El Lago de Chapala, Then and Now
Lake Chapala once boasted beachside hotels and dining pleasures. Then came the drought. I first visited the "lake" in 1990. Imagine walking to the end of a pier and still not able to see the shoreline clearly. Approximately 300 yards of exposed lake floor stretched from the beach to the shoreline. Abandoned boats remainded moored or anchored to the crusty floor. To reach the shore pickup trucks shuttled tourists back and forth. That was in 1990.
The following year, in 1991, I returned. I described to my fellow college buddies the ecological disaster that awaited them in Chapala. I told them they could go horseback riding for miles where the lake once rested. I told them they could find shells and dried fish skeletons on the crusty lake floor. I tried to prepare them for the sadness I felt for the people whose lives depended on the lake. I did all this only to discover the rains had returned. The water level stood near it's original level once again. The lakeside hotels were again booming. I was amazed! Jubilant for the people who worked there and the thousands of American retirees that live in the Chapala/Ajijic area.
After 1991 I did not return to Chapala for many years; in fact ten years passed. I returned last year, 2001. Again, the water levels had dropped. I researched the situation a litle more. Drought was a problem, but so was water theft. Local farmers were illegally diverting the water to irrigate their fields. I plan to return to Chapala in June/July 2002. I hope the situation has improved...I'll let you know.
For more information of what to do in Lake Chapala, see Lago de Chapala I