Monday, February 27, 2012

Hiking the local trails

J. C. bought me a hiking book titled Walks and Trails Around Ajijic by Gerry Green.  So last Friday, he, Debbi and I hiked the San Juan Cosala Western Cross Trail.  The trail is 1 mile to the falls, which is just beyond the cross.  It is fairly steep to the falls, so bring a walking stick and good hiking boots.  The trail goes beyond the falls to the Skyline trail, which straddles the mountain for 18 miles.  We will leave that one for another day.  The entire Lakeside area is a hiker's paradise. 
The trailhead.  Is this a two horsepower engine?  
In the rainy season, these trails would have a green jungle canopy. 
San Juan Cosala.  Lake Chapala is the largest fresh water lake in Mexico.  It is 55 miles long and 15 miles wide.
J. C. at the cross.  Shrines and crosses dot the ridges of the mountain.  They are an important part of Mexico's religious traditions.  
Ken and Debbi.  On selected days, locals climb the trails and decorate the crosses and shrines with plants, ornaments and other offerings. 
Another view of San Juan Cosala and the lake from further up the trail. 
You can see the falls at the left side of the picture.  During the rainy season, there is a huge volume of water flowing over.  During the dry season, like now, the falls are dry. 
These are some of the nicest views that we have seen since we moved here. 
This trail doesn't look steep, but it is.  I forgot my hiking stick and I went down twice.  Nothing hurt, but my pride. 
A mountainside shrine

Thursday, February 23, 2012


One Saturday night, six of us went dancing: Cee Cee, Paul, J. C., Vickie, Debbi and I.  Cee Cee and Paul have lived here for 11 years.  They invited us to a Cowpacchino on Sunday.  This is a Mexican custom that I am not familiar with.  You bring your own coffee mug, or they supply one.  Our first stop is the bar, located on the Rancho, where they have Tequila, Kahlua, Vodka, etc.  They also have different types of coffee, chocolate and spices.

After you have loaded up on all the ingredients, you walk over to the stalls where the milking cows are.  You hand your mug to the caretaker and he squeezes the cow's milk into the mug.  We're looking at each other thinking, are you serious?  Well, the milk was warm, and the coffee was great.  And, best of all, we have discovered another Mexican tradition.  We have a neighbor that does this every day.  He has invited us to come over and join him.  When I find out more about this custom, I will  let you know in a future blog. 
The bar area where you add, alcohol, coffee and spices.  If you don't drink, leave out the alcohol, the Cowpacchino is still tasty.
Yes, that is my mug he is filling up, straight from the udder to the mouth.  
Cee Cee, Debbi, Vicki and me
Even the kids enjoy the drink, no alcohol of course. 
The caretakers kids in their off-road vehicle. 
Sandy, in the blue ballcap, just finished building the main house on the Rancho. 
From the newly constructed house, you can see the caretaker's house and the cow barn. 
Nice to have this pool in the summer months! 
Sandy took us for a tour of his house.  He made his money by designing jewelry in Beverly hills. 
Clockwise:   J. C., Debbi, Cee Cee, Paul, Vickie, Me

Monday, February 20, 2012

Bus travel

Buses are a very reliable mode of transportation in Mexico.  You can go just about anywhere for a small amount of money.  In fact, we lived here for the first 10 months without a car.  We took buses and taxis.  If you are on a tight budget, you can probably save $200 U. S. per month.  Local bus service stops around 10:00 p.m. and the taxis around midnight.  These times can vary from city to city.  But, make sure you know when these services stop.  Sometimes you can find a taxi company that operates 24 hours per day.

Third class buses are the city buses.  They typically charge 60 cents to go from San Nicolas to Chapala and another 60 cents to go to Ajijic.  This is about a one hour ride from San Nicolas to Ajijic.  These buses take about twice as long to travel the same distance by car.  So, you need to be patient.  Also, take an umbrella during the rainy season.  You will be standing in the aisle periodically, because they pack the people in like sardines.  Avoid sitting in the back of the bus because of the rough ride.

Second class buses offer more comfort than city buses.  There is a huge difference in seats.  Sometimes the city bus seats are hard plastic or metal.  Second class seats are all cushions.  The second class bus ticket from Chapala to Guadalajara is 4 dollars one way and takes one hour.  Second class buses also travel long distances.  There are no toilets usually, and if there are, they don't work.  There is not much difference in cost between first and second class, so I always recommend first class.   Especially for us older people!

