What do Toads, Ladies Fashions, and Chicken Sandwiches Have in Common?

December 22, 2008

What do Toads, Ladies Fashions, and Chicken Sandwiches Have in Common?

Well, you can get them all at a place about an hour’s drive from Lake Chapala called Zapotlanejo (pronounced sah-po-tlah-NAI-ho).

Zapotlanejo is a city of 55,827 in west central Mexico. It’s in the eastern half of Jalisco, about 20 miles from Guadalajara and an hour drive from Lake Chapala.

Zapotlanejo is a hybrid word, half Nahuatl and half Spanish. The Nahuatl word “tzapotlán” (place of abundant toads), is comprised of two morphemes: “zapotl” (toad) and “tlan” (place). In addition, the name of the municipality includes the Spanish ending indicating locality “ejo.”

The city has a thriving fashion industry, and has active agriculture, manufacturing and cultural heritage communities as well.

Arcelia and I visited this mecca of ladies clothing, handbags, and other things fashionable on a Saturday just a few days before Christmas this year.

The place was jam packed with shoppers, but I never saw even one gringo. Well, ladies I’m letting the cat out of the bag here and now.


This has got to change. The place is running over with nice ladies clothes at bargain prices. You might call this place the “Tonala” of fashion. I understand there are clothing factories near by so it stands to reason that the locals have taken advantage of this and set up small shops to market an amazing array of fashionable clothes.

Now, I’m not sure just how to write this next part so let me just be blunt and tell you. From what I observed, the styles and sizes seemed to be for the young and young at heart with slender shaped bodies.

Now, they may have sizes for the more full figured ladies, but if so, I didn’t see very many of them. Of course the scarves, handbags and accessories fit everyone.

Now, here’s a tip for the guys who may be reading this or for caring wives who don’t want to bore their other half to tears watching them shop.

Guys, these clothing shops are not large, there’s no place to sit like there is when you shop at the malls so here’s your tip:

Right in the thick of all the clothing stores is an Oasis of sorts called “Obregon Café” on Revolution Street (Calle Revolucion).

A very nice sidewalk café serving an amazing array of coffees, deserts, sandwiches, and tempting fruit concoctions.

When I spotted this place with the large pretty umbrella tables in the street with the sidewalk running between the tables and the restaurant with additional seating inside and a lush pastry display case in front to lure customers inside, I felt like I had been saved from hours of standing … and worse, standing out like a sore thumb, being the only gringo male among the filled to overflowing ladies clothing stores.

I had a quick pow-wow with Arcelia and we agreed that I would wait for her at the Obregon Café while she shopped.

Choosing a table with the best views while Arcelia shopped, I ordered a large sprite, whipped out my latest study book ( I try never to be trapped without something productive to do, when I have to wait, and began to outline the next chapter.

Miraculously in just over an hour Arcelia returned with just one purchase and we decided it was lunch time.

We opted for her favorite lunchtime treat, chicken club sandwiches and café con leche (Coffee with hot milk).

Now, these were no ordinary chicken club sandwiches however. Each was a three- decker, thick with sliced chicken, tomatoes, white cheese slices, black olive slices, lettuce, tomatoes and alfalfa sprouts all served on slices of grilled wheat toast.

The sandwiches were served with a garnish of tomato and lettuce on the side and a nice sized serving of potato chips.

Now other than taco hole in the wall type places, the Obregon was the only upscale place I saw and so I expected to pay close to USA prices.

But, for the opportunity to sit in a comfortable chair with a good table, study, and people watch I would have been glad to pay US prices… but the good news is I didn’t have to.

The check with 15% tax included for everything came to $9 USD plus the tip. Given the upscale nature of the place, good service, and being my oasis I felt like I had hit a home run.

So, ladies, Arcelia has decided to add Zapotlanejo to her list of tour stops. It’s a little farther down the road past Tonala and you do have to pay a reasonable toll charge to use the new highway to get there so I’m going to advise her to charge just $70 USD for this shopping excursion (up to six people for the same low price). So get a small group together and share the cost.

I would go on a week day to avoid the weekend crowds and I understand there is more to do than shop in other areas. Things  of cultural interest that you may discover as well.

Arcelia’s comfortable dual air conditioned Eddie Bauer Ford Explorer holds the driver and up to six passengers.


I always ask for feedback from her clients. So far they all give her rave reviews citing her driving skills, knowledge of the area, and personality… and you will probably learn a little Spanish along the way too.

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