The mainland and the island: yesterday and today
Mezcala de la Asunción, on the northern shore of Lake Chapala, is a half-hour east of Chapala and an hour southeast of Guadalajara.
Feast of the Virgin
The town itself is indigenous and sleepy, except, it could be, on the annual occasion of the nine-day Fiesta of the Virgin, the town’s patron saint, in August. Then the town opens up with daily celebrations, food stands, music, and mass. Natives and visitors mingle on good terms, and a general air of camaraderie and jollity pervade the place.
Mezcal Island, just 10 or 15 minutes off shore, is a historical site. From 1812 to 1816, a small band of Mexican rebels on the island held off the Spanish army and navy against overwhelming odds. Tired of the humiliation, the Spanish finally negotiated a peaceful surrender with the insurgents. Later the island served as a Spanish prison for many years.
Rumors have it that indigenous structures and hieroglyphics existed on the island before the fortifications were built, but no traces remain. Now the ruins are being catalogued and restored by the Mexican National Institute of Anthropology and History.
Tours of the island can begin from either the town of Mezcala or the town of Chapala. The tour of the island itself takes about an hour once the boat launch brings you to the island’s shore. Be sure to wear good shoes for walking through the ruins and rubble.
On the way back from the island, you can enjoy the fresh breezes and feel the heat evaporate from your body.
The tour to Mezcala is at least five hours long.