Snowbird Season Survival Tips from Kindergarten

by Judy King 31. January 2010 22:24

winter-people The foreign population at Lake Chapala grows by leaps and bounds every year at this time. February is the highest of the high winter season.

No one really knows how many foreigners live and visit Lakeside, but a good guess is that there are somewhere around 7,000-8,000 of us living here full time and another 10,000 who visit sometime during the year for varying lengths of time.

Some folks are saying that not as many snowbirds as usual have arrived for the winter, but frankly, just from looking at grocery store parking lots, cruising local streets and trying to claim a seat in church on Sunday, I can't tell much difference.

red-hats While local businesses and service providers eagerly await the return of the winter residents, the growing pains of our little Lakeside villages are apparent.

It isn't just the combination of full-time foreigners and winter folks that is causing the congestion on local streets — every weekend we see an invasion of the "Guad Squad" (Guadalajarans out for a weekend or a day at the lake).

Then there is the vast number of villagers who are now driving cars we’re at a point where we all need to remember our manners and share the space on the roads, in the stores, churches and sidewalks. After all, Ajijic is the town where one misplaced car can mean a traffic jam.

Here’s something to help us through the rest of the Winter -- it’s a list of Snowbird Season Survival tips adapted from Robert Fulgram's book Everything I Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.

Learn to Share - Parking places, park benches, restaurant seats, and the attention of clerks and waiters. We all need patience to enjoy the winter season.

Play Fair - We are the visitors in Mexico and we need to adjust and learn to play the game here according to the rules and traditions that have worked well for 500 years.

This isn't back home, and it's not going to be…thank goodness.

Don't Hit People – Don't even hit the cars parked in the yellow-curbed, restricted spots on all of the village corners this time of year — even when you can't turn the corner onto your own street — even when cars block your driveway — not even you really, really want to.

Clean Up Your Own Mess – While many local residents don't speak English, they still understand most of what is said. Don't make assumptions about other people that put you into a very embarrassing situations.

Behave well – Have fun on your vacation; take your behavior cues from the year-round residents and Mexicans. Don't push to the front of lines, refuse to yield the right of way, talk louder when your English isn't understood, push others out of the way or affect an attitude of special entitlement.

Don't Take Things That Aren't Yours Not even someone's pride or peace or joy or dignity or enjoyment.

Flush –But not the paper. You may be able in some places, but when the problem is tree roots in old, small drain pipes, the smallest amount of paper could block the WC, creating an embarrassing problem for you.

Warm Cookies And Cold Milk Are Good – So are lots of delicious snacks and foods in Mexico that are unfamiliar to you — be adventurous and try the new treats -- they may become your favorites.

canadians-at-market Live A Balanced Life Enjoy this rare opportunity to live in a really culturally diversified community. Learn a little Spanish; participate in some of the local traditions and customs. There is a Mexican proverb, "Cada cabeza es un mundo." (Every head is a world). Things are different here from back home. Don't judge all you see by the comparisons in your own head or the way it is back home. Remember: It's not right, not wrong, just different.

Take A Nap Every Afternoon – Adjusting to life walking up hills at 5200 feet above sea level makes an afternoon nap a welcome break. Other altitude tips—drink more water, walk slowly, walk on the shady side of the street, take it easy with alcohol, and use sunscreen.

When You Go Out Into The World, Watch Out For Traffic –The only solution to the traffic problems very different style of our little world is stay cool-headed, patient, remember your defensive driving, and be cooperative. Take turns--let one of the cars waiting to get onto the highway in ahead of you. Remember—we don't have to punch a time clock. If it takes a few extra minutes to get to our destination, it's ok. We aren't trying to make a living to feed our families.

Hold Hands and Stick Together! – For those of us lucky enough to be living in the sunshine of glorious Lake Chapala, let's learn a lesson from our Mexican neighbors and treat everyone politely, warmly, and with courtesy. Smile at each other and have a pleasant winter.

 


Judy King is publisher of Mexico Insights—Living at Lake Chapala, a monthly online magazine for people interested in Mexico's Lake Chapala region, in the state of Jalisco.

Judy, a 19-year resident of Ajijic on Lake Chapala's north shore, conducts weekly newcomer's seminars and shares her expertise about Mexico in her ezine at www.mexico-insights.com, and in the "Mexico Lindo" column of the Lake Chapala Review.

Judy also is a speaker for local organizations and visiting tour groups about the Lakeside area about Mexican customs and holidays.

