The travel bug has latched on to me pretty late in life and it is embedded like a leech now. Travelling is actually a vice; drains your pocket, is addictive, imperious but nevertheless is a virtue as it imparts fresh vitality to the mind and body temple. While I was doing my Gma duties, I managed to sneak away to a few places close by. Chapala town with its namesake lake is about 50 km from Guadalajara and is a favourite weekend getaway. Lake Chapala is Mexico’s largest freshwater lake and the town population is not even 50000.
Most of them are expats from US or Canada and thrive in the near-perfect climate of the place. I took an Uber from Guadalajara in the morning and got off at the landscaped median which divides Calle Madero past the plaza with its delightful bandstand.
It was around Christmas and the promenade was vibrant with poinsettias, huge Xmas trees, life-size nativity scenes and festoons. I took my time walking down the huge tree-lined avenue taking in every little detail. The fountain in the centre and the fake gift boxes under the sky touching Xmas tree all added to the charm of this quaint lake town.
With its lakefront and picturesque pier, boat rides and restaurants, Chapala is a charming place to explore. The boat ride seemed pretty steeply priced to me but it was well worth it with the view of the hills, the island in the centre and the ducks pirouetting in the waters. The friendly boatman was wearing the usual sombrero and I wanted to talk to him but we didn’t understand each other.
After the boat ride, I was hungry but all the restaurants were mainly non-vegetarian and I moved to the plaza. Almost every town in Mexico has a central plaza which is the heart of the town. I find the large shade trees and wrought iron benches very appealing and useful for tourist to take a breather. The street musicians are very innovative and one man band was what I saw.
There were small stalls on the sidewalk selling all types of things around the covered market; from fresh food, fruit to shopping for toys, garments and souvenirs. The centre of the open plaza has a typically covered bandstand where live bands play on weekends.
Looking at the rides and ponies for kids I wished I had brought my grandson along. There was a carousel with live ponies and for the grown-ups two giant-sized horses.
Food stalls are all over the place and the variety of foodstuff is mindboggling. Now I am an ovo-vegetarian and I had to confirm more than a couple of times to make sure what I was being given is meatless. My daughter-in-law’s mom was with me and we communicate through Google translate as I don’t speak Spanish and she doesn’t speak English. She knows that I do not eat meat and while I was clicking pictures she offered me a plate of fritters; absentmindedly I picked one and put it in my mouth and to my horror, it was fried dried fish. I almost puked and burst out laughing.
The shops were good and the prices reasonable and I picked up a few souvenirs to take home. The culture and art are preserved zealously and encouraged by the government.
We walked by the church where many people were in Christmas cheer and exchanging greetings. If you are walking on the road random people will wish you Buenos Dias or Buenos Tarde’ which shows the genial nature of the Mexican people.
It is a visually stunning lake flanked by hills that offer spectacular views and the landscaping of the picturesque shoreline walks and parks is a feast for the eyes. I had to drag myself back to the cab and head home exhausted but with a satisfied mind.
Check out other blogs on Mexico