View From The South Shore
By Kerry Watson
In my ten years of summering here each year “to finish a book,” always my excuse to leave the brutal Texas heat far behind, I have long been intrigued by the South Shore. Looking over from the summer places I’ve lived in from Chapala to Ajijic, I see a tranquil lakeshore dotted by only a few tiny groups of lights. It looks so fresh and pure. I am curious about what it is like. What do they see when they look over at us?
Over the years I hear references to a few Americans living “over there” but it seems to be like a remote wilderness. I join an e-mail group or two for those intrepid souls or wannabes, but they talk about power outages, no Telmex at all, difficulty with satellite Internet – stop right there, I am not yet retired, and I need the Internet to make my living.
Last summer the Texas wildfires came within a few miles of our home and I couldn’t bear to see that, so I just never went back. The news showed black ugly scars in the hill country that I loved, versus remaining in paradise, hmm. I lived near San Juan Cosala where it was semi-rural and I could ride my horse anywhere I wanted. In the dry season we rode along the lakeshore from restaurant row to the Ajijic malecon, always watching the south shore.
Gazing towards the south shore at night there are a few more dotted lights than when I first started watching. They are creeping closer to each other, but they twinkle off as the night progresses. I want to be one of those twinkles. I keep exploring the lake, driving my Jeep around to the nooks and crannies that Google Maps is so kind to highlight for me.
The people I meet treat me like a normal person, not as a “mark” for selling goods. No trays of bobble-head animals, baskets, coffee, treasures that tourists need to complete their visit. I almost feel invisible as I walk down the street because sales folks don’t veer towards me when they see me coming. There aren’t roving sales people at all!
The view from the south shore is, well, the opposite of the pastoral grassy vision towered by Mt. Garcia: it looks like one big long scar of a city, hunkered down along the water as far as the eye can see. At first I am disgusted by the look of urban decay; how could I possibly look at that every day? At night, it is a long blaze of nearly uninterrupted lights that only dim slightly as the night goes on.
But eventually the lure of the people, birds, wildflowers, whispering grasses, and the waves lapping upon the south shore mesmerize me. The infrastructure I need to make a living there finally comes, as super-fast 4G cellular wireless comes to the area. When at last I find a house on the water for a fraction of the cost it would be in Ajijic, I take the plunge. A country girl at heart, I am home at last.
Today I love gazing at the vast, silent city on the north shore. It is near, yet thankfully so far away. My panoramic view goes from Jocotopec to Chapala. As the sun rises I watch the shadow of the mountains lift from Chapala to Joco, then back the other way as the sun sets. I am so glad to live on the south shore and share it with you.
(Ed. Note: Kerry Watson is an author of an armload of non-fiction books who is branching out into more creative works. You can reach her at email@example.com.)
For more information about Lake Chapala visit: www.chapala.com
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