It’s October!

by Judy King 3. October 2010 15:45

I’m so disappointed to have let a week go by without posting here – but I’ve a VERY good excuse. No, the dog didn’t eat my homework, but the result has been the same – my hard drive not only crashed, it burned…died…left no survivers. 

Thankfully, I’d backup up most of my information just four days before the death of the computer – but, I didn’t back up my email addresses and information (that’s a pain – get safe guards in place, now!). I can claim ignorance with the loss of 10-12 finished, ready-to-publish blog posts to same me time during deadline times.

So, I had no prepared material for you blog readers during the extremely busy time of moving into a different computer. The only thing I can compare that process to is getting the car back from the mechanic or body shop after several days – you know the feeling…the mirrors are off, someone changed the radio pre-set stations, there aren’t CDs in the player, they took the stuff out of the glove box and put it on the floor while they worked on the dash, the seat is in exactly the opposite position – it takes forever to make it feel right again.

The good news is that I made the deadline for the new issue of Living at Lake Chapala’snew October issue. It was up and running on September 30 about 7 p.m. as usual.

Since it’s now time to get the articles ready for the October 15 issue of the Lake Chapala Review, I’m the editor there, too, I have a great surprise for all of you.

Today and tomorrow I’m teasing you with the preview of the articles in the current October 2010 issue of Living at Lake Chapala. 

Meanwhile here is the preview we always include in the From the Editor’s Column. You can always read that, whether you are a subscriber or not.

October 2010: Celebrating a Saint, A Virgin, and a Great Rainy Season

With the first day of fall and that beautiful harvest moon in late September, we're trying hard to convince ourselves that it really is fall here at Lake Chapala. If the calendar doesn't convince you, try a trip to Chapala this week.

The huge downtown carnival set up, the stages, blocked off traffic flow and morning and evening processions will confirm that it really is early October and Chapala is well into the novena honoring the town's patron, San Francisco (St. Francis of Assisi).

If you hurry you can still join in the fun and celebration — it culminates on the feast day of the saint, October 4.

(Left:) The Virgin of the Rosary, the centuries-old figure from over the altar in Ajijic's small chapel is feted for the entire of October.


Meanwhile, not to be outdone in the devotion to local favorite icons, the last few days of September were studded with evening skyrockets as Ajijic's favorite Virgin of the Rosary, the patron of the old chapel on the north side of the plaza, moved to spend a night and day in the church in San Antonio and then headed for the church at Six Corners to spend a night with the parishioners there.

On September 30 she was positioned in a place of honor in the front of Ajijic's parish church, El Templo de San Andrés, where she'll receive early morning pilgrims all during her month. Don't miss the grand procession in her honor around 6 p.m. on October 31. It's a wonderful opportunity to see the indigenous dancers, local bands and hundreds of the local faithful walking in a solemn moment of honor and respect.

Lakeside religious processions are always perfect locations to snap wonderful pictures of unusual scenes. Here, at left below, a small girl depicts the Virgin of the Rosary on a procession float while at right, a troupe of dancers near the completion of the hour-long procession.

The Rainy Season and Ajijic's Waterfalls
The annual rainy season which usually stretches from early June to mid-September is still going strong, fueled by tropical storms which are continuing to develop and move up both shores of Mexico. Storms on either coast circle rain-producing clouds up and over the mountains to our high central plateau.

If you've been watching the temperatures and rainfall amounts on http://chapalaweather.netyou've rejoiced with us as we've received more rain than normal this season. We're 5" above normal rainfall for the months of June through September and topped the annual average rainfall more than a month ago. We're standing at over 42" of rainfall so far this year compared to the average of 33.5" per year.

(At Left:) A hiker marvels at a section of Tepalo, Ajijic's triple waterfalls which cascade down through a canyon just above the village.

All that rain is great news for our gardens and for Lake Chapala which this week reached 82% capacity; that's up more than 31 inches from a year ago and tops the 2009 September levels by 10%. It looks like the lake could easily surpass the record high levels of 2008.

