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San Juan Cosala


Nuestra literatura no solo recrea, sino que transmite una enseñanza que busca frenar los males colectivos y las conductas negativa.
- Mexico Notebook

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San Juan Cosala is a small town of approximately 12,000 people located on the North shore of Lake Chapala, known for its hot spring mineral waters and natural steam baths called temazcalli. It is the oldest town in the area and was originally a fishing village established by the Cocas Indians, a Náhuatl speaking language of the Aztecs,


The exact foundation of San Juan Cosala is not precise. According to a type of ceramics found in the region, it is clear that the area was already inhabited during the Preclassic Period, prior to the Spanish Conquest. The name 'Cosala' is derived from the indigenous name spelled Cuzala, Cuzalan or Cozala-Cuzalan and has been given many different interpretations, including 'place of many warm springs', 'place of clean water' or 'place full of serpents'. Some authors believe it came from the spelling Cutzalan or Cotzalan which means 'between pots.' The indigenous peoples were ruled by Tlatoani and worshipped many different gods, including their main god, Ixlacateotl, Tlaloc, goddess of rain, Ehecatl-Quetzacoatl, god of wind, and Michicihuatl, the mermaid goddess and guardian of Lake Chapala. The village contained ceremonial centers at the four cardinal points where human sacrifices took place. Small clay pots containing blood collected from the earlobes of the indigenous people were thrown into the lake as offerings.

In 1523 or 1524, the Spanish conquistador Captain Alonso de Avalos arrived in Cuzalan and conquered the region. Chief Xitomatl who controlled the area from Ajijic to San Luis Soyatlan surrendered peacefully. In 1531 the first missionary, Fray Martin de Jesus of the Franciscan order, arrived in the region and ordered the construction of a small chapel and the Hospital of the Conception next door. He converted Tlatoani and baptized him as Don Andres Carlos, in honor of the King of Spain. St. John the Baptist was declared to be the patron saint of the region and the name of the town was changed to San Juan Cosala.


During Holy Week, preceding Easter, religious processions take place daily in the late afternoon. The homemade floats transport costumed residents; each float is a representation of the last days of Christ's life. In nearby Ajijic, on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, there are live, elaborately costumed, passion plays re-enacting Jesus' trial, the Way of the Cross and the Crucifixion, an amazing spectacle not to be missed.

June 24th is the Fiesta Patronal honoring St. John the Baptist. The community begins each of the nine days preceding San Juan Bautista Day with early morning skyrockets to awaken the people for mass and to make the surrounding communities aware of the fiesta. Afternoon processions include allegorical floats, mariachis, indigenous dancers and groups of penitents. In addition to the religious celebrations, there is a daily Festival of the Arts with live entertainment each evening, including folkloric dancers, local bands and other musicians, poetry and book readings and art exhibitions in the Municipal Plaza and at various other locations around the town. The fiesta culminates with a huge fireworks castillo in front of the Parroquia.

December 12th is the Virgin of Guadalupe Day. For a week prior, there are daily celebrations with fireworks, music, religious processions and events at the Church. Altars adorned with images of the Virgin of Guadalupe and fresh flowers are constructed in the Plaza, at the Hospitalito, in front of people's homes and at various other places around the town.


LOCATION -- North shore of Lake Chapala in the state of Jalisco


Where to eat

For seafood lovers, there are a number of casual restaurants along the lakeshore on the Piedra Barrenada at the east entrance to town.

Viva Mexico TiaLupita, Porfirio Diaz Pte.#92

Chac-Lan Restaurant and Bar, Monte Coxala Spa, Rafael Osuna #300, Raquet Club


Kudos to Susan Reynolds for assistance with this guide!


g Lake Chapala


b Chapala


g Jalisco
g Mexico



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