The Malecón in Chapala
There is truly no finer experience than a walk along the Malecón in Chapala at sundown. The launches are coming and going, full of families, mostly from Guadalajara, down for the weekend on the beach in Chapala. Everyone is happy, strolling along licking up ice cream or tasting many of the delicacies, like charales, a crispy fried bait fish washed down with a quart of beer. There are fresh ripe coconuts; the water inside drained and served in a clear plastic bag with a straw. The tender meat is scraped out of the shell for one to munch whilst strolling on the malecón. Hand made candies, fresh ripe papaya, pineapple, oranges and bananas in a cup sprinkled with chile and lime. There is a blend of live music drifting through the palm trees. Mariachi bands and street performers with instruments and amplifiers, and some playing pop songs on Pan Pipes from Peru. Catchy! You can see many colorful stalls filled with clothing and assorted sundries and Indian weavers working whilst sitting on the ground with back looms. These are the Gente, the finest in Mexican street culture. And you haven't eaten until you've grazed the authentic Mexican taco stands in and around the Zócalo or Plaza. The air is rich and warm. A slight breeze off the lake sways the palm trees to the rhythm of the night; a dance I'll never forget. The seawall has been completely rebuilt. It has a nicely curved line, new tile, plants and flower pots and palm trees, their trunks wrapped with tiny lights. Street lamps that light up the Malecón and the beach. There are fountains and benches, a stage and a visitors center at one end. Many events happen here, such as art exhibits, music and even dancing on Sunday evenings.
In the morning there are people walking and talking, jogging, stretching and spinning stationary bikes to a driving disco beat. Fantastic!
The lirio, or water hyacinth is practically gone. The remains, that wash ashore overnight, are raked up by workmen every morning and hauled away. Fishermen wading waist deep in the water casting their nets and children playing in the surf are now a common sight, as well as a rather large flock of pelicans whose silhouette in flight grace the sky.
And the lake is up. Way up! They must have used a mountain of sand to create a beach reminiscent of the ocean. Someone obviously had a really good plan to raise the money for Fine Art and Artesanos, craftsmen to design and build the new Malecón and then keep it clean on a daily basis. ¡Maravilloso!
Article by Robert Crosthwait