Nov 302023

This is the second in a mini series identifying some examples of photo identification errors which pertain to the Lake Chapala area.

Estampas de Chapala by Manuel Galindo Gaitan is an outstanding two-volume collection of mainly vintage photographs of Chapala and other places around the lake. Some of the historical details in the text are outdated but the photographs are an absolute treasure. The volumes were published in 2003 and 2005 respectively. Long out-of-print, they occasionally show up for sale on mercadolibre and similar sites.

Included in volume 1 (page 89) is this image, captioned “Los jóvenes que gustaban de remar en canoas por el Lago de Chapala eran turistas que con suma frecuencia visitablan el lugar.” (“The young people who liked to row small boats on Lake Chapala were tourists who visited the place very frequently.”)

Estampas de Chaplaa page 89

I admit to doing a double-take when I first saw this image many years ago. The pitched roofs of some of the buildings are quite reminiscent of some of the early villas of Chapala, including Casa Albión (later Villa Josefina), built by Septimus Crowe at the end of the nineteenth century. But my eye was drawn more to the much taller, four or five story building further back, mainly because there were no buildings this tall anywhere at Lake Chapala until relatively recently.

A quick reverse image search with the help of Señor Google brought up this strikingly similar image from more recent times:

Waikiki postcard

Waikiki postcard

It is apparent that this is the same location. The difference in date between the two images is shown by the very different leisure attire, but does nothing to mask the fact that the major buildings are the same in both photos.

Chapala or Hawaii? You be the judge!

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My 2022 book Lake Chapala: A Postcard History uses reproductions of more than 150 vintage postcards to tell the incredible story of how Lake Chapala became an international tourist and retirement center.

Comments, corrections or additional material related to any of the writers and artists featured in our series of mini-bios are welcomed. Please use the comments feature at the bottom of individual posts, or email us.

  5 Responses to “Chapala Wishful Thinking #2: Chapala in the old days?”

  1. Loved this—real detective work —

  2. Hi Tony,
    The canoe appears to be a dugout. Does that seem likely for the time on Lake Chapala. I’d say the Postcard has more credibility.
    Great series, Tony.

    • There were some dugouts in the old days on Lake Chapala. However, there is zero doubt that both images are of the same beach in Hawaii, and have nothing whatsoever to do with Lake Chapala, excluding the fact that the first one was mistakenly included in an otherwise excellent book of largely vintage photos relating to the lake! Have fun at Lake Chapala; enjoy your Mexican winter. T/G.

  3. The canoe in the photo is obviously an outrigger with a traditional Hawaiian prow.

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