Living at Lake Chapala’s August Issue

by Judy King 1. August 2010 15:14

Wow, it’s the First Day of this year’s EIGHTH month! 
I can barely believe that this month marks the three-quarters mark of 2010. We are having another great year here at Living at Lake Chapala. In fact, nine members of our writing team has been out gathering information for our all new August issue. We've prepared a little bit of everything this month — take a look at this summary of our new articles.

image A Sailor Run Aground

Jim Tipton is introducing you to one of his very good friends in this month's Community Article. If you've not yet met Ken and Lise Clarke, you'll want to after you read about how this Lakeside couple met aboard ship and fell instantly head over heels in love. This is a love story with lasting power — when they reached dry land, they raised a family and then moved to Lakeside for retirement — and so Ken could write his story of the years at sea.

Mexico's Traditional Music

Mexico is a land of eternal music — it's part of the lifestyle — it's part of life. What's Mexico's most popular music? That, like most things in this land of contrasts, depends. There are those who would vote for orchestras playing classical music, or for classic rock and roll. More traditionally, you'd have a giant pile of votes for mariachi — that smooth blend of violins, guitars and trumpets. Earning just as much (or more) devotion from residents in central and northern Mexico would be the bandas — the groups of trumpets, trombones, clarinets, and percussion that play a type of music that sounds a little like a sharply uniformed military brass marching band colliding with The Six Fat Dutchmen Polka Band.

(Left:) A youthful group of musicians — a banda plays traditional music on the Ajijic plaza. (Right:) Bandas of all levels of fame and popularity perform in Lakeside's villages. This group came from a nearby town to play in an Ajijic club on July 17. The big name groups come to town for the annual fiesta and during mardi gras.

As Micki Wendt explains in this month's Out and About column, this isn't all about John Phillip Sousa, and it's not about Lawrence (a-one and a-two) Welk (but it helps if you were in your high school marching band and lived in the upper Midwest near a German or Polish population.) Banda music is a Mexican hybrid, and it's the love of the nation.

You may not think you know banda, but you've heard it — the bad, the ok, the good, and the really good. You're apt to hear it every time you pass a construction site or wait at a stop light behind a car with a throbbing stereo, or hear the marching band marching around town at 7 a.m. during fiesta. So far you've probably been more annoyed than in love, but give this article and the links to some professional videos a chance…you may be surprised!

Mexican banda members are snappy dressers. (Left:) This Chapala group was performing right outside the municipal building one evening — all in white and that shade of hot pink that here is called Rosa Mexicana. (Right:) Ajijic's Banda Incomparable was sporting new suits at last year's fiesta — their logo is embroidered on the back of the jackets.

Really Great Karma and  A Cookbook for a Cause

We're fixated this month on great food prepared by sets of Mexican sisters with great ideas and big hearts. First in the Mexican Kitchen, Harriet Hart is visiting a new restaurant on Calle Hidalgo in Ajijc which is owned and operated by Margarita and Rocio del Castillo. These vegetarian sisters recently moved from their home town — Guadalajara — and opened one of the cutest lunch spots in town — Buen Karma.

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Then former mental health professional Carol Bowman interviewed a trio of Guadalajara women — the Levy sisters — who have turned their skills in the kitchen into a cookbook (written in Spanish) and then turned the cookbook into a fundraising tool with proceeds going toward their pet project — a mental health center in Jalisco's capital city. You'll enjoy meeting the Levy sisters and learning about their favorite non-profit in this month's Health and Safety column.

The New Expat Radio Station for English Speakers

Then Judy is bringing you something very new — online radio for expats! Yep, Amigo Rodrigo is spinning American music on a 24-hour-a-day radio station — along with Mexican news and weather in English, Spanish vocabulary words and other specialty bits of information — and you can listen to it all on your computer. It couldn't be easier. Catch up with all of this in the Feature Article.

Back to School (Times Two) and Attending the Ballet 
What fun, we've devoted two slots this month to how foreigners at Lakeside get involved in the community, and take on some or all of the school expenses for slightly overwhelmed local families. While there are a dozen or more groups and organizations who are creating scholarships to pay the expenses so local kids can continue to attend classes — from Kinder through Grad School — our Cost of Living and Soul of Mexico columns tell how individuals are making a difference here at Lake Chapala.

