Before pulling out of Uruapan, we consulted the map to decide where we should go next. We were now off our set itinerary and needed to find a place we could get to within the remaining daylight. It didn't take us long to decide. Lake Chapala it was!
On the way, L consulted the Lonely Planet and, using his cell phone, started calling some of the places listed for lodging. We finally settled on the Lake Chapala Inn (27), a bed and breakfast located right on the shore of the lake. It was an elegant place, more like an old home than a hotel. It was owned and run by a sweet, but eccentric, 80 year old woman. Her biggest eccentricity was that she descended the stairs backwards. Strange.
We had a beautiful large room on the second floor and we felt like we had landed in the lap of luxury. The room opened onto a large sitting room area that overlooked the lake. It was here, while having a peaceful evening cocktail of Cuba Libres, that we first opened the bag of Fritos Corn Chips that I had received as a gift, saved, and brought along on the trip. This one bag was hoarded and rationed and ended up lasting until we crossed the Sea of Cortez!
We were appalled by Lake Chapala. From reading blogs of people who live in the area, I had expected a beautiful, picturesque lake. In retrospect, I guess it was sort of pretty, but not worth a return visit. Most amazing was the water level. It was way down from where it should have been. Reason being that the nearby large city of Guadalajara is siphoning off lake water to appease the needs of the one million or so residents.
You can see this drastic reduction in the water level in the pictures below. What is green and the brown road should be underwater.
The green stuff in the pictures above is some kind of floating weed. The wind blows differently from day to night and that stuff gets blown from one side of the lake to the other. At night the boats you see in the middle of it are actually anchored in clear water. This weed blows in overnight and they have to paddle and prod their way out of it each morning. I don't know if it was because of those weeds or not, but there were millions of annoying bugs out and about in the evening.
For dinner that night we decided to take a taxi to a restaurant called Tomas'. This place was not listed in our guidebook but there was an article about it in one of the local rag sheets. It was touted as one of the best and most popular gringo hangouts in the area. The menu was typically American with steaks, burgers, fries and onion rings. We hailed a taxi and off we went.
It was located on a side street, about a block off the main street that goes into town and the lake. It was dark and dingy inside. The service and food were very good though. The write up about it had been correct about the menu. As for it being a very popular hangout, maybe we were just there at the wrong time.
Before we hailed the taxi for dinner, I was able to get these shots of sunset over the lake.