The barbabodes

Since I moved to Mexico almost three years ago, I’ve lived in three different abodes in three separate pueblos.  All I have been great, but the places just keep getting better and better. 

When I first moved to Lake Chapala, I lived in a nice unit in a gated condo style community in El Chante, which is just east of Jocotopec.  It was a perfect place in which to acclimate myself to my new country.  I lived in the unit on the right side. 

My landlords, Georgia and Tony, had done great stuff inside.  The walls and tiles were bright; the furnishings were Mexican combined with American.  Tony had even built some of the furniture. 

And it was a nice size:  open plan living room/dining room/kitchen; large bedrooom; office/den; bathroom; and even an indoor laundry room.  The only thing that it lacked was private outdoor space, aside from the enclosed patio in the front.  I spent a happy year there.

When I began to look around for a different place to rent, I thought I would perhaps enjoy living on the south side of the lake.  There are a few small pueblos within easy driving distance of Joco, but rentals are relatively scarce.  And so are gringos. 

One of the posters on a forum I read frequently mentioned that she lived in the little town of San Cristobal Zapotitlan … SCZ …on the south shore.  I contacted her to see if she knew of any rentals in her area.  Coincidentally, her neighbor had just mentioned to her that he was thinking of renting out his little house because he didn’t use it enough.  He lived and worked in Guadalajara and only got down to SCZ a couple of weekends a month.

I immediately made arrangements to see the place and fell for it during that first viewing.  Not only did it have TONS of outdoor space, it was located right on the lake and the view was spectacular.  And the rent was less than I had been paying in El Chante.  I quickly signed a year’s lease. 

In the first picture, you can barely see the house.  It’s way back from the street, the red tile roof in the center.  The little white building closer to the street is a workshop/storage area. 

It wasn’t as colorful as my previous place had been, and not as large, but, oh, the view out of the living room/dining room windows was great. 

When I moved in, I became only the third gringo in the whole town.  Well, actually, gringa because the other two were also American women.  One was a woman in her 80s who had been living in SCZ for some years.  The other was a tall, willowy gal about my age.  I never knew for certain, but I figured the locals, when speaking of us, called us “the old one,” “the tall one,” and “the fat one.”

After a year of life in SCZ, my landlord agreed to extend my lease by six months, so I actually resided in the house for a year and a half.  Again, I loved the place, and my friends and I had a lot of pitchin luncheons at the very large dining room table. 

I was sad when I had to move again, until I realized that I was next going to be living in the house found behind the gate in the photo at the very top of this post.  Upon opening the gate, this is what I found:

While I’ve lost the lake view that I had in SCZ, I’ve gained a pool and I’m really only two blocks from the Joco malecon … the boardwalk area right on the lake.  And since I’m now back on the north side of Lake Chapala, I actually see my friends a lot more often, since they all live on this side. 

For different reasons, I have loved all of the abodes I’ve inhabited since I moved to Mexico in April of 2008.  And I’ve loved my landlords and am friends with them all.  Just another reason I’m happy that I made the decision to move to Mexico.


About Barbara

in april of 2008, i moved from the united states to mexico. during my working days, i held lots and lots of jobs....almost all chosen because they were fun or interesting instead of how much they paid. when i started thinking about retirement (in my 40s), i realized that i would never be able to retire to a country where english was the native language. and although i had traveled to every state in the US -- and lived in lots of them -- i had never been outside the country with the exception of canada and mexico. and since you now know that i could never afford to retire in canada (even to the french-speaking area), mexico won by default.
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10 Responses to The barbabodes

  1. Gigi says:

    I think your current home is terrific – but I liked the last, also!
    ps. Does sweet kitty go over the wall?

    • Barbara says:

      well, gigi, if, by “sweet kitty” you mean lucky….she hasn’t yet attempted the walls here. she’s been on the roof a few times. and one of my neighbor’s cats comes over the wall a lot. at first the fur on the other cat flew, but now lucky and white cat just sit about five feet apart and stare and snarl at one another.

  2. Jonnie says:

    Well, we (your friends on the north side) are really glad you are back on our side of the lake and get to see a lot more of you; however, we truly did love your lake house. BTW, love those spoons on the coffee table!! Ja, ja, ja!

  3. Joe says:

    Barb, that is one serious casa. I luv it. What can a person buy for under $100,000 down there. Can a person buy rural property? Not plannin’ on movin’, but I do think about it every now and then.

  4. Great post Barbara! Congrats on finding that place. I’ve passed by it a hundred times and never had a clue how beautiful it was. So often you find those wonderful treasures behind nasty looking walls and doors. We live just down the street, across from the Construrama Ferreteria, a couple of hundred feet before the signal light and La Bodega. I won’t say the door is always open, but it’s rarely closed. Mike

    • Barbara says:

      mike, you may have it confused with the one that’s located right on the carretera. mine is located on the street right across from the “old” pemex; the street right next to the one that goes to the malecon, then about a block and a half down.

      nonetheless, we live very close to one another. and you are right about beautiful things being behind ugly facades. i put myself in that category!

  5. Barbarito says:

    FANTASTIC insights and wonderful photos! My move to Lake Chapala will take place in 2014 ~ I own a lovely two bedroom casa in a wonderful small gated community. I want to rent it to an expat on a year lease. If you know of any candidates let me know. Photos of my casa can be found on my facebook page, or on my website listed.
    My name is Barbara Alley – i now live in California and work for the local police departement. My brother moved to Loreto, Baja six years ago and he loves it! What drew me to Lake Chapala is the lake…the climate, and the people. Hope to meet you Barbara…I travel to Lake Chapala to pick up the keys to my casa which I named CASE DE LA LUZ in May 2011. It has been used as the model home for the last year and I will not furnish it until I move there. I will look for you on facebook. Cheers!!

    • Barbara says:

      barbarito: after checking out your blog, i know exactly where your house is! when i had to move from SCZ i looked around in chapala because i too really like the town. my friends and i drove up and down the streets looking for “for rent” signs and saw your little development. if you really want to rent your place, i will email you and let you know some places to post it as being for rent.

      and, if you check out my post about why i moved to mexico, you’ll see that i also know loreto. i flew in and out of there and actually spent a couple of nights there. way too hot and humid for me, but i’m glad your brother and his wife love it.

      thanks for checking out our blog!

  6. ojdart says:

    Barbara, I love your posts. I haven’t been involved in blogs before, but your tastes and ideas have made me budge my limits. I’m hoping to emigrate the USA in the next year or 2, and would love to pick your brain.

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