Located a few miles west of Chapala is the lovely village of Ajijic. Once a fishing village, Ajijic is now a thriving community with thousands of North American expats. The village is clean and artistically painted with very little graffiti---just the way gringos like it. The residential neighborhoods are quiet and beautiful, with walled-in, Mexican homes and gorgeous courtyards and gardens. The air is fresh and clear and the light is perfect for the local artist community.
The expat community is varied and friendly and there are activities for everyone. The majority of residents are retired, with six women for every man. Near the center of Ajijic is the Lake Chapala Society (LCS), which you can join for 400 pesos a year. It has several acres of beautiful gardens and a library for checking out both books and DVDs. They offer weekly lectures, yoga, and many other activities. Around town there are Scrabble groups, bridge clubs, many AA meetings, a writer's group, art lessons, countless Spanish classes, and a group called Amigos that meets every week to welcome the newcomers. They have frequent concerts and plays and there is a movie theater.
At an altitude of 5,200 feet, Ajijic also boasts one of the best climates in the world. The winters are mild, averaging around 70 degrees. The spring is the hot season and the summer is rainy and cooler. Basically it is good year round and there are few, if any, biting bugs.
Ajijic is located on the shore of Lake Chapala. Serveral years back, the lake was so low you had to walk out a hundred yards before you reached the water. Two years ago, due to record rains, it is so high it is flooding over parking lots and some waterfront restaurants. Now it seems to be going back down again. There is chemical pollution due to use of pesticides that contaminate area rivers, but the authorities have been trying to clean it up and have opened some beaches. Some people do swim in the lake but it seems kind of iffy. The bottom is muddy and in some places there is barbed wire on the bottom from when the lake was so low. The lake seems ideal for water sports like sailing, kayaking, jet-skis, and fishing, but in reality you see very little of this kind of activity.
There is a hot spring spa nearby at San Juan Cosala which costs 180 pesos. There are several pools and Jaccuzis---some of them quite hot---and a cave that serves as a natural steam bath.
Ajijic would be the ideal place for house-sitting as there are so many beautiful homes. The summer would be an especially good time to try it since many of the residents are snowbirds. The Lake Chapala Society has a bulletin board that lists house-sitting opportunities as well as rentals and real estate for sale.
The food is incredible and you can get dishes from all over the world. Of course you can get Mexican food but it is not the speciality in Ajijic. If you have been living in other parts of Mexico or traveling a long time, you might really enjoy the continental gourmet food. Two of my favorites are Simply Thai across from LCS (Ramon Corona #11) and The Tango, knowm for their Flab Steak. Three restaurants on the main highway worth trying are Gossip (gourmet), Brunos (steaks and ribs) and Mom's for the best carrot cake ever. Considering the quality the restaurants are low-prices with most meals well below 150 pesos.
For a place to stay I would suggest one of the many tastefully decorated bed and breakfasts around town such as the Villa Eucaliptos. The Nueva Posada Hotel is another a good choice. There are some cheaper places, but if you are really on a budget head for the town of Chapala which is more of a Mexican town with budget accommodations.
AJIJIC LOCAL LISTINGS