Ajijic, the place we call home, is one of the oldest and most beautiful villages in Mexico and was formally founded in 1531 by the Spanish whose purpose was to "christianize" the Indian people whether they wanted it or not! The village actually dates back to the year 1400 - several years before Cortez landed on the mainland of North America. The king of the area was Xitomatl and their language was Nahuatl which remains today in many of the words and names of the area. Ajijic is located on the Northwest shore of Lake Chapala, approximately midway between the cities of Chapala and Jocotepec. If your map has extensive detail, look for the area named "Rancho del Oro" - which translates to "Ranch of Gold". This is not just an idle reference to the sunshine, which bathes the area an average of 300 days per year, but there really is gold - and the actual gold mine, in the hills just behind the housing developments in this area. Mining operations have been abandoned as they were not sufficiently profitable, but the mine still exists.
Imagine the hybrid of a traditional Mexican fishing village, a large, mostly retired, expatriate community, and an artist colony. Ajijic has managed to preserve the essence of its roots while absorbing the creativity of the artists who have found the village to be a source of inspiration. Among those who settled here, some temporarily to find the peace and tranquility to write - others who couldn't imagine leaving once they experienced it, include D. H. Lawrence who penned "The Plumed Serpent" and "Lady Chatterley’s Lover", and Dane Chandos who wrote "The Village of the Sun" while in Ajijic. A famous pianist, Tula Meyer brought music to the area, Helen Kirkland created a factory for handmade clothing, and world traveler, Neil James chose Ajijic as her home! If Ajijic had a "founding Mother", it would likely be Neil James, who opened her most famous book with the line, "I live in Ajijic...". Additionally, she built the first library in town and when she died, donated her home and it's spacious grounds in the center of town to become a center for fostering better relations between the foreigners (Americans, Canadians, Europeans, ...) and the local Mexican community. Those grounds are now home to the "Lake Chapala Society".
The end of November brings Thanksgiving to America - but in Ajijic, the fiesta in honor of San Andres lasts for nine days & nights! As we learned, the Mexican people celebrate everything, literally everything - and they celebrate with music and fireworks - both of which are VERY loud and continuous! Our quiet little village is transformed into an ongoing fiesta! The fiesta celebration for San Andres starts on a Friday, ending on Sunday of the following weekend. Loud sonic "BOOMS" are heard from before 5am until after midnight .... resuming again the next morning! The fairground amusements are not at the scale you will find in large cities in the U.S., but for a small, traditional village, they are impressive. There is music, folkloric dancing and all varieties of food sold from makeshift carts on the street.
Easter brings the "Passion Play" - one of the most extravagant in Mexico! Local farmers, fishermen, factory workers, and trades people become actors for three days to re-enact the trial and crucifixion of Christ. The costumes, "sets", and dedication of the actors make this a "must see" event! Imagine a cross capable of suspending a grown man for multiple hours ... being dragged by the man who will later be strapped to it ... up the mountainside to it's eventual home! The crown of thorns is real - as is the blood that trickles down the man's face. REALISM ... not the "reality" shows on American TV!
Well, we may have made our small village seem bigger than life but it’s a small, quaint, Mexican village. We now have an auditorium, two theaters for stage plays, three movie theaters, a culture center, many art galleries, two libraries, and enough restaurants that you'll never get bored when going out to eat!
One of Ajijic's colorful homes
Ajijic's residents are not shy with colors!
This village residence was on the Home Tour to benefit deaf children. It is more colorful on the inside.
Our neighbors newly painted house.
An "Arabian Night" house in Upper Chula Vista.
Another interesting house in Upper Chula Vista with a fantastic view of Lake Chapala.
A colorful modern house in Rancho del Oro with a lake view.
One of our many Bed and Breakfast accommodations in Ajijic.
A boutique on the main street of Ajijic
A local watering hole.
Another colorful boutique
Looking up to the mountains from the main street of Ajijic village.
Ajijic Village Plaza
The Ajijic Wednesday Market
Fruit stands clothes, software, fresh fish, vegetables, bread, cheese, household items, watches, herbs, plants, etc. can be found at the market
One of the many beautiful flowering trees in Ajijic
Well, we don't have "fast food" in our village yet - except for Domino's Pizza, but have no fear, the American influence is here and growing daily! Can't wait to see Burger King appear on the horizon! (this pic is obviously provided to make you smile!)