• Feb

    On the Shores of Lake Chapala: Part 3


    This beaming chappie is none other than Jeff Rafferty, owner of the the Cafe’ Magana, which was featured in some of my first posts on Mexico back in 2005. Several of us would go there for his delicious English fare and good times.

    mexico ajijic jeff rafferty cafe' magana

    Unfortunately, Jeff ran into some problems with the landlord in Bucerias and had to shut down his operation. That same problem also happened to Roots, a great vegetarian restaurant in town. Now, where they both were are two empty lots.

    In the wake of shutting down, Jeff told me he was moving to Ajijic. I promised myself that I’d look him up, if I ever got the chance.

    mexico ajijic cafe magana fish and chips

    My lunch. If you’ve got a hankering for fish and chips, this is the place to visit.

    mexico ajijic cafe magana

    The new, ressurected, Cafe’ Magana, about two miles to the east of Ajijic.

    mexico ajijic cafe' magana map

    For those who want more detail, here’s a map.

    mexico chapala en centro

    One of my first impressions of Chapala. Unlike Ajijic, the streets around this place were wide and roomy, many offering paving stones instead of cobblestones. To be sure, there were cobblestone streets, just not as much as in Ajijic.

    mexico chapala el centro

    Just outside of the central plaza in Chapala.

    mexico chapala waterfront

    A section of waterfront at Chapala. According to what I’ve heard, there are several issues with the lake. One is that nearby Guadalajara was tapping the lake as its water supply, which dramatically reduced the amount of water here.

    I’m told that in years past, the shoreline had moved nearly half a mile away from where it is now.

    mexico chapala

    Another example of the roads along the waterfront.

    mexico chapala

    Just past the no parking (E) sign on the right is the road that leads into Chapala from Ajijic. Taking a bus either way to Ajijic is 7 pesos (about 70 cents).

    mexico chapala side street

    One of the side streets, away from the waterfront.

    mexico chapala boats

    Some boats on the water near downtown in Chapala.

    mexico chapala waterfront

    A view of the waterfront from the long pier jutting into the water from the shoreline. As I’d mentioned, Chapala has had its share of problems over the years. One of these is some type of parasitic plant, which floats around the lake in large clumps and in years past, has choked the shoreline.

    Apparently, some chemicals have been put into the water to eliminate the problem, but I’m not sure if that’s true or hearsay. The other issue is marshy stuff that chokes the shoreline. The day I showed up, there were several men in the water with machetes, clearing it away. Definitely not a pleasant job.

    mexico chapala crane

    Another lovely shot of the Mexican crane, which landed on a railing in front of me.

    Parting Thoughts

    I spent a grand total of four days in this area. I didn’t get to see much of Jocotopec, but it’s not very built up and is a great spot if you have a car.

    Ajijic, according to some, is a quaint little town, but I really didn’t like the place, partly due to the claustrophobic feeling, the overcrowding (in my opinion) and the dangerous cobblestones. The other issue was age.

    Ajijic is a good place to go if you’re a Canadian or American on the edge of retirement. In my experience, I would say that the median age for the foreigners living here was 65, if not older. I was hard pressed to find anyone (male or female), my age (I’m 49). Another thing is that if you don’t want to learn Spanish, this is a good place to go.

    As for Chapala, I liked the feeling of the place much better, mostly because it was much roomier in terms of space. The bottom line though is that I have no desire to stay here for any length of time, mostly because this place is inland and I’m a lover of the ocean. Still, it was a good place to visit.

    The climate, however, was great, around 75 degrees the entire time I was there. Evenings were nice as well, though the mornings could be quite cool.

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