Sunday, September 9, 2018

Cultural Center in Chapala

President Porfirio Diaz
In 1888, Chapala had become the preferred resort for most "Tapatios".  People native to Guadalajara flocked to the beautiful shores of Lake Chapala and enjoyed staying in a variety of hotels that were built to accomodate those who came to relax, dine and golf. The mild temperatures, the beauty of the circling hills and the passenger boats all added to the charm of many affluent Mexican families. In the 1800's the winding roads
El Manglar - The Mangrove
to reach Chapala from Guad made the trip very hard.  Porfirio Diaz had made that trip many times before becoming the President of Mexico and he stayed at his
brother-in-laws casa named "El Manglar"  This Mangrove is where President Diaz and his entourage enjoyed the many fruits of Chapala.  Many proposals to connect Chapala by rail to Guadalajara were made.  The Train Station's
original Grand Opening was to be May 15, 1888, however, the reality of the terrible unrest of the Mexican Revolution interveneed and more than 25 years passed before the station was built. The Chapala Train Station finally opened to
The Architect and Engineer
the public on April 8, 1920.  From 1904-1909, Chapala was the chosen spring time vacation destination for Mexico President Porfirio Diaz and his family and friends. The architect and engineer Guillermo de Alba designed the building based on his studies as a student in Chicago.  De Alba reflected the town's hope for a brighter future with elegant pillars and grand rooms for hosting cultural events.  On the ground floor, two rooms are dedicated to
temporary exhibits.  The 16.2 miles of rail to connect Chapala with Guad were installed in 1917. The Museum today holds many artifacts from around lakeside. The water level of Lake Chapala rose dramatically and flooded the station in 1925. The lakeside property passes through many hands until Jesus Gonzalez Gallo acquired it.
Once the flood waters receded, the Gonzalez Gortazar family agreed to lend the property to the expats in Chapala to use as a clubhouse much like the Lake Chapala Society property in Ajijic. Eventually the building was abandoned and was left to decay for years.  For the purpose of creating a cultural
Ave Christiana in 1930 - Chapala
center, Mrs Paz de Gonzalez Gallo chose to donate the property to the State Government of Jalisco.  In 1997 the restoration work began with the collaboration of the Cultural Heritage area of the Secretary of Culture, the Chapala City Council and the organization "Adopt a Work of Art".  The old Train Station was re-baptized as the Gonzalez Gallo Cultural center and was officially opened on March 28, 2006.  It is open to the public every day except Mondays.  Hours of operation is Tuesday through Saturday 10:00 AM - 6:00 PM and Sundays from 10:00 AM - 3:00 PM. For more information contact: The Gonzalez Gallo Cultural Center at 376-765-7424.  The admission is FREE.


The best way and the fastest route to obtain your Permanent Resident GREEN CARD, or your temorary card in Mexico is to hire Spencer the attorney in Chapala.  You must begin the process at the Mexican Consulate office in the USA City nearest your home in the states. The USA Mexican Consulate will stamp your passport with a six months visa once they accept all documents that they require. Spencer will need your passport, and a copy of the expiring VISA from the airline you flew in on, or the VISA you obtained at the border driving in.  His fee is only 5500 pesos and his staff keeps you up to date via email throughout the process.  Many try to do it on their own, but found that they were always missing some piece of information.  Spencer's staff has a good reputation and has taken the time to develop relations at the Immigration office.  It is WORTH it to just pay Spencer and decrease certain hassles.
A link to Spencers website is found on the right under HOT LINKS. You will have to obtain pro photos taken at a specific place, Spencer will direct you. On the same day you pick up your GREEN CARD, sign the register at the Immigration office on Hidalgo and request a CURP card.  There is no fee, the CURP card is kind of like a social security card in Mexico and you will need it to obtain Mexican health insurance at either IMSS or SEGURO POPULAR and your senior discount card. Call Spencer and book your appointment: 331-592-3801 - His office is on Hidalgo, lakeside SEE first photo above.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Beach Manzanillo

