Mexico – Axixic (Ajijic) – A secret between us
It’s time for la comida, the noon meal. All sounds from the street have virtually ceased save the tolling of a rusty church bell and the rhythmic clanging of a lone workman in the distance, piecing together a building from chaotic heaps of scrap and jumbled brick. There is ever so slight a breeze in the mildly humid air, the sun is slowly breaking through the rain clouds of early morning showers. Even the birds have quieted their continuous symphony and only sporadically give way in exuberant song to express the pure joy of life amidst such lush abundance and peace.
Ajijic (or Axixic as traditionalists prefer) nestles on a gentle mountain slope down to Lake Chapala. Tiny cobble stone streets allow one car to pass a parked one and one pedestrian to pick his careful way on the slightly raised sidewalks past the colorful facades of artisan shops and mysterious homes hidden behind massive walls and fanciful doorways.
The two worlds of the gringos and the natives co-exist quietly – the Mexicans will respond courteously and warmly to “buenas tardes,” but otherwise carry on their lives as if the tall strangers in their midst were but gossamer phantoms gliding through their narrow lanes. I am searching for signs of resentment at this invasion of northerners who live such bountiful lives based on inexplicable streams of income from abroad, but if it is there, it is not apparent.
There are restaurants aplenty to meet the tastes of visitors and residents accustomed to choice: sushi, Italian, Greek, Argentine beef; the variety is surprising, but the quality is far from world class. The eateries and bars that cater to gringos serve ice cubes produced from purified water and salads hygienically prepared to avoid the dreaded incidence of “turista” or “Moctezuma’s Revenge” for which Mexico has long been infamous. You must still be cautious – the water treatment system is unreliable and the wise brush their teeth with purified water and certainly never drink from the tap.
Largely a community of retired Norteamericanos, one has the sense that Ajijic is slowly being discovered by that enviable set of professionals who are liberated by the internet to earn their incomes from any charming corner of the world equipped with high speed access. You won’t find the nightlife of a Puerto Vallerta and a walk home at midnight down a dark street is a lonely, but not dangerous affair. This is a place to come for introspection, for retreat and relaxation, and for making acquaintances with mature personalities who often disclose exciting and adventurous past lives.
Just when you start to feel a little judgmental about the seeming lack of worldly sophistication, you remember that these are people who had the courage to make a new life in their golden years in a foreign country.
I’m surprised that a second high season hasn’t blossomed when the sun blazes and temperatures soar across those northern lands. It must be that the word is not yet out that you can go south to get cool, and that the tropical mountains bring welcome relief from the wilting long days of July and August.
I am almost fearful of helping spread that word; a little selfish corner of my soul wants to guard this tiny paradise to share only with my trusted confidants. As appealing as more diversity in demographics might be, I loathe the image of a stampede trampling the flora of this Garden of Eden.
Related Ajijic and Hotel Casa Blanca