Health/Hospital/First Aid: YOU SHOULD NOT DRINK TAP WATER IN MEXICO. The best option would be to instead purchase a “garrafon” (20 liter bottle) of purified water for your home if there is not one provided for you already. Small, medium, and large size bottles of purified water are also for sale at various stores and restaurants. (To assist Chapala's recycling project, please try to reuse your personal water bottle by refilling it from your home garrafon. Thank you). The town’s restaurants have an excellent record for cleanliness and you may be confident that all vegetables & fruits have been thoroughly disinfected and that all ice is made from purified water.
To limit the number of mosquitoes in or around your home, make sure there is no standing water around the house. Dawn and especially dusk are the worst times for getting bitten. Otherwise it is perhaps convenient at night to wear long pants and long sleeved shirts, or to use an anti-bug cream or spray (best to squirt some on your hands and rub over exposed skin and “Off”), light candles and mosquito coils, or sleep under a mosquito net. For bites, Lanacane is excellent (only available north of the border) or locally (and north of the border)”After Bite”. Home remedies include pressing a finger nail into the bite to form an X or rubbing an ice cube or lime over the bite.
Post Office: There is no post office in Lake Chapala Mexico. The closest is in Bucerias to the South or La Peñita to the North. Or in Puerto Vallarta and at the airport.
You can use US & Canadian dollars (not traveler checks) at most of the stores and restaurants in Lake Chapala Mexico and the surrounding area, but you will get better exchange rates at the “Casa de Cambios” (Money Exchanges) at the airport, banks, or from ATM’s.
In Lake Chapala Mexico there are no “Casas de Cambio”, but there are two ATM cash machines. One is located at the Costa Azul Resort outside of town to the North, and the other is located along the the main street entering town at Mini-Super Mary (near the soccer field). All ATM machines charge a 7 – 10 pesos surcharge.
The nearest banks are in Bucerias - halfway to/from Puerto Vallarta. There is an HSBC bank with a cash machine (caja permanente) up the hill beyond the Bucerías town center on the left hand side (when traveling towards Puerto Vallarta), and a Bancomer bank and ATM next to the OXXO (right hand side), or at the Mega Comercial Shopping Mall. Another bank is in La Peñita, 16 miles/ 25kms. North of Lake Chapala Mexico on Mex. Hwy 200 direction Tepic, Bancomer & cash machine at #22 E.Calle Zapata. Banks are open Mon. – Fri. 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Groceries: Basic staples are available in the village at a number of small grocery stores or “Mini-Supers”. Some offer a better selection of products and fresher produce than others so it is worth a stroll through town to see what is available and fresh that day. Try Mini Super “El Indio” on Ave. America Latina, or Mini Supers Mary or Mini Super Doña Maria Gil both on Ave. Tercer Mundo (the main street) or Mini Super Marisol which just relocated to Calle Afrika.. The “no name” fruit & veg store beside the power pylon that sits in the middle of the main street (opposite the old university) has a good selection but also it’s great to flag down the pick-up trucks that circle through town offering fresh produce, fish and shrimp.
For more fresh fish try behind Calle Cuba #29, and for meat there are modern butcher’s shops (Carnicerias) in town on Av. Tercer Mundo (the main street) near the corner with Calle Asia or at Mini Super/Carniceria San Francisco on Calle Africa (the road leading to the hospital).
Liquor, Wine & Beer: The tiendas around Lake Chapala Mexico should be able to satisfy your requirements. Some stores are better stocked than others especially with wine, which is still not appreciated locally. The best way to buy beer is by the case. You will pay around $168/180 pesos/case and a $50/70 pesos deposit – keep deposit receipt safe for a refund upon leaving and returning the case with the empty bottles. Make sure to exchange all the empty bottles each time in order to avoid losing the deposit.
Laundries: There are two laundry facilities in Lake Chapala Mexico. One is on the main street next to the Cemex paint store opposite the secondary school, and the other is on Calle Asia at #52. Laundry is charged by the kilo ($12 +/-) and you leave it with the proprietors who wash, dry, and fold everything for you. If you drop off your items before 9 a.m. they are usually ready later the same day.
Religion: Catholic services are held at the church on the Plaza del Sol off América Latina. Non-denomination and Baptist services may be found in Bucerias, and Jehovah’s Witness in Sayulita.
Holidays: Major holidays affecting Lake Chapala Mexico and Mexico are the following: September 15th-16th Independence Day; October the founding of Lake Chapala Mexico; November 1st and 2nd Day of the Dead; November 20th the Mexican Revolution; December 1st-12th Celebration of the Virgin of Guadalupe; December Christmas and Holy Week; January 6th Dia de los Reyes Magos gift exchange; March/April Semana Santa (week before and after Easter). As for May 5th or Cinco de Mayo celebrating the Battle of Puebla, that holiday is not generally observed in Mexico as it is by gringos in the U.S. Christmas and Holy Week are really the biggest celebrations, when most Mexicans head to the beach and Lake Chapala Mexico fills up nowadays. Beaches and evenings are not as quiet during these times, but it is a festive atmosphere.
Night Life: Lake Chapala Mexico may be quiet and restful but it is by no means dead. Live music is popular and featured at most of the notable restaurants over the weekends and occasionally during the week. Folkloric shows are presented at the “Wahoo” Bar & Grill at Costa Azul resort every Friday at 6:30 p.m. and Polo matches and entertainment take place every Saturday at 5 p.m. during the winter. Besides those options, the heavens can always captivate you with the bountiful stars!
Soccer matches in Lake Chapala Mexico occur most weekends and knockabouts each evening at The Unidad Deportivo Alvaro Jacome on Av. Tercer Mundo.
There is also volleyball on the beach beside La Perla restaurant.
Polo (on horses) is presented during the winter months on Saturday evenings. There is also a Bull ring on the outskirts of town where rodeos, fiestas, and concerts are held.