A Weekend of Old Time Events

by Judy King 10. September 2010 19:53

balloon-orange Mexico is a land of contrasts. While large corporations in Mexico do business at the cutting edge of technology, other businesses are happy to lag comfortably behind, with shop owners still behind the counter.

In this area where families stroll to the center of town or to the malecon at the lake’s edge to relax in the cool breezes on summer evenings, it should come as no surprise that traditional Lakeside events surrounding the annual September Independence Day celebration reflect the area’s by-gone days.

There is a menu full of these old-time activities this weekend here at Lake Chapala from which to choose – the problem is finding time and energy to take part in everything! 

Globos – Your First Priority

Ok, so I’ll make this decision for you – then you fill the rest of the time. If you’ve never attended Ajijic’s Regatta de Globos (Event of Hot Air Balloons) on the Saturday before Independence Day (September 16) you’ve got to make time to see them.

Hurry! The Globos start heading up into the sky about 3 p.m. Saturday (tomorrow) at the soccer field across the street from Salvador’s restaurant.

Globos? Hot Air Balloons? 

Sorry, this isn’t the Albuquerque Hot Air Balloon show – there won’t be anyone riding in these crafts or noisy blowers inflating them, and the sky won’t be filled with towering commercial vessels. But, as far as I’m concerned, these motor-less hand-crafted aircraft are even more amazing than those that take folks over California’s wine country.

Each of the several hundred balloons which will attempt to take flight on Saturday afternoon and evening has been recently handmade from -- tissue paper. Yep, dozens of sheets of colorful tissue paper that have been meticulously (or not) fastened together – more or less air tight – with bottles and gallons of white school glue!

When I heard that, I envisioned balloons about two or three feet tall – a cute and pleasant past-time for a holiday weekend afternoon – right? Well, not quite.

balloon-ajijic balloon-team

While you’ll see balloons that are traditionally shaped in a riot of colors, wait till the dozens of teams get their paper and small inflation fires warmed up and start filling their masterpieces with hot air. (A

You may see that “lucky ole sun, a nearly full-sized yellow school bus, a VW Bug, hearts, butterflies and  -- well the sky isn’t the limit in this sport – with any luck at all, the sky is only the beginning.

balloon-car balloon-bumps

Globos seem to be much more of a traditional event in Ajijic than in other Lakeside villages – in fact, at one time the Globo competition was held in conjunction with the November Fiestas of Ajijic – the nine-day celebration honoring Ajijic’s patron, San Andres (St. Andrew).

There was just one big problem with sending tissue paper creations high into the sky until they dissolved into flames and fell, tumbling onto the mountainside at that time of year. The corn crops on the mountain were fully mature, with tinder-dry leaves. The way I heard the story was that Morley Eager, the patriarch of the family that now owns La Nueva Posada and then were the hosts of the Posada Ajijic, had organized the regatta and was very pleased with the number of entrants and the fruits of their labors.

Morley was particularly pleased with his own entry -- biggest and best balloon sponsored by the Posada. It made it off the launch site, sailed off higher in the air than most, then suddenly, in the agony of defeat, the tissue paper caught from the heat source and fell like a stone into a corn field which immediately burst into flame – destroying the farmer’s whole crop.

balloon-saucer balloon-sun balloon-spikes

The story probably  would have ended there…if Morley, with his typical marketing finesse hadn’t insisted that the balloons he sponsored be proudly emblazoned with not only the hotel’s name, but also his own…in several locations. Seems there was just enough of the vessel left for the farmer to identify the “owner” of the craft that wiped out his season’s work and bring the charred remains to the locally famous innkeeper.

Always the gentleman, Morley paid up, in full…even though he thought it seemed strange at the time that that particular field was said to have yielded more corn than any other space twice the size.

Don’t forget – 3 p.m. Saturday, September 11 at the soccer field at the head of the tianguis street (Calle Revolucion). Be there…or miss all the thrills, spills and laughter.


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.

Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head

by Judy King 28. July 2010 13:12

Rain Garbage Bag Rain GearFor some reason, I’ve been thinking a lot about rain lately –  maybe that’s because we’ve received about 20” of rainfall since the rainy season started six weeks ago – about 60% of our annual average rainfall.

