Chapala lake, a major draw
The lake is up to its
previous high levels, the beaches are clean, and the pleasure
boats make a tranquil photo. The town continues to grow and in
general, become more upscale.
There is even a
yacht club, even though most of the boats you see on Lake
Chapala are small fishing boats, rather than large
Viking yachts. In recent years Mexico has become a
popular sailing destination for yachts and superyachts.
Chapala becomes more modern, some prefer the old, sleepy ways and have moved to towns
across the lake. These towns are a little more affordable and a
lot more authentically Mexican, without the noticeable Gringo
The pier is to the left
In the dry years, the
end of the pier was in about 3 feet of water. Although shallow,
Lake Chapala is 48 miles long and 22 miles
wide. You can see the southern
side of the lake here easily. The wrought iron arch reads: Chapala,
Little Corner of Love. This is the center of the malecon
with a beautiful fountain and iron benches to the left out
of the photo.
Restaurants are at both ends
of the malecon.
back at Chapala beach from the pier
boats are a mainstay of the scenery here at Lake Chapala.
You can hire a lancha to take
you to Ajijic, or for a
Sunset Cruise if you'd like.
It wasn't that long ago that
International Jazz Festival was held on the beach for
On weekends, the place rocks
with lots of tourists, traveling minstrels, balloons, bubbles
and more. There is a modern skate board area just to the left of
the photo which is very active with the young showing off their
skate boarding skills.
Back on shore, this is the
fountain at the entrance of the malecon which is in the center
of the walkways that lead in both directions. Fishing has been a
livelihood for residents of Chapala for decades. These statues
are a tribute to the fishermen pulling in their daily catch with
Colorful boats on the lake
Many festively painted
boats line up at this tiny pier. The lirio, a type of water
hyacinth donated to the people of Chapala decades ago, has been
cut back to manageable levels and no longer consumes the surface
area of the lake.
something to be continuously managed.
Nice even walkways with
lush tropical plants
Sidewalks and and sitting areas with trees and lights have been
put into place by previous Presidentes of the city. This is the
end of the malecon which reaches all the way to the 'old' Post
Office building almost a kilometer down the walkway.
Restaurants and hotels run
the full length of this side of the peaceful passageway.
In the mornings, people run
the full length of the malecon, or walk it with their
dogs. Sometimes you will see a person on a unicycle practicing
his balanced riding.
The Adventurer's Guide to Chapala Living, 2nd
Edition - Order here!
The Beer Garden anchors
Garden with a Lakeside view. A great place to sip a beer and
listen to music.
The main street and the
Cathedral is to the right of this photo.
A fuller view of the beach
from onto the pier, another view of the beach area. This gives
you a better look at the Beer Garden on the right side of the
Swimming pool at a
restored mansion hotel
Several mansions along the
malecon have been restored to their original magnificence and
turned into boutique hotels.
One can pay to use the
swimming pool here or grab a meal or enjoy happy hour.
What a beautiful view!
Google map of Christiania
Google Earth photo you can see the whole of Cristiania Park in
Chapala, walking distance from the malecon. The
original 4 tennis courts are in the middle left of the picture.
two tennis courts that Billy built are at the center upper
right. At the apex of the trees in the center of the photo you
can also see the
2 sand volley ball courts that Billy had built
as well. The large land mass in the center is the futbol field,
and of course, the swimming pools are to the right.
view of the park shows about 30% of its total land area. It's a
very popular family destination on weekends for fairs, music,
food and fun. Many people choose here to do their daily morning
walks since it is such a beautiful, tranquil environment. The park is used on a daily basis from people all
over the area.
Tennis player getting a
tennis courts in the Cristiania Park are in constant use. They
are well-maintained and are considered to be the best in the
For sporty expats, these
courts are a major draw and a good place to meet other expats
and Mexican locals.
If you come to Chapala, you
must make a visit to Cristiania Park. It's a wonderful place to
make friendships and meet people from the other towns around
The old train station
Not far from the tennis
courts is the old train station.
In the "olden days" there
used to be a train station here connecting Guadalajara to
Chapala. This train helped bring tourists into Chapala and fish
and produce back to Guadalajara.
Construction started in 1917
and the station was completed in 1920. However, there was a huge
flood in Chapala in 1925, bankrupting the company in charge of
the station. The building was abandoned.
In 2008, restoration of
the building was completed, bringing the original train station
back to life as a Cultural Center
favorite place to gather is the Plaza.
Mexican town has
one and it usually consists of a gazebo, a market area and a
When we lived here in the
90s, few people had
telephones. If you wanted to know any local news, or when the
next fiesta or parade was happening, you'd go to the Plaza and
find out. This is where the 'taco telegraph' was a buzzin'!
On weekends there are bands
and dancing, sometimes free food and tequila!
Another view of Chapala
Here's another view of the
Plaza. People meet up here, sit in the sun or shade depending on
the weather, and have a meal or an ice cream.
It is central to everything,
Yes, today one can even get
Eggs Benedict at local restaurants. Our favorite is at AL Kafe,
next to the church on the main street.
meal runs about 95Pesos or about $5USD.
Fresh bolios and other
styles of bread
home made bread and pastries sold daily at the Plaza.
You can also purchase freshly
roasted whole chicken from several of the vendors on either side
of these bread baskets. Fresh fruit, vegetables, cheeses,
yogurts, juice shops, restaurants, a couple of farmacias and several butcher shops are
also located here.
These days fine pastries are
also obtainable at several new bakeries in town. Specialty
cakes, pies, fresh jam-filled cookies and other delicacies are
This is the
City of Chapala's Church dedicated to San Francisco. It is a stately building
and is said to house relics of some of the first Franciscan
monks in the area. Notice
that the two steeples are of different sizes. We were told that
one had fallen down, but we don't know why - and when it was rebuilt
it wasn't made the same size as the matching steeple. We don't
know why about that either!
On Sundays, the Church is packed with
Weddings, First Communions,
Baptisms and more are celebrated events here.
This church is just a stone's
throw from the lake. It has a beautiful view.
The Old Nido Hotel
This is the
current government building that houses the city offices. It used
to be the 'Old Nido Hotel' which served the guests and residents
of the area since the beginning of the 1900's. In fact, we have
stayed at the Nido Hotel ourselves and so have our relatives and
friends in years past. There's a lovely courtyard in the center
with the rooms all facing in to view it. Once a swimming pool
the back, but the city has since filled it in.
El Nido used to be the
only hotel in town. These days there are
many hotels in Chapala to choose from including the boutique
renovated mansions and other hotels dotting the area.
Corner building is now a
and white building has been renovated and was the office
for the city in prior times. This used to be the one-and-only stoplight
in Chapala - the cross street where the Carreterra meets the
center of town. Now, there are several!
Modern, clean bues provide transport to the
area for P9 a trip, about $0.50 US cents.
You can hire a taxi to take
you to some of the other towns around the lake like San Antonio
or Ajijic for $3-$4USD.
Fountain in the center of
Just down from the church
(which is on the right in this photo. You can see one of the
steeples) is this fountain.
There is a stop light to the
left of the fountain, coffee shops and restaurants behind it,
and across the street are banks, bakeries, an OXXO and several
Chapala is becoming more
modern and we see the changes happening right before our eyes.
Little by little, piece by piece the "old history" is disappearing, being replaced by a stylish, more
contemporary mode of living.
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