beer. Very refreshing.

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Once I got back to my place, I was one tired unit, but better off for the experience.

 

 

 

All photos by me.

 

Comments welcome:

 

Top 10 Books Read 2019

I only read 17 books in 2019. Short of my goal, but most of what I read was challenging and on the longish side. I vow to read more this year. My goal is 36. I’ve already read four, so I am on track.

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Here are my top 10 books for 2019:

  1. Look Homeward Angel – Thomas Wolfe
  2. The Big Sleep (Annotated) – Raymond Chandler
  3. The Clown – Heinrich Boll
  4. Ulysses – James Joyce
  5. Love in the Time of Cholera – Gabriel García Márquez
  6. Beloved – Toni Morrison
  7. Cities of the Plain – Cormac McCarthy
  8. Dream of Fair to Middling Women – Samuel Beckett
  9. Quichotte – Salman Rushdie
  10. Will in the World – Stephen Greenblatt

Some of these books I have been wanting to read all my life but never got around to, like Look Homeward Angel, which inspired a trip to Aheville NC,and Ulysses which was I must say the most challenging of all. Love in Time of Cholera was a pure pleasure to read. Beloved was Toni Morrison’s masterpiece. So sad we lost her last year. Cities of the Plain completed the Border Trilogy. I try to read at least one Cormac McCarthy book each year. Terrific writer! Quichotte by Salman Rushdie was was a pleasant surprise. First one of his I’ve read in a while. I remember reading Satanic Verses when it first came out and created such a stir. The Big Sleep was pure pleasure. If you have never read anything  Heinrich  Boll, I highly recommend him to you. One of my favorites for a long time. The Clown is a good one! Dream of Fair to Middling Women was Samuel Beckett’s first novel and was not published during his lifetime. It is very instructive to read it and see some of the characters and themes introduced early on that we see later in more mature works.  Highly entertaining. And, finally, Will in the World. I learned so much about William Shakespeare and Elizabethan England reading this book. 

 

 

 

Ajijic Day 14 and 15

Jan 2, 2020 Thursday 10:05 am. Cold and rainy. Rained all night and into the morning. Sound of the rain like gravel on an old tin roof.  Had breakfast with Buddha at Gosha’s. Scrambled eggs, black beans, toast, fruit, and coffee.  Walked home in the rain. Went out later with Buddha to a bar near the Malecon called the Traditional. Had a Corona and listened to some music. Later we walked up to the square and sat on a bench and watched the people walk by. It was a little cold so we walked back home. I finished reading my Raymond Chandler book and watched a movie on my tablet. Went to bed at 11:00 pm and up at 6:00 am, dreams of Anna filling my head.

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January 3, 2020. Meeting Linda Schaefer in Chapala. Linda is a person who I have been Facebook friends with for over 10 years, but whom I’ve never met in person. By sheer coincidence I learned she was traveling to Mexico and staying with friends in Guadalajara. We decided to meet up in Chapala.

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Me and Linda Schaefer

There have been many coincidences surrounding my friendship with Linda. She is friends of friends on Facebook: Firoze Shakir of India, Anthony and Crystal Posey of New Orleans, who are originally from Kentucky. Linda lives in Ada, Oklahoma where I used to live at one time. Oh, the irony abounds.

Linda is a renowned photographer, a published author, and a subject matter expert on Mother Teresa, who she knew personally. I was excited to meet her for the first time in person for sure.

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I took the bus to Chapala and we met at a restaurant on the Malecon.

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Lake Chapala

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Tulasi Zimmer

 

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I had a wonderful afternoon with Linda and her friends. It was a beautiful day, lots of sunshine and warmth. I took a lot of pictures. I stayed until after nightfall, but hurried back to Ajijic because I wanted to say goodbye to Anna at La Tia and I knew she got off work at 8:00. This was the last chance I had to see her before I left town. I made it just in time.

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Ajijic Day 12 & 13

Wednesday. First day of the new year. Had the breakfast buffet at Scallions with Buddha. All you can eat for 130 pesos. Great deal and the food was delicious! Buddha was feeling kind of rough this morning so he left early. On the other hand, I felt pretty good! My room was cleaned while I was away. Doing a little reading and catching up on my writing.

