High Desert Life

by Miles Hutchins

Fall arrived in Chapala, but without the snow as in Central Oregon, and especially not like in Montana!

The rainy season seems to be tapering off, and the snow birds from north of the border seem to be traipsing back into Chapala. You can tell by the increased traffic up and down the lakeside main drag. And the increased return of church members in worship services.

Speaking of the rainy season, we recently dodged a couple a doozies of storms off the Pacific coast on our recent visit to Mazatlan. One ended shortly before we arrived, the other a few days after we left.

While in Maz, as the hip crowd calls it, we enjoyed sticking our toes into the ocean, watching a few surfers, and eye-balling the waves splashing hard against the wall and sometimes spraying over it. The hotel where we stayed had a good restaurant, an indoor as well as an outdoor palapa feeding place, and, of course, a pool. Food and drink good, but the service and friendliness of staff, remarkable.

I forgot to bring my hearing aid batteries, so nothing to do but go shopping. Went outside and hailed a cab. Except in Maz it is much more fun to travel open air in a doorless pulmonia. That’s a small car frame with parts salvaged, usually from VW’s, and no doors.

Got the batteries from Walmart, but hit the mall to renew my cellphone, and oops, there was Liverpool store — an up-scale Macy’s. Had to shop while our driver waited. Ran up a pretty good bill for his escorting us about the city, but he was so helpful the cost was fine.

The trip to and from Chapala and Mazatlan took us through Tepic, which is roughly the halfway point. About three and a half hours to Tepic through some gorgeous mountain scenery either way. We got a bit homesick for Central Oregon when we drove through a large lava field tumbling down an obvious once upon a time volcanic mountain. By the way, most of our driving was on toll roads, in very good condition, making for smooth travel, as well as quick.

In the two plus years we have been in Mexico, we have been to Puerto Vallarta and Manzanillo, both on the Pacific coast. Both fine tourist destinations, but for our money, Mazatlan takes the cake. Much more beachfront and just a happening place, even for us over-the-hill types.

Back home in Chapala, lots to do, but more laid back activity. Like cutting roses, trimming other flowers and shrubs, and pulling those pesky weeds. October is a busy month for celebrations down here. Surprise, so is almost every month!

St. Francis of Assisi is big down here. So are many heroes and past Presidents of Mexico.

Since the town of Chapala is steeped in history, before and after the Spanish conquistadors, most of the parades and festivals occur there. On Nov. 1, Dia de la Muerta is celebrated to honor and remember the dead. Did you see the animated movie“Coco?” A fun way to understand day of the dead and why it is such a big deal in Mexico. Halloween is not so big here, but believe me, costumes, masks and such are in Costco and stores all over nearby Guadalajara, as well as here in lakeside. But so too are trappings of Thanksgiving, Octoberfest, and yes, already Christmas trees, lights, wreaths, etc.

We are following the Oregon Ducks football team and the Seattle Seahawks. Soon, we will be rooting for Santa Claus to make his annual appearance.

My how time flies, even when retired in paradise.

— 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 .