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Hiking adventures and close encounters with bats in Lake Chapala Mexico Week Four - 2/15-2/21/21

Updated: Mar 19, 2021

We had another super amazing week here at Lake Chapala Mexico. We have been at Roca Azul Rv Park and Resort for a month now! I can hardly believe it. We have made so many new friends in the short time we’ve been here but it seems like we will always have these friends. Much of our days are spent here on the resort as it is truly beautiful. We see new birds nearly every day...even if we aren’t fast enough to catch them in a photograph. There must be thousands of orioles….many different types. Orioles are one of my favorite birds as they migrate. When I lived in Sonoma County, I’d set out my oriole feeders near the end of March, waiting for their return. They only would stay till the end of August. They are such a colorful treat. We have 3 hummingbird feeders up in our campsite. We get swarms of hummingbirds competing over the feeders. We have identified 3 types but there may be more. We just aren’t as good with hummingbirds as some others. We also have discovered something interesting at night with our feeders too.

I spend Mondays working on my stories. It can be time-consuming and I’ll take breaks to walk around. Sometimes it’s hard to sit still when there is so much Life going on around me! Sometimes the story doesn't get finished until later in the week too. We haven’t had a bad day here yet.. weather-wise. Everyone I talk to, be it a tourist, fellow camper, or a local, says this is the most perfect place on earth for the weather. I am beginning to believe what they are saying. It’s a bit cool in the morning and evenings but warms ups to 80 degrees (26 Celsius) during the day. I hear it’s winter here right now. This is my best winter so far! We planned two hikes this week. One on Tuesday to try a new place with Max and Deb. The Friday hike was going to be to the Cross in Jocotepec to try the steep side up again. That was supposed to be just Larry and me. We are a great hiking team. Both very motivated to get to the top in record-breaking time. We do less stopping when we hike alone. I do enjoy hiking with others as it gives me more time to enjoy the scenery and take pictures...hopefully of birds. Ha Ha Ha

We started out early Tuesday morning for the drive to Ajijic to hike to Tres Cruces. Larry and I found this hike last week when we walked up the hill from Dona’s Donuts. We told Max about it and he was interested in doing it. Deb is up for least once! We took two cars as Max had errands to do afterward. We didn’t know much about this area except what I found on all trails.

We had lots of water this time and more food. It’s not fun when we run out of water before we get done. Let's just say there were lots of trails that sprouted off from the main trail. We did some backtracking too. Sometimes I was able to bring up my all trails map and other times I had no service. We got to El Pandito in about 2 hours. It was a nice flat area to rest and had great views of Ajijic and Lake Chapala. Another good link to explore lake Chapala. Three out of four of us, felt like it was time to return down the hill. We were satisfied with our efforts even though we didn’t get to the 3 crosses. We were willing to try another day. I just wanted to check out the next part of the trail up the hill to get an idea. Well, Max says, “I think we should try.” I took a group vote and we decided to try the steep trail to the crosses. It split into 2 trails shortly after we began. We followed the yellow and white trail markings and went left instead of right which had no marks. We hiked down quite a bit which seems weird as we were trying to get to the top of the hill. When my all trails app started working again, I discovered that we were on the wrong trail. This one would eventually get us there but in twice the time…..I ask if we should turn around. Max says no, to keep ongoing. We continued to hike for another hour as this trail gradually started uphill and got very narrow. In some places, it was only one foot wide…..parallel. When we got to the place where the rope was required… you wouldn’t fall off the side of the hill, 3 out of 4 folks stopped! Larry scampered up the hill aways. We called out and Larry said, you guys don’t want to come up this way. He said it only got worse! At this point, we all called the hike to the crosses done and headed back down. We still had a super great time but I didn’t feel like dying on this day! The trail! We were on the trail from 9:30 am until 3:50 pm.

When we got back to our trailer after the hike, my tummy was unhappy. I thought I might have drunk too much water on the way home. I hopped in bed at 4:30 pm and didn’t get out until when my alarm went off at 6 am. I fell asleep at 9:30 pm but had a tummy ache for hours in the evening. The alarm was for me to get ready for our bird-watching walk. I had better directions this time to a park in Chapala and was confident that we would have a successful day birding. Then Larry came in. He gets up around 5 am. I asked how he was doing and he said bad. What??!! Now he had a tummy ache. We both agreed that bird watching was out. So Sad. He said I should go alone but that wouldn’t be as fun. I went back to bed! We just stayed around the park and hung out at the warm pool later in the day. We rested.

Thursday was a huge day. We didn’t know it when we got up but we talked about just going out on an exploration. We do that sometimes. No Plan and no direction. We called and booked massages at 3 pm in Ajijic at Total body care. We had massages there last week and have decided to get them once a week. The price is very reasonable and we can use them with all the hiking we are doing. It takes about 30 minutes to drive to Ajijic. When we took off, we thought we might drive up some new roads along the way. We saw a church and tried 3 roads but never found the one to it. We got close but never won.