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Last night we celebrated New Year’s Eve at Perry’s Pizza. He had a party that was tickets only. All you can eat, music, drinks and dancing. My date, Anna, showed up right at 8:15 as promised.  She is a gorgeous Mexican girl I met at La Tia Bar. Has a great personality and a killer smile. And boy can she dance! We were going to El Bar CO. after we left Perry’s. Anna needed to be with her family so we dropped her off at her grandfather’s place on the way. I was trying to decide whether to have another drink at Perry’s or wait until I got to El Bar Co. Anna said, “You are here now, have a drink here. What’s the problem?” I said, “You’re right! No problem! I like how you think!” So, I had another drink there before we left. It didn’t take much to convince me.

We Ubered down to El Bar Co. We had to pay a cover to get in plus buy a drink.  It was a couple hundred pesos all together. I had a Jack and soda and Buddha had a glass of Port wine. I ain’t kidding ya. He loves that shit! We sat and listened to the band for a while. They were very good. A large sound with two horns.

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Buddha didn’t want to stay. He was getting bored again, so he left. I stayed until midnight because on New Year’s Eve that is sort of the point, isn’t it? At the stroke of midnight everyone hugged and shook hands, It was nice! I walked home in the darkness. When I got to my street I noticed a fire burning in the street next door to my hacienda. That is how they celebrate New Year’s Eve in Ajijic. That and fire crackers which went on all night.

 

 

Ajijic Day 9 &10

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“Down these mean streets a man must go who is not himself mean, who is neither tarnished nor afraid.”

-Raymond Chandler,  The Fine Art of Murder

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Lunch at the Lake Chapala Lake Society. Had the empandas and a Corona. The Lake Chapala Society is one of the world’ largest expat societies, helping expats from all over the world to integrate into the Mexican Community Lakeside. It is located in the beautiful gardens in the midst if Ajijic. The Lake Chapala Society  offers a variety of cultural, humanitarian and wellness programs. I returned this beautiful spot over and over again during my stay in Ajijic.

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Lotus Flower

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Koi Pond at Lake Chapala Society

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Lush Gardens at the Lake Chapala Society

Dinner at El Torito. New place that just opened up. Had the Steak Tacos and a glass of red wine.  Had a night cap next door at El Bar Co. Jim Beam and soda. Not every place had whiskey, but El Bar Co. did. The next day (Sunday) had breakfast with the Breakfast club a Dona’s.  Open Mic tonight at Perry’s Pizza.

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The Umbrella Academy at Perry’s Pizza

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Open Mic at Perry’s Pizza

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Buddha signed up to do a couple of songs

Buddha signed up to do a couple of songs. We were there til six. Got a ride home from the keyboard player. I was walking  back to my place from the drop off point in the growing twilight. As I was walking I was approached by a cute little Mexican girl who looked to be about 19. She had just left a little neighborhood grocery and was carrying a small bag.  She had multiple  tattoos, and was wearing a crop top top, ragged cutoffs, and lots of chains and bracelets.  She started speaking to me rapidly in Spanish but I didn’t understand her. “No habla Espanol.” I said.

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We stopped in a darkened doorway and she got very close to me and said very slowly, as she pointed her finger first at me then back at herself, “You give me 20 pesos for the food.” I said, ” I don’t have 20 pesos.” She smiled and said OK and continued to walk down the street, her hips swaying as she navigated the cobblestones. I walked back to my place which was about a block away.  I couldn’t help but think of all the possibilities fate had just thrown my way. If she would take 20 pesos for the food, what would she do for 100 pesos? At another time in my life I might have decided to find out. Tonight, however, I let discretion be the better part of valor. But, it was a while before I stopped thinking about her and finally drifted off to sleep.

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Ajijic, Jalisco, Mexico Day 8

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Breakfast at Emilia”s

Friday. Breakfast at Emilia’s. Had the Linda Omelette. I just love the way they serve black beans instead of potatoes. I’m reading Hemingway’s Nick Adams stories. I always bring Hemingway with me when I travel. He writes the kind of stories I like to read and the kind of stories I like to write. If you want to learn how to write read Hemingway.

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On the Malecon

Walked with Buddha to the Malecon. He played his guitar. A couple of Mexican boys kept coming up to us on their bicycles to listen to him play. Then they would ride off again making big circles and come back again and stare at Buddha with a hangdog look as if to say, “What are you doin’ here, man?”

