I first visited Lake Chapala in 1997, when I came down with friends to compete in the Mexican National Chili Cookoff, capably captained by Ann Whiting. I remember waking in my room at Real de Chapala, hearing birds and a lawn mower in February. What? And green leaves, flowers, and children splashing in the pool (their little lips were turning blue, but still . . .)
An expat couple led a group of us chili cooks to dinner at Cozumel’s Restaurant, on the Chapala Malecon. There were about 24 of us, taking over the inside dining room and having a blast. Most of us ordered the Shrimps Azul special and took advantage of the free margaritas. I also seem to recall a Mexican musician and all of us dancing in a conga line. With the following sunrise, several of us might have regretted the tequila, but greeted the morning with smiles nonetheless.
So, after falling in love with Lake Chapala, I returned every year when possible, finally winning the championship in 2008, its last sanctioned year. I returned to Dallas, Texas, and proudly displayed my silver trophy around the law office, bragging that now that I was to represent an entire country at the world championship, my friends might consider referring to me as “Your Highness.” A smartass pal quipped, “Your Hiney?” (It’s tough to get respect.)
Following my dream, I retired here in 2009 and have treasured almost every minute of it. I still have a soft spot for Cozumel’s, and love to sit at the outdoor cafe to watch the local families strolling along. (How do those local women walk in stiletto heels on cobblestones?)
I was delighted to return recently to my favorite boardwalk table, expecting an exotic sunset. I had been housebound for weeks following minor surgery and this was my celebration. I was very pleased to be joined by my friend, Megan Tingen, who has lived here for 46 years. She still loves the charms and cultures of our local neighborhoods, with lots of stories and memories to share, plus her Irish humor.
Our meal was being served when she turned to me and asked, “What are you going to name it?”
I’m well past child-bearing years and in fact couldn’t even have had children, so was not expecting grandbabies. I’ll admit I probably had a dumfounded look on my face, but some might say that’s my normal expression . . . “Duh?”
“What are you going to name your new hip?”
Ahh. “How about Titanium Tillie?”
Megan and I both had grandmothers named Nellie, so Tillie was mutually agreeable.
But, there are points to ponder: Or, if I’m to feel cuddly and warm to this device, should I name him “Steely Stan?”
Will I have to declare Tillie as a dependent when I go through the airport metal detector?” “Or will she require a separate probing, cavity search . . .?” Ouch.
I’ve heard of a woman who returned to the States for her hip replacement. They didn’t have the proper size and used one that was a tad smaller. Now she “click, clicks” when she walks.
It’s my left hip that was replaced. If I dance with a man who has also had his left hip done, should I lead?
My last boyfriend played with his metal detector more than me. Does that mean he’ll be attracted to me again?
Supposing Fred is my best friend and he’s extremely healthy. We’re together and being chased by a snarling, slobbering water buffalo. How does one go about tripping Fred? (asking for a friend)
For more information about Lake Chapala visit: www.chapala.com