Since we arrived in January 2013 we have traveled to the lovely beaches of Puerto Vallarta twice, and we explored hotels in Mazatlan four times.  We now prefer Manzanillo because it is less populated and it is only a short 3.5 hours from our casa. Scenic toll roads all the way through Colima to the
beach.  We have stayed at four different hotels in Manzanillo and our favorite is the Camino Real. Drive into Manzanillo, past the HM hotel, and through the light, Starbucks on the right, and Wal-Mart on the left.  Turn left at the end of Wal-Mart, then drive towards the beach.  Make the first right hand turn and you end up at Camino Real. You can rent horses, go golfing, or a long list of other activities from the Concierge.  From Chapala, drive to Jocotopec, take road to Guad, then follow signs to Colima on 15D. Hotel Camino Real, Manzanillo. From Mexico call 001-314-331-1740.  ADDRESS: Calle Paraiso 11 Residential Salahua, Manzanillo, Colima 28869  ONLY 50 rooms, NOT all inclusive, check-in time is 3:00 PM. You will enjoy the junior suites which all have ocean view with kitchenette, dining room, living room, locking safes and you can WALK to everywhere!

Friday, September 7, 2018


If you are just planning to visit Mexico, order pesos before you get on the plane. If you plan on moving to Mexico, I suggest that you open account with Wells Fargo in the USA. Order pesos from Wells Fargo International 800-626-9430 before you leave the USA. When you arrive in Chapala, open an account at Bancomer in Chapala right near the water fountain. Bancomer is a sister branch of Wells Fargo. Bancomer is #1 bank in Mexico.
When you return to the USA, go to your Wells Fargo branch and request to SIGN a Wells Fargo Express Send Remittance CONTRACT.  800-556-0605. Your account name in the USA "MUST" match your account name at Bancomer "exactly".  (Mary Sue Money/First, Middle, Last) Unless it matches exactly the Express Send will be disabled.  Express Send allows you to transfer funds from your USA Wells Fargo account to Mexico directly into your Bancomer account. You can transfer up to $10,000 per month, at $1,500 per transfer. Each time you transfer there
is only a $5.00 fee.  This is a great advantage because the ATM fee's are excessive for every withdrawl while in Mexico. Research affirms that boarding a plane in the USA with less than $9,900 USA dollars/ converted into pesos, is safe, and okay. It is NOT very EASY to convert USA cash into PESOS once you land in Mexico. It is good advice to order pesos before departing. In 2014 laws changed and cashing a USA check has become an issue at many banking institutions. The USA now demands that all funds leaving the USA be tracked by social security number.

Thursday, September 6, 2018


It is a short walk for me from San Nicolas to the Country Club where we enjoy Friday night buffets, Mahjong, hitting golf balls, or just walking the lovely 9 hole course in the evening. Drive to the Country Club de Chapala along the road that leads to Mezcala.  You will pass the town of Santa Cruz, then San Nicolas, then enter through the gates of Chapala Country Club. A beautiful paved
road takes you up to the security gate.  Pause and tell them you are going to the golf course, the guard lifts the gate and you will drive up another few hundred yards and turn right into the club.  The green fees for non-members are 1,200 pesos for 18 or less holes which includes a cart between the hours of 7:00 AM - 2:00 PM.  If you tee off after 2:00 PM it is 650 pesos.  If you wait to tee off after
4:00 PM it is only 400 pesos. Golfing ends at 7:00 PM. It is a nine hole course, but 18 holes can be played.  Get a Social membership for only 500 pesos per year, per couple. It includes line dancing, Zumba, Yoga, Majhong and social dinner parties.  Check in at the stone
Pro Shop where you can purchase a bucket of balls and go to the driving range or take lessons from Romero.  All golfers must hire a Caddy who will spot your balls and guide you through the course.  Standard Caddy fees are posted in the clubhouse which are dependent on the size of your group.  No fivesomes allowed, only two people per cart and each player must have their own clubs. The course was designed by Harry Offutt in 1956, a golf Pro from the USA.
All other information is on this link. Country Club de Chapala