Had Your H1N1 Flu Shot?

by Judy King 30. January 2010 15:49

shot1 My Saturday morning ritual is a leisurely Mexican Breakfast at the Ajijic Plaza. I never know what the outcome of that breakfast will be. A couple weeks ago a pair of folkloric dancers showed up in the cafe. Early in January, a sudden  unseasonal shower drenched the plaza while we watched, snug under our umbrella.

Today the unplanned event grew out of a newspaper article we read as we waited for our meal, According to the new Guadalajara Reporter, The Jalisco Department of Health has started a new program to vaccinate as many people in the state as possible, by setting up temporary clinics in grocery stores – starting with 38 Walmart stores around the state.

Representatives from the Chapala Centro de Salud public health clinic opened this mini-clinic on January 27 to begin the vaccination program. They will be there just outside the store’s doors seven days a week.

While the information in the Reporter says the nurses will be on duty from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., the sign we saw there today says they are dispensing vaccine from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily.

shot2 We’re told that the staff from the Centro de Salud will remain in this location until the end of March.

While the information released suggests that the vaccine is available, free, for those in higher risk sectors of the population – those over 60, children, and those with AIDS, hyper-tension, cancer, heart and kidney ailments, diabetes and obesity – I saw people of all ages in line.

Not everyone in line was happy to be having the vaccine – two small boys were not only unhappy, the youngest was close to hysterical for a bit. He brightened when it was his brother’s turn for the twin needles (seasonal and H1N1 flu vaccines.)

The wait was only about 20 minutes…it’ll be faster on week days when unhappy kids don’t have to be coaxed and/or held by three adults! It was a gratitude moment for me – I was thankful to not be holding a twisting, turning, screaming child! You can see the tears shining on the middle boy’s cheeks in the picture above. 

How easy is this…no appointment, no cost, almost no waiting…stop at Walmart and get your shot, too.


Judy King is publisher of Mexico Insights—Living at Lake Chapala, a monthly online magazine for people interested in Mexico's Lake Chapala region, in the state of Jalisco.

Judy, a 19-year resident of Ajijic on Lake Chapala's north shore, conducts weekly newcomer's seminars and shares her expertise about Mexico in her ezine at www.mexico-insights.com, and in the "Mexico Lindo" column of the Lake Chapala Review.

Judy also is a speaker for local organizations and visiting tour groups about the Lakeside area about Mexican customs and holidays.

Moving your Stuff to Lake Chapala

by Judy King 29. January 2010 22:24

 april house-diana 045 Folks moving to Lake Chapala worry more about how much of the "stuff" to bring to Mexico as they do the decision to move here and leave their friends and family behind.

If It Fits in the Car

If you plan to just bring what will fit in your car, you can obtain a visitor's document (the FM-T) at the Mexican border crossing and then get your long-term immigration visa (FM-3) during the 180 days you are allowed to remain in the country on that temporary document.

Mexican law allows each person to import (duty free) your clothes, used personal items and $50 US in new merchandise when you drive into the country.

Each person may also bring a number of duty free items including:

  • 1 camera
  • 1 computer—laptop or desk top
  • Books and magazines
  • Medicines for personal use
  • 20 packs of cigarettes, 25 cigars or 200 grams of tobacco
  • 3 liters of wine, beer or liquor
  • 1 pair binoculars
  • 1TV, under 12 inches
  • 1 portable radio/recorder
  • 1 DVD player
  • 20 CDs, DVDs or cassette tapes
  • 1 musical instrument
  • Camping gear and tent and one set of fishing gear
  • 5 toys
  • 1 pair of skis
  • 1 pair of tennis racquets
  • 1 surfboard or sailboard

If You Bring That Mattress, You'll Need a Moving Company

april house-diana 043 If you decide to bring even one item that doesn’t fit in the car, you'll need a moving company. You’ll also need to obtain an FM-3 (long-term immigration status) and a Menaje de Casa (the permit that allows you to bring your goods into Mexico duty free). Both of these documents can be obtained at the Mexican Consulate's office nearest your home.

Watch the timing—you have to be in the country with your FM-3 within 180 days of the issue date. You only have 90 days after issue of the Menaje de Case to get the load into the country.

Those famous north of the border moving companies are great if you are going from one state to another or need crates of your stuff taken to the seacoasts and the ship that’ll take your stuff to Europe.