Of course the gain in lake water is not just due to the heavy rains here at Lakeside. This summer's storm systems have dropped good amounts of water all along the Rio Lerma basin, and the 11 upstream reservoirs are holding an average of 93% of their capacities — far better than the 63% levels they marked in September of last year. Because they are all nearly full, we know that water will be released downstream for Lake Chapala.

What does that upstream water report mean? I expect that Lake Chapala's water level will continue to rise for at least two more months, and may continue to rise into the new year as runoff and excess water continues to enter the lake from the river.

This year's abundant rainfall has another benefit for hikers, casual walkers and the just plain curious — Tepalo, Ajijic's waterfalls cascading down the mountains just above town.

That's right — Ajijic has a waterfall — well actually there are several falls in this system, lower falls and a series of triple falls up a little higher.

Jim Cook, the resident hiking expert on the Living at Lake Chapala writing team, headed up to Tepalo in mid-September to take pictures and get the scoop so that you can make the fairly easy walk up to the falls, too. Jim gives the specifics in his article, but this is a walk that is doable for most of our readers, even the non-hikers. And if you join the crowds of Mexican families heading up the hill by the Donut shop in the late afternoon, you'll be joining flocks of children, parents, abuelos (grandparents) and even bisabuelos (great-grandparents).

Making the walk to Tepalo is a happy town tradition. You see the waterfall doesn't "run" in drier years — and if "Tepalo is running," you know there's plenty of rain for a good corn crop and a good harvest. Life in Mexico tends to break down to the simplest level of expectations and celebration. Join the fun!

Traveling With the Experts: Tapalpa and Jalapa
I'm amazed at the amount of traveling some of our Living at Lake Chapala writers do each year — yet they still have time to be actively involved with the community, and to write the results of their trips for you.

(Left:) When Carol Bowman headed for a weekend away in Tapalpa, she found some special entertainment for a very traditional event along the way. (Right:) Michael McLaughlin and Anita Lee visited the village of San Antonio near Jalapa — and this bell tower which was constructed in 1546.

Carol Bowman has taken the traveler's prize among the members of our writing team. Although she has just been back a few days from a three-week journey to the Holy Lands, she is filling us in on her pampered weekend away in Tapalpa in this month's Out and About column.

Lucky woman that she is, Carol was able to see first hand one of the most enduring customs of area ranchers and farmers — the pajaretes. She was a little confused, too, when on the side of the road she saw a tent, filled with tables and huge ceramic cups and heard a trio playing ranchero music.

Her driver explained the tradition to Carol and her husband, Ernie, while pointing out the milk cows tied up nearby. It seems that a goodly shot of tequila or grain alcohol, instant coffee, sugar, cinnamon (to the cowboy's taste) are poured into one of the big cups and then comes the milk, fresh, directly from the cow, foamy and warm. As Carol says, it's truly a "breakfast of champions," at least to hear these guys tell it.

(Left:) In the Vera Cruz plaza, all decorated for the September Independence Day activities, Michael and Anita watched a performance of folkloric dancing. (Right:) As Michael explains in his article, the anthropological museum in Jalapa was one of the best he's visited. This sculpture fragment wears an owl headdress.

Last year Michael McLaughlin and his wife, Anita Lee, spent six months traveling Mexico. In this month's People, Places and Things, he writes about their adventures in Vera Cruz, Jalapa, and some of the other small villages, including his favorite, Xico Xico and Coatepec, the coffee producing center of Vera Cruz.

They may not have found the perfect place to live (they report that it's far too hot and humid) but they certainly found adventures enough to last most of us several weeks.

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, 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.

A Sneak Preview of the June Issue

by Judy King 31. May 2010 07:40

Tomorrow is June 1 and the new issue of Living at Lake Chapala will be released. BUT…we can’t wait…here is a sneak preview  -- it’s part of the new “From the Editor” Column – it always has a rundown of the month’s articles

Did you know that you can always read “From the Editor” (whether you are a subscriber or not)? Just go to and then select the “From the Editor” column from the current issue.