JALISCO 2018 Traffic Laws

Each Jalsico car must be smog checked and a new sticker applied on or before the month that corresponds to the last digit of its license plate. OUR last digit is a (3) so we must get car smogged each year before March, and on the third day of the week which is Tuesday or Martes.  The smog fee is only 300 pesos. PENSION is the place in Chapala to get smogged. ADDRESS: 375 Zaragoza. You must bring the CARD you get from the Mexican DMV when you pay for annual registration. Traffic fines are calculated in multiples of Jalsico's minimum daily wage, which is 67 pesos in 2014.  ; all traffic fines can be paid at most banks, at the 7-Eleven, and OXXO convenient stores. Fines are levied against a CAR not a person.  If someone else drives your car and gets a ticket, and fine remains unpaid, you will be responsible to pay when you renew your car registration.  KEEP receipt or PINK slip to your car in a SAFE place. Jalisco requires that all cars be insured in the amount of 6,000 days at minimum wage (67 pesos X 6,000) for bodily injury, and or property damage to third parties.  You must also carry 25,000 days ($1,682,250 pesos) for death.
Regulation article 199 states that if the fine is paid within 10 working days, you will get a 50% discount. If paid within 29 working days you will get a 25% discount.  In the Lake Chapala area, fines can be paid at the Hacienda Treasury office located at Degollado #306, Chapala and other places herein mentioned.  AFTER filling out the form on the following website:
POLICE OFFICER RULES: Under ARTICLE 159: Policeman may NOT take your drivers license or any other document, but they are allowed to look at them.  In some Mexico states, this is NOT the case.  Each car MUST have back bumpers/fenders.  MUST have windshield wipers. MUST have side mirrors. MUST have functioning headlights.  MUST have a license plate.  MUST NOT drive in reverse over 10 kilometers per hour.  (5 miles per hour)
DRIVING SOMEONE ELSES CAR: If you are driving a friends car and they are not in the car with you, you need a signed letter from the owner of the car authorizing you to drive it, plus a copy of their ID in order for policeman to match signatures. ARTICLE 189; policeman may NOT commit extortion ( may not ask for bribes, or MORDITAS). This is abusing their authority and police officers who do extort money can be sentenced to 1-5 years in prison.  IMPOUNDED CAR REASONS: Car parked which blocks a garage or reserved spot.  Driving without a license plate.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Travel Info for Expats

This info is ONLY for expats who live in Mexico full time or part time. Make sure to carefully fill out the FMM form CORRECTLY. HAND WRITE Resident Permanente across the TOP of FMM form. Country of Residence is MEXICO. Purpose of travel: Other.As an RP visa holder (Resident Permanent), any time you fly out of Mexico you will have to fill out an FMM and give it to the airline carrier to be attached to your boarding pass. The shorter lower segment of
the form will be collected at the INM desk prior to entering the boarding area. The tricky part is how the FMM is handled when reentering Mexico. Airline personnel usually hand out the forms on board the flight to Mexico. Permanent Residents MUST fill in the information boxes in the top portion of the form, including noting Mexico as country of residence (box #7), the number shown on the back of the INM green card (box #8), checking OTHER/OTRO as purpose of trip (box #9). ADD the hand-written notation Residente Permanente across the top of the form and detach the lower portion of form to KEEP until you arrive home. Once off the plane, pay close attention as you go through the immigration filter. First of all show the official your INM resident
green card and passport and verbally state "soy residente." Then hand over only the top portion of the FMM. Cooperate if the official on duty insists that you fill out both segments of the form, but make sure that the gray areas designated for Uso Oficial are filled out properly before leaving the immigration desk. ALARM: If there is a check mark in the section labeled Estancia Maxima 180 days you will be registered as a visitor in the INM data base, automatically losing your resident status. Stand your ground to see that the mistake is corrected and the section below, titled "Unicamente Para Efectos Estadisticos," is CORRECTLY checked off in the box labeled Tarjeta Permanente Temporal. Resident.  Expats NEED to follow the same procedures when leaving and entering the country by land or sea. Guillermina Cortés also pointed out that RP and PT holders are not subject to paying any processing fees to airline companies or immigration checkpoints since they have already paid the requisite taxes for obtaining their visas. All it takes is a seemingly minor clerical error committed when going through immigration stations at border crossings and as you make your way through international airports.
ALERT yourself to the DETAILS of each FMM form you fill out, and before leaving the WINDOW at Guad Airport, make sure the correct BOX below USO OFFICIAL is correct. A Residente Temporal (RT) or Residente Permanente (RP) status could be MISTAKENLY SWITCHED to a visitor permit good for a maximum of 180 days. According to INM's Chapala office chief Guillermina Cortés, at least a dozen lakeside area immigrants have lost their residency visas due to paperwork glitches when returning to Mexico from trips abroad. Essentially the problem stems from errors in processing the Forma Migratoria Multiple (FMM), a standard form that must be submitted individually by all foreigners entering and exiting Mexico. PRINT THIS AND KEEP PAPER INSIDE PASSPORT.

