I seek, therefore I am human

Basically, my aim in anything I am engaged in, is to do it to the best of my knowledge and ability at the time. This blog is my journal of discovery as to what works for me. It could be about my relationship with my husband, cats or my Higher Self; or it could be about food, particularly vegan food; or it might be about gardening, rants on the government...whatever the day brings. Hope you enjoy! Please feel free to comment at any juncture!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Trip to Ajijic Mexico

My husband Gayle and I just got back from a week in Ajijic [Ah-hee-heek] Jalisco Mexico on the north shore of Lake Chapala – the largest lake in all of Mexico – and a forty minute drive from the airport at Guadalajara.  We stayed at a beautiful Bed & Breakfast called La Estrellita’s owned by Lorraine Pasini (http://estrellitasinnajijic.com/) about a block from the lake front and two blocks from the levee that runs 1/3 mile along the lake known as a malecón [mah-lay-cone].  It is also just two blocks from the town square.  I highly recommend this B&B.  Lorraine is an absolute doll of a host.

Ajijic is touted to have the second best climate in the world.  At about 5,000 ft elevation, it nearly always has moderate temperatures.  While we were there (late November), the temperatures ranged from 50 deg F at night and one cool day to a high of about 85 degrees.  It was dry the entire time we were there, however there was a wind storm one night and into the day time which knocked out some power in places. 

We found almost all the Mexican people to be extremely friendly and somewhat conversant if not entirely fluent in English.  Part of the reason for this is the large population of American and Canadian retirees and snowbirds in Ajijic.  Restaurants especially catered to North American and Canadians and the wait-staff speak English quite well in most places.  As for the restaurants, we ate fabulous Italian and Thai food more than once.  Gayle had a great big steak done perfectly at Ajijic Tango restaurant for $10!  For myself, I did not have any traditional Mexican food while we were there, in contrast to the last time we visited Mexico - Tequisquipan in 2010.  I wasn’t a vegan in 2010.  Yes, beans and rice in a corn tortilla make a complete protein, but how boring that would be for every meal!  The best I could do was vegetarian food.  So I consumed dairy and eggs for a week.  No big deal.  It was a fine compromise.  But for that I’m glad to be home where I have some control over my diet.  Healthy, strictly vegan fare is almost completely unavailable in restaurants everywhere, not just in Mexico.  North American restaurants could use some upgrading on that score.  Vegan/Vegetarian’s are the fastest growing segment of the population in the US.


Describing Mexico (at least Ajijic and other towns I’ve been to) to someone who has never been there is difficult.  If I could use one word to describe it, it would be “messy”.  The streets off the main road through town (“carretera”) are all paved with stones that are bumpy, slow and noisy to drive on.  Skin-and-bones dogs sleep and crap in the roads and on the narrow sidewalks.  The sidewalks themselves are so uneven and broken up, in most cases, you have to watch every step, not to mention having to keep from treading on dog crap as you pick your way along.  Buildings are built right to the edge of the sidewalks, have zero clearance between them, and are walled 8 to 12 feet high with masonry construction.  Masonry construction is the rule everywhere in Mexico as they have no timber resources to speak of but plenty of rock, stone and mud.  All windows and doors are covered with iron bars.  The tops of the masonry walls are guarded with razor wire, broken glass, bougainvillea with its inch long thorns, or barbed steel hooks of some kind.  Security seems to be a priority in building construction.  While we were there, we heard the tale of a visiting couple whose rented house was robbed of everything they had brought, including underwear and shoes.  There had been no sign of forced entry, so it looked as though someone had used a key to gain entry.  Perhaps a “bump” key was used.

Note:  If you’re renting a house or unsecured condo in Mexico, insist that the keyed entry is changed immediately before your arrival (same day if possible) and ask for proof that it has been done.  Don’t take the owner’s word for it.  Probably the best kind of lock is a combination lock in which the combination is frequently changed.

Houses, shops and buildings have tall masonry walls and steel barred doors and windows.  Some are nice, some are really, really nice, and right beside these gorgeous places are almost uninhabitable looking house faćades, but most are occupied despite their appearance.  The masonry is almost always painted with bright colors, mainly in the orange/yellow or blue hues.  Some have murals painted on them depicting scenes from the Aztec area, or other colorful designs.  Some are just plain ol’ ugly. 


Gayle and I strolled the market set up on a four block long cobblestone street on Wednesday of the week we were there.  Some of the products being sold were sweets and nuts, fresh fruits and vegetables, handmade jewelry, CD’s, leather goods, toys, and painted earthenware.  I bought a couple of beautifully hand painted condiment bowls.

If you go to Mezcala which is about an hour drive east of Ajijic, you can take a tour boat ride to a little island in Lake Chapala.  We saw a boat leave but decided not to take the trip.  Gayle said he’s not a “boat person”, whatever that means.  We didn’t see that there were any tour boat trips available in Ajijic.  We saw fishermen in boats along the shore competing with the egrets for the fish, but they didn’t offer us a ride.  Hahaha.

Walking around and checking out the numerous shops and stores in Ajijic turned out to be most of the activity we engaged in.  That and eating!  There are bars – some of which cater to smokers, but we only did that once.  I had the best hand-made margarita ever at Tom’s Bar on Constitución Street. 

Taking a siesta during the hottest part of the day – one to three p.m. – seems to be the thing to do.  I caught up on emails and Facebook status or read while Gayle napped.  I don’t normally take naps but I did once while we were there.  To me it makes sleeping at night difficult.

I got a pedicure at one of the nicer salons in town and it only cost $12.50 including tip.  It was one of the better pedicures I’ve ever had.  Massages, including Reiki, and reflexology are also available in town. 

We heard there were hot springs spas nearby Ajijic. 

We had a car but probably didn’t need it.  Taxis are plentiful.  Buses run on schedule.  It’s a little dicey and very expensive to rent a car.  Insurance is not optional on car rentals so it cost us $500 to rent a Tsuru for a week through Thrifty.  The worse thing about driving in Mexico is that nobody obeys speed limits and you will get passed if you do – sometimes dangerously.  As an aside, NEVER leave anything visible in your car. 


If you have a Kindle or iPad (or the like), bring that!   It’s so nice not having to tote around actual books.

            Bring your netbook or laptop.  WiFi is available most everywhere you stay.  It may be a bit dicey or slow once in awhile, but usually not. 


            Comfortable walking shoes.  Sandals and flip flops are okay, but you’ll definitely need a sturdy shoe to walk on those cobblestone streets with.



We both brought our iPods and didn’t use them once.  Not even on the flights to and from.  Of course, you may love having yours. 

Bathing suits didn’t get used because our B&B didn’t have a pool.  The lake is not swimmable by American standards, though the water quality is said to be good during the summer months in the rainy season.  It looked pretty icky to me in November!


            Checked luggage was free to and from Mexico (Guadalajara, at least).  Two pieces each person.  Gayle just told me that was a special that Alaska Airlines was running in November.  Poo.

            They FEED you on the flight…actual food that’s not too awful.

Well, that’s about all I have on our trip to Ajijic Mexico.  If you have any comments or questions, please leave them below and I’ll try to get back to you quickly with an answer.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like a very cool trip. Were you concerned at all about the gang violence in Mexico? I've heard that travel is way down because of that, especially with the cruise lines. And, are you going to share any cool pics? :-)