For Those New To Lakeside
By An Old Anonymous Grouch
I have lived in a small town on Lake Chapala for over 15 years. It has been one of the best things to ever happen to me. I cannot imagine ever living anywhere else. If you are new to the area or considering a move to Lake Chapala please take note:
This is not a Mexican theme park. This is an entirely different country with laws that the citizens have allowed to pass through their various legislative bodies. As you are a guest you must honor these laws and the rules of the bureaucracy too. Like America and Canada some of the laws and rules of Mexico do not make sense. Don’t go around breaking Mexican laws and if you do, don’t complain about the treatment you receive. Mexican law enforcement is serious business and not always rational. Mexican bureaucracies are as impenetrable as a coast jungle.
Mexican people are polite, reserved and sometimes stoical. When you are also polite and reserved when interacting with them they might become your loyal friend. If you ask your Mexican friends what they think of foreigners who move to Lake Chapala they will tell you they are grateful for them but they find them to be aggressive, rude, rushed, and often false. If you move here don’t be those things. Be polite, reserved and sometimes stoical and practice loyalty and mutual respect with the natives.
The cobblestone streets are here to stay. With the exception of some north-south thoroughfares that might be replaced with paving rock, cobblestones are an affordable way to have roads and be able to repair the ancient sewer & water infrastructure that lies beneath: Move a few rocks, dig down to the problem, and put the rocks back, no jack-hammer and then expensive concrete or macadam for the village to pay. Some of us like the looks of the old cobblestones. So if you can’t walk on cobblestones and have no other way of getting around the villages maybe it’s best not to move here.
The sidewalks will always be uneven, full of potholes, or not there. This is because of the rains, heavy use and the fact that some sidewalks cannot be constructed due to property lines. So if you are bothered that the sidewalks are not like those found in the average American gated community then don’t move here.
There will always be beggars in Chapala and Ajijic. This is because these two towns are well-known among the poor villages around the lake for having lots of foreigners with money to spare. Look at it this way: There are no taxes at the supermarkets and all other taxes that foreigners pay are shamefully low so do plan to give to whatever beggar you see fit. A rule of thumb is: Always give to musicians. If the beggar has something to sell buy it and if you don’t need it give it away. Or if the beggar at least dresses up and gives you a blessing how about a coin. You don’t need to give to everyone so a firm but polite “No” will suffice for those. If you don’t like beggars hanging around you then don’t move here.
Everyone who comes from lands above the 28th parallel is too loud. So turn it down when you are in a crowd. While you may think Mexicans are loud the fact is that two Americans talking can be louder than a half-dozen Mexicans with their babies.
And, finally … Mexicans tend to celebrate everything with a fever. While Mexican individuals are not loud their music, fireworks, sporting events, marching bands, and mariachis in Jalisco are loud. Over time your brain will eventually accommodate the noise. Your pets will be alright. Stay calm and patient is the key. But if you can’t tolerate this noise then don’t move here. It will never change. We who have been here a long time are hoping it does not.