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Chapala Feb 07

Chapala is the largest of the six Lakeside communities. The region where Lake Chapala is located was called Chimaloacán: “place for the people using shield”.  In the ninth century a big migration of Nahuatl origin tribes, from the northwest of the country, gave rise to the major settlements of the central plateau of Mexico; the residents of Chapala belonged to the group of Tanalan from where a warlord named Chapa encouraged groups to form a new population on the shores of the lake. Thus was formed Chapatla or Chapatlán. The word Chapala comes from the Nahuatl and means “place of Grasshoppers on the water”. Due to the characteristics of the area, the main activities were fishing, hunting, trade and agriculture. Over the entire basin was established the first pre-Hispanic communications between Tenochtitlan and northern and western regions. Later this long basin favored the Spanish exploration and conquest.

Another great immigration wave took place in late nineteenth century with the arrival of people from abroad attracted by the beauty of the banks and the benefits of the climate; they built the first summer houses that were slowly transforming the landscape of this fishing village. In the twentieth century modern buildings began; in the early decades the city hall was built and also the old station, first and only rail service that operated between Chapala and the city of Guadalajara to the north of the country, through Mexico City.

The main attraction is Chapala Lake, the largest inland body of water in Mexico with 1112 km², it is located between the states of Jalisco and Michoacan. Here the tourists can make boat trips to the island of Mezcala or Isla de los alacranes (Island of the scorpions), horseback riding through the town, a walking tour to the Cristiania Park, Acapulquito, the Malecon or the Church of San Francisco. With a wonderful weather, Lake Chapala promotes and offers many outdoor activities as water skiing, golf, swimming or cycling. One of the most popular attractions in the area, are the beautiful natural resorts, which provide a state of relaxation and natural therapy. The most popular resort is located in San Juan Cosala, between the towns of Ajijic and Jocotepec, which has natural hot spring and several pools for the visitors, three hotels and a restaurant. There are also many exclusive spas around, where you can enjoy a day of relaxation and rest.

Tourists can also visit the exclusive town of Ajijic, a picturesque community founded in 1531, one of the oldest and most beautiful villages in Mexico. It still preserves the essence of its roots as a fishing village while mixing a community of American and foreign artists. In this small village tourists can visit the main square with a French style kiosk, the famous Wednesday’s street market or “tianguis”, as well as a wealth of art galleries and boutiques, for hikers, we recommend turning up the small hill at the back of the square, about an hour to reach the cross, where it is possible to enjoy a panoramic view of Ajijic.

Of the major local festivals highlights the Carnival which takes place in February, there are dances, fireworks, sporting events, parade floats, as well as the costumes parade. Also in September its celebrated the festival in honor of San Francisco de Asis, in which there are pilgrimages to the Parish as well as popular festivals in the main square. November is reserved for the Day of Origins and History of the population, with an array of cultural events in the city. The Charreria is also well known throughout the state of Guadalajara, a national sport since the 1930’s. In Chapala, there are also events of Charreria during the year in which not only admire the boldness of the “charros” in the arena, but also the dress of the participants and the colorful embroidery on the jacket and pants. Chapala is a place known for its handcrafts, ranging from pieces of quarry, carved wood, pottery, ceramics, wood carvings to costumes, yarn, silk fabrics and embroidery.

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