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Visit


Would you like to come visit me in Ajijic?

I am thrilled to have guests. Here's some information to help you plan a visit.

Weather

The only time I'd strongly advise against coming is late spring. May in particular can be very hot and dry.

The rainy season starts sometime in June, and things start to cool off. It rains mostly at night. Everything goes from brown to green. Of course the sun is very strong in summer. Well always actually. Bring sun screen whenever you come.

The weather is great all winter long, not hot, and nights are good for sleeping.

Clothes

You can pretty much wear summer clothes year round. Shorts and t-shirts, tank tops, and skirts all work well. It's very casual.

In the evenings in winter you might want long pants, even a light sweater sometimes. I'm told it can get quite chilly (low 40s) in the evening.

Sturdy shoes are essential. Ajijic streets are all cobblestones, and the sidewalks are not a lot better. If you wear sandals, they should have good, strong soles. I prefer a partially closed sandal that also goes around the back of my foot. I don't recommend flip-flops or anything else that doesn't provide good support.

Bring a hat to keep the sun off your head and face.

Money

The Mexican peso is worth roughly five cents at present. More precisely, there are about 19 pesos to the US dollar.

While many places take credit cards, a lot of places do not. Cash is much preferred, quicker, and simpler to use. There are plenty of ATMs in Ajijic, so be sure to bring a debit card. It's best to avoid exchanging money at the airport, and there's no reason to buy pesos in the US before visiting.

The symbol for the peso is the same as the dollar sign. It can be disconcerting at first to see prices like $49 for a loaf of bread in a supermarket.

Local Activities

Ajijic and the surrounding towns along the northern shore of Lake Chapala have great restaurants, nice shops selling art, crafts, various gift items, souvenirs, and more. It's fun to walk around the towns, exploring the street art, graffiti, and architecture. And taking a walk along the malecón (a paved lakefront embankment) is always enjoyable, especially at sunset. In addition to the malecón in Ajijic, there are nice ones in Chapala and Jocotepec.

There is a lot of good hiking up in the hills around town. Ajijic Hiking Group runs guided hikes for all ability levels ranging from about 2 hours up to all-day hikes on Tuesday and Friday mornings.

There are all kinds of fantastic restaurants in Ajijic. You can get excellent Mexican food as well as many kinds of international cuisine. Most of the restaurants cater to extranjeros, with earlier hours, familiar ingredients, and menus in both Spanish and English. But the cenadurias, eateries more commonly frequented by locals, are open later and serve food and ingredients that may be less familiar. But if you are adventurous, they are definitely worth checking out.

Even at the nicest restaurants, prices are significantly lower than in the USA, and there are many smaller eateries and street-food stands that offer outstanding bargains. Since I'm still pretty new here, I only have a limited number of favorite restaurants, but the number is growing, and I'm always eager to try new places.

The Wednesday tianguis (street market) is a must. Vendors sell fruits and vegetables, fish, chicken, prepared foods, clothing, jewelry, watches, electronics, arts and crafts, as well as used goods and much more. It is frequented equally by locals and extranjeros. There is also an indoor farmer's market on Tuesdays that attracts mostly expats and is not dissimilar to the kinds of street markets I used to go to in Seattle. It has prices to match.

Day Trips

If you come for more than a few days, we should plan one or more day trips to see some of the nearby places of interest.
  • Guadalajara (*Fridays, combined with Tlaquepaque): The second largest city in Mexico, Guadalajara proper has about 1.5 million residents; over 5 million people live in the metropolitan area. Like any large city, "Guad" offers lots of opportunities for culture, with some excellent museums and a stunning historical center.
  • Tlaquepaque (*Fridays, combined with Guadalajara): Pronounced "tuh-lock-ay-pock-ay," this is actually a city of over a half-million people. But it is primarily known as un pueblo artisinal, with a small neighborhood filled with shops, art galleries, and restaurants. Tlaquepaque is also considered the birthplace of mariachi, and you can sit in a bar or restaurant and be entertained by live bands. The Lake Chapala Society runs a bus trip to Tlaquepaque usually once every month.
  • Tonalá: Much like Tlaquepaque, Tonalá is known as a place to shop for art, crafts, and gifts. But whereas Tlaquepaque is pretty and bright and upscale and touristy, Tonalá is a bit earthier, and prices are lower. The Lake Chapala Society runs periodic bus trips to Tonalá.
  • Mazamitla (*Mondays): This town up in the mountains is nicknamed the Mexican Switzerland. I haven't been there yet. I'm told it's also a good place to go for an overnight or multi-day getaway. It's significantly cooler there because of the altitude.
  • Tequila (*Saturdays): The state of Jalisco is the birthplace of tequila, the distilled beverage made from the blue agave plant. The city of Tequila, which gave the beverage its name, is about 65 km northwest of Guadalajara, so it's a long day trip. The Charter Club tour (see below) is a bus ride to the Guadalajara train station and a train ride to Tequila for a distillery tour.
  • Around Lake Chapala (*Wednesdays): Lake Chapala is the largest lake in Mexico. Ajijic sits on the north shore near the western end of the lake. A friend of mine took this tour around the lake, and she said it was enjoyable but after a while it was a bit repetitive, stopping in different towns and villages and checking out the plazas and churches and street vendors.
  • Teuchitlan Pyramids (*Thursdays): From the photos, these look more like terraced mounds than pyramids. I haven't been there, but friends who have say it's a terrific day trip.
*A local travel company, Charter Club, runs tours every day, Monday through Saturday. I haven't done any of their tours yet, but people I know who have say they are excellent. Some of the destinations I've listed above can be visited on a Charter Club tour; when that's the case, I've included the day of the week in parentheses.

It's also possible (and cost effective) to hire a private driver/guide for some day trips.

Please check back, as I'll will be adding more suggested excursions all the time.

Getting Here

Guadalajara Airport (Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla International Airport, GDL) is only 39 kilometers from my house, Depending on traffic, it takes about a half hour or a little longer.

You can fly nonstop from pretty much all the major US hubs and some less hubby airports as well. (Seattle has one nonstop flight per day each direction on Volaris, a discount Mexican airline.)

Check FlightsFrom.com for a list of all the airlines and destinations with direct flights from GDL.

I am happy to come pick you up at the airport if you arrive during daylight hours. Driving to and from the airport in the dark is not something I'm comfortable doing, but I can easily hook you up with a driver or taxi. The taxi service from the airport to Ajijic is actually very convenient, very trustworthy, and very inexpensive. (You pay in the airport terminal and get a ticket; show the ticket to the driver and you're all set.)

Schedule Your Visit 

Ready to plan a trip down here? Right now my schedule is mostly open, so pick some dates and check with me so I can pencil you in. Then as soon as you've got your plane ticket, let me know your itinerary.

I am planning on doing some traveling in October and November of 2020, so it's best to avoid those months.
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