Rancho Pint - The Mexico Page

Text and Photos ©2015 by J. Pint

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Plumed Serpent cover

D.H. Lawrence's novel "The Plumed Serpent"  was begun during his 1923 stay in Chapala and deals with a revival of the cult of Quetzalcoatl during the Mexican Revolution.

Rob Cracknell in D.H. Lawrence's old room

Australian painter Rob Cracknell proprietor of Quinta Quetzalcoatl Boutique Hotel B&B in Chapala, with a photo of D. H. Lawrence which hangs in the room where the writer stayed in 1923

Casa Rusa plaque

 Plaque on Calle Independencia in Ajijic marks the house where ballerina Ayenara Zara Alexeyewa, “La Rusa” used to live.

Pool at Quinta Quetzalcoatl

Pool with snake motif, surrounded by exotic plants, at Quinta Quetzalcoatl Boutique Hotel B&B in Chapala.

Fireplace in Crushing Mill, Ajijic, Mexico

A fireplace in the ruins of the old ore-crushing mill in Ajijic, Mexico.

Quinta Quetzalcoatl in Chapala, Jalisco, Mexico

 Quinta Quetzalcoatl Boutique Hotel B&B, where D.H. Lawrence stayed in the the town of Chapala.


Caves beneath the dunes? Check out our Saudicaves page:







Lake Chapala, Mexico: Following Lawrence and La Rusa

By John Pint

Jorge Varela drinking Sangrita at La Vieja Posada Recently I joined Salvador and Diana Mayorga for a tour of selected historical hot spots in Ajijic and Chapala. Our “Cicerone” for this visit was Jorge Varela, author of Mr. Lawrence,” a short piece of historical fiction (in Spanish) based on D.H. Lawrence's 1923 stay in Chapala, where he began work on his novel “The Plumed Serpent.”

Varela's writing cleverly works in references to La Posada in Ajijic and to “La Rusa,” the mysterious horsewoman who rode around dressed all in black while being swindled out of the proceeds of a gold mine just up the hillside above the town.

First we drove into a residential area called Villa Nova which has streets with names like Calle de la Mina and Calle de los Mineros. “Those aren't fanciful names, as in many fraccionamientos,” said Jorge. “The original Rancho de Oro is still here.” To prove it, he took us to a stone wall on Calle del Manglar where we hoisted ourselves up just high enough to get a good peek at the well preserved and beautiful buildings from which the mining operation was run, with an impressive arched aqueduct in the background. “Somewhere in the hills just above us lies the gold mine itself,” said Jorge, “but it's now considered very dangerous to go inside, with rotting timbers, deep drops and mal aire. They say several people who entered that mine ended up dead.”

After having stirred up a bit of gold fever in us, Jorge took us straight to the ruins of the old crushing mill. This is on private property, but there's no fence, and a family living on the premises unhesitatingly gave us permission to wander both inside and outside the decrepit buildings. Outside there's a long, sturdy earthen ramp where ore-laden wagons were pulled up to the crusher. I would love to revisit this place with someone knowledgeable about mining!

Next we made a brief visit to the doorway of La Casa de la Rusa at 26 Independencia, where the number plaque shows the silhouette of the legendary Horsewoman in Black. Her name was Ayenara Zara Alexeyewa, a Russian ballerina, and according to Judy King's blog she and her dance partner/foster brother bought the above-mentioned gold mine in the 1920s “hoping to fulfill their dreams to produce and present great Russian ballets here in Mexico.” Jim and Carole Cook say the mine was called La Misericordia and La Rusa was being swindled by her Mexican partners until mine manager Quilocho Retolaza came to her rescue. Quilocho had been one of Pancho Villa's most dashing officers and La Rusa herself (under the pen name Frances De Brundige) tells the story of how he saved her from swindlers and bandits in the book "Quilocho and the Dancing Stars," available (used) from Amazon.com. There are lots of old photos and memorabilia about Zara Alexeyewa in La Nueva Posada's Restaurante La Rusa.

Our last stop in Ajijic was the site of “La Vieja Posada” which was built in the 1500s and has had many reincarnations. Today it is called Restaurante María Isabel. Here, says Jorge Varela, is where D. H. Lawrence (and later many other famous artists) used to stop by for a Tequila and Sangrita. The correct procedure for imbibing these two drinks, said our companions, is not to mix them together, but to sip first one and then the other. Now for this ceremony, the tequila must be blanco while the sangrita is red. When I asked what was in the sangrita, I immediately learned what's not in it: alcohol. After that, I got a different version of the ingredients from each of my friends and every source I checked. I guess that means you'll always be surprised when you drink it!

D.H. Lawrence's room in Chapala is still available for renting. Finally, we drove to Chapala, to number 307 Zaragoza Street, now known as Quinta Quetzalcoatl Boutique Hotel B&B. “This is where Lawrence stayed while he lived in Chapala,” said our Cicerone. The door was opened by the proprietor,  Rob Cracknell, an Australian painter, who kindly showed us all around. Well, QQ, as they call it in Chapala, turned out to be one of the most gorgeous places to stay our friends and I had ever seen, with beautiful trees, fountains, grottos, flowers and cacti. In the middle of the patio was a charming pool with a serpent motif, shaped with secluded nooks and a jacuzzi. Lawrence's room was just as attractive. On the wall was a picture of the writer and his wife Frieda, along with the text of the telegram Lawrence sent her in 1923: “Chapala Paradise. Take evening train.” The train is long gone, but “Chapala Paradise” still says it all.

How to get there:

In Ajijic: The wall where you can hoist yourself up for a peek at the old mining ranch is in Villa Nova at N20 18.214 W103 16.418 on Calle del Manglar, about halfway between De los Mineros and Del Arroyo. The Crushing mill (N20 17.892 W103 16.303) is at the south end of Flores Magón.  La Casa de la Rusa is at 26 Independencia (N20 17.877 W103 15.887), between Aquiles Serdán and 5 de Mayo. La Vieja Posada, now called Restaurante María Isabel, is located at the south end of Morelos street at N20 17.828 W103 15.756.

In Chapala:  Quinta Quetzalcoatl is number 307 near the south end of Zaragoza Street, just south of Niños Heroes (N20 17.299 W103 11.467).

La Vieja Posada in Chapala

 “La Vieja Posada” which was built in the 1500s and has had many reincarnations. Today it is called Restaurante María Isabel.

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