First up Georgina Russell is back, this time in our Cost of Living slot explaining how she administers a fund for area kids. Who started this fund and this program? A trio of New York kids who were visiting their relatives at Lakeside! Now the US kids come back every year to see how the money they've raised in their home town and New York schools is being put to use here.

(Left:) One of the special joys of being a sponsor to a Lakeside student is being included in graduations, programs and special school events. (Right:) The ballet at Lake Chapala? You bet. And Scott Richards enjoyed it all – see his report in this month’s People, Places and Things.

Then long-time Lakeside resident, Phyllis Rauch explains how she and her late husband became involved in helping to educate the members of a family in their village of Nestipac. While Phyllis dreamed at first of "their kids" becoming doctors, lawyers and engineers, she reflects on how it's all worked out in real life and beautifully illustrates the Soul of Mexico piece with photos of her current (and we suspect her favorite) student Daniela.

Saving the Wild Orchids

Artist Janice Kimball delves into the world of Mexican wild orchids this month in our Homes and Lodging column. You'll enjoy her story of how she came to fall in love with these tender exotic beauties — years ago in the middle of an all-too-long Detroit winter. Now she's on a soapbox, helping us learn to protect the wild orchids from area mountains — and best of all she tells us where to find lovely, not-endangered, plants in local nurseries.

(Left:) These lavender beauties were once wild orchids in the Jalisco mountains above Lake Chapala. They've been blooming on a tree in Ajijic now for nearly 15 years. (Right:) Leave the wild orchids to bloom for another year in the mountains. Local nurseries have a lovely selection of hybrid orchids at very reasonable prices.

Planning for Singles

And to wrap up the issue, Judy is exploring some tips for singles living at Lakeside. It's just so important to form a support group and then finalize some of the necessary plans so that your friends will easily be able to help your children should you be recovering from illness or surgery and when you die. Look for this so very important information in the Getting Here space.

Are you a Living at Lake Chapala Subscriber?

That’s our rundown this month – and now, while you read these pieces we are already working on our Big Blowout Bicentennial Celebration for the September issue of Living at Lake Chapala. We’d love to have you become one of our family of subscribers and we’re betting you’ll love reading the very best online magazine about life in Mexico. Did we mention that subscribers have access to on-line support – we’re always here to answer your email questions! What a deal that is!

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.

Outdoor Living is Lake Chapala’s Finest Feature

by Judy King 24. March 2010 10:41

P6240573 I guess like folks anywhere, I occasionally start taking the beauty and comfort of living here for granted. Sometimes it just takes a little time with a newcomer or a visitor to remember how lucky we are to be able to have outdoor activities, all year around. .

When I watch the weather reports showing cars sliding over snow-covered roads in winter or folks sweltering in heat and humidity I’m reminded of how lucky we are to be here and I reclaim the joy of being outside – anytime I want.

Here at Lake Chapala we have the opportunity to enjoy so many activities outside—year round. I try to remember to take time each day for some quiet relaxation in my garden listening to the birds singing and checking on the progress of the plants, trees and flowers.

Take a look at some of the summer and winter outdoor activities we take for granted here in central Mexico.

