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.