Monday, September 3, 2018

Real Estate in Jalisco

Get yourself a good realtor! Shop for what you want; one story, small 2 bedroom, or room for guests. After owning here for 10 years, people who come visit like staying at S.F. Hotel in Chapala.  They have freedom to walk about, check things out without a car. There is so much to see, hire a realtor to drive you about like I did. Ask questions, and figure out what section of the Lake you prefer.  From West to South of the lake: Jocotopec, San Juan Cosala, Ajijic, La Floresta, Walmart, San Antonio, Chula Vista, Mirasol, Chapala.  Our first home was in Chapala and we felt totally safe, however, there is a fiesta quite regularly into the wee hours of the morning so in January 2017 we moved just 5 miles outside Chapala towards Mezcala in a little pueblo named San Nicolas.  We are around the corner from Vista Del Lago Country Estates which are fabulous homes around a 9 hole golf course.  For just 500 pesos annually you can become a social member and enjoy the monthly dinner parties with entertainment. It is quieter living along side the lake in San Nicolas de Ibarra. Just remember this is Mexico and we are guests. The happy folks here will throw a Fiesta to celebrate
anything and everything. It is just a 5 minute ride, on a good road to the park in Chapala to walk our dog, and it is 8 miles to shop at Soriano for groceries.  The fitness center I joined is in Mirasol "Fit for Life" and they have a "Curves" circuit of equipment that I can easily manage three times a week.  There are a number of fantastic cafe's nearby.  A few places that we frequent are in San Antonio.  Panino's, Adelita's, and the new cafe just across the street from Panino's.  There is also access to a malecon in San Antonio to walk your dog.  Our dog Rags was adopted from the Lucky Dog Shelter and he has since attended obedience and agility school.  The mayor of Chapala has done an excellent job by increasing safety A recent Sermon by Pastor Ken Armstrong .  We love living in Mexico and the real estate taxes and cost of living make it affordable enough that a person has money to give back and to travel.  View the video and the pictures posted on this link An Expat Blogs.
and tourism around Lake Chapala.  Our annual cost to maintain our home in San Nicolas, which includes property taxes, the water bill, insurance, renewing annual tags on both cars is a whopping $560.00 USD annually.  Besides the affordability, we love the culture, the people, the various service opportunities, and the fellowship at Little Chapel in Mirasol. I actually found the place I originally purchased online in the USA. We sold it in 2017 and found the next home in one of the many Real Estate for sale magazines that are here at Lakeside.  Enjoy the adventure.  Check this site for Health Insurance options, and recommended restaurants on the links provided on the right.  Hasta Luego! MEET SOME LOCAL Women of Value.   CLICK ON  BLOGGED PHOTOS TO ENLARGE.