First class buses are the way to go if you are traveling for several hours or more.  A first class bus from Guadalajara to Puerto Vallarta is about a five hour ride and the cost one way is 15 dollars.  The bus will have toilets that work and an ample amount of leg room.  As a rule of thumb, it should cost you 3 to 4 dollars an hour to ride a first class bus.  First class buses stop far less often than second class.  Express service is offered more often when you travel first class.  These drivers run on strict schedules, so they will not wait for you.  Also, I have never had a problem with lost or stolen luggage. 
Third class bus stop in San Nicolas.  This is a several minute walk from our home. 
Third class (city bus) 
The only seats left for these kids on this third class bus were  up front.  I'm sure the bus company's liability insurance is paid in full! 
Second class bus.  
Second class bus from Chapala to Guadalajara.
Chapala bus station 
First class bus.  There have been no chickens riding on the top of this rig.  These buses have mostly Mexicans as passengers.  It's funny because they show English speaking movies with Spanish subtitles. 
More first class buses transporting athletes from the Pan Am games.  Many of these buses are Mercedes Benz and Volvo.

Friday, February 17, 2012


Our neighbor went into the hospital several weeks ago.  His wife was staying with him in the hospital (a usual occurrence here) and the kids were staying with an aunt in the village.  Their Pit Bull dog had a litter of nine puppies.  And, now there was nobody to feed mama dog and look after the little ones.  I talked about all the Pit Bulls we had in the village in an earlier blog.  We have been here a year now and all of our experiences with these dogs have been positive.  I'm convinced the way you raise a dog determines future behavior. 

We volunteered to take care of the brood.  They had no protection from the elements, so the first thing we did was to move them to our barn to give them a roof over their head.  The next day it started raining and it has been raining for a week.  I don't think they would have survived in their old environment.  We felt our actions saved these puppies.  Now it's time to find good homes for them.  We are taking care of that, also.  We had a blast raising with these guys and we're ready to do it again.  No rest for the wicked!

Before the move to our barn.   
Hermosa allowed us to handle the kids from day one, even while she was eating. 
Caution:  dangerous dog!  
Moving day, all nine at once.    
Next door neighbors daughter, Lupita with the little ones. 
Brady is the big boy of the litter. 
Torrie is the runt.  Look at the nails on her.   
Dante is the mischievous one.  
Cujo looks menacing, but is just a big creampuff, an 80 pound creampuff!  We pass by him daily.  He is off leash and our dogs are also loose.  It's fun to watch the three of them play.
"We promise to be good if you take us home". 
Mexicans love Pit Bulls as pets(not as fighters).  There is a certain amount of status in owning one.  I have yet to see an aggressive one.  We should be able to easily find homes for these guys.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Village Views

These horses are not wild, they wander wherever they please.  Photo is taken from our bedroom window.
One of the many bands that plays at the Plaza Del Toros on Sunday's, November through February.  They have an abundance of horns.  We get to listen free since we live close to the arena.
This is our plant Nursery in San Nicolas.  They set up every Saturday.  Cost of plants is about the same as in the States.
Elena and her husband Pablo started Pasos Milagrosos 7 years ago to help special needs kids.  Before that, they taught English to Elementary school kids for 12 years.  They are well respected in the community.  I will include a picture of Pablo  soon.    
The Lake Chapala party boat.  This is fun for special occasions.  They have a Valentines Day cruise for 12 dollars.  It includes  a D. J. and nice dance floor.
Our view out the living room window.
Los Viejos.  These older people have lived in the village most, or all of their lives.
View from the Highway looking North.  The road you see leads to our house.
This lake is a three mile ride from our house.
Same lake ride, different view.  These two pictures were taken during the 3 month rainy season.  Everything is green and beautiful this time of year.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Village Views

Our health center is for minor health problems. 
The health center waiting room.   
This photo and the following two are of the government sponsored bus that gives free health care to the expectant mothers in the village.  Inside is an office check-up area with medical equipment and supplies. 
The Chapala Post Office.  They deliver the mail with these motorcycles.  We have a P. O. Box. 
We saw these babies being born.  They live right next to us. 
On the same property is a baby calf. 
One of many art shows in the Lakeside area.  This one is in Chapala.  J. C. is on the left, I'm on the right.
The Mexicans play Soccer.  The Gringos play Mexican Train Dominoes.  The Odoms at our house.