LAKESIDE: Lourdes without the Rich French Food
By Ed Tasca
There’s been a rush to find nature’s own original health balms and cures within every earthly nook and cranny, probably from the time Homo Erectus realized chasing mammoths around all week made for serious joint pain. With all the talk of health issues and aches and pains and tests and surgeries we hear about at Lakeside, because of our age skew, I want to present a different conversation about health and survival at Lakeside.
I believe Lakeside might be a unique location like few others on the planet, a confluence of climatic, geological, natural and culture conditions that make it a special place for revival, restoration, rebirth, even redemption for many of us – a place that could change one’s life.
And since emigration from north of the border has dwindled down to a trickle — unless you’re counting automatic weapons – I want to demonstrate some compelling reasons for us to be encouraging, even coaxing our friends and family to come down here to see firsthand what Lakeside has to offer. And of course, to help us raise our property values. I’m not talking about the Tequila Express.
Let me begin by pointing out that there’s still a vast libido down here. Remember the price-war ads between Pepto Bismol and Maalox, or Crest and Colgate? Well, the other day I walked past several of the farmacias in the village, and the ad wars are between Viagra and Cialis. And we all know that competition ain’t for the Mexican market.
And when you hear everybody down here talking about deep tissue massage, sacro-lumbar manipulation, hip-pelvis motor stimulation… they’re talking dirty. I started on this investigation, because so many people I knew claimed they experienced unexpected reversals in otherwise troublesome health conditions, dozens, in fact. These were reversals that astounded each and every one of those involved. This was enough anecdotal evidence for me to conclude that the curative effect here isn’t wishful thinking, placebo-trickery, or simply a probabilistic fluke.
My first thought about this was quite simple. Lakeside’s confluence of climatic conditions is the type of environment that spawned us hundreds of thousands of years ago and gave us the magnificent physical qualities and brain enhancements we have today and watch weekly on The Kardashians. Lakeside may simply have returned us to those unique circumstances that gave birth to the species and infused us with the vitality and resilience that springs from nature itself.
A physician at Lakeside for over 25 years agreed with me. He has also seen visitors shed their disabilities and chuck their medications: ‘We were products of a moderate climate, which at the time was lush and fruitful, and our bodies and internal systems operate most efficiently and productively in a place that doesn’t require us to fight off climate extremes, while providing us with a constant, never-ending flow of Vitamin D.’”
A doctor of Naturopathy certified by the American Naturopathic Medical Board, added that, “There’s a ‘happiness’ factor here. This overall lack of stress and better moods isn’t just from climate, but from the slower, more serene pace of life, cleaner air from abundant mountain foliage and lack of humidity, and ready access to the outdoors every day. All of this helps rebuild the immune system, which in turn creates greater vitality and feelings of well-being.”
What’s more, from a renowned neuroscientist, Robert Epstein, I discovered that “cognitive decline is slowed and moods elevated for those living in a comfortable locale where there are plenty of new sensory stimuli (like the rich palette of flora or an abundance of nice medicinal herbs, some nicer than others (if you know what I mean), new artistic and musical expressions, community activities and entertainments, exotic experiences, to say nothing of the hustle of learning to accommodate a new culture and a new language.
These conditions stimulate the brain and slow brain degeneration. That means, all things being equal, if you forgot where your car keys are here in Ajijic, in Philadelphia or Toronto, you’d have the car keys in your hand but you wouldn’t have a clue what to do with them.
Another important benefit to well-being that’s always over-looked: the local Mexican people themselves are an even-tempered, gentle people, despite misperceptions abroad. They bring a calm, genial formality to their public appearances. There is rarely a public display of temper, frustration or emotion, something that comes more easily to gringos.
This quality of polite formality is something Mesoamerican anthropologists call cortesia, often translated narrowly as courtesy and gentlemanliness. But it’s more than that. It’s an old-fashioned mode of behavior, consisting of restraint and politeness in public—something you might remember from North America during the Fifties, when men tipped their hats and ladies charged into washrooms if they were about to cry.
We’ve all experienced cortesia here. What does it do? I think it creates a village-wide sense of serenity we can all relate to. As long as you stay off the carretera. On the carretera, cortesia appears to be… optional.
One final thing. There are often exotic remedies here unheard of or even dismissed for lack of scientific backing north of the border. These remedies, while not for everyone, are added nostrums that can help with stubborn illnesses, and might not be available outside of Mexico. And as far as local serenity goes, we gringos contribute to our own tranquility in an interesting way, too. For the most part, horrid news doesn’t enter our local English-language media, at least not in the brutal detail and volume we remember from news media north of the border.
We’ve had murderers down here serving us burgers. Investment swindlers at our parties. Relocated felons. Even fist-fighting fraccionamientarians. But it generally stays out of the public record. This absence of bad news is an insulation that reduces anxiety and stress, and leaves us to think of nothing but our various moveable feasts.
So, to be absolutely clear, there are no guarantees of miraculous cures at Lake Chapala. Nobody suddenly sees religious figures in their pancakes and gets well overnight. Nobody leaps out of their breathing apparatus and joins a rodeo. And you will not meet Benjamin Button here. Equally, not everybody coming here is going to experience significant changes in their health. Especially those who choose to haul down here the exact same lifestyle, diet, experience and environment they lived with north of the border. But for many of us, Lakeside living can become transformative.
That said, to be brutally honest and scientific about all this and fair-minded in the process of wooing others here, it’s important to provide the proverbial other side of the Lakeside coin:
The Carretera (our beloved roadway)
Our local Survival Game: Makes the Running of the Bulls in Spain look like a game of hopscotch by comparison. A little stress there. If you’re driving, consider exploding your airbag against your face before you even pull out of the driveway.
Your phone and other communications systems here will be run by TelMex. And to many, TelMex is held in as high esteem as any religious site. That’s why there’s more praying goes on at TelMex than any place in the village.
Our beloved Lake
Beautiful to look at, with occasional boating and water-skiing. But bathing isn’t recommended nor is eating any of the fish. Its heavy metal content may be toxic, so that when you see the kids out there on jet skis… those aren’t jet skis. They’re lake trout.
Rockets and fireworks
November starts the season of near perpetual fireworks.
The rockets start with Dia de los Muertos, the Day of the Dead, Nov. 2. Honoring those who have passed, and loud enough to wake them all up. The pyrotechnics celebrate the heavenly virgins, from Our Virgin of Guadalupe to the Virgin of the Rosary and so on. That’s right. They celebrate virginity here with a bang.
Now, in most of the U.S. these explosive devices are outlawed for being too dangerous. The safer approach, as we Americans all know, is that if the kids want to raise a celebratory fuss, they can hop down to their local gun store and pick up a 357 Magnum. Yes, one thing you can say about the States: Safety First.
The bullfight in Mexico is a little different. It’s more a symbolic thing and it doesn’t happen very often. It’s a lot like mail delivery here.
The rainy season
A thunderous rainy season takes some getting used to, where it rains throughout the night, sometimes out-thundering the rockets. Occasionally, it even rains during the day, but never between the hours of 2 and 4.
Yes, we have some. If you happen to be from north of the border and you’re planning to move to Mexico, you need to do some research. Visit homes in various Mexico neighborhoods. If your neighbor’s living room and kitchen are divided by a ravine, don’t let them tell you it’s an old Toltec architectural design. Look across town.
These are no secret. Yes, they can be little buggers. They get into your body and they can turn your digestive system into Old Faithful.
But since Lakeside seems to generate a frothy feeling of goodwill and good nature, even this other side of the coin has its merits: it gives us a few well-needed laughs.
And laughing is also good for your health.