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August 2009

Feature Article

Meeting Ajijic's Mayor

By Herbert W. Piekow

As a journalist I have interviewed at least 30 subjects. This story about Ajijic's busy delegado (mayor) was the most difficult to complete. It wasn't because of any language barrier; Señor Anselmo Avalos Rochin speaks good English. Time passed as our interview was repeatedly rescheduled, due to Anselmo's packed schedule.

The building containing the office of the delegado is both beautiful and welcoming; it sits two blocks south of the carretera, just across Calle Colón from Ajijic's attractive, clean art-filled plaza. From his office Anselmo can survey the constant activity on the plaza and keep his fingers on the pulse of the heart of the community. You'll know the building as soon as you see it. One side of the two-story building features a hand-painted mural honoring the area's fishermen and on the other side is a stunning painted scene portraying Ajijic's pre-Hispanic inhabitants offering praise and thanksgiving for the abundance and beauty of life along Mexico's largest lake.

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From the Editors

August 2009: Whew…We've Finished Another New Issue

What a month this has been. We can't tell you how thrilled we are that you are reading these words, and that this issue has been released to you all right on time. We normally churn out new issues with very little stress or strain. The entire process has settled down into comfortable routine and operates like a well oiled machine…most of the time.

I remember some time ago hearing Blue (Karen Blue, the co-founder of Living at Lake Chapala) say that the way she copes with difficulties and Mexican moments is to imagine how long it will take until the event has become her newest funny story.

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Lakeside Pioneer: Enid MacDonald

By Karen Blue

I first met Enid several years ago at a Sunday afternoon bridge club. She's a charming, gracious lady who will turn 90 in November and lives in the house she built with her husband, Mac, when they retired to Chula Vista 43 years ago.

As I approached her house, three dogs snarled and howled, holding me at bay an arm's length beyond the gate. Enid, still able to easily navigate the flight of stairs, came down to open the gate for me. Instantly, the fierce pack turned into docile house pets. I breathed easier.

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Getting Here

Changing Syndromes — From Empty Nest to Empty Casita

By Carol L. Bowman

The weekly ritual begins. I unlock the casita door, step inside and survey the space. I sit on the futon and browse through the magazines on the coffee table. Yes, it feels comfortable and safe. I brush my hand over the embroidered, Mexican bedspread, wishing the covers were crumpled and mussed from a snuggly sleep instead of being smooth, taut and unoccupied.

I sit at the desk on the handcrafted chair I rescued from the bazaar and review the books on the shelf above—all selected for the reading pleasure of a variety of guests. I imagine who would choose Gibran's The Prophet, Thoreau's On Walden Pond, The History of the Maya and that sizzling new Danielle Steele romance novel.

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Mexican Kitchen

Go Bananas

By Harriet Hart

Too many folks think the banana is the kitchen equivalent of the bridesmaid at the wedding, the back-up singer for the diva or the forgotten girl next door whose glamorous sexpot neighbor gets all the attention.

The banana is exotic; it has an aristocratic family background (being related to the lily and the orchid) and a fascinating history. It's time we gave this wonderful fruit the respect it deserves.

Bananas are humans' fourth most widely consumed food—only after rice, wheat and corn. Americans consumes more than 25 pounds of bananas per person per year. The fruit is widely available and grown in 130 countries worldwide with India leading in production, followed by Brazil, China, Ecuador, the Philippines, Indonesia, Costa Rica, Mexico, Thailand, Colombia and Burundi.

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Homes & Lodging

Lodgings: Where Will We Stay?

By Judy King

We're back with another updated listing of area bed and breakfast establishments at Lakeside. You'll find the perfect lodging for your stay in this directory of B&Bs, inns and small hotels.

We're amused when folks planning a trip to Lake Chapala email us and are reluctant to book a room in a B&B. We think they're envisioning a gingerbread-studded Victorian mansion where hushed voices are required and dressing up for afternoon tea is expected by the prim and proper owner.

We try to help folks rethink their view of Mexican-style B&Bs. Most of the businesses mentioned here have large sprawling properties with very private quarters for guests. Each of the rooms on this list has a private bath and guests find they can have as much privacy or interaction as they want during their visit.

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Out & About

Sunday, Slutty Sunday! A Primer for the Ex-Pat

By Diane Goldstein

"So what do you do down there in Mexico?" Many of Lakeside's ex-pats hear that question all too often. Most of us have maids, so we aren't cleaning the house, and for the majority we aren't heading out to work every day.