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Living room of the Airbnb where I stayed hosted by Luis and Norma

Norma’s husband died today. She works for my host, Luis. It is very sad. Norma is a fine woman and a hard worker. Now her life will change dramatically. It is a sad reminder that tragedy can strike anywhere and anytime. Life can come to an abrupt end without warning.

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The Victoria Hotel

Later in the day I went to a Happy Hour with Buddha at the Victoria Hotel. All they served was beer and Margaritas. I had had my fill of beer already and I didn’t want a  margarita. The bartender, a young ginger in a red t-shirt, tried to fix me a martini. It was awful. It was undrinkable. So, I sent it back. I drank nothing right then, but socialized a bit with the crowd at our table. There were a couple of parties going on tonight but I passed on both. Instead I walked back to the Malecon and took some pictures of the sunset.

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Sunset on the Malecon

Later, I was walking back to my place and I stopped in a little bar called La Tia. It had a Mexican flag and an American flag draped either side of the entrance. Music was pouring out so I hustled there inside.

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There was a gentleman sitting on a bar stool in the middle of the bar. There was a couple sitting at a table towards the back. I went in and sat a couple stools down from the guy at the bar.

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Anna: “Do you want to play a game Benn?”

A cute little Mexican bartender flashed me her pearly whites. “What would you like to drink?” She asked in perfect English.

“I’ll have a Corona.”

She got me my beer and set down in front of me and went back to her perch. She was talking to the other guy but he turned to me and included me in the conversation. Turns out he was from Oregon and was meeting his girlfriend later. He was drinking beer and had a shot of tequila sitting beside his bottle of beer.

We all got acquainted and had a nice conversation. The girl’s name was Anna and I was becoming quite taken with her. I snapped a few surreptitious pictures of her.

“Do you want to play a game, Benn?” she asked.

“Sure. What is it?”

“It’s called 21. You roll the dice. There are three winners. One who calls the shot. One who pays, and one who drinks the shot. Do you want to play”?

“Sure, let’s play.”

So we each took a turn in rolling six or seven dice out onto the bar from a leather cup. Each time Anna counted the tops of the dice. I won the  first roll so I called the shot.

“What shot do you want?” she asked pointing to the bottles of tequila behind the bar.

“What are you drinking?”

She pointed to a bottle.

“OK. That’s the one I want.”

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Interior of La Tia

She poured out a shot and set it on the bar in front of us. We rolled some more. First the guy from Oregon, then Anna. At the end of the game the Oregon guy drank and paid for the shot I called. We all laughed and he left. So now I had Anna all to myself. We talked a little more and I told her about a New Year’s Eve Party I was going to at Perry’s Pizza. She said she had been there before and that the food was good. I asked if she had plans for New Year’s Eve. She said no. I asked If she would like to come with me to the party as my guest. She said she would.  Hallelujah! Now we are talking! So we exchanged telephone numbers and became friends on Facebook so we could use messenger and sure enough she showed up at the party and we had a great time!

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She’s a beautiful girl and I went back to bar several more times to see her.

 

 

Ajijic Day 5 & 6

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day

Christmas Eve morning had breakfast in the Square with some of the boys. Bought a pocket knife for 60 pesos, which I’ll have to leave here. About three dollars USD. Walked back to the place to rest up, read, write, work on pictures, Facebook etc.

Went to the party at Kevin’s. Later that night people were exploding fire crackers all night long. Didn’t stop until 4 am.

Christmas morning had breakfast with Buddha at Scallions. Dinner party at Bruce’s at 4:00. In between I walked the streets.

Casablanca Hotel and Bogart’s Bar

I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas

Parallel Existence

On the street in Ajijic

Our Lady of Guadalupe

My Christmas Tree

My living room

Buddha at the Christmas Party.

Is he thinking, “Shall I kill something or go to an open mic? Which of these two things should I do?”

There was a woodcutting operation on one side of me. All day long cutting wood with a power saw.

There were fires in the street and fireworks all night long to celebrate Christmas.

Ajijic Day 5

Garden Party

I went to a garden party at Kevin’s. All the best people were there, including a past trade minister from Canada. I started off with a shot of tequila and a beer chaser. Moved on to eggnog which was heavy with rum, then finished off with a couple of glasses of Merlot.

“Doesn’t all that mixing bother you?” asked Alain?

“Never mix never worry,” I quoted Honey from Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf.

“Oh! I remember that movie!” Gushed Alain.

“Well, so far so good,” I said.