After revealing this little tid-bit, I am guaranteed to be asked three questions. To save us all the time, I'm going to go ahead and answer them for you below:
No, my in-laws are not Mexican.
In fact, they are originally from New England. This becomes evident when my father-in-law tries to speak Spanish. People from Rhode Island should not try to roll the letter R. Ever.
No they do not live on the beach.
Mexico actually has a whole inside part. (Who knew?)
No, I am not concerned for their safety.
Yes, I know what you saw on Dateline: Mexico is a cesspool of violence and corruption. But then again, so is Chicago. (And before you accuse me of picking on Chicago, please note that I lived there for thirteen years and loved it... well, everything except the weather...)
The town in which they live is called Ajijic (pronounced Ah-Hee-HEEK). It is one of many small towns/villages that dot the shores of Lake Chapala, the largest natural lake in all of Mexico. My father-in-law found the town about 13 years ago while researching expat communities online. True story.
In addition to being a weekend destination for Guadalajarans (and a winter destination for Canadians and Americans), Ajijic is also a haven for artists. Put all of these people together and the result is a town full of galleries, shops and restaurants which feels surprisingly un-touristy.
What stuns me the most whenever I walk through the village is the abundance of color, pattern, and texture. It seems that everywhere you look there is a mural...
|Photo taken in the Ajijic Cultural Center|
|This mural, which faces Lake Chapala, was done by the same artist as the one in the Cultural Center.|
|This Chicken Mariachi Mural is on the main square and is new since my last visit.|
|I was thrilled to find this sugar skull painted on a garage on a secluded side street.|
|Unfortunately I couldn't capture this entire mural but it was stunning.|
|I was more interested in the drain pipe than the picture. Yes, it is a dragon (or monster) head.|
...a colorfully painted wall...
|This was the entrance to someone's house.|
...and amazing iron, stone or wood work...
|Taken after brunch at the Hotel Nuevo Posada|
|Found in the main square, this gorgeous sculpture is made from an old tree.|
|The stone work in my in-law's driveway.|
|My picture does not do this metal door justice...|
|The Catholic Church adjacent to Ajijic's main plaza|
|Cobblestone roads: hard on the feet but easy on the eyes.|
|Someone's intricately carved front door...|
All of this is set against a natural backdrop that is just as beautiful as any artist's canvas:
|Taken from the pool at my in-law's place.|
|Getting ready to go horseback riding. He was our guide.|
|Mt. Garcia & Lake Chapala|
|The green hills behind my in-law's house. (Note: these hills are brown during the dry season.)|
|The gorgeous Ajijic sky.|
|A girl from San Diego *has* to take pictures of an impending storm. (We haven't had rain in months.)|
There are so many enticing places to shop in Ajijic, from street carts filled with fruit, coffee and candy, to boutiques bursting with clothing, jewelry and art.
|Loved these Frida bags (and yes, I came home with one).|
|Opus Boutique. I'm obsessed.|
|Sculpture on the streets of Tlaquepaque, a great shopping area in Guadalajara. I believe the artist is called Rodo Padilla.|
|Not sure what this is but it was in the most adorable candy shop.|
|Handmade paper flower crowns were everywhere. My thirteen-year-old was in heaven.|
|Don't forget to look up! The "ceiling" in a restaurant in Tlaquepaque|
|Molcajete. Never had it? Go get some right now.|
|Our preferred mode of transport in Guadalajara's Historic District.|
|Guad is filled with history and beautiful old buildings.|
|Including this one from Downton Abbey ;)|
|Purple peanuts at Liberty Market in Guadalajara. All pictures below are from the market.|
|Green pomegranates. Who knew?|
I hope you've enjoyed this little slice of Mexico. I know I was kind of flip in my introduction but if you have any questions about the area I would love to answer them for you. (And if I can't I will direct you to someone who can.)