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June 2009


Feature Article

Ajijic's Pioneer Gran Damas

By Judy King

It takes a spirit of adventure, the ability to adjust and adapt and a certain lack of fear to move to a foreign country—even to Lakeside with all of its north of the border amenities—even today. Think then of what it must have been like to move here in the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s when the villages of lakeside were not served by surfaced roads, when water was carried from communal wells strategically located about town and the trip from Chapala to Ajijic was made by boat.

Even more amazing is that some of Ajijic's most memorable pioneers were women who came alone, or remained here alone long past the deaths of their "men folk."

As you read the stories of these three Lakeside pioneers, compare their journeys and their lives here to your own. These thoughts have given me great helpings of gratitude for some time now.

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From the Editors

The Days of Summer Are Here

Folks who haven't yet spent the whole year at Lake Chapala don't understand why so many full time residents agree that their favorite time of year is the summer rainy season. Yet all it takes to convince them, or to convert others who think that nothing could be better than the mild winter months, is a summertime visit.

Some folks hear rainy season and think monsoon, envisioning hot steamy days and nights punctuated with frequent downpours making the summer months miserable, inconvenient and humid. That description may be true for lower altitude locations with warm temperatures and frequent rainfall. But that's not the way it is here!

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Community

Daddy's Girl…Mexican Version

By Diane Goldstein

Father's day is this month and I've been thinking a lot about Charlie. Charlie was my dad. I lost him when I was 20 years old and he was 60 but by then he had shaped almost everything about me.

I've been thinking about him more, lately, because on my last birthday I turned 60. I've been thinking that if Charlie were still alive he'd be 100 years old…unimaginable! Ever since his death, I've been asking myself, "WWCT?"

Now, I'm wondering What Would Charlie Think about where I am in this life, at this time, in comparison to where he was when he left his life at the grand old age of 60? This is where my early retirement to Mexico comes in. This piece is my Father's Day tribute to Charlie and about his legacy to me.

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Getting Here

The Good Old Days

By Judy King

What's your favorite old cliché? "Nothing's new under the sun" or "The more things change, the more they stay the same."

This month I've been looking at how life was here in central Mexico back in the good old days, and especially at how much things cost. Which good old days? And how did I find the information?

There have been foreigners choosing to live at Lake Chapala now for well over 100 years. Several of them found the experience interesting enough to leave a record of their adventures in print. Of the dozens of books still available, I've looked into just a few of the best.

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Mexican Kitchen

Mangos: A Gift from the Gods

By Harriet Hart

It's mango season here in Mexico and I'm eager to take advantage of the lower prices and greater selection of this lush tropical fruit. For newcomers and people like me from frigid northern climes, the wide variety of this golden fruit can be bewildering.

I'd stand in the market or at the store and wonder which ones I should buy? After conducting a little research in books and on the internet, I gave up and decided to consult with the local experts—the folks who sell them.

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Homes & Lodging

Pool School

By Carol L. Bowman

When foreigners decide to relocate to Lake Chapala they need retraining and re-education to accomplish things they used to master. For me, the banking system, Mexican labor laws, paying bills in cash and in person, dealing with gardeners and even baking at high altitude proved puzzling—until I learned the Mexican way.

After several years of information gathering, word of mouth instruction and trial and error—upon error, many of the "how-to's" still seem bizarre, but no longer foreign.

In contrast, pool maintenance ranks high on the learning curve, not because of Mexican peculiarities, but because of weather and environmental issues.

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Out & About

Re-visiting Santa Cruz de Las Flores

By Judy King

Seasoned readers of Living at Lake Chapala know that every couple of months I just love to take off on a day trip adventure with my good friend, Lorraine Russo. Lorraine is the full-time (and then some) executive chef at La Nueva Posada in Ajijic. She works much too hard and often it feels like I put in 32 hours a day staring at the computer screen.

We both really need an occasional break in routine and a change of scene—sometimes we even need a day in Mexico without seeing foreigners at every turn. We've discovered that there are places within an hour or two of Lakeside that let us feel as if we've been thousands of miles and hundreds of years away, even when we're gone just for the day.

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Cost of Living

June's Fiestas are Fun, but Who Foots the Bill

By Judy King

Committees from the city governments, churches, and neighborhoods are working fast and furiously to organize the fiestas which will honor their towns' patron saints this month. Each annual celebration is designed to pay homage with prayer, pilgrimages, devotion and family fun to that village's special protector.

Town-wide fiestas around Lake Chapala are all punctuated with bursts of skyrockets early in the morning, at noontime, around 7 p.m. and near midnight. The morning and evening booms accompany prayerful pilgrimages to special twice-daily Masses. These skyrockets are a tradition left over from earlier days when noise was believed to frighten evil spirits from the area.

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Soul of México

The Cuyutlán Tsunami of June 22, 1932

By Don Adams

Editor's note: The vast majority of our articles feature Lake Chapala and the surrounding area. This month on the anniversary of the event, we're sharing Don Adam's story about the largest tsunami to hit the Mexican coastline. At the epicenter of this disaster was the small coastal village of Cuyutlán, a popular get-away spot for those more interested in peace and quiet than the faster pace of Manzanillo to the south or Puerto Vallarta to the north.

When the first rains come each year to the small Pacific coastal village of Cuyutlán in the neighboring state of Colima, the salt harvest ends, and at about the same time the earthquakes begin. The tourist trade slows and the daily tempo of village life gears itself to the less hectic pace of completing the many small chores required to end one salt harvesting season and to repair and stow gear in anticipation of the next.

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Health & Safety

An IMSS Hospital as I Experienced It

By Ann Callon

Guest writer Ann Callon compiled the following information after a stay in an IMSS hospital. There is a lot about Mexico that is different from similar experiences north of the border, but the items that are required for patient comfort during time in the hospital is a whole new world. Ann and her husband Terry continued their IMSS coverage until they moved from Mexico to the United States a year ago.

I realized during my hospitalization that I was learning great information that could help other foreigners know what to expect during their IMSS hospital stays. The following tips describe conditions and situations that I encountered in the particular hospital to which I was admitted and may not fully reflect the experiences in other hospitals. I want to be very clear that I intend no criticism in the writing of this information, as I received excellent attention and care.

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People, Places & Things

The Sights We See

By Judy King — Photos by Paul Boorah

It's easy for newcomers to be lulled into thinking that everything at Lakeside is just like it is back home. You really can't blame them for making that assumption…as tourists they are staying in a beautifully decorated and maintained B&B, eating wonderfully prepared continental cuisine in several great area restaurants, connecting their laptops wirelessly to high speed internet and spending their days doing most of the same things they'd do back home.

Actually, everything continues to seem familiar and the same, until visitors turn a corner and see one of our very Mexican sights. As folks who live here get together, sooner or later the conversation turns to sights they've seen when they didn't have the camera handy. You'd think that the assembled friends were telling fish tales of the ones that got away. There's talk of the old man riding the burro while talking on a cell phone, of the time the herd of cows crossed the highway right in front of the car, and of the charming scenes of children at play, indigenous people in colorful native dress and a plethora of missed shots of dogs, cats, birds and horses.

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Upcoming Issue

July 2009: The Best of the Best

Here at Living at Lake Chapala, we have a very special, first-time-ever, super surprise Best of the Best issue coming up in July.

We're commemorating the very beginning of this webzine—Karen Blue and Judy King started having frequent meetings naming, organizing and planning the first issues of Living at Lake Chapala during the summer of 2001.

Now, midway through our 8th year, we have so many excellent articles tucked away that we want to share some of them with you in a special Best of the Best issue.

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