Living at Lake Chapala

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Complimentary Issue

Complimentary Issue

Feature Article

The Wonder of Ajijic

By Judy King

This afternoon, my friend and I stood on the terrace of her hillside home in Ajijic looking over the huge expanse of water that is Lake Chapala. The sun warmed my shoulders; the breeze cooled my cheeks. Butterflies darted over the honeysuckle, jasmine, gardenias and roses in the garden. Under a brilliantly blue sky, we watched white clouds drift over the mountains until eventually they obscured the top of Mount Garcia on the south shore of the lake.

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From the Editors

Welcome to Living at Lake Chapala

Living at Lake Chapala has combined the talents of published authors with years of experience living in Mexico to bring you the most complete monthly electronic magazine on the life, culture and traditions of the Lake Chapala area. We write about Americans, Canadians and Europeans who move to Mexico and reinvent their lives. We write about the Mexicans who share their beautiful country with us.

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A Helping Hand for Needy Lakeside Children

By Barbara Madren

When you consider relocating to the lakeside area, there are many charitable organizations that aren't simply looking for your money. These groups also desperately need your extra time and expertise on a volunteer basis. One such organization, and certainly one of the most worthwhile in this area, is Los Niños Incapacitados del Lago (Incapacitated Children of the Lake). From here on we'll refer to the group as Niños.

This organization began in l992 as a support group to the Chapala branch of DIF Rehabilitation Unit which offers basic physical therapy but nothing else to help local handicapped children. DIF is the Mexican version of a family welfare system. The following year a proper charter was established and in 1994, the group was granted its A.C. status making it a legal Mexican non-profit association. This was followed by government permission to receive donations and the obligation this entails to submit detailed activity and financial reports semi-annually to the Mexican government. These regulations create extra work for volunteers but authenticate the group and its work in both the Mexican and ex-pat communities.

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Los Picaros - They Created Their Own Family

By Karen Blue

Recently, I met several of Los Picaros in the lovely garden of Bill and Neva's Ajijic home where they were celebrating Don and Tim's birthday.

The core group of fourteen had originally met in the on-line message room of an electronic newsletter about the Lake Chapala area. Other than their interest in the lakeside, and perhaps their ages, which range from early 50's to late 60's, they have little in common. Teachers and police workers, pharmacists and computer gurus, they hail from such diverse states as Texas and New Jersey, Washington and Colorado.

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Operation Feed

By Julie Ray

A native of Arizona and longtime resident of California, Peru and Argentina, Julie Ray moved to Lakeside in January, 2002, after 15 years as a travel specialist in the US. About life at Lakeside, Julie says, "It's close to paradise."

Have you ever wondered if there might be something you could do, directly, to help those less fortunate who live here at Lakeside ? The volunteers for "Operation Feed" are rewarded with a feeling of comforting satisfaction when they see how much they help by providing food for 43 poverty-stricken families in San Juan Cosala, just a few minutes west of Ajijic.

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What Do Washing Machines and Education Have In Common?

By Karen Blue

Although most of Lakeside's Mexican residents live comfortably, there are still some families who live in abject poverty. It's especially painful when viewing that poverty through the relative excesses displayed by so many of the expatriates living and visiting here. One woman, Dr. Martha Nussgen, a retired Mexican pediatrician, has been keeping dozens of poor Mexican children fed and in school with the help of a small cadre of volunteers...and washing machines.

At a recent get-together I overheard Martha, a petite bundle of energy, discussing Niños del Rio (Children of the River), a program she started about seven years ago. A handful of very poor Mexicans had acquired small parcels of land, the largest only 750 square feet. These lots were on a riverbank in Chapala's poorest neighborhood, behind the bullring. The poor had no money for building real homes, so they lived in shacks or lean-to's made from cardboard, pieces of tin and other discarded material from the dump. They existed without electricity, water or sewer hook-ups. Martha learned of their dire straits when she went looking for her maid one day and discovered that she now lived with her family in this poverty-stricken neighborhood.

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Getting Here

Arriving at Guadalajara Airport

By Judy King

Deplaning and Entering the Terminal
When you arrive at Miguel Hidalgo International Airport in Guadalajara you may notice a few differences in the process of deplaning. Planes stop quite a distance from the terminal. On some flights you will walk down the stairs and follow the crowd across the tarmac. On others, a bus appears beside the plane at cabin height. When the bus is filled to overflowing, a hydraulic system lowers you to ground level for a short drive to the terminal.

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Mexican Kitchen

A Salsa by Any Other Name

By Lorraine Russo, Executive Chef at La Nueva Posada in Ajijic

My first restaurant meal in Guadalajara confused me. After twelve years in Austin, Texas, I expected the essential table salsa, Pico del Gallo, to be served with my meal. About twenty minutes after ordering the sauce, my waiter reappeared with a colorful plate of cubed jicama, oranges, and cucumbers seasoned with fresh limejuice, salt, and red chili powder.