A Giant Park, a Visit to Cuenca, Admiring Colima and Vacations in Mexico
Our Living at Lake Chapala writers have been working hard for you this month. Wait til you see this line up of articles by this well-traveled group. Leading off the adventures, Herbert Piekow, who has been living in Guadalajara for a few months while immersed in a Spanish course, returns with a new view of another feature of that wonderful city.

In our June Feature Article, Herbert takes us on a guided tour of Parque Agua Azul. I'm not sure what I want to visit first, the butterfly house, the bird environment, the paleontology museum or the orchid house (more than 400 in bloom). Such a dilemma Herbert has presented for us.

Which sounds like more fun to you, a few hours in an enclosure full of beautiful orchids or one that is filled with butterflies? You can do both just a short distance apart in Guadalajara's Parque Agua Azul.

Next, head right to our People, Places and Things column and vicariously enjoy a month in Cuenca, Ecuador. A recent national article ranked Ajijic and Cuenca at the top of the "Best Retirement Places You've Never Heard Of." How sweet is this, our friend Georgina Russell spent the winter experiencing life in Ecuador, and she gives you a peek, including costs of living there in this article.

Jim Cook is back in this issue's Out and About column. This month he's sharing with you his journey to the nearby city (and volcano) — Colima. You'll discover the wide range of attractions that area has to offer in this piece which is studded with Jim's always great photos.

You met the delightful Carolena Torres in our last issue's story about her trip around Lake Chapala. This month, in our Getting Here piece, she shares with you some of the adventures that highlight the 22 years of vacations she and her husband, Joe, have enjoyed in Mexico.

Lakeside's Coffee Expert, A Favorite B&B, and Mexico's Wedding Traditions
Even though we keep telling you that the most interesting people end up moving to Lakeside, our writing team members keep interviewing fascinating folks we've met but didn't know their pre-Lake Chapala experiences. In this issue Dianne Kocer is interviewing her good friend and coffee gourmand Kevin Knox. We think you'll recognize the names of some of the coffee and tea selling companies he's worked for!

(Left:) We're guessing that our favorite Ajijic coffee shop looks a little different from those Lakeside's coffee guru Kevin Knox developed — but he's loving the organic Mexican coffee. (Right:) Do you know about the mastodon skeleton that was found on the then dry east end of Lake Chapala a few years ago? Herbert visited Lakeside's favorite pre-historic specimen in a Guadalajara park.

Next up, Harriet returns to Villa Eucaliptos to have breakfast with Ralph Moniz, the innkeeper who helped Harriet and her husband Paul settle on the shores of Mexico's largest natural lake (along with a bunch of other folks!) Take a look at this great friendly inn for your next trip to Lakeside, or as a place to house your overflow guests.

Then, Judy has accumulated a set of wedding customs and traditions. You'll learn some of the superstitions (don't give the bride pearls) and understand what's expected if you are asked to be the madrina de tequila or de rama (the godmother of the tequila or of the bouquet).

Arranging for Medical Procedures, King of the BBQ, Meatball Soups in Every Culture

Karen Blue is back! She recently discovered a pair of new services available here at Lake Chapala who are arranging medical procedures for area residents or visitors who have private US or Mexican health coverage. Read all about SurgeryHost and MDabroad in our Health and Safety column.

Ah, we're winding up this issue with a pair of food columns. Wait till you see the great looking ribs our BBQ Scott Richards has prepared for you as he explains how to throw the meat on your Mexican grill and save a heap of money — here's one tip: use carbón not pricey imported charcoal briquettes!

Then Judy and Lorraine are in the Mexican Kitchen making a dish in the style of several familiar cultures. Meatball soup is a home cooked comfort food in Mexico where it has a touch of chile and a bit of mint. Judy remembers her mother's meatball soup served over a bed of rice and garnished with fresh parsley and Lorraine recalls her grandmother's Italian meatball soup with cannelloni beans! We've included a simple recipe for the Mexican version that we know you are going to love.

Now that's a good way to end things — with some barbeque and some great comfort food. It's a great issue, and we're sure you're going to enjoy it, from start to finish.

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, 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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