  • Most fiestas, including birthday parties for the tiniest toddlers, are held outdoors in entertainment pavilions or gardens
  • My attorney’s office has an outside waiting room with a bubbling fountain and benches in a shady nook.
  • Liz mexican massageThe cocktail areas for relaxing and chatting before concerts at the Auditorium and during intermissions at the Lakeside Little Theater are outdoor. The theater has small chimineas (clay wood burning fireplaces) to create an illusion of warmth for the cooler nights; a jacket or shawl is usually enough to keep us comfortable under the stars.
  • One of the village homes I lived in had no glass in the windows that faced the courtyard. The overhang protected us from rain and we just didn't use those rooms on the coldest days.
  • Most Lakeside restaurants have outdoor seating, or areas that are under a roof but have no side walls. Dining under the sprawling rubber tree at La Nueva Posada, in the colorful gardens at Pedro's, the upper story palapa at #4 or the semi-open areas at Ajijic Tango, or the lakefront patio of La Tasca, or the intimate, center of town space at The Secret Garden  make lunch or dinner out a very special event.
  • Lectures, groups, activities, and events are held year round on the shady patio or under the roof of the kiosk at the Lake Chapala Society.
  • Wedding receptions and huge parties take place in outdoor pavilions like Ajijic's La Pista or La Huerta and Chapala’s Mama Chuy’s where breezes blow year round through shady areas.
  • Concerts are often produced outside, in town plazas, in the front atriums of local churches and in the charro rings.
  • Golfers. tennis players, and volley ball teams are on the courses and courts every day, year round. One avid golfer tells me that there are an average of five days a year when there is enough daytime rain to keep him away from his tee time.
  • Auto repair and body work is done almost always outside, as are upholstery and woodworking.
  • Every Monday in Chapala, every Tuesday in San Antonio and San Juan Cosalá, every Wednesday in Ajijic and every Thursday in Jocotepec the tianguis (open air markets) are held in the appointed village streets.
  • Older members of local families do a great deal of their socializing, even in the evenings, on the sidewalk in front of their homes. Insects are not even a reason to keep us inside.
  • The breezes are usually balmy during 11 months of our Lakeside year and then the streets come alive with street corner or wandering vendors selling tamales, steamed guasanas (green garbanzos), boiled or toasted peanuts, hot dogs, ice cream, tacos and other goodies. People here still take time to stroll, and to do some of their shopping and errands in the evenings.

Mexico Insights Outdoor Living Tips --

DSC00224With all of these activities and events, compounded by the time you’ll spend on your one terrace or patio, we spend much of our life in Mexico outside. With pleasant temperatures and sunny skies most days, foreigners may not remember that at this altitude and longitude, the sun has a great deal more power and we need to wear sunglasses and frequently apply sunscreen to protect our eyes and skin from UV damage and sunburn.

When selecting a house to rent or buy, look for a home with a covered, south-facing terrace. Your furniture will be protected from the heavy summer nighttime rains, you’ll avoid the strong, hot sun’s rays in the hottest spring months, and have the benefit of the low, southern sun in the winter. 

What about you? What do you enjoy most about outdoor living at Lake Chapala? What are you looking forward to doing here? What tips to you have about outdoor living for those exploring life here? Just click on comments below and leave us a message.

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.

Staying Healthy: Fruits and Veggies

by Judy King 28. February 2010 15:28

Stay Healthy and Enjoy Mexico's Fruits and Vegetables


10-22-2006 066 Our last blog answered concerns about drinking the water and consuming ice in Mexico. While those are two large concerns for newcomers, there are other new processes to learn when you move to Mexico or come for a visit.

Over the years, our writers have written a dozen or more articles about shopping for the beautiful fresh fruits and veggies in area tianguis (street markets) and grocery stores and central markets for the pages of Living at Lake Chapala.

While the bell peppers, green onions, radishes, lettuce, cucumbers, broccoli, cauliflower, apples, peaches, grapes, pears and other fruits and vegetables are perfect when you bring them into the house – there’s one more step before they’re ready to eat.

10-22-2006 068 Because our tap water may not be absolutely pure, and because we are never sure where and how our fruits and vegetables have been grown and picked, we take an extra step to be certain that not bacteria lingers on the produce we will eat without peeling or cooking.

Just washing the produce is not enough – and if the tap water is not pure, you can do more harm than good.
Local grocery stores and pharmacies sell special drops with which you can purify water, and vegetables and fruits. When I get back from the market I immediately put all of the produce in a large dish pan, fill the pan with tap water and add five drops of the purification solution (iodine or silver colloid) to the water. According to the directions on the package, I let the produce soak in the treated water for 15 minutes, then let it all air dry.

Do Not Rinse the fruits and veggies with tap water!

10-22-2006 067 While you may be well advised to avoid eating raw fruits and vegetables that are not cooked or peeled in restaurants in other areas of Mexico, you don't have to worry about salads and fruits here at Lake Chapala.

Lakeside restaurants have been catering to Mexican and foreign tourists for many years and they know keeping diners healthy is vital to staying in business. Ajijic and Chapala restaurants serve only purified water, use purified ice and the fruits and vegetables they serve have been disinfected, so you can eat everything without fear of illness.

Mexico Insights Note: It's interesting to note that much of the produce we purchase here is exported to the US where customers don't take any special efforts to purify it. Frequently we discover that the lettuce, celery and other produce folks buy in their local Kroger and Food Lion is also being imported into Mexico from the US.

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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