So far, I’ve been as cheerful as Gene Kelly about our soggy summer, I’ve not been singing and dancing in the rain, but the mountains are wondrously green, the lake is rising – on course for a 30-year high point .

My garden has never looked better…but…unlike Julie Andrews, I’m not cooing about “raindrops on roses” being one of my favorite things.

Think about it, it’s rained 24 of the 28 days this month – and on most of those days, it’s rained in daylight hours contrary to claims you may have read on other websites that it only rains at night here in paradise.

Those claims are fairly accurate – in times of normal weather patterns. It’s when tropical storms and hurricanes start circling their warm, moist air into our region, the blue  skies darken and we move into cycles of gray days and hours of gentle, steady rainfall. It’s enough, as Elvis said, to have “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain.”

28July8am Those Tropical Storms and Hurricanes

As Alex and Bonnie have moved up the Atlantic/Gulf Coasts and Celia,  Darby and Estelle have pushed rain to us from the Pacific Coast this month, I’ve had plenty of indoor computer time.

I’ve been following the tropical storms on The Weather Channel link on Amigo Rodrigo’s online radio station at KMEXRadio.FM. It’s easy to spot the oddly shaped state of Jalisco – it forms that prominent bump on the Pacific Coast and then reaches inland to our location at 5,000 feet on the north shore of Lake Chapala.

Be sure to click on the animate (Weather in Motion) button under the map to see what those clouds have been doing the past few hours. For example,  the map above is the still shot at for 8:17 a.m. EDT (7:17 a.m. Chapala Time). When you animate the scene, you see the storm cells that produced the .75” we received between Midnight and dawn…and you can see how that large series of cells to the south at 7 a.m. is moving into our zone toward midday.

editor4-rainI’ve also been taking some sort of perverse pleasure in checking the website for the private weather station in Riberas de Pilar – several times a day – just to see how much rain we’ve received. I must not be alone, the owner of the site reports 6,000 visitors last Sunday!

Rather than to start “Crying in the Rain” like the Everly Brothers, “Walking in the Rain” with Johnny Ray,  or complaining, “Oh No, Don’t Let the Rain Come Down” with the Serendipity Singers, I’ve been enjoying some extra time curled up some favorite books, Rain of Gold, House of Rain and The Rain God as I “Listen to the Rhythm of the Falling Rain” (Donavan).

One recent “Day That the Rain Came Down” (Jane Morgan) I spent watching some old movies, The Rainmaker, Rain Man, and two movies titled Rain -- one with Faye Dunaway and one with Joan Crawford.

 
Are there really 800 Songs about Rain?

A little research showed me that while there are only about 100 movies with the word rain in the title, there are more than eight hundred songs about rain – some with lyrics of note for our lives this month:

 DSC00782  “Rain Rain” (Cher)

Rain, Rain in the sky
Everywhere I look my eyes see
Rain, rain fallin' down
Crying as it hits the ground

“Eastern Rain” (Joni Mitchell)

Rain comes from the east one night
We watch it come
To hang like beaded curtains
Till the morning sun
Water dripping from our clothes
You with raindrops on your nose
Ask me sadly please don’t go away now.

DSC00902 “The Late September Dogs” (Melissa Ethridge)

Come on let it rain
Let it rain down on me
Let the rain touch my hands
Let the rain set me free
Let it rain down on me

“The Rain” (Will Smith)

The little rain drops fallin’ down on me
But I can’t seem to feel it, feel it
Feel it coming over me

editor3-garciaKeep your Eye on Mount Garcia

“Can you Stand the Rain?” (Boys ii Men)  We’re still loving life here at Lake Chapala, “Come Rain or Come Shine” (Billie Holiday, Frank Sinatra and Bette Midler).

Still….we’re keeping an eye on Lake Chapala’s south shore peak, Mount Garcia to see if it’s still shrouded in clouds.

You see local lore says that when Sr. Garcia puts on his sombrero, you’ll know it’s going to rain. Seems like all month he’s had it pulled down to his eyebrows.

Meanwhile, we’re wondering …

Who Will Stop the Rain (Credence Clearwater Revival)

Heard the singers playin’, how we cheered for more.
The crowd had rushed together, tryin’ to keep warm.
Still the rain kept pourin’, fallin’ on my ears.
And I wonder, still I wonder who’ll stop the rain.


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.