Surprised I didn't receive the tomato and onion salsa so familiar in Texas, I sampled the new dish and found it both refreshing and delicious.

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Homes & Lodging

American Couple Opens New B&B

By Judy King

By ignoring the well-meaning advice of friends and family, a retired American couple is having the time of their lives in Ajijic. Don and Jeanne Niederlitz are glad they didn't listen to the advice of others. Everyone told them they shouldn't move to Mexico. Then they were told that if they were to come to Mexico, they should rent a house. The same family members and friends also told them to slow down, relax, and take it easy in retirement.

Don and Jeanne purchased a home after a February 2000 Focus on Mexico tour to Lake Chapala. As soon as the house closed escrow, they began renovations on the garden and built a pool. Then they purchased the adjoining tumbledown adobe art gallery and began rebuilding it into a lovely and inviting six-room Bed and Breakfast with two separate guest casitas.

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Out & About

Hike to the Chapel

By Judy Henke

It is three days after the September 11 attack on the United States. My husband, Sam, and I decide to take a break from the television and hike to the little chapel overlooking the village of Ajijic. The sun is high in the sky and the air is crisp after last night's welcome rain.

This trek up the mountain is a favorite outing for us, one we often share with visitors.

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What do I do all day?

By Karen Blue

One of the most frequently asked questions I hear is, "But what do you do all day?"

I'm going to tell you about my Wednesday. The sun wakes me up in the morning because I have no drapes on my bedroom windows. I don't need them for privacy or climate control and I love looking out onto my beautiful garden. My dogs demand their fifteen minutes of stroking, and then it's up to my home office for a couple of hours of email, writing or research on the Internet. (You don't care about the personal hygiene part, do you?)

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Cost of Living

Shopping the Mexican Way

By Judy King

We are creatures of habit. Before we moved to Mexico, we each had a favorite supermarket. Under that one roof, we were able to quickly and efficiently purchase all of the fresh produce, baked goods, breads, candy and ice cream, dairy products, meats, fish, cleaning items, bouquets of flowers. At many of the super stores even clothing, tools, toys, video rentals, dry cleaning, school supplies cleaning items, prescription and over the counter drugs, gifts, wrapping paper and cards, and dishes are all in one store.

That one-stop shopping habit combined with the familiarity of imported goods causes most folks to start shopping at two special supermarkets at Lake Chapala. The owners of these stores have expanded their inventories to cater to shoppers' habits and convenience. While some imported goods cost more than the same item would north of the border, some of us remember when the only way to have canned goods, cereals, snacks and many other items was to take a trip to Texas. It is obvious that packing, shipping and duties levied by customs will increase the prices on goods. There was a small store in Chapala with a sign on the wall that read, "We know it is more expensive, but it is HERE."

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Soul of México

Fall Fiestas

By Judy King

Canadian and United States citizens who have relocated to Lake Chapala find there is no shortage of turkey dinners, even in Mexico. Groups of friends gather for holidays, sharing the responsibility of cooking and serving the dinner. Many restaurants and the American Legion post in Chapala, feature traditional Thanksgiving dinners.

Mexico does not celebrate Thanksgiving but Lake Chapala's most beloved festivals are held during October and November of each year.

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Health & Safety

Free Medical Care in Mexico for U.S. Disabled Veterans

By Don Adams and Teresa A. Kendrick

If you have a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs service-connected disability rating you may be hesitant about moving to a foreign country and losing the free treatment and prescription medications that are your due.

If that's a major concern affecting your decision to move to Mexico, we have good news! A little known government program will pay the bills for treatment of your service-connected medical problems.

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Lakeside Medical Care

By Karen Blue

One of the first questions asked by most Americans and Canadians considering life in the Lake Chapala area is, "How good are the doctors and hospitals?"

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Redefining Safety

By Karen Blue

One of the questions I'm most often asked is, "Is it safe at the lakeside?"

I've always felt much safer here than anywhere I've lived before. Yes, we have theft, but rarely is it accompanied by bodily harm. Children play safely in the streets until well after dark. There's no concern for kidnapping, rape or random shootings. We do not live in fear.

Now, after the horrendous events of September 11, I feel even safer here. I'd like to scoop up my family and friends and transplant them south of the border where I don't have to worry about them.

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People, Places & Things

Facts and Figures

In Mexico, be sure to drink purified water. In all the restaurants and hotels at Lake Chapala, you can safely order a glass of water (un vaso de agua), and be assured the waiters will bring purified water, even if it is not in a sealed bottle.

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Holiday Decorating, Gift Shopping and Wrapping

Here's a list of shopping centers and strip malls with anchor department stores, movies, food courts, shops, boutiques, and huge grocery stores:

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Upcoming Issue

Upcoming Issue - Complimentary

Each issue contains a synopsis about the articles coming up in the next issue.  Select the current "Upcoming Issue" from our current issue.

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