Last updateFri, 16 Feb 2018 7pm

Exploring Tala’s ‘River of Ghosts,’ spooky spires, fossil fumaroles and picture postcard pools

El Río de las Animas is born in the Primavera Forest and flows past the town of Tala, eventually emptying into Lake La Vega

I used to call it “The River of Souls” until I learned that there are two words for soul in Spanish: alma and ánima. The former refers to the souls of living persons as well as those who have made it to heaven or that other place. An “anima,”  however, has not yet reached its final destination. This word covers the souls in Purgatory as well as the ones you find wandering about cemeteries, haunted houses and the new Teuchitlán Interactive Museum (where the night guards have spotted dozens of ánimas, perhaps once belonging to the skeletons unearthed while digging the building’s foundation).

An overnight sojourn at Chapala’s newest and most melodious hotel

A few days ago my wife and I were invited to spend a night at Hotel Villa San Francisco in Chapala. We had already been forewarned that there was “something different” about Hotel VSF, so we asked our host Tony Wilshere for a bit of his history, hoping we might get two stories: that of Chapala’s newest hotel and also the story of the man behind it.

Trek to the hidden pyramids of El Peñol de Santa Rosalía

In 1992, archaeologist Phil Weigand published sketches of several circular pyramids and a ball court he had found in the hills above Santa Rosalía, eight kilometers north of Etzatlán. Ever since I came across his drawings, I had wanted to visit these ruins in the company of an archaeologist who might explain what I was seeing. Weigand said that these ancient monuments are “in excellent condition” but also mentioned that the climb up the hill is very steep and you’d better bring along “water, food and a telephone in case of emergency.”

Law and order – Mexican style

Having lived in Mexico for many years, I have come to believe that the word “ley” has a very different meaning here from concept of “law” I grew up with as a child. In certain countries, “The Law” is thought of in positive, and almost reverential terms. The Law is a beacon of justice, the sine-qua-non for order in society. It has the solid support of the great majority of people and in most cases is considered fair and impartial. If you come to Mexico with this definition of law engraved on your mind, you may be surprised or even shocked at what we might call “the more casual approach to law and order” which you will encounter here and you may be tempted to blame what you see around you either on lawlessness or on corruption.