What Next? – Judy King and David Truly on the Radio?

by Judy King 30. June 2010 20:37

western_clipart_cactus Internet Radio that is! And you can hear the interviews with me several times this week – no matter where you live.

As long as you have working speakers or headphones you can tune into the new KMEXRadio.FM and not only hear Amigo Rodrigo’s upcoming interview with me, (and an interview with Lakeside’s Tall Boy and Geography/Tourism specialist Professor David Truly) but also explore Amigo Rodrigo’s Network with news, weather and tips for travelers and expats, all broadcast in English along with a selection of classic top 40 music and select album tracks.  

Tune in to hear Amigo Rodrigo’s interview with Judy King on Thursday, July 1 at 6:10 p.m. and then listen to what David Truly has to say Friday, July 2 at 6:10 p.m. Judy has done two interviews with Amigo – the first was an introduction and in the second she unravels some of the cultural differences Mexicans and Expats experience when dealing in real estate.

Here’s How to Tune In to KMEXRadio.FM

cactus4 If you can send an email or surf the web, you can tune into KMEXRadio.FM. Really, it’s THAT easy! AND we’re making it even easier for you with this blog post. All you have to do is click on the phrase KMEXRadio.FM in this article, and you’ll find yourself at the home page. Then just click on the word LISTEN at the top of that page.

You can also go directly to KMEXRadio.FM by clicking on the link we’ve installed in the right hand column of this page – over there in the box that lists some of our favorite websites.  

Here’s More about KMEXRadio.FM

While I’ve enjoyed listening to music broadcast by the hundreds of all-music stations at Live365.com, a big gap in the lives of expats living or traveling in Mexico has been the lack of news and weather programming about Mexico, but presented in English.

cactus3 My new friend Amigo Rodrigo is saw that need, too and put his naturally melodic radio voice and years of northern US radio experience to work with KMEXRadio.FM. He bills his internet radio station as the “New Expat radio network.”

In addition to weather and news every hour during the day and night, Amigo Rodrigo (he was Randy until he and his wife bought a house in Manzanillo and joined the Expat movement to Mexico) fills the air time with classic top 40 tunes and a variety of informational programming.

I love his Spanish word of the hour feature. A native Spanish speaker clearly pronounces just one word several times, and explains the meaning. I think this hourly spot is helping my pronunciation already!

listenLiveKMEXRadio.FM programs flow on this hourly outline:

Top of the HourNews and weather from Mexico in English

:15 – Tips on Mexico (usually every-other-hour)

:30 – Spanish Word of the Hour

:35 – Mexico Weather Forecast

:45 – Tips on Mexico

And, don’t forget – at 6:10 p.m.  Thursday, July 1 you can hear my interview, and then at 6:10 p.m. Friday, listen for David Truly.


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.

Horse Puppies and Other Reasons to Love Lakeside

by Judy King 22. June 2010 09:21

camino-real It’s wonderful living in a rural environment  and at Lake Chapala, spring and early summer still means the arrival of baby animals.

I think that the profusion of animals with their wobbly new offspring was one of the endearing things that increased my intense feelings of “coming home” in the middle of Mexico – especially since home had once been small-town Iowa.

In that Iowa farmhouse, I stood washing dishes while watching the little calves with their mothers on the hill in the pasture across the gravel road.

The baby pigs lived with their moms in the farrowing house for a time, and then were turned out into a large lot with the clanging automatic feeders out beside the barn. (They were less endearing when they squeezed under the fence and rooted and snacked on the tender, sprouting plants in my vegetable garden.)

Even the mama quail got into the act, parading their family of little ones across the freshly plowed and planted garden and out toward the machine shed.

goats1 goats2

It was one of my own little offspring – about 40 years ago – who coined the phrase “horse puppies.” The origin is obvious – we thought the logic brilliant.

I suppose it is a lot easier for a toddler to call all of the baby animals “puppies” than to learn the whole range of correct baby animal names: calves, colts, piglets, kids, etc.  So while we didn’t encourage baby talk, we adopted cow puppies, horse puppies, pig puppies, and goat puppies.  The family adopted the phrase – one I still catch myself using out of habit, all these years later.

horse-bathThe Horse Puppies Made Me Do It…

So was it just the appeal of farm animals – horses, cattle, goats, pigs and chickens that attracted me to a new life at Lake Chapala?

