Ajijic Balloon Festival

Last weekend we went to watch some balloons launch. The Regatta de Globos, or Balloon Sailing Festival, opens fiesta season in Ajijic that lasts through Easter. It’s a popular event that draws large crowds, held on a football pitch in town.


Each of the several hundred balloons is made from tissue paper and white glue. It is filled with hot air to blow them up, then a rag torch is placed at the bottom of the balloon to keep it heated in flight.

img_1379 img_1384

It’s a pretty impressive operation to watch, especially for the larger balloons.

img_1132 img_1133 img_1151 img_1171 img_1176 img_1179

Occasionally, a balloon goes sideways and catches file. Most pieces burn up before they hit the ground.

img_1182 img_1194 img_1201img_1202 img_1203 img_1204 img_1205

Sometimes, the fragile paper gets punctured and has to be repaired. Notice the gaping hole just above the guy with the red hat. He’s sitting on someone’s shoulders to patch it.

img_1332 img_1336 img_1344 img_1353

When several balloons are in the air together, it can look impressive.

img_1130 img_1213

The balloons can travel for miles. As for safety? There is one story told about a farmer’s corn field getting burned up by a balloon. I read it on the Internet, so it must be true.

img_1243 img_1255 img_1261 img_1266 img_1268 img_1272

They’ve been doing this a while, so there’s plenty of creativity.

img_1259 img_1321 img_1296 img_1114

This sign says, “From the earth to the sky.”


The event runs 3:00-10:00 every year on the Saturday before Independence Day (Sept. 16).

We only stayed for a couple of hours, but we went up on our roof after sunset and saw several balloons float by. That was pretty spectacular itself, but I couldn’t get any good shots.

More about the Regatta de Globos:

This site has a great story about a farmer’s field getting burned up:



Not great video, but caught a balloon fail at 2:21:


Short video of a successful launch:


Our first power outage

A couple of days ago, at around 5:00, we had three power brownouts back to back as a thunderstorm hit with some wind. I immediately quit work early and started unplugging electronics, just as the power went completely out.

Chapala lightningThe storm was spectacular, and as the sun set at 8:30 I went up on the terraza to try photographing the lightning. With the neighborhood completely dark, I figured I could get some great shots. But I didn’t have a clear view, and no experience, so my efforts were mediocre. Besides, there were only 5 or 6 bolts clearly articulated in the sky during that time, so I didn’t have much of a chance anyway.

Chapala lightning(I could have climbed all the way on the roof of the stairwell, which would have given an unobstructed view. But I figured being the highest point on the building during a lightning storm wasn’t the best idea.)

The kids were able to fall asleep without trouble, as did my wife and I. But when the power wasn’t on by morning, we started wondering how widespread it was and whether there would be school. (There was nothing on the power company website that I could see. I also checked the Twitter, but there were only a handful of tweets about power outages in Chapala over the last 3 years, with the most recent from months before, so that didn’t tell us anything.)

Sunrise wasn’t until just a few minutes before school started. So we got the kids ready in the dark and left for school, just in case it wasn’t cancelled.

Three things I learned that day:

1. Power company workers only work 8:00-5:00. So when the power went off at 5:00, it wasn’t going to come back on until 9:00 at the earliest. Which is when it actually came back on.

2. City water only pumps for a few hours a day. Every house has water storage, in our case on the roof. A pump—with requires power—pushes it up to the tank. So with no power, you need to conserve water, because once the tank is empty, you’ve got no water till the power comes back on. So thankfully the pitch black bathrooms kept us out of the showers, or that might not have gone well for the toilets.

3. We’re connected to a substation in a neighborhood with tons of trees, which loses power more often than the next neighborhood over. That’s where the school is, and they didn’t lose power. So even with no power, kids gotta get to school.

So, the kids went to school without showers. I’m sure their classmates didn’t mind.

Now we gotta get some more flashlights.