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Seguro Popular for ER

Any person can obtain health insurance in Mexico for an annual fee of $300 USA. The IMSS office for residents of Chapala is located across from old railway station, near Christiana park on
Gonzalez Gallo. It is best to use a local attorney to get through the (3) step application process. The IMSS hospital in Guad has the latest technology and equipment. The picture here is of the Seguro Popular office in Chapala, Seguro compares to county health care in the USA. For an emergency you can get care, but you will wait in long lines, and the Seguro hospitals are filled with stressed out, under paid doctors and nurses.
The ALTERNATIVE Health Insurance option for those who do not wish to pay the $300 annual premium for IMSS insurance is to apply for SEGURO POPULAR
whose office is shown in the first and 2nd pictures above. SEGURO compares to county health insurance in the USA. To apply for SEGURO you will need your passport, your CURP card, your GREEN card, and a CFE bill in your name with your address on it.  Once you receive your Seguro Popular acceptance 8 x 11
sheet of paper, you can obtain FREE meds.  You get SEGURO meds filled at the pharmacy located at 380 Zaragoza. However, in order to be seen by a SEGURO doctor, you need to arrive at 7:30 AM and stand in a line that could take up to an hour.  Therefore, we established a relationship with a local doctor and for minor emergencies, a cold, flu, infection etc. We opt to pay the 300 pesos per office visit and save our IMSS insurance for anything major, like a needed surgery, heart attack or whatever. There are many great doctors at Lakeside.

Friday, August 31, 2018

Solar Savings

With our CFE bill wavering close to the red zone, and with the annual 12% increase across the board for electricity at Lakeside, we chose eSun Energy in Ajijic. eSun has the highest quality installations in Mexico and their sevice is excellent! We look forward to paying CFE about $7.00 USD every two months!!! WARNING to home-owners and renters.  Once your CFE bill hits the RED ZONE, your bi-monthly bill triples. So if your CFE bill goes from 800 pesos to  2400 pesos, it never reduces.  Those who do rent at Lakeside, call the office and make an appointment to discuss how you can reduce your CFE bill.  Owner maintenance responsibility is simply to toss a bucket of water across each panel during the dry season.  WARNING: Do NOT use soap, do NOT use a squeegee.  Removing dust with a splash of water is sufficient to maximize efficiency.  To remove bird droppings"  1 cup white cider vinegar mixed into a 5 gallon bucket.  Toss the mixture across the panel, then toss a clean bucket of water across the panel. Professional annual cleaning is available by eSun for 30 pesos per panel.  Check out their website.  They are professionals!!! eSun Energy
An English speaking salesman came to our casa, went up on the roof to inspect location and get the data on our two air conditioners on Tuesday. We provided eSun with a CFE bill and on Wednesday a written quote was delivered based on our personal two year consumption. Our capital investment will pay for itself in 4 years, but the BEST NEWS is that we can crank up our air conditioners for four hours per day, during the four hottest months at Lakeside. Since we live at Lakeside full time, we have now increased our travel budget by reducing our cost to run the air conditioner!  Hallelujah! 

