Updated: Apr 22, 2021
This might have been the busiest week so far and perhaps the most fun! We had two new campers come in this week and two campers leave. Dan and Johna have been at Roca Azul from before we arrived. They were almost directly behind us. Johna is the hula hoop gal. They took a month-long trip to Acapulco and when they returned started packing up both of their trailers to head back to the States. They are going to spend some time in Lake Havasu. We sent them off on sunday morning. We had Sayward arrive on Wednesday and she parked her motorhome all snuggly by ours. We had to move our badminton court to make more room. We have had the whole lawn and soccer field side for ourselves since Robin left. Sayward’s friend Phillip from Demming, New Mexico showed up on friday.
Sayward has been watching our blog and came to Lake Chapala to see the area that I’ve been writing about the past few months. She eventually would like to relocate to Mexico somewhere but is still experiencing different areas to find a good fit for her. Phillip and her have been friends for many years as they both are full time RVer's. They are a great addition to our little community here.
I was determined to get a boat ride this week….some how and some way. Monday, Larry and I decided to do a little bike ride from Ajijic to Chapala. The island with the prison and fort is much closer to Chapala than Jocotepec. We figured we could arrange a boat tour from there easily. We wanted to ride the bike trail again to see how much they had finished. We made plans for Wednesday with a boat driver. We told him it would be 4 of us and he said it would cost 4500 pesos for a 3 hour trip. Sounds good. Max and Jan wanted to do this trip with us. Yeah! Boat ride on wednesday.
Wednesday came and we had more folks that wanted to join us. John and Stephanie were excited about seeing the islands and we also invited Tino. We had to take 2 cars into Chapala to get everyone there!
Our boat driver’s name was Roberto and he didn’t speak much at all. Not even in Spanish to Tino. We enjoyed a beautiful ride to Isla de Mezcala. It took almost an hour but it was very comfortable and interesting. When we got to the island, we all went off in different directions to explore. The island was much better than I imagined. We were supposed to only stay an hour here but we found so much to see and since it was spread out, we went over by 45 minutes. The boat ride to the other island, Isla de los Alacranes (Scorpion Island) took much longer. The wind had kicked up and we had to go slower plus it was wet!! I didn’t mind getting splashed once in a while as it was a warm day. Max and Jan got way more water…..Max got soaked! When we got to Scorpion island, he took off his shirt to dry. They had a restaurant that was open but we had planned on eating at the malecon in Chapala. Both Jan and I took pictures with a monkey that was the tourist attraction here. We spend only a little time here. When we finally got back to Chapala it had been 5 hours! Wow! Great day. I thought that since we had more folks and it went longer that the price would increase a lot. Tino spoke to the driver and asked how much? Then he asked what the lowest price would be. We got the whole day for 2500 pesos. He got us a huge discount! Yeah for Tino! We had a lovely dinner at El Quetzal on the malecon.
Thursday was an extremely busy day and I still don’t know how we did so much! Larry and I walked around the resort and saw these cute young boys on Shetland ponies. We’ve watched them before from up by the lighthouse. I walked down to the fence close to the beach and as I was doing that, the boys rode their ponies to the fence too. I asked if they spoke english and they said no. I asked what their names were….but didn’t understand them. I asked about their ponies. Larry came down and we petted the ponies. We smiled a lot and told them to come back in the manana. Larry wanted to give them treats. They hung out long enough so Larry went to get them some cokes, cookies and candy. The one littlest boy tried to carry all of it back to his brother. It was fun to watch. Kids seem to love us here!
I got a message from Chile the muralist that he was going to be painting if I wanted to help. Of course!! We drove down in the heat of the afternoon. I wear my hat and bring lots of water. Chile told me about the other murals he’d been working on this week. He told me more about his family and how they came to live in Jocotepec. He said he’d like for us to meet his wife and sons. We are trying to arrange when we can do this as he seems to be working 7 days a week and up to 12 hours a day. I hope they can come swim here at the park before we leave….in a few days. We spend more time talking than painting….according to Larry.
I finished my blue Jacks. We bought a ladder that we borrowed from Memo’s campsite. I was able to reach the top that way. It was tricky holding the paint and balancing on the ladder but I didn’t get any paint on me or my clothes. It was truly a magical experience and I’m grateful that Chile has included me in this artwork.
We went down to el Centro after for a coffee at this cute coffee shop, Cafe Arranaga. Larry found strawberry cheesecake there and ate one huge piece. He bought the last 2 pieces to have later at the trailer. He was in heaven! I had a bite and it was very good. You can find a lot of Flan in Mexico but not much good cheesecake. I think Larry got his fill for a while.
Back at Roca Azul, we met up with our friend Jose. He currently lives in Los Angeles and teaches High School physics and chemistry. He has been able to do this online since Covid has closed the schools in California. His boyfriend lives and works here in Jocotepec and he’s been here for a while. We meet at the pool to swim, hang out and just talk. We really enjoy him. He was born in Spain but moved to the US for college. He’s a US citizen now and has lived there for about 20 years. He wanted to say goodbye as he was leaving Friday for a week in L.A. He’s getting his vaccine up there. He will need to be back again at the end of April for the last 5 weeks of school. They are opening it up partially again.
Tino also came over Thursday because I had made arrangements to see the Monk that lives here at Roca Azul. HIs name is Jaime and he is originally from Guadalajara. I have had many conversations with Jaime since I’ve been here but I wanted to spend a little more time to hear more of his travels. Our meeting didn’t go exactly how I had planned but it was good. Sayward, Tino, Larry and I found him walking down to the lighthouse. At first Jaime said he wasn’t available to talk as he was in a daylong retreat but as the group approached him, he started talking. That’s one thing with the Monk, he loves to talk. His stories are all colorful, elaborate and very interesting. Many times, you are not able to get any words in as he will continue to talk over you. So, I just listen. He’s just so interesting! Everyone enjoyed the stories and then the Monk excused himself to continue his walk and retreat.