Well, the animals, small corn fields and fruit trees were certainly was part of it – but I think that was only part of the whole that caused me to fall in love so completely, so thoroughly and deeply with life here.

Daily life here at Lakeside sparked a series of warm memories – the daily scenes here reminded me of how life was in rural American back in the early 1950s.

I think the combination of the simpler way of life, the connection of the extended family. the constant attraction and stream of entertainment in the town plaza all caused me to feel so strongly that I was  “coming home” in spite of the cobblestone streets, profusion of fiercely colored tropical flowers and surrounding ring of mountains.

The Way It Was

There were a multitude of experiences that played into that feeling and into those remembered images. Some have changed little in the 20 years I’ve been here. The Mexican families walking together to church or the plaza on warm evenings continue to remind me of being “uptown” on Saturday night back when Iowa farmers didn’t yet have electric service and needed to come to town on Saturday night to buy groceries, get haircuts, and “do their trading.”

baby-vertcal I grew up in a small town; on Saturdays we parked my grandparents’ car as near as possible to the intersection of Broadway and Main so my mother, grandmother and aunt could sit in the car and “watch the people go by.”

Where did the music originate? It was always there -- Sousa marches, happy late 40s big band, and polkas – there must have been a juke box outside somewhere  on the sidewalk.

Dad and grandpa leaned against the wall between Kelly’s Jewelry store and the barber shop and shoe shine place, or sat on the hood of the car, smoking and visiting with old school friends, customers, and business contacts.

Meanwhile my uncle sold popcorn from his sidewalk gas-powered cart and I ran and played in the courthouse lawn, browsed in the dime store, and poured over the enormous display of penny candy at the Candy Kitchen next to the Ritz Theater.

The Way It Is

Have you visited the plaza in your nearest Lakeside village on Sunday nights?  Sunday in Ajijic is the old Saturday in the Midwest. So much so that a child’s allowance here is called, in Spanish, su domingo (your Sunday).

Folks of all ages still stream to the plaza, all cleaned up and with hair slicked back. Children run and play among the walkways, pelting each other with cascarones (eggshells filled with confetti). The old folks sit on benches and visit with old friends, relatives and neighbors. The teens and young marrieds either walk in the paseo (strolling around the plaza – the boys in one direction and girls in the other) or dance to the band in the plaza kiosko (bandstand). 

The ambiance and intent of these experiences are nearly the same – yet the scenes unfolded 1800 miles and a lifetime apart – reminding many of the expats who venture into the real life of central Mexico of home, and of growing up 50 or 60 years ago.

Ahh…it’s good to have come home – especially when home means I can see a horse being bathed on a sidewalk in the middle of Ajijic while her horse puppy looks on and then go to the plaza on Sunday night, sit on a bench, listen to the music and watch the people go by. 


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.

Overcoming Machismo – Mexican Fathers Part 1

by Judy King 19. June 2010 16:45

clip_image001 Everyone is fascinated by and has a variety of interpretations of Mexico's "Macho Males." How interesting it is to discover that here, among those men, this title now describes a man who is strong and loving, who protects and provides for his family – instead of the heavy-handed disciplinarian we imagine. Enjoy this story – today and then read the conclusion of our Father’s Day Salute tomorrow.

In honor of Father's Day, we've gathered photos of Mexican fathers interacting with their children. In light of the macho reputation of Mexican males, I wasn't prepared for the behavior of Mexican men with their children—even in the modern times of the early 1990's. My image of machismo (macho behavior) hadn't prepared me for common scenes which included fathers taking toddlers to nursery school, carrying babies in religious processions and calming kids with skinned knees.

For centuries, fathers in Mexico's traditionally patriarchal society have controlled their families according to the expected male role defined by an old European family structure—machismo.

The Spanish settlers brought with them a concept of machismo that reflected a man's strength and character through excessive aggression, absolute power, sexual prowess, and lack of regard for women and children. The father or oldest male in the family was the major decision maker and demanded complete allegiance, respect, and obedience from his wife and children—even when his decisions determined their choice of spouses, career, or education.

