Profiling Tepehua – November 2023

A very mixed migration is occurring for the Lakeside area that is insidious. It’s stealth coming from all sides. First, the migrant retirement sector from the U.S. and Canada  that have spread the word of the value of Lakeside Chapala living, which is so accommodating that nursing homes, assisted living facilities, hospitals, insurance, and all manner of home care units have sprung up wherever the retirees settle. Then the boomer-age spillover from Mexico City and Guadalajara stretching its tentacles south, especially since COVID ushered in the ability to work from home or car via computer. People are buying homes on the lake and commuting as the roads improve and travel times shorten.

Almost all buy land or homes with a view and, as Lakeside itself grows, it has nowhere to go but up the beautiful Sierra Madre mountainsides, pushing into the valleys beyond. This forces the barrio people farther and farther down into the rural areas between the mountains and the cities to the north. The barrios once occupied the top of the hills with the million-dollar views mainly because of the lack of utilities up there. Now the town is richer and the mountain homes have become prime real estate.

Is this a good thing or are we choking the life out of Chapala? Like everything else, the flip side is good. It is bringing labor, education, and all the things that make a middle class strong . . . especially opportunities for the young. Those of us who work to see change for the people and a workable balance between the haves and have-nots applaud the progress, but can also  mourn the loss of that peaceful time when the roads were clear . . . maybe with potholes, yes, but no traffic to speak of. When the nights brought a lull and the skies were clear enough to count the stars, and every tiny home turned into a nativity of light, when electricity cuts were expected and it didn’t matter.

Tepehua itself could be overrun by progress, but it is holding its own and its future looks bright because it is a key link hooked on the side of Chapala and could in the future become a major thoroughfare connecting Riberas and the Guadalajara freeway, cutting around Chapala. Plus, Tepehua people are industrious. They are neither fishermen nor farmers, but men of construction and women of determination for change. As people look for land to build, Chapala spreads to Tepehua, taking with them labor where the people need it most. Rather than leave the area, the people stay and improve it.

Like the little nut that held its ground and grew into an oak tree, Tepehua will hold its ground and survive change.

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Moonyeen King
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