Friday was an easy day of relaxing around the park. In the afternoon, we drove into Ajijic for our fabulous massages. We gathered in the evening with Sayward, Phillip, Deb, Stephanie and John. It seems like most of our nights involve getting together to visit with our new camping friends. We invited Max and Jan but Max had a cold. We didn’t stay up late because I had a great idea about a long bike ride the next morning.
We got to the colorful Jocotepec sign at 9:10 am. We were going to see how far we could ride the bike trail to Chapala. It’s a total of 20 miles to get to Chapala. I figured if we made a few stops and paced ourselves we could do it all if we had the whole day. I estimated that it would take 2 hours to get to Chapala and we made it there in one hour and 45 minutes!! There were only 2 really rough areas that were impassable but we maneuvered around them. There is a short stretch where there is absolutely no bike path through San Juan Cosala. We were riding on the road with cars, trucks, buses, tractors, horses and motorbikes! It wasn’t too bad and we didn’t get squished!
We celebrated arriving in Chapala by having a beer and a small snack at La Conchitas. We were entertained by a beer delivery guy who was amazing! While we were eating, I saw the cross on top of the hill again. We saw it from the boat on Wednesday and I wanted to try to climb it one day. Today seemed like as good a day as ever. We asked the waiter, who spoke no english, if he knew how to get to it. We used a translator. He said to Google it. Well that didn’t work. We rode our bikes back down the malecon and up to highway 23 where the bike trail starts again. It looked like we could access the hill if we rode up one more street. We came to a steep road lined with businesses and houses that looked like it would take us up to a trail to the cross. Larry made me ask someone to make sure before he would start walking up! The young man at the bar said that I would find a trail up this road and turn left. We found a chapel to the left and I figured he had misunderstood what I wanted. We walked up a small sidewalk but it ended up at a home. We walked around more and Larry asked a nice gentleman if he knew where the trail was. He did but instead of telling us, he walked us to the trail. It was a 5 block walk and he told us it was too steep for him to climb. He also told me to be careful. He said he had just retired from working at a hotel for 41 years. He still likes to walk but it’s a lot less than when he worked. We never got his name but I will always remember his kindness.
Down a narrow walkway appeared stairs that twisted up the hill. It was steep and it alternated rocks, tree roots and stairs. It only took about 15 minutes to reach the cross at the top of the hill. It was a quick and an easy accomplishment and I was super happy. We got a great view of the Chapala malecon with the boats, ferris wheel and the church. I’m glad we kept on looking for the trail. It was well worth it. I had to text Max our hiking friend to brag about it!
Now we still had 20 miles to ride back to Jocotepec. We were feeling pretty good and felt like we could make another snack/beer stop in Ajijic. We found a place on the other side of the road that looked interesting. Don Pedro’s restaurant. They also had a bakery next door. As we were crossing the busy street I heard someone shout out, “RRRhonda!” I looked over to the place on the corner to see our Roca Azul neighbors Jorge, Amanda and their daughter Astrid. Jorge waved and said” This is the place I was telling you about”. It was Corazon de Malta. This is a brewery that has 16 types of beer on tap from all over the world. You don’t see many of these in Mexico and so I was thrilled. We chatted with Jorge and asked his recommendation for beer. He’s kind of an expert here! He ordered for us. We sat down in the street at a table close to our bikes. As Jorge was leaving he said goodbye and that the first round was on him! He bought our beer. That was super sweet. What a crazy coincidence...what a treat!
We made it back to the truck and I almost passed by cuz I was having a great time and didn’t pay attention. So funny. After we loaded the bikes back up, we drove into town for a beer to honor our accomplishments. We did great. We rode 40 miles and climbed to a cross on the hill. Great adventure and great day! I love riding my bike and this trail they are making is worth coming to this area to see. Spectacular!
Sunday we were going to rest but Tino invited us to go back to his house on the hill to see the progress that was being made. It seemed like everyone in the park wanted to go on this field trip. We loaded up 2 vehicles with 9 folks! Jan stayed back to have their dogs groomed. John and Stephanie joined Larry, Tino and I. Max drove Phillip, Sayward and Deb. Oh my! It only takes about 20 minutes to get to his house but it’s up some bumpy dirt roads. Our truck did well but Max’s jeep was having a hard time. We eventually all arrived safely. At his home, we all climbed up to the second floor to see the view of the lake.
They have a lot more done but Tino thinks they are going too slow. After we drove over to another road that is on private indegenious land that will take you to the top of one of the biggest mountains on the lake. Tino had a friend come by and unlock the gate so we could drive up to see hiking trails. Well, it got rough and Max’s truck got stuck just before getting to the big gazebo on the side of one of the hills. We roamed around a bit but went back as they were waiting below for us. We decided it was time to lunch and headed back down the hill. We never got to the hiking trails. Next time hopefully.
Tino took us to a fabulous place in San Carlos called La Quinta. It was right on the way home and I was pleasantly surprised. It was a large hotel and grounds. It had a pool and spa plus a temascel. There was a large lush green lawn looking out to the lake and a huge covered area for events and the restaurant. I could have easily spent a day here! It was beautiful. Since we had 9 folks and the wait staff seemed to be new, it took a very long time to get service. Even though we were the only other people there beside one group. Max wanted to order and then dash back to get his wife Jan. Sayward was ready to get home. Max drove her back to the park and as he was leaving with Jan to return, the jeep didn’t start. We had to drive 7 folks back in Larry’s truck. John and Stephanie sat in the truck bed. It’s totally legal in Mexico. Yeah for fun! Great day, great week and great friends!