Many folks find it easier to get to know an area once they've grounded themselves with a map. Maps of Mexico aren’t easy to find; you’ll never find maps of most small to medium towns (the Lake Chapala area is an exception, thanks to Canadian cartographer, geographer and long-time Lakeside resident Tony Burton.)
Tony Burton’s maps of the north shore of Lake Chapala are available in a number of areas at Lakeside, including many real estate offices, and in local book stores and book outlets, such as La Nueva Posada.
Don’t miss his comprehensive new book written with Lakeside Geographer Rick Rhoda, Geo-Mexico: The Geography and Dynamics of Modern Mexico. (We’ll have more details about this wonderful source in a blog, soon!)
Finding the center of town
So, what do you do when you want to head for the center of town to find an ATM, cab, restaurant or other services? Look for the church spires! The large, old churches in most towns and cities are either in sight of the community's main plaza. Until recently (the past 80 or 100 years or so) other buildings were not allowed to be taller than the steeples of the town’s main church (the parroquia or parish church).
Online and Interactive Maps
That’s great information if you are here, but what if you want to get to know the streets in the Lakeside's villages while you are still dreaming of visiting Mexico?
These days interactive maps are just the ticket – Even Tony Burton has climbed onto that new technology and done it with the excellence with which he does everything. Click Here to find maps of Lake Chapala’s north shore villages, some of Tony’s finest work. You can even zoom in and take a closer look, find the streets you might walk from your B&B to the Plaza, and other fun excursions.
Maps of the Lake, the County, the State and the Country
If old fashioned maps are more your style, I just found a really great site, chock full of 2,000 pages of maps, some interactive, most in detailed still form. Click Here for detailed maps of every state and every major Mexican city.
When you browse down the page, select the map of Jalisco – and then click on the section that includes Lake Chapala – that’s easy to find, look for the large blue oval on the map. There, you’ll be able to view the locations of Lakeside's towns and villages, the relationship of Lake Chapala to Guadalajara, and more.
With these maps you can trace the free highways and the cuotas (toll roads) back to the border, down to the beach at Manzanillo or Puerto Vallarta or pretend you are taking a trip east to Patzcuaro in Michoacán, San Miguel de Allende in the state of Leon or travel on to Mexico City.
You'll get a good understanding of how to get to the airport and to the city of Guadalajara, where San Juan Cosalá is compared to Ajijic and Jocotepec, the distance around the lake and the location of the islands in Lake Chapala. If you’ve read about the currently very popular restaurant in Ixtlahuacan de los Membrillos (just over the mountain on the way to Guadalajara or perhaps you’ve heard that houses are cheap in Agua Escondido. You'll find those communities, too.
Road Maps of Mexico
You won't find a road map in Pemex gas stations anywhere in the country, and unless you are in a border city, the only map of Mexico you'll find in the United States will be the back page of your U.S. Atlas, and trust me when I tell you that doesn't have anywhere near enough information for Mexican driving trips.
That’s one of the reasons we offer to email a set of directions from Laredo, Texas, to Lake Chapala to readers who email my online magazine, Mexico Insights Living at Lake Chapala at firstname.lastname@example.org and request them. Please tell us you saw the information here!
Mexico Insights Moving to Mexico Tip:
Buying a road map for your drive to Mexico is the most important thing to do while you are in the area. The second most important thing is to attend our weekly Mexico Insights Newcomers Seminar – but more about that tomorrow.
A Guia Roji road map is the one to have. Be sure to buy one when your fly down to check out Lakeside before your first drive from the border. You’ll find these maps in several Lakeside locations including: SuperLake (the grocery store) on the highway in San Antonio Tlayacapan, Libros and Revistas, a local book, newspaper and magazine store near the parking lot entrance of Plaza Bugambilias in Ajijic.
See you tomorrow with more information about our weekly seminars!