We found some houses and properties that were for sale. We snooped around some of them. One really awesome house was open….so we went in for a look. It had 3 bedrooms, 3 baths, a huge kitchen and living space, and a Pool!! The pool had green water but what the heck! Great views of the lake…..I was dreaming! We found a Huge old tractor too. I climbed up that much crazy fun!

We headed into town and parked close to Dona’s donuts but across the street. Larry picked up his amazing strong coffee from a street vendor. This is supposed to be the best coffee around according to our neighbor Robin. We left the truck parked and walked to Colon street. This is a great street that has lots of shops, restaurants, and bars on the way to the Malecon. I absolutely love this place! We happened upon a cute bar called The cocktail bar and when we saw curling on the TV, we Had to go in…..of course! Larry and I both had una cervesa and watched the women’s curling finals. He tried to explain it to me…...maybe someday I’ll understand. Larry was happy and so was I.

We had 14 minutes until our massages. We easily found the spa so we made a short walk down to the Malecon and back. Our massages were great and we booked again for the next week. I’m getting the same guy as he did a super job! Another leisurely walk down to the Malecon to watch the activity. They recently opened up some public places again as the Malecon were mostly closed until 2/15. We watched families have picnic dinners and children play at the park. Many folks were walking along the pathway in the warm afternoon sun.

We saw two gentlemen sitting enjoying a conversation alongside the lake, it was a beautiful and sunny day and everything seemed wonderful.

We watched some performers climb up a high pole, tie themselves and spin while unwinding all the way down. I’m not sure what it’s called but we enjoyed it. It also made us hungry! Lol

We found a restaurant on Colon street that catered to Americans and us! Restaurant Tango! The menu was in English and it had everything….especially lots of yummy vegetarian goodness for me! It seemed like they had one waitperson per 2 guests. They were super attentive and our waitress spoke good English. Larry had 4 cheese lasagna and I had a portobello appetizer. We also got sauteed mushrooms too. The portions were good and I treated myself to 2 mojitos. Larry had a Victoria. All this food for only $499 pesos ($25US) So good!!!

After dinner, we headed back to the truck and passed through el Centro. It looked like things were almost back to normal with folks out and about. Most people are wearing masks walking in the streets now but most public places are beginning to open up more. We stopped and listened to a local playing his guitar and Larry gave him 120 pesos ($6 US). He was very good. We bought an ice cream cone to share on the walk back. It was only 2 blocks and Larry ate most of it!

As we approached our truck, we saw a tow truck with lights flashing and a cop directing traffic. As we got closer, we saw the smashed-up car only 8 feet away from the driver's side of the truck. Luckily, there was no damage and we drove toward our home….Roca Azul. It’s about 30 to drive back and we usually stop by the water store to fill our jug. As the sun was going down, the people were coming out. I was so surprised at the number of folks on the little street we take back. We had a hard time finding a spot to park at the water shop. It all worked out, as it always does! Max, our hiking friend was at our door just after we got home. He asked if we were hiking the next day and if he could come. Of course!

We decided to give the Tres Cruces another go. I had it all dialed in on my all trails app and I felt confident that we would have success on this day. Max is a very strong hiker but sometimes has a poor sense of direction. I decided I would not follow his guidance unless Larry totally agreed. Max has taken us down the wrong path twice so far. Once we walked around in circles on cow trails for 1 and ½ hours. The other time was on Tuesday when he wouldn’t turn back to get on the right trail to the tres cruces. Max offered to drive so both of us got to be looky Lou's. We brought lots of water and snacks as the last time I waited too long for food and got light-headed on the trail. The elevation also has something to do with that too. As we were hiking, I tried to identify some birds that were flying and jumping through the thick trees but wasn’t very successful. At a resting point, Max was using the outdoor restroom and he called out to me. “Rhonda, come over here..there’s a bird!” I asked if he had his pants up…..and when I got over to him...he almost had! I looked up in the tree where His bird was…... It wasn’t moving at all. I zoomed my camera to see a very large bird-shaped dead leaf. Lol

The next stop was El Pandito, the flat area with great views before the trailhead to Tres Cruces.

We made it to this spot in just over an hour. We shaved off 45 minutes from Tuesday. We were doing great! We rested here 20 minutes as Max was chatting it up with another hiker about the trails in this area. The next part was basically straight up…..and very steep. As the elevation got higher, the harder it was to catch our breath. This required many stops along the way. We were lucky though, there were not any other trail options so we didn't get lost by taking the wrong trail. We eventually got to the Tres Cruces by 12:30 pm. It was a very good time. We had our lunch and Max took a 15-minute power nap. I snapped some pictures and texted Deb to let her know we got to the top. She wasn’t interested in doing this trail again. Once is enough for her. It only took us 2 hours to get down the trail with one small break. Down is usually easier unless it’s super steep and gravelly. Today, we beat the trail!

