Chapala

A friend and I decided to take a trip to the famous lake Chapala this weekend, just an hours bus ride from the city, and loved by American ex-pats and tourists alike. We booked a last minute room in an Air BnB and after a Friday spent having manicures and pedicures and spending way too much on wine and seafood pasta, we headed off on Saturday morning.

The lake itself is the biggest in Mexico, but the towns that surround it are tiny, and the main attraction is taking a boat trip across the lake to one of the islands where ancient life was said to have started from. The island we travelled to was called ‘la isla de los alacranes’, or Scorpion Island. The trip across the lake was incredible, we went as the sun was lowering in the sky and it was tranquil and beautiful, the mountains stretching out behind the water, and when we got to the island it was the most peaceful place we’d ever experienced. We had an hour to roam around the island, although we didn’t need it as it was so small, and was mostly shrub-land, so we sat for a beer and fries with guacamole before heading back to the mainland.

Exploring the forest on the Scorpion Island

The town itself is gorgeous and incredibly peaceful and quiet, it made a lovely break from hustle and bustle of the city. ( I’ve started to love this phrase – I tried to explain it to one of the English teachers at the school and realised it has almost no real meaning and makes no sense to non-native speakers) We could walk right along the front of the lake, and we took so many photos that both of our phones crashed while sending them to each other, but it was worth it for the instagrams, obviously. The great thing was that there was so few people around, we basically got our own private photo shoot.

Walking along the edge of the lake

The best part about Chapala town is the cantaritos – these consist of huge pottery mugs filled with a drink of your choice, usually tequila, beer or a michelada. Micheladas are beer with a splash of flavouring (either mango, tomato, chamoy or pineapple) and then usually chilli, salt and lime flavoured liquid is placed around the outside of the glass. I’m not keen on these, but I was happy to have my cantarito jar filled with two cans of beer, which took me the entire boat trip to finish.

Enjoying a cantarito on the boat trip

While we were there, a festival was going on, so there was a market and a fairground in the evening, as well as an authentic dance show, which we watched for a while by the main square and the church, before we had food in the market and then went to a bar for a drink. We managed to fit in a delicious breakfast, the next morning, poached eggs for me and chilaquiles for Lucy, and then had to head back to the city to meet two other assistants to go to Lucha Libre which was definitely one of the strangest things I’ve witnessed here.

Before the Lucha Libre began

One of the English assistants’ tutors invited us all to join her and her husband to watch the fight on Sunday evening, and it did not disappoint. We were not entirely sure what was happening most of the time, but that just made the whole idea of grown men fake wrestling in masks and very revealing outfits even more hilarious. Before it started we were able to meet some of the luchadores (wrestlers) and bought hot dogs, which were actually surprisingly good, if impossible to eat since they were so full of fillings. We agreed that next time we needed to have a step by step commentary of what was going on during the fight itself so potentially we might be less confused, but we spent a lot of time laughing from confusion. All in all it was an experience I would do again.

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