Traditional adobe homes with red tile roofs are painted in a rainbow of tropical tones. Set along picturesque cobblestone streets, many such houses are now quaint shops, art galleries, restaurants and boutiques. Small Ajijic hotels and bed & breakfast inns offer comfortable lodging within walking distance of the plaza or on the mountainside overlooking the lake.
Ajijic is home to restaurants of every kind for every budget. Traditional Mexican and nouvelle Mexican restaurants are complemented with Chinese, Argentine, Italian, Turkish, German and Thai restaurants, along with seafood, steak houses, barbeque, Subway, Domino’s Pizza and Tex-Mex eateries. In fact, Ajijic’s fine dining options attract city people on weekends, who savor gourmet fare while enjoying the town’s peaceful ambience. Check out our blog for more on restaurants and dining.
Yet with all its Mexican charm, Ajijic is a home to a vibrant community of expats who thrive in its wonderful climate. In Ajijic, the foreigner can feel at home almost immediately. The Lake Chapala Society is a place to meet and mingle, check out a book or movie from the English language library, take Spanish classes, teach English classes, volunteer or attend a lecture. LCS also coordinates a wide range of volunteer activities with the Mexican community.
Special interest clubs connect you with like minds, no matter your pastimes and concerns. Artist and writers groups, hiking and environmentalist groups. Quilters, sewers and knitters, the Navy League and the Air Force Association of Canada. Rotary, Masons, Shriners and Daughters of the American Revolution. A duplicate bridge club, auto enthusiasts group and two American Legion posts. German speakers, Francophones, and the British Society… the list goes on and on.
Area churches of many denominations hold services in English. A newspaper and two magazines are published locally in English as well. There’s even an English language little theater. No wonder this is a favorite for Mexico retirement!
Early Expatriates in Chapala and Ajijic
Ajijic has long attracted expatriates from all over the world. At the turn of the 20th century, Ayenara Zara Alexeyewa spent time in Ajijic when not performing in Guadalajara. An actress and ballerina from Russia known as “La Rusa,” her photograph can be seen in the restaurant of La Nueva Posada.
Perhaps the most famous – and beloved – of all Ajijic’s foreign residents, Neill James made her home in the village around 1941. She was a world traveler, whose books were published by Scribners at the same time that Thomas Wolf, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway were also with the famous publishing house.
She purchased an estate on the Lake Chapala shore, and had an enormous influence on the tiny mountain pueblo. She opened her personal library to local residents and taught art classes to the children – many of whom went on to become successful professional artists both in Mexico and the U.S. Her grove of mulberry trees provided silk threads woven on handlooms and, even today, skilled weavers created beautiful cotton rebozos, table linens and curtain fabrics in village workshops. Neill James was a founding member of the Lake Chapala Society in 1955. She generously left her estate – and a passion for helping her adopted hometown – to the society.
Fiestas All Year Long
Despite its foreign community, Ajijic is Mexican at heart. Saints’ day are celebrated throughout the year, with the festivities usually beginning nine days prior to the date. Christmas and Easter are the biggest holiday seasons of the year.
Civic holidays – from Constitution Day, Revolution Day to Cinco de Mayo and the “Grito” that signals Independence Day, celebrations are the order of the day.No matter when you visit Ajijic, you’ll be delighted with the village and its ambience.
Ajijic Real Estate and Lifestyles
From cozy casitas to palatial estates, there’s a vast variety of Mexico real estate for every lifestyle. What all have in common are gardens – from flower pots on a balcony or in the patio to wide tree-shaded lawns sloping down to the shore. The extraordinary climate invites outside living.
Village homes front the sidewalk, and rooms often form an L or a horseshoe around the patio or garden. Townhouses in gated communities face landscaped common areas, often with a pool, barbecue grills and even a clubhouse shared by neighbors. Other neighborhoods are “California style,” with free-standing houses surrounded by lawns and fences. Most take advantage of splendid views, whether of the lake or mountains, and the mirador, or “lookout point” is a common feature in Ajijic homes.