Family roles were historically defined by enforced respect and fear. The father was dominant over his wife and children. He formulated a code of honor and demanded rules of behavior for the entire family. The sons learned from their father to be manly while protecting the virginity of their unmarried sisters. Daughters were demure, accepting, and obedient. Public opinion agreed it appropriate for the husband to have extramarital affairs but not to flaunt them, which would demonstrate a lack of respect for the wife. (Thompson & Walker, 1991).

father-1 fathers-2 fathers-3

(Left and Center Above:) Whole families walk in Lakeside religious processions. The children in the left and center photos are dressed to represent Juan Diego on the feast day which honors the Virgin of Guadalupe. (At Right:) A small daughter has a bird’s eye view of the event.

Meanwhile the wife remained at home, forbidden to work or to leave the house without her husband's permission. Her husband made all the decisions for the family, including daily household expenditures. She received just enough money each day to purchase the groceries. When she did leave the house to attend church or purchase food for the household, she was always accompanied by another female – a sister, aunt, cousin or servant.

In his study of Latino families, Madse (1993:20) drives home the total power and authority of Mexican men enjoyed a couple of decades ago by stating, 'Ideally the Latin male only acknowledges the greater authority of his father and God. In case of conflict between these two sources, he chooses to side with his father.’

clip_image001[9] clip_image001[11]clip_image001[13]

(Left:) The demeanor of Ajijic musician, Tomas Hinojoso, reflects his respect as he chats with his elderly wheelchair bound father. (Center:) A father jokes with his daughters as they walk to the town plaza to met relatives and friends. (Right) Other male relatives sometimes take on the role of the father. Here, an uncle rides in a parade with his tiny nephew.

Historically, Mexican macho behavior has closely resembled the old machismo of the United States and other countries. In most ethnic groups and social classes, men traditionally dominated women and governed their families—on both sides of the border until the middle of the 20th century. Just as in the areas of transportation and technology, changes in male and female attitudes have come more slowly in Mexico than in the United States and Canada. Nevertheless, change here continues to occur as it has over the past 15 to 40 years—slowly, quietly—without protests or political disturbances.

Mexican men still expect to provide, protect, and make most decisions for their families. Many years after north of the border wives and mothers were comfortably adjusted to women's rights, most Mexican women were still not allowed to work outside the home until the early 1990s.

While modern-style machos still posture at the thought of a working wife and sometimes place restrictions on the terms of their wives' work schedules, husbands are adjusting and welcome, and acknowledge the need for her contributions to the family purse.

fathers-boys fathers-door

(Left:) Dad and the boys stop on a walk to the plaza for a session of tying shoes. (Right:) Even Abuelos (grandfathers) are getting into the action, spending time with the grandchildren in a way they didn’t when their own children were small.

These men started to learn gentle lessons of respect and honor as their mothers and aunts gained fragments of independence along with the few coins earned by taking in ironing or by making dresses. Today's wives, mothers, and sisters are continuing to teach Mexican machos new behaviors that are defining genuine machismo as a tender, courageous, and generous spirit able to give others dignity, generosity, and respect.

These days, men are the first to admit that their wives' income is doing more than providing a better education for the children and improving their living conditions.

Many village families are purchasing their first vehicles, televisions, washing machines, and computers. There is still more. In a complicated dance of give and take, Mexican men are learning a new way of leading their families—they are learning to share part of their authority and responsibility.

fathers-music fathers-icecream

(Left:) Jose Villalobos, his friend Geraldo Rojas, and Jose’s son Pepe Villalobos play and sing – assisted by the younger generation of Villalobos boys. (Right:) A Guadalajara father takes his children for ice cream on a weekend trip to Lake Chapala.

A Mexican man in his 40's, an Ajijic native, recently stated it well. "The men of my grandfather's and father's generations were más duro (harder, more stern and difficult) than my friends. Now I can see that the younger fathers today, the new generation, are very different even from us. We've all changed a lot, we're easier now, we don't want our kids to only be afraid of us."

He paused, gazed into the distance and then continued, "The men in my father's generation thought nothing of beating their wives—they thought it was their right. Many of us started that way, too. I remember a few years ago when men would come to work and brag about how drunk they'd been on the weekend and how they'd hit their wives. We used to see it or hear it all the time; now we know it is a shameful thing to hit our wives and we want to show our kids a better way to live. It's all been changing these last years. We're better educated about a lot of things, and that is changing our attitudes about our place in the family."

Come back tomorrow – on Father’s Day as we report more attitudes from today’s Mexican men, Los Machismos Nuevos.


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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