If you’re looking for the old Mexico of cobblestone streets lined with colorful bougainvillea, Ajijic will satisfy. Located just 35 miles south of Guadalajara in the often-foggy area surrounding Lake Chapala (Mexico's largest lake), this tiny town is popular with expats, so you reap the benefit of many English-speaking residents and restaurants that cater to American tastes. It is famous for tropical weather and lush vegetation.
La Nueva Posada Donato Guerra #9, (376) 766-14-44;. 19 rooms; 3 stories. Unheated pool. Breakfast included. No smoking; small dogs ok. Free gated parking lot.
Though it looks just as you would expect a colonial Mexican inn to look, this authentically replicated lodging was molded from a former lodging only in 1990. The Canadian family that owns it arrived at the lake in 1975, fell in love with the area, and started turning a rundown inn resembling a sow’s ear into this delightful silk purse. Located lakeside, in a quiet residential neighborhood just a few blocks from the center of picturesque Ajijic village, it is credited with putting this town on