Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Lake Chapala

March 21 to 23rd

Just 45kms south of Guadalajara lies Mexico's biggest freshwater lake - Lake Chapala. That's not saying much as Mexico is not really noted for massive lakes but it does stretch a reasonable 80kms by 18kms (50 by 11 miles). What it lacks in scale it makes up for in natural beauty, surrounded by picture postcard mountains on all sides....



Chapala also enjoys a near perfect climate and is a riot of colour the whole year round....



The lakeside towns; Chapala and Ajijic (A-hee-heek) are rapidly turning in to US and Canadian retirement destinations - land and new houses are advertised for sale all along the main highway and both population and prices are rising fast. It's easy to see why....



The level of the lake is also rising. In fact water levels and quality have been a major source of political tension in recent years, with Guadalahara draining much of the precious liquid and replacing it with indutrial waste. Levels dropped precipitously a decade ago and steps to replenish it since then look to have been a little too successful..... 



We post a new all time cycling low of just 7kms (4.5 miles) travelling between Chapala and Ajijic but it's not to be missed. Ajijic attracts a number of artists and painters to it's narrow cobbled stone streets and walls and buildings are vivid in colour....



Strolling along the boardwalk you do get get that urge to break out the easel and watercolours and have a go....


Lazy boat trips will whisk you off to Chapala's 2 islands; Scorpion and President, where independence fighters successfully held a fort against government troops between 1812 and 1816. You might want to choose a different boat though....

 

You might need a different companion as well. Mine discovered that Pina Coladas came in litre glasses and sight seeing took on a different meaning in her bloodshot eyes....

 

She was in good company though as the Tequila bars were attracting all comers as well...



Yes that is a donkey ordering a strong one. 

All in all; a gorgeous place and a popular one with weekending Guadalajarans. It looks even better as the sun slips lower towards the mountain tops and sprinkles gold across the water....


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