Ajijic, Mexico: A privileged place to live
After Chapala, Ajijic is Lakeside’s best known town. Around 1941, “Petticoat Vagabond” Neil James – a contemporary at Scribners of Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Thomas Wolf – made her home in the village. Among many altruistic deeds, she planted mulberry trees and experimented with silk weaving, then cotton weaving as a cottage industry for local residents. Restaurant Los Telares is housed on a part of the property where weaving workshops, with their rustic handlooms, or telares, were situated.
Around the same time, Peter Lilley built the original Posada Ajijic on the Chapala lake shore beside the pier and – with Anthony Stansfeld – wrote three books about village life under the pen name of Dane Chandos. Its restaurant is still a popular gathering place to dine and dance.
The former fishing village was “discovered” by expats in the 1950s, and attracted adventurous, artistic and sometimes bohemian types. Well into the 1960s, there was a single caseta in the village for long distance telephone calls, and by the 1970s, horses were still more common than cars.
In 1955, twenty-one expatriates formed the Lake Chapala Society. In 1983, headquarters were moved to the Neil James property, and she bequeathed it to the Society upon her death. In 1998, the Ed Wilkes property also became part of the LCS grounds. Today, with 3,700 members, LCS is a gathering place for expats from the area. Its many programs and activities ease the transition to a new community and culture for those who choose Mexico retirement, and its bulletin board is a good place to find Ajijic rentals.
During subsequent decades, the expat community grew and Ajijic real estate offerings reflect a vast variety of tastes and lifestyles.
Ajijic: the heart of Lake Chapala living
The town is still the focus for the arts on Lake Chapala’s northern shore. With galleries seemingly everywhere you turn and handicrafts of all kinds, its weekend art walks invite you to view the art and meet the artists.
There is a market held every Wednesday in Ajijic, right next to the Salvadors restaurant, all expats know it by “The Wednesday Market” or “Tianguis”. It is a highlight in town and you will find many locals shopping for their weekly vegetables, fruits, fish, meat and anything else you can think of. To get an idea of the market check out the video we took below:
Homes and shops in bright tropical colors seem just right in the dazzling Mexican sunshine, while restaurants with shady garden seating and sidewalk cafes take full advantage of the best climate in the Americas. And the food? There’s probably no other village in Mexico with such sophisticated dining options. Residents of Guadalajara often drive out to Ajijicrestaurants for breakfast, brunch or lunch.
Ajijic’s central plaza is a wonderful place for people watching, and the center of civic celebrations. Village homes are often remodeled adobe dwellings with high ceilings and spacious central patios. These are highly prized for their location, within walking distance of the plaza and parish church, banks, restaurants, the Lake Chapala Society and the picturesque shore and malecón.
Popular Ajijic neighborhoods and hotels
La Floresta, to the east of the village, has been the site of weekend homes and garden villas for many decades. It surrounds the Real de Chapala, one of the oldest Ajijic hotels, and is characterized by the majestic ficus trees that tower above the gracious homes and well kept gardens.
Upper La Floresta to the north is just across the carretera from La Floresta. Its wide, shady streets are lined with roomy homes set on generous lots, many of which boast a lake view.
Riviera Alta with its cobblestone streets is a walled community. Its common areas include a terrace, swimming pool, tennis courts and a small gym.
Another enclosed neighborhood, Lomas de Ajijic also features a swimming pool and terraces for get-togethers with the neighbors that live along its cobblestone streets.
Rancho del Oro takes its name from gold mines located there. Rising steeply to the north of the carretera, the mountainside setting of Rancho del Oro has unspoiled panoramic views across the lake, and Ajijic’s fire opal sunsets can be viewed from terraces and gardens in this upscale residential area.
In many ways, Ajijic is the heart of lakeside living, with something for virtually everyone. With so much to offer, it is a privileged place to live.
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