I'm convinced you need a moving specialist to handle those pesky details when it comes to driving a load of your stuff across the Mexican border. We consistently hear great reports about Strom-White Moving. Doug and Teresa White give every shipment a lot of extra attention.

Read the Rules and Regulations, and Questions and Answers sections at the Strom-White Moving website. You'll find a wealth of other information at the site.

Whether you fly into the Guadalajara airport with a toothbrush and a change of underwear, drive a car full of your treasures across the border or fill a 48-foot trailer with your furniture, be sure you know and obey the rules…it’s the best way to go.

More Mexico Insights Moving Tips:

For detailed information about moving your stuff and all facets of moving to Mexico, attend a Mexico Insights Newcomers Seminar.

If we don’t answer three questions you didn’t know to ask, we’ll refund your fee in full!

Seminars are held at 10 a.m. every Thursday at La Nueva Posada in Ajijic.  The fee, $25 US for singles and $40 US per couple, includes a comprehensive handout book and refreshments

For more information email us:  info@mexico-insights.com


Judy King is publisher of Mexico Insights—Living at Lake Chapala, a monthly online magazine for people interested in Mexico's Lake Chapala region, in the state of Jalisco.

Judy, a 19-year resident of Ajijic on Lake Chapala's north shore, conducts weekly newcomer's seminars and shares her expertise about Mexico in her ezine at www.mexico-insights.com, and in the "Mexico Lindo" column of the Lake Chapala Review.

Judy also is a speaker for local organizations and visiting tour groups about the Lakeside area about Mexican customs and holidays.

Mexican Water Systems: Answers for Questions You Didn’t Know to Ask

by Judy King 27. January 2010 20:43

homeswater3cleaningtinaco Water systems in Mexico are far different than north of the border – have you noticed that there aren’t standpipes or water towers or reservoirs at Lake Chapala? That’s because each household is expected to be responsible for storing the water they need.

How It Works
North of the border, when you turn on any tap in your house, water surges out the faucet, under pressure, and usually safe to drink. Not so in most Lakeside homes.

The water for most neighborhoods and developments is supervised by the government water agency, Simapa. The local water supply is pumped from a number of deep government-regulated wells, before it passes through underground pipes through the villages and neighborhoods to your house.

Upper and lower Chula Vista’s homeowners association installed and operates  a US-style water system, complete with chlorinator. Everywhere else, water comes into the properties for a period of time each day. That period can vary from a few hours to almost all day and night; during times of drought,water shortages, or damaged pumps, water may only be released every two or three days.

Your Water Storage
If you have an aljibe (underground storage tank) that’s where the water goes  as it arrives at your house. This underground room is often under the driveway or garage floor. The sturdy reinforced brick boveda ceiling makes the tank strong enough to be driven on. When you lift the metal hatch door you’ll see the water level, the upper portion of the waterproofed walls, and the ball float that works just like the one in your toilet tank, turning off the water supply when the tank if full.

Water Pressure
Not long ago, all homes had a tinaco (grey concrete or black plastic water storage tank) on the roof. The water passing through the streets is under enough pressure to force it up to fill the tinaco which also features a ball float to shut the water off. 

To fill the tinaco more quickly or to fill the tinaco quickly from the aljibe, homeowners add a 1/2 hp pump to push water to the roof. 

As you turn on the tap, water flows from the tinaco, via gravity flow, to your kitchen sink or shower. If the tinaco is high enough on the roof and if the pipes from that tank are clean, and large enough, it is a good system which combines a small supplementary storage system with decent water pressure.

Many new developments and newer homes have "tinaco-less" rooflines. These homes have aljibes and hydraulic water pressure systems. The pressure system provides about the same pressure as the water company provides for you back home.

a July 2002 019 Smart homeowners have resisted the urge to eliminate the tinaco. Instead, their pressure system moves water from the aljibe to the rooftop tinaco and then into the house. These wily homeowners know that when the electricity is off for a few hours or even a day, their tinaco is all that stands between them and a shower-less morning and an unflushed toilet. It’s simple…without electricity to power the hydraulic water pressure system, there’s no water.

Water Purification Systems

All the water pumped from the deep Simapa wells is pure. Because water could become contaminated as it moves through the pipes underground, or as it stand in tinacos and aljibes, all area residents – Mexicans and foreigners – drink and cook with purified water.

The vast majority of these residents purchase 5-gallon garafones of commercially purified water for less than $2 US. Others have installed water purification systems which filter the water, then treat it with reverse osmosis and ultraviolet light.

