Aug 062020
Verna Aardema (1911-2000) wrote "The Riddle of the Drum," a children's book related to Lake Chapala

Verna Aardema (1911-2000) was an American author of dozens of children’s books. She has no known connection to Lake Chapala beyond the fact that one of her books—The Riddle of the Drum: A Tale from Tizapán, Mexico (New York: Four Winds, 1979)—is connected with Tizapán [el Alto] on the southern shore of the lake. The […]

Jul 232020
Mary Frances Kennedy Fisher (1908-1992) described Chapala in 1941

The great food writer Mary Frances Kennedy Fisher is one of the many well-known non-fiction writers to have spent time in Chapala. Fisher wrote more than 20 food-related works and was considered by contemporaries as “the greatest food writer of our time”. The revered English poet W. H. Auden extolled the quality of her writing, […]

Jul 082020
Poet and translator Lysander Kemp played saxophone with the Jocotepec Penguins

Lysander Kemp (1920-1992) worked as a writer, professor, translator, and was head editor of the University of Texas Press from 1966 to 1975. During his tenure at UT Press, he collaborated with the Mexican writer Octavio Paz (1914-1998) on numerous translations, including the landmark book The Labyrinth of Solitude: Life and Thought in Mexico. Kemp […]

Jul 022020
After visiting Ajijic in the 1940s, artist Irma René Koen never left Mexico

After visiting Ajijic in the mid-1940s, Irma René Koen spent the remaining three decades of her life living and painting in Mexico. Koen, whose birth name was Irma Julia Köhn, was born in Rock Island, Illinois, on 8 October 1883. She graduated from Rock Island High School before briefly attending Augustana College. Despite being an […]

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Jun 252020
William English Carson visited Chapala in 1908–1909

When enthusiastic British traveler William English Carson visited Chapala in 1908–1909, he liked what he found. His book about Mexico—Mexico, the Wonderland of the South—was based on four months’ residence in the country and published just before the start of the Mexican Revolution, Carson arrived in Guadalajara in November 1908 and stayed over the New […]

Jun 112020
The mysterious author Arthur St. Hill, aka A. Gringo, visited Chapala in the 1880s

Arthur St. Hill, an English traveler about whom very little is known, arrived in Mexico in 1883. He was an observant and enthusiastic visitor. In the preface to his book Through The Land of the Aztecs (published in 1892 using the pen name ‘A Gringo’), St. Hill states that his object “is simply to give […]

Jun 042020
The important artistic legacy of Otto Butterlin, who lived in Ajijic from the 1940s

German-Mexican artist Hans Otto Butterlin (born Cologne, Germany, 26 December 1900) was only six years of age when the family emigrated from Europe to Mexico, living first in Mexico City and then Guadalajara. During the Mexican Revolution, Otto and his younger brother, Friedrich, were sent back to live with relatives in Germany. Otto attended high […]

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May 282020
George Ryga's play "Portrait of Angelica" is set in Ajijic

The Canadian playwright and novelist George Ryga (1932-1987) lived and wrote in the village of San Antonio Tlayacapan, mid-way between Chapala and Ajijic, from November, 1972 to March 1973. Ryga was sufficiently immersed in local life during his few months at Lake Chapala that it inspired him to write A Portrait of Angelica, a play […]

May 212020
Eleanor Margarite "Tink" Strother (1919-2007), portrait painter extraordinaire

Eleanor Margarite Glover, who became an acclaimed portrait painter, and lived in Ajijic 1961-1963, was born on 1 October 1919 in Big Horn, Wyoming, to a Methodist minister, shortly before the family moved to Compton, Los Angeles, California. Eleanor was the second of five children in the family. Her father nicknamed her “Tink” at an […]

May 142020
T. Phillip Terry's 1909 guide to Mexico helped put Chapala on the map

Thomas Philip Terry (1864-1945) was born in Georgetown, Kentucky. Terry first visited Mexico in his early twenties and spent 5 years working for The Mexican Financier, a Mexico City weekly, while writing a series of short stories and news reports for U.S. newspapers and completing a popular Spanish-English phrase book. Terry then lived briefly in […]

May 072020
Painter and guitarist Gustavo Sendis (1941-1989) found artistic inspiration in Ajijic

The talented painter and musician Gustavo Sendis divided his time for much of his life between Guadalajara, where he was born in 1941, and his family’s second home in Ajijic. Born on 8 July 1941, Sendis became interested in art at an early age and studied drawing with Juan Navarro and Ernesto Butterlin in 1958 […]

Apr 302020
William Standish Stone and his short story about an epidemic in Ajijic

Given its underlying theme, it seems eerily appropriate—given the current Covid-19 lockdown at Lake Chapala—to take a quick look at William S. Stone’s short story entitled “La Soñadora” (“The Dreamer), published in Mexican Life in 1947. The protagonist is a young doctor who has arrived with a group of American miners looking for gold in […]

Apr 232020
Lake Chapala on a postcard: the pioneering genius behind Casa Abitia

At first glance this may not seem to be the most exciting photograph of Lake Chapala ever used for a postcard. However, “Casa Abitia” – the card’s publisher – was the business name for one of Mexico’s most interesting, pioneering and remarkable photographers. Jesús Hermenegildo Abitia Garcés, commonly known simply as Chucho Abitia, was born […]

Apr 162020
Ajijic's fame as an inexpensive art center in the early 1950s

Ajijic first bloomed into a center for art and artists in the 1940s. By the end of that decade, the village boasted at least one gallery, and several entrepreneurial artists were involved in offering seasonal art classes, initially for summer visitors from the U.S. During the 1950s, word-of-mouth gradually spread Ajijic’s “fame” as an artistic […]

Apr 092020
Chicago painter Harry Mintz (1907-2002) was a regular visitor to Lake Chapala during the 1970s and 1980s

Accompanied by his family, multilingual Polish-born artist and educator Harry Mintz (1907-2002) was a frequent visitor to Lake Chapala from the 1970s into the 1990s. His first recorded visit was in 1974, when the local paper reported that the family was spending the summer in Chula Vista and that it was a working vacation for […]

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Apr 022020
Winifred Martin described the Hotel Ribera Castellanos on Lake Chapala in 1909

Winifred Martin, a journalist working for the The San Bernardino Sun in California, spent six weeks in Mexico in 1909 and has left us a first-hand account of staying at the Hotel Ribera Castellanos (located mid-way between Jamay and Ocotlán near the eastern end of the lake), one of Mexico’s most fashionable resorts at the […]

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