Unleashed, NOT bored

Unleashed without boundaries, without a limit of fresh air to breathe, without an edit of any emotion, we embark upon unknown trails. Without a compass, but in complete FAITH, with a destination, and great expectations, we explore wide eyed and exuberant! Without the need for a life jacket,  we stretch to utilize our gifts and bless others. With FREEDOM to roam about the planet and witness great NEWS, we remain resolved to be tested and proved! Our spirits are refreshed by legions of others who have gone before us! In a CLEAR COLORFUL VISION ~~~ Imagine yourselves laughing with the locals of Chapala as they attempt to comprehend your Spanglish.   With excitement the Mexican people embrace all who habla um poco Espanol.  Walking along the Malecons of Chapala and Ajijic and down the stony streets,  you will thrill as locals greet you with huge smiles!  Flowers and people seem to bloom and emerge easily inside unkempt, imperfect, unexpected places. WOW, a humongous tree with an enlarged trunk and vivid orange blossoms grows next to a poinsettia that towers like an aged California oak.  Our mind fills up with lavish images, beyond any of our past, and there we stand riveted by God's absolute BEST!  We left behind what was known along highway 99 and highway 88 to Silver Lake and we marvel at the green hills surrounding Lakeside. Our ears hear His voice whispering "Well done My good and faithful servants"  Our spirits are lifted as we put our hands to good use among several great organizations. We tred with grand delight, feeling unleashed, but not unprotected as we walk the streets of
Ajijic, La Floresta and Chapala. The picture above is of the lush garden at the Lake Chapala Society in Ajijic. LINKS on the right of this blog will take you on a vivid tour of Lakeside. Uncharted walks makes my soul respond with giddyness to the bromide elixir that the lake emits. A cobbled street runs thru La Floresta to connect Chapala and Ajijic. This stroll allows your eyes to witness horses and children at play without an ordinance! A spot where artesians yearn to stay and participate in the MAGIC of artsy AJIJIC.
Our weekly calendar is full of fun activity and local invites. We have met folks from around the globe! Daily walks to lakeside include hugs and chats. Much to do as grateful volunteers. Each March we raise money for Love in Action at the Annual Chili cook off.  FUN times galore!  Monday we attend a Spanish class in Ajijic.  Tuesday morning after our malecon walk with Donna, Dan, LC, Lucinda and a bevy of others, Mike attends
Bible study with a groovy group of gringo men. Tuesday night Barb hosts a women's CR group in our home while Mike enjoys a boys night out. Wednesday Barb serves at UPSCALE RESALE a second hand store much like Superior Thrift in Stockton.  All proceeds help fund HOPE HOUSE. Thursday we attend Spanish class again, followed by a Spanish practice session every Thursday evening at 5:00 pm with at least 15 local people from Lakeside.  Friday Mike works for a few hours at HOPE HOUSE, a boys orphanage, then we generally catch up with Villa Santa Paula resident neighbors Jack & Albert, Gary & Mila, Dan & Lynette, Amy, or Virgina.   We have booked passage around Lake Chapala on several Sunday afternoons with a group from Church.
There is also a Kayaking and Sailing Club in La Floresta which offers sails around Lake Chapala on Tuesday mornings and Thursday evenings. Adventures await as the surrounding forested places give oxygen to the villages within the state of Jalisco. As we abide in Him where EVER we travel, we rest in His hands as He opens the doors for our safe passage. My hopes, dreams and best plans have always been surpassed when it comes to swallowing fully that which has been made possible for my senses to intake. With our anchors pulled up in California, we float freely among English speaking people that blend with a variety of snow birds seeking paradise -- We mix it up within the small town of Chapala (population 20,000) and the colorful culture in Ajijic (population 10,000) along the shores of Lakeside! A fishing community feel of GLEE abounds. A local Hotel on Hidalgo offers all day swimming in an olympic pool that faces the lake for only 50 pesos! The Hotel, the cafe, and the pool are kept very clean. Hotel Villa Monte Carlo is a great place to cool off on those hot days! LINK on sidebar.
 An awesome gander of what "is"allows any person to be struck with wonder at this simple truth --- that regardless of language, color, education or the economy - we are united by our reverence for untamed, natural beauty. Trusting God, we remain surrendered to the AWE inspiring grandeur of His Spirit that is resplendent! Our path is filled with His GLORY to behold! Men and Women of truth, grace and spirit. Mothers, daughters, fathers and sons, globe trotters, and California giddy gurls shop and adorn themselves with color. We were born into being with a body that responds to color, music, food and the fantastic elements of nature -- people discover their unique best in Mexico in the midst of poverty and the riches, we have mucho to be thankful for. We are here to experience God's love as we marvel in all that He has so abundantly provided. COME to Chapala and expect to be astounded!  Focus on what delights your soul and come and explore!  Watch, listen and be ever AMAZED! We all are the "BE" in being unleashed. Go with courage and become the Columbus of your imaginings. Pack light, wear that LOVE that cannot be worn out! "He has commanded His angels concerning you." Therefore confidently "Cast all anxiety on Him" and travel in faith that Jesus has gone before you! Buen Provecho! Enjoy LIFE to the fullest!