Green Waves At Lake Chapala

By Dennis A. Crump

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Growing up in Ajijic as an 8-year-old and a teenager was an adventure all of its own. Something unique and different in our adventure occurred on a regular basis. And, as kids we could find the most unusual ways to entertain ourselves. This one day in particular would be no exception

It was the later part of October 1959, Manzanillo and the Pacific coast of Mexico was experiencing a devastating Category 4 Hurricane developing just off the coast. Waking up to a sunny but very windy day in Ajijic, the lake was a sea of green lirio, not an unusual sight as the massive lirio islands traveled back and forth around Lake Chapala, wherever the winds blew the floating gardens of green and lavender islands. I would note that as a transplant from the coast of Louisiana, as a 7-year-old we had already experienced the fury of several hurricanes, so today’s event would be taken in stride – after all, we were inland a hundred miles from the coast and certainly on higher ground than we had been during previous hurricanes

This day on Lake Chapala would be different, very different, as was our new found adventure onto the lake. By mid-afternoon, the winds blowing from the south east pushed the lirio to the north shore, completely covering the west end of the lake.

As the wind continued to blow and increase in strength, a strange phenomenon began to evolve. The lirio began piling up against the pier and shore in waves. We just had to go to the pier for a closer look see as the waves of lirio were higher than the pier. WOW – this was something big.

We found a new experience to challenge ourselves, we began to jump fully clothe from the pier onto the top of the lirio, to find that the waves would support us quite well.

After a few jumps, we realized the lirio was packed so tight, that we could jump from green wave to wave further and further out into the lake without getting wet, well almost if we jumped on top of the wave careful not to slip into the valley of the green wave.

We were aware that if we were not careful, we could get stuck in the valley, maybe get entangled in the long strings of roots beneath the lirio, not to see the light of day again.

We all survived our new adventure, occasionally having to give the younger smaller ones in our crazy group of youngsters a helping hand when the distance from the top of one wave to the next was too far for their little legs to propel them to the next wave. It was pretty late in the afternoon as the sun began to turn to clouds and the now intense tropical storm began to proceed inland. For us kids, all was well at the end of the day in Ajijic.

Here we are 60 years later, reminiscing of our unique experiences as a kid growing up in Ajijic on Lake Chapala. In the days to follow, we learned this storm became the worst storm in Mexico’s history, a record that has subsequently been surpassed by only two other hurricanes since then.

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