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A new DVD photo/video now available to the Lakeside Area entitled:
SUMMARY: An outstanding informative and entertaining 51-minute DVD photo/video presentation is now available, featuring over 115 different local wildflowers that have been captured on camera in their natural setting throughout the growing season, along with a few short video clips and glimpses of scenic views and activities of the local people.

Most of this is unseen by the eyes of those simply looking at a distance from the Lakeside area below. As an extra, this DVD includes beautiful melodious background music, plus a 10-minute double-bonus concert performance at the end, all performed by renowned Paraguayan Harpist Ismael Ledesma. The bonus music was performed in concert at the Palace of Congress in Lourdes, France on October 21, 2014, presenting “Cascada” and “Condor el pasa

NOTE: The suggested donation of 200 MX Pesos for this DVD will fully benefit to help support the children at the "Villa Infantil Guadalupe y San Jose" Orphanage located in Jocotopec, Jalisco, Mexico.


Once retired, my wife, Linda, and I arrived in the Chapala Lakeside Community area 18 months ago after searching for “the ideal place to live and retire”. Like with most expats, it was the “perfect climate and affordable living” that attracted us most. However, we found that there were other benefits, including friendliness of the local Mexican people and a great social atmosphere among the many other retirees who have found the Lake Chapala area to make their home as well. But one other side benefit I discovered in time is the beautiful natural landscape setting that this area has to offer.

Unless you are an avid hiker, like myself, most people who come to visit and/or live in the Lake Chapala area, either year-round or especially on a seasonal basis for three to six months to avoid cold winters back home, are not aware of a natural secret that lies here practically in our "back yard". To the north of Lake Chapala we see a steep rugged mountain range that makes a scenic backdrop for the communities dotted along the Chapala Lakeside area below. These mountains, identified as “Sierra de San Juan Cosalá”, reach in some areas as high as 8,000 feet and are accentuated in part by huge red, grey, and brown colored basalt rock formations, obviously of volcanic origin.

If a person explores these mountains intently enough one can discover quite a number of trails that have been established by the local Mexican people over a period of many years; I would venture to guess, some maybe even a hundred years or more. Traditionally the locals have used these mountain trails to gain access to various natural resources, such as firewood, building materials, root crops (including the Camote) and plants for food and medicinal purposes. In many areas I found that these trails are generally quite narrow and zigzag back and forth up fairly steep terrain. Some sections of trail experience erosion that results in shallow gullying; this combined with loose gravel and steep side slopes, traversing parts of these trails can be quite difficult, if not treacherous; and, should not be recommended for the amateur hiker. While hiking these trails it is not unusual to find major obstacles along the way such as overgrown vegetation, cows, horses and burrows. Aside from being motivated by the shear pleasure of exploring and hiking in these mountains, I was also originally motivated to capture strategic scenic photos from high elevation points, primarily panoramas of Lake Chapala below dotted with the various communities along its shore line.

Those who rent and live in the Lakeside area during the winter from December till the end of May only experience the dry season of the year, which is reflected by parched land and the droopy dead like vegetation that covers the lakeside and mountain terrain. During this time even some shriveled cactus plants appear to long for some moisture. However, a complete dramatic transformation takes place shortly after the rainy season hits, beginning in mid-June and lasting even through the end of November. The mountains slowly begin to turn into a “living paradise” rich in diverse and lush plant life. But even in early March while climbing off the trail along a steep and slippery slope in the higher elevation, near the ridge top, I observed what I believed was the first wildflower of the season. It was a startling bright red lily-like flower, standing about 10 inches tall, possibly shooting up from a bulb in the ground but lacking any early foliage. This flower seemed rare enough since I did not see it anywhere else in the area or since then.

As the rainy season progressed, I continued to hike much more, including along the mountain ridge-tops; and, then I began to observe new and different wildflowers, slowly increasing in numbers, to the point of becoming a “natural botanic garden” by August and September. I continued to use my camera to record these colorful gems as I spotted them both on and off the trail; some singular and large, while others very small and/or in clusters. The colors varied as well; some red, some yellow, some pink, and some purple and blue. A few flowers would only last a short period of time and the opportunity to photograph them would be gone soon thereafter, while others lasted several weeks and even months. Before I knew it, I had recorded over 50 different wildflowers by the end of August. It seemed that the more I hiked the more new wildflowers I discovered. By this time I was determined to capture on camera all the wildflowers that was humanly possible, to the point that I had a total of over 90 by the end of September! Another 25, or so, were added on by the end of October and into November. It became an obsession by this time; and, I was encouraged by friends to create a DVD video presentation so that I could share with others, who do not have the opportunity or the ability to hike these mountain trails, my experience and what I had seen. Shortly after that suggestion I was inspired to create and use this DVD as a fundraiser for the “Villa Infantil Guadalupe Y San Jose Orphanage” in Jocotopec.

Coming up with a title for the DVD was relatively easy and came somewhat natural “WILDFLOWERS & GLIMPSES of the Lake Chapala Area”; however, the process of creating the DVD was not without difficulty and many hurdles. After painstaking hours of collecting photos and short videos, editing and arranging them with various transitions, in conjunction with selecting appropriate background music, the final end product was ultimately achieved. I might add that because of the fact that I was to “sell” the DVD I would need permission for the use of any background music to avoid violation of using copyright protected material. This required contacting various musicians and/or music recording companies. Ultimately only one of about eight musicians whom I contacted responded, Ismael Ledesma, a renowned Paraguayan Harpist, who resides in Paris, France. I am most grateful to Mr. Ledesma because without his permission this DVD could not exist. The next phase was to get assistance from our daughter and graphic designer, Christy Stephens, who lives in Beaverton, Oregon. She created the graphics for the disc label and the outer jacket of the DVD case. Our final hurdle was to find a company that would duplicate and package it. I was eventually guided to a company in Guadalajara, called “Mayra Music”.

After a full year, the task is completed and now everyone will have the opportunity to see details of all the natural beauty that the Lakeside area has to offer, right in their own home, without any exertion and stressful hazardous hiking on and off steep trails, simply by obtaining and viewing this new DVD, “WILDFLOWERS & GLIMPSES of the Lake Chapala Area”. It is my hope that this DVD will stir up in the hearts of its viewers a greater awareness and appreciation for the natural beauty and some cultural elements of the local people that can be found within the Chapala Lakeside Area, no matter how small or insignificant they may seem. Frank van Werkhooven, Photographer, DVD editor, and writer of this article

Copies of this DVD can be obtained at Yves Restaurant. If any other local business wishes to donate their space to sell this DVD please contact Frank at fvanwerk@yahoo.com We hope to have other convenient locations to make this DVD available. For a list of places where to obtain copies of this DVD, “WILDFLOWERS & GLIMPSES of the Lake Chapala area”, please go to: http://www.villainfantil.com.mx

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