Maintenance of Water Systems
Aljibes and tinacos should be emptied, scrubbed and cleaned at least once per year by your plumber, handyman or gardener.

Check the pressure on your pressure tank every week and note how often the pump starts up. If the tank is kicking on frequently, a toilet is running, a faucet dripping, or there is a water leak.

Homeowners need to check that the ultraviolet light in the water purification box is functioning. The bulb must be changed each year, and the filters should be cleaned under running water every month or two, and replaced every six months.


Judy King is publisher of Mexico Insights—Living at Lake Chapala, a monthly online magazine for people interested in Mexico's Lake Chapala region, in the state of Jalisco.

Judy, a 19-year resident of Ajijic on Lake Chapala's north shore, conducts weekly newcomer's seminars and shares her expertise about Mexico in her ezine at www.mexico-insights.com, and in the "Mexico Lindo" column of the Lake Chapala Review.

Judy also is a speaker for local organizations and visiting tour groups about the Lakeside area about Mexican customs and holidays.

The People of Lake Chapala: Glenn Yarbrough

by Judy King 25. January 2010 17:30

DSC01293 You knew there are a lot of foreigners living at Lake Chapala, but did you know Glenn Yarbrough lives here? The velvet-voiced singer was singing folk music with his group, the Limelighteres in the early 1960s.

We know you remember his biggest hit, “Baby the Rain Must Fall” one of many songs he’s recorded on his own. 

Glenn and his wife Kathleen have been living (at least when he’s not on concert tours) in their home on the south shore of Lake Chapala for nearly a decade.

While Glenn still draws big star-like crowds for his 10-15 US concerts each year, his life here in Mexico is simple – just the way he prefers it. On my last trip to visit Glenn at home, he was more proud of his potting shed and the bins full of compost than he was the nearly completed rambling home he’s been working ever since he moved to Lakeside.

Glenn, a vegetarian, grows much of his own food on his own property, nearly an acre of lakefront property.  which is now studded with a pair of casitas (guest houses) and a real two-story lighthouse.

Glenn has plans for those casitas and lighthouse. Eventually he plans to install a first class sound studio at the house. Then he can have the members of his band join him at Lake Chapala and record and mix their music here.

DSC01298 The lighthouse houses his office and an observation deck open to the glorious view of the north shore. Glenn hopes to fulfill his long-time dream and produce a radio show called,“Through the Lighthouse Window” from the structure.

Meanwhile he has purchased the special beam for the top of his lighthouse. What will he do with that light?

“I’ve thought of flashing messages in Morse code to the foreigners on the north shore. Sometimes when I get back home from a trip over there, I think maybe I should spell out .—.  .-  --.. (paz for peace). Those foreigners over there do get themselves revved up sometimes!”

Glenn, a loner prefers the south shore, where he can putter in the garden, work on his music and enjoy his quiet, peaceful life. He’s cares about the village near his home and, along with Bill and Melinda Gates, he’s donated computers to the small town library.

You can keep up with Glenn, his current album releases and US Tour schedule via his website. If he comes to your north of the border city, do not miss the opportunity to see a performance by this great star. We especially enjoyed seeing his amazing Christmas story and concert, “The Forgotten Carols.”

If you want to know more about Glenn Yarbrough’s home and life here, you can read Karen Blue’s article in the July 2009 issue of Living at Lake Chapala. The full story is available to subscribers of the on-line magazine.

As time passes we’ll be producing more of these short profiles of some of the folks who live here – famous and not, Mexican and Foreign, it makes no difference, we’re all members of this wonderful community.


Judy King is publisher of Mexico Insights—Living at Lake Chapala, a monthly online magazine for people interested in Mexico's Lake Chapala region, in the state of Jalisco.

Judy, a 19-year resident of Ajijic on Lake Chapala's north shore, conducts weekly newcomer's seminars and shares her expertise about Mexico in her ezine at www.mexico-insights.com, and in the "Mexico Lindo" column of the Lake Chapala Review.

Judy also is a speaker for local organizations and visiting tour groups about the Lakeside area about Mexican customs and holidays.

About Judy King

Judy King

Hi There — Welcome to my little corner of the world. I'm Judy King and I live in the centuries-old village of Ajijic on the north shore of Lake Chapala, Mexico's largest natural lake.

I've lived here full time since 1990, and... [ more ]

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