Living in Lake Chapala

Welcome to Mexico!

By Victoria Schmidt


mexican people

By the time you read this, 2018 will finally be over. I hope 2019 will bring much hope and joy to the Mexican people. 
We were looking towards family visitors in January. But after reading advisories from the US State Department that listed Jalisco and Guadalajara as too dangerous to travel in, and also stating that should citizen’s travel against the advisory, if they “got in trouble,” there would be nothing that US could do to help.
Thank you very much USA. This was to be the last opportunity for my husband to see two of his brothers and two of his sisters. His illness makes transportation impossible for him. And now they are too frightened to come to visit us in Mexico.
I love Mexico. I have felt safer here, than in any of my homes in the USA. I don’t fear a mass shooting here. In the many years I’ve been here, I’ve been burgled twice. Once by an American, who made restitution. Then most recently, by a young Mexican girl who was helping us before we moved. But I was also burgled in the States. I’ve walked at night, and not been afraid here. I did feel fear in the USA. I’ve also used common sense here to make sure I don’t make myself a target. I mind my own business, and keep aware of my surroundings.
In the United States, I would rarely start conversations with strangers or ask questions. Here I speak to everyone without hesitation…except my Spanish still isn’t as good as I would like it to be, but I learn more every day.
Here in Mexico, I never worry about my car breaking down, because people stop and help each other. It has happened with me. I’ve fallen and been picked up, and my husband fell in the States, and no one, absolutely no one stopped to help him. Here he gets help all the time. (He falls frequently.)
In Mexico, even as an American, I feel respected, cared for, and accepted, even though I am from the United States. I know that they don’t hold me responsible for the way that certain people in the USA feel about people south of the border.
At this point in my life, I’d much rather live in Mexico. I wish our families could experience the life we live, the people we love, and the culture of the Mexicans. It is the loss of our families.
I have so much to thank Mexico for. The doctors in Mexico saved my husband’s life the first year we were here. My own health is better. Our neighbors took us into their homes, their hearts, and some even took us into their families. We’ve found a place where what we have is unimportant, but who we are, and who we are with, and who we love is the most important thing. That celebrating life, the moment, and each other makes life special. I’ve learned that things are unimportant, and the people in my life are the only thing that matters.
I am so sorry that our families have swallowed the fake news, the fear mongering, and that they will miss out experiencing the wonders of Mexico for themselves. Here, they will miss out on our beautiful lake, the mountains, the rides we were going to take, the theatre, the wonderful restaurants, meeting many of our friends, shopping, and enjoying Mexican fiestas. But mostly, they will miss my husband. All because there are people in the USA who take delight in making people afraid.



If you keep driving a little bit farther past Jocotepec, sitting on the south shore of Lake Chapala in the municipality of TUXCUECA, you will find yourself at the small town of San Luis Soyatlán. Its name comes from two languages, a Castilian “San Luis” which refers to the patronage of the saint of the population; Saint Louis of Toulouse, and the other “Soyatlán” which is Nahuatl meaning "place of soyates" (the fiber of soyate is the primary material for Mexican mats and hats).




Sitting on the south shore of Lake Chapala, and about 45 minutes south from the city of Guadalajara. San Luis Soyatlán is a town located in the state of Jalisco in central-western Mexico, and is part of the municipality of Tuxcueca.  It is the largest population of its municipality.



It is known that the municipality of Tuxcueca was inhabited before the Spanish conquest. San Luis was founded by nomadic Chichimeca tribes; since its establishment as an official town, it was formerly part of the municipality of Jocotepec However, due to the intervention of General Ramón Corona on April 20, 1886 the town of Tuxcueca stands itself as a municipality. In 1888, October 1, San Luis Soyatlán was added to the municipality, separating it from Jocotepec.


The locality of San Luis Soyatlán is the strongest of its municipality as far as tourism goes. It is very urban like since the highway crosses right through the middle of the town. And along that route are all kinds of commercial stands: stores, restaurants, fruit shops, michelada shops among other commerce.

If you’re looking to wander in San Luis Soyatlán, you can start by visiting Eden Ecological Park (or MALECÓN) which is located along the lake’s shore with docks, grills, playgrounds, tables, trees, and an spectacular view of the northern shore (US in the Chapala Ribera).


You can also visit the town’s main church. The church of Saint Louis of Toulouse that was first an adobe chapel in 1564 and later completed on December 22, 1885.

And last but not least, its PLAZA DE ARMAS (Main plaza) which dates back to the fifteenth century but has undergone several renovations, which has benches, a gazebo, trees, a fountain and commercial area. In front of the plaza you can also find the town´s City Hall where municipal services are delivered. The main plaza’s central zone also has a municipal market and various food stands that sit right across the plaza and the church’s main atrium.

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You also don’t want to miss the small catholic chapel Capilla del Señor de la Salud in devotion to the Lord of the Health which is located a couple of blocks from the main church. This Christ is very devoted to by this community and considered miraculous among the local Catholics, so it is recommended that you consider this site to visit as well.

For sightseeing, how about a hike to the Mirador y la Cruz (A viewpoint and a cross)? A hike that is a little less than 5km where a big metal cross stands “overlooking” the north shore of the lake and the town itself, with a shrine to the Virgin of Guadalupe.

Another natural attraction is El Salto (The Jump) waterfall over 30m in height, it is mostly visited during the rainy season.

el salto

Among the natural attractions of the surrounding landscapes include The Garcia Mountain, the highest mountain on the lake’s shore with almost 2,600m in height. It provides a view of the entire lake. It also has small caves at the summit where some vessels and ceramics have been found.

The natural wealth available to the municipality is represented by 10,400 hectares of woodland, where mainly oak and pine species predominate.


Just like other towns, San Luis Soyatlán has its Fiestas Patronales which are festivities to honor their patron saint: Saint Louis of Toulouse. These festivities are held from the 10th to the 19th of August with pilgrimages around the town, morning masses with early mañanitas in devotion to the saint. Rides, fireworks, balloon posts, food stands and serenades in the main plaza are all part of these festivities during the night. And like most common fiestas patronales in México, each day is given a guild. Every guild is given a particular group of people to fund it. Making these fiestas fun for families and just the town in general.

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SAN LUIS SOYATLÁN, a small little town with charm of its own that sits on the south shore of Lake Chapala!