Our next stop was Ajijíc on the shores of Lake Chapalla, back in the state of Jalisco. The easiest way to get to Ajijíc from San Miguel de Allende is to board a first class bus to Guadalajara. At the bus station, engage a taxi to Ajijic. Sometimes it is best to agree on the fare before you enter the taxi. Some drivers are very honest and friendly, while others are tempted to take advantage of Gringos. Our driver was quite friendly, and like many of our taxi trips, we had the opportunity to practice our conversational Spanish with our driver. Most drivers know a bit of English, and it is fairly easy to communicate with our “un poco de español.”
Ajijíc lies at an altitude of 5,000 feet along a tropical latitude that moderates the climate year-round to an average temperature of 72 °F. With the perfect climate, colorful quaint streets, and a strong dollar, Ajijíc is a popular haven for retirees, particularly from North America. If you are looking for an authentic immersion experience into Mexico, this is not a destination for you. Many Americans live here year round, and that influence has changed Ajijíc from a sleepy Mexican village to a tourist-catering destination.
My first sketchbook entry for Ajijíc was another “window” view from our bungalow. Enrique, our landlord, is an artist with carpentry skills. He is creating a lush tropical sanctuary in his backyard, complete with four bungalows. He has many contacts throughout Mexico, where he acquires antique furniture in a state of disrepair and building refuse, which he repurposes into charming features, niches, and furniture for his bungalows and courtyard garden.
The perfect cup of coffee, Lake Chapalla, & closeup of the vet clinic sign