Wednesday, February 28, 2007

A Road Trip

After a few days in Guadalajara I decided it was time to take a trip out of town and see what I could see. I had heard about Lake Chapala since I was a kid. It is a large lake about an hours drive from Guadalajara. Because it is far enough inland foreigners can buy property outright (there are restrictions about actually buying on the coast or near borders) and has long been popular with both Americans and Canadians. In fact there are about 12,000 ex-pats living in the vicinity.

It was easy enough to get to and the bus ride only cost about nine dollars American. The bus was quite comfortable too.

Fascinating Picture Of Bus

The size of the lake, big, and its altitude make the climate particularly tolerable for gringos. The lake has had its ups and downs but for the last three years there has been plenty of rain in the region so it is considerably higher now then a few years ago. Still, it is quite shallow and more of a marsh than a lake near the shoreline.

A View Of The Lake

This is a view of the lake from the town of Chapala named, surprisingly enough, after the lake. Or, maybe, it was the other way around.

After a quick peek at the lake I headed into the center of the tiny town to take in the sights. There weren't a whole lot of them but my fascination with meat was quickly satisfied. I love these little butcher shops where they drive the sides of meat up to the back in an open truck where somebody hacks it apart into pieces that can be carried off.

The Local Meat Market

This place was really great though because some of the less edible stuff was being grilled right out in front.

The Grill Room

Now don't get me wrong, Bar Man loves this stuff. I bought a plastic bag full of a variety of whatever it was and hauled it over to a table where I could buy a few beers, douse the meat with hot sauce and chow down.

Outdoor Dining

While I was sitting there I noticed a lot of activity in the little square, including someone selling a lot of balloons.

Balloon Man

I thought at first this was just a normal event, Mexicans being a happy and fun-loving people except when they are sneaking across our border to irritate Lou Dobbs. However, I soon noticed a number of signs that indicated something else was afoot.

A Carnival

It appears that Chapala has a Mardi Gras celebration and I had, by luck, arrived on the day it was to start. I hadn't planned on staying overnight but how could I miss this. I bought a toothbrush and toothpaste (please don't comment on my not buying a change of underwear) and went looking for a place to spend the night.

I didn't have to go far before I spotted a sign for a hotel that proudly advertised that they had hot water 24 hours a day. On top of that, who did I spot standing in the doorway with a beckoning look in her eye? Why, the Mysterious Chinese Woman.

Hot Water (Not Sheets) Hotel

The proprietor was, of all things, a middle aged Mexican transvestite who hadn't yet quite dressed for the day. She was wearing a tattered robe and had her hair up in curlers. Nicely painted toenails though. Bar Man felt like he was back in New York. I would have loved to have gotten a picture but she wouldn't let me take one because she said she looked a mess. Well, she did, actually, and I didn't feel like waiting around for three hours while she made herself presentable.

The room was only about $20 and was clean enough even though very small. Big deal, I didn't plan on spending a lot of time in it. It had a surprisingly nice little terrace though that looked out over the neighboring rooftops with the mountains in the background.

El Terraza

After checking out the room and making sure that I could touch all four walls with my hands and feet at the same time I wandered around the town a bit looking for a place where I could get a cocktail.

Across the street from the lake was this lovely looking restaurant and bar with a lovely wrap-around deck.

Lovely Restaurant

I sat and enjoyed the view of the parking lot and the cool breeze while sipping a rum and coke. I liked this place because they give you a glass of ice, a bottle of Coca Cola, and sizable pour of rum. You get to be your own bartender, kind of.

Enjoying My Drink

After finishing my drink (well, alright, two drinks) I decided to head back for a bit of a siesta before the evening festivities began. I will fill you in on those when next I post. It should be pretty soon though because I finally got my DSL connection and can actually work in the daylight now.

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