On the way down, Larry was way ahead of us so I got to chat with Max a bit more. Max is a super interesting guy. He was born in Wuhan China and then moved to Taiwan. Eventually coming to the US. He was a project director for engineers at a big Tech corporation in Silicon Valley. He was one daughter from his first marriage of 5 years that he says is even more successful than he was. His second wife Jan is English and they have been together almost 40 years. Jan had her own hiring company on Market Street in San Francisco until the DOTCOM collapse. She hired students from colleges for the Tech industry. He says that Jan also made more money than him. He’s funny. He told me that he wants to be rich. We never did discuss what rich met to him….money, health, family, friendship, peace, freedom, or spirituality. He did have a life-altering experience about 10 years ago. He was having health issues involving his pancreas and the tests also found blockages in his arteries. Within hours, Max was having quadruple bypass surgery. At that point, he started living his life differently, He said he almost died. Max is the easiest going- laid back dude. He’s 72 and going strong. He still loves to go out to eat as he says neither he nor his wife can cook. I also learned that he loves to travel...and has been all over the world. He likes to stay at 5-star hotels and eat at the finest restaurants. I’m not sure how Rich Max really is but he’s becoming one of my favorite people around here!

In the evening, we made a discovery about why our hummingbird feeders are empty when we get up. Larry and I spent time outside later in the evening only to find out that we have tons of nectar bats at the feeders non-stop all night long. They are impossible to photograph in low light and with their speed. They only hit the feeder for a mere second. The best Larry has done was 2 blurry photos.

We had dozens of bats buzzing around our heads. That was fun! We went inside to shine a light through the window and I was able to get some video of these clever bats. Success!!

Saturday we went into town to get some produce and sugar for our feeders. We had asked a few campers about playing volleyball in the afternoon. We hung out at the trailer listening to music and relaxing. Larry made some amazing salsa just the way I like it with lots of cilantro. He did that for me. He didn’t eat much. He also made the best guacamole ever! We ate and lounged around but no one ever showed up for volleyball. I still enjoyed a few cocktails and we had an intimate fire in the evening. It was a very good day.

Sunday, we decided to walk down Av. de La Carpa. This is the main road into Roca Azul. I had seen a bright yellow bird twice before but never could get his picture. I was hoping it might be a new bird. We walked about halfway down the road, looking for birds but being happy with flowers and trees too. I was snapping away when we were greeted by two men in front of a nicely groomed lawn. They started chatting with us. Eduardo is Mexican and lives at the house. His neighbor Ron lives next door. We spent 30 minutes visiting with these friendly guys. Ron is 80 and retired from the software industry. He said he made software for 3 of the space shuttles. So cool! Eduardo has a business and another home in Guadalajara but is mainly staying here since Covid. He introduced us to his wife and their 2 daughters. He even offered me one of his newly potted basil plants. Wow! Super nice guys. We told him to stop by in the afternoon if he wanted to play some volleyball. We had seen Memo, our neighbor on Saturday night and he said he and his girlfriend Addy would play. We never found that bright yellow bird but our walk was great!

At about 3 pm, we started gathering our volleyball players. Deb said she would be our cheering section and brought her chair and beer. We got Robin to walk over to the courts and invited Max too. Max tried to get us to just play on the soccer field but I shut him down! No Max…..I am beginning to know how this guy works. We knew Carol and Marvin were not players but asked their kids John and Stephanie if they would like to come. Just as we were gathering, Eduardo came up on his bike and he was geared for the competition! Game on! I played for about 3 minutes until the good folks were all assembled and then sat with Deb to drink beer! At first, it looked a bit painful until everyone got into a groove.

The rallies started and I was impressed by the skill of some of these folks. Max always gives it his all and ended up on the ground a few times. His teammate offered a hand up. Stephanie and Addy were very good players and I was very glad that I bowed out. John played hard too and he ended up tearing off a callus on his foot….oh yucky!! It was a sand court but most folks kept their shoes on because it was too hot. John learned that lesson the hard way. They all played for a good solid hour and that was very good for the first time. We definitely will try this again.

This resort is much busier on the weekends as locals from Guadalajara liked to spend the time here. We had some young ladies doing massages at the large pool in the afternoon. Deb and I decided to have foot massages. 30 minutes for 200 pesos ($10 US). It was lovely and I fell asleep. Hahaha. We ended our evening with a campfire and Robin playing his guitar.

He asked for requests this time but unfortunately, he doesn’t know any Led Zeppelin songs. If I was Robin, I’d start learning some or maybe he won’t be invited back. Lol. No! We love Robin! Another great week in paradise. I think we will stay a little longer here…...

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