High Desert Life

by Miles Hutchins

So, here’s a surprise for you.

Da Vinci in Ajijic.

Father and son violin and cello duet in La Floresta.

Yep, culture comes to Lakeside, big time.

As noted, in our neck of the woods, author, humorist, historian, journalist and actor Ed Tasca taught us more about the amazing Da Vinci in an hour than we had learned in a lifetime. Suffice it to say, he was one of those people that stand out in history as beyond belief in achievement and intellectual curiosity. His futuristic inventions, designs, and art still wow us today.

Tasca reminds me of Will Rogers. Not only is he a humorist in the mold of Rogers, but a very funny commentator on the political world of today, as was Rogers in his day. In addition to Da Vinci, Tasca is an authoritative voice regarding the history of Abraham Lincoln.

Who knew such wisdom and humor in one humble man would reside here on the shore of Lake Chapala?

Likewise, we were delighted to hear that the father and son team of Ignacio and Victor live Lakeside. We attended a fundraiser for The Ranch, a no-kill dog rescue operation. This event was held at a private residence where outdoor seating under a large tent accommodated 75 or so eager eaters of morsels of finger food and purchasers of wine, pop, beer and water. The music was semi-classical and entirely composed by Ignacio, the son and violin player. Father, Victor, plays the cello as well as guitar.

What a pair!

If I have confused you by my sketchy geographical names, let me clarify a bit. Ajijic is the artsy village on the west end of the municipality of Chapala, and La Floresta is the tree-lined village just immediately to the east of Ajijic. Both are well established and have been north of the border traveler destinations for several decades.

Chapala itself is a town that has been here for many years. In fact, the Spanish conquistadors took over the area from indigenous people not long after the conquest by Hernan Cortes in 1519. A cathedral was built in Chapala in 1535.

After a hurricane destroyed it, the cathedral was rebuilt in 1749 and stands there today.

When I reference Lakeside, that is just a designation, not a village or separate town. Rather, it encompasses the entire area of habitation running east to west along the shoreline of Lake Chapala between Jocotepec and Chapala.

About 10 miles of humanity are squeezed between lake and abruptly rising hills, or if you like, mountains. Thing is, to Central Oregonians, mountains have a different connotation, snow capped peaks and ski resorts. No Mt. Bachelor here, just good sized hills with lots of brush and small trees.

Lake Chapala is at 5,000 feet elevation. Guadalajara, Mexico’s second largest city, lies about 35 miles north of Chapala. Three or four hours west of here are Pacific beach resort towns of Manzanillo and Puerto Vallarta.

But enough advertising. Come on down and see and enjoy the delights of Mexico yourself. As the popular saying for a motel goes, “we’ll leave the light on for you.”

— Miles Hutchins is a retired former Redmond resident who grew up in Central Oregon and now lives in Mexico. Contact him at milesredmond@gmail.com .

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