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Sunday December 17 2017
Spring is in the Air

Coco Wonchee

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The evidence is everywhere around us. We see explosions of yellow flames bursting in the ‘Primaveras’. The ‘Primavera’ (Tabebuia Donnell), a tall elegant tree (now classified as a plant threatened with extinction) is crowned by bright, fully flowered yellow bouquets. As well as these, there are the Jacarandas now in full flower giving a mauve-blue light to the sunshine.

The blackbirds (Turdus Merula) have arrived. Their melancholic song at sunset is yet another announcement of Spring. They come to the garden in couples, dancing and singing, pairing off, following nature’s endless mating call.

Orange tree blossoms in profusion perfume the air in ways that relax the mind and comfort the spirit. Truly, during this season of the year in Chapala, Mother Earth shows her most generous face - fresh, colorful and scented.

The ‘Snowbirds’ - a term used to name the ex-pats escaping from a northern winter of snow, ice and rain for the warmth and sunshine of Chapala - join those, who are year-round residents here, to enjoy a wide variety of cultural activities - something for every taste and interest, from cultural events, art exhibitions, fancy balls, gala dinners to chili cook-offs, handicraft fairs, drama groups and live theatre, choirs, art associations and photographic clubs. Many of these are sponsored by philanthropic societies aimed at supporting the various charity foundations.

One prominent highlight of the season is the renowned ‘Northern Lights Music Festival’ - brilliantly directed by Christopher Wilshire, himself a violin virtuoso; and sponsored by Scotiabank.

In this Festival talented musicians from Canada, USA and Europe are brought together to perform in Ajijic. Programs include Classical Orchestral Concerts, Ballet, Chamber Music, Jazz Quintet - all involving first class professional artists.

But there is more for the ex-pats to enjoy. Classes in disciplines such as Yoga, Zumba, Tango, Gym, and every kind of fitness traning, are offered and are widely supported.

Restaurants, bars, coffee shops are busy, especially on weekends when it may be difficult to find a table.

All economic activity is gracefully received by ‘locals’; and, of course, the added income during the high season is welcomed.

Another local ‘tradition’, which announces the official start of the ‘Cuaresma’ (Lent), is the Carnival Parade. In this the masks and other disguises - men dressed clownishly as women or the Devil - manifest the ancient Pagan Rituals at their best, acted out in advance of the Lenten period - Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday - marked by expiation and religious retiring. Catholicism has deep roots in the towns of the Chapala Riviera.

Ajijic Village has a theatre group of actors - all Mexican; none professional - who, during Good Friday of every year, act out the Judgement, Passion and Crucifixion of Christ. This spectacular performance is presented with deep devotion and startlingly realistic dramatization.

Following the Judgement and the flogging of Jesus, the play moves from the Cathedral plaza into the narrow cobble-stone streets with Jesus carrying his heavy wooden Cross; and from the streets, into the hills where a mock, but disturbingly realistic Crucifixion takes place. Local villagers are deeply proud of this tradition. Every year adults, children, elders all come together to assist and to participate in this religious play. Mixed within the crowds of attentive people, is a substantial sprinkling of non-Mexican visitors, ex-Pats and foreign residents, some of whom come through curiosity and some devotion.

And last but not least, through this high season, Realtors are kept busy showing Open Houses, Tour Houses, hosting cocktail gatherings and arranging art shows in up-scale residences as a sales promotion strategy. Display boards in shops and supermarkets, as well as in the many Real Estate windows are crowded with house-for-sale and sold signs all presenting a richly diverse field of choice.

The snowbirds are flying around, some just feeling the different towns of the Chapala Riviera, getting to know as much as possible of the different neighborhoods before taking the decision to move here. Rentals are in great demand.

Everywhere, from the flowering mauve-blue Jacarandas to the brilliant yellow Primavera, Spring is in the air. It might seem that people are on holiday, but do not be deceived - these people are the blackbirds and the Primavera trees driven by a force of Nature, a subtle energy which creates and brings beauty and health to themselves and to others.


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