IXTLAHUACAN

"Ixtlahuacan of the Quince Fruit"

In 1522, the Spanish Olid Expedition reached the eastern shores of what is today called Lake Chapala. When it arrived, its leader, Captain Avalos, met with little resistance. A royal grant from the king of Spain gave joint ownership of the area to Avalos, who was a cousin of Hernan Cortez. Franciscan fathers then proceded with conversion of the natives. Old Indian temples were destroyed and Catholic church foundations laid in their ruins.

PEOPLE

Numerous pre-conquest villages were founded by groups of Nahua Indians who roamed near the clear lake waters, tilling the fertile shores and basking in the warm sunshine. Here they built their black mud huts near the waters. By day, they wandered naked over the countryside, and at night they sat outside their huts around the fires. 

Governed by Chief Xitomatl, the Indians thrived in their new home. They built a temple to their god Iztlacateotl. They warred with neighboring tribes. When they were the victors, they sacrificed enemy captives, cut out their hearts and offered them to their god, cooked blood in earthen pots and threw the remains into the Lake. Skeletons found by fishermen in succeeding eras bear out these stories.

MEANING

There are several interpretations of the meaning of Ixtlahuacan. However, is it widely believed to be the compound of two words from around 1500 A.D.: "ixtla" from Ixtlacateotl, the prevailing deity of the time, and "huacan" from Chimalhuacan, which was the name of the region. A membrillo (or quince in English) is a fruit that looks like a yellow cross between a pear and an apple. At one time Ixtlahuacan had several membrillo orchards yielding thousands of membrillos. Hence the name of the town, Ixtlahuacan de los Membrillos, means Ixtlahuacan of the Quince Fruit.

HISTORY

In 1522, the Spanish Olid Expedition reached the eastern shores of what is today called Lake Chapala. When it arrived, its leader, Captain Avalos, met with little resistance. A royal grant from the king of Spain gave joint ownership of the area to Avalos, who was a cousin of Hernan Cortez. Franciscan fathers then proceded with conversion of the natives. Old Indian temples were destroyed and Catholic church foundations laid in their ruins.

FLORA

The municipality of Ixtlahuacan has a large variety of trees and plants, mostly located inside garden walls.
Vegetation is composed mainly of jacaranda, galeana, hule, pine, roble, cazuarina, mesquite, guamuchil, chaparrale and encino. Fruit trees such as mango, avocado, lime, lemon and orange and Membrillo are also abundant. 

FAUNA

In the mountains near Ixtlahuacan are still to be found many of the animal species that have disappeared elsewhere - deer, wolf, fox, wild boar, porcupine, skunk, badger and some reptiles.

Domestic animals, horses and donkeys, are used for bearing burdens, for field work and for transportation. Cows, pigs and chickens are raised for food and for income. Here, as in most of Mexico, are many dogs and cats.

 

LOCATION

Ixtlahuacan de los Membrillos is located in the center of the state of Jalisco, near Lake Chapala. The town is about 20 miles from the state capital, Guadalajara, and a short 30 minute drive from the international airport located there.

POPULATION

Ixtlahuacan de los Membrillos, with over 25,000 inhabitants in 2005.
Those seeking authentic Mexican culture will find it in Ixtlahuacan. The Sunday evening paseo at the plaza, where young ladies walk clockwise and young men walk in the opposite direction, is still a lively social event. And visitors come from afar to consult the curanderos - experts in the use of herbs.

Climate
Its average annual temperature is 19.8° C.

COMMUNICATION

The four-lane Chapala-Guadalajara highway connects with highways to La Barca, Guanajuato and Michoacan. It also takes you to the Miguel Hidalgo Guadalajara Airport (25 minutes away) which has national and international flights.

From Chapala's central bus station, buses run to and from Guadalajara every half hour. For other destinations, travelers must first go to the Guadalajara bus station, and board another bus.

You can catch a local bus to Jocotepec or any town along the way. 

Ixtlahuacan  has post and telegraph offices, offering all the services of any big city. Telephone service is very good. Almost every house has a private phone. Internet services are available.

Taxis are stationed at  the main plaza, and will travel as far as Guadalajara or farther, by special arrangement. 

All TV signals from Guadalajara and Mexico City can be seen in Ixtlahuacan, and all radio stations heard. There are no TV or radio stations in Lakeside. Cable TV is available.

 

ART

Artisans sell their work at Ixtlahuacan's Sunday tianguis (open air market). Carved bone and wood, embroidery, typical Mexican dresses and ceramics are the principal products. Prehispanic reproductions are also made locally and sold here. Craftsmen can be commissioned to make furniture of wood, forged iron, and rattan. Those of you who have been to the Lake Chapala area have undoubtedly noticed the string of ten or twelve booths along the east side of the highway near the entrance to Ixtlahuacán. The vendors sell honey, traditional candies, and other regional specialties in addition to the famous ates, ponche (punch), and conservas (fruits in syrup) made from membrillo.
Customers come all the way from Guadalajara to buy it. 

Mariachi musicians  Groups travel widely to play at parties, and they are hired for most of the fiestas patronales (celebrations for patron saints) in various towns.

FESTIVITIES

Many fiestas are celebrated by the people of Mexico. 

Perhaps the most important event of the year, Ixtlahuacan's Fiesta Patronal, July 16-July 25, honors Saint Apostle Santo Santiago with nine days of fireworks, games, castillo (bamboo tower for pyrotechnic display), dance, music, typical Mexican food, and drink. The main plaza is packed with people each night, promenading in the paseo, eating, drinking, listening to the mariachis, and waiting for the midnight fireworks.