So what exactly are we doing? A whole bunch. There's the absurd number of parties for those hooked into the social scene. OK, I know, boo hoo…cry me a river…but in the holiday season it gets crazy. And that doesn't consider the lunches and dinners and parties every time somebody has a guest in town. Oh yes, let me not forget the guests. There are houseguests constantly….yours, mine and everybody else's.

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Cost of Living

Wall Street Titans, Main Street Investors

By Janet Holt

Investors everywhere are doing a slow burn as they read about fat cats on Wall Street receiving huge bonuses while they watch their own retirement nest eggs shrink by almost half. Unfair? You bet. But is the game over? Not by a long shot. The U.S. economy is a mess and most of the rest of the world is in the tank with us, but it's not time to throw in the towel. Huddle up and read on. I'm not going to tell you how to invest your money; I'm going to tell you something better—how to decide what to do with your money for yourself.

What happened?
People bought more than they could afford. This is, of course, a dramatic oversimplification of our current economic state of affairs, but there is no question that it is a major factor in our downward spiral and the only aspect over which we have complete control. Madison Avenue seduced several generations into believing, "You deserve it" (whatever 'it' is). Not only that, but "you can buy it now and pay for it later." What a concept!

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Soul of México

Searching for the Serapes of Jocotepec

By Judy King

For several centuries, a rural Mexican man's woolen sarape (serape) has been his most vital possession for centuries. The piece of hand-woven fabric serves him all day long. In the morning it is his overcoat, keeping off the morning chill. Later in the day at the market place, he arranges his goods for sale on the wrap. When shade is needed, the serape is tied like a tarp overhead to provide shelter from the mid-day sun. It protects the cowboy from rain while on horseback, and can serve as a saddle blanket for his horse. It covers and warms the man as he sleeps at night, and then, at the last, his body may be wrapped in it for burial.

In most modern commercials and print ads, the national costume of Mexico, the suit of the Charro, includes a striped serape—the type traditionally woven in Saltillo—over one shoulder of the close-fitting black suit studded with silver buttons. And don't forget that horrid old stereotype image of the Mexican sleeping under a cactus shielded by his sombrero and his serape.

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Health & Safety

Details for Singles—Maneuvering the System at Lakeside

By Judy King

My single friends and I agree. It's easier being single at Lakeside than anywhere else we've lived. The usual sticky moments just aren't as sticky here. When we are invited to dinner parties there just is no prejudice or discomfort that we are just one and not a couple. We go to movies, plays and concerts alone, without worry—comfortable in the knowledge that there will be folks we know milling about in the lobby before the performance and in the cocktail terrace at intermission.

Then there is the endless stream of service providers—electricians, iron workers, plumbers, carpenters, mechanics, car washers, gardeners and jacks of all trades—just waiting for our call to come and not only make needed repairs, but also to design and craft new items for our homes and gardens as fast as we an imagine them.

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People, Places & Things

Tidbits of Lake Chapala History

By Judy King

A seismic upheaval about 12 million years ago along the San Andreas-Chapala line formed a gigantic basin surrounded by extinct volcanoes. Water from the Lerma-Santiago River system filled the fresh-water inland sea, which was seven times the size of modern-day Lake Chapala. The great lake covered much of Jalisco and Michoacán, including the area now occupied by Guadalajara and much of the terrain between Lakeside and Colima.

The first residents of Lake Chapala arrived in the late 11th or early 12th century and were part of the band of peoples who walked from the far north, a place called Aztlan, which means whiteness. It is believed these people were part of the Asiatic migration to the Americas and made their way across the Bering Strait. They may have been the ancestors of the Nahuas, an indigenous people who were still at Lake Chapala when the Spanish arrived in the 1500s. Some historians believe even the name Aztec may be a variation of Aztlan.

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Upcoming Issue

September 2009—Viva Mexico!

The September issue of Living at Lake Chapala is as filled with history, music, color, and tradition as are the villages around Lake Chapala during the celebration of Mexico's independence from Spain.

Here's our special red, white and green Independence Day issue lineup:

Leading our own patriotic parade is a Feature Article you won't want to miss. Jim Cook was a teacher of history in his former life north of the border. Living in Mexico, he's satisfying his need to learn and to teach and his passion for photography with his own special blog posts and now articles in our magazine. Jim is looking at local events surrounding the Independence Day celebrations and then has added some of the fascinating points of the time leading up to the call for independence and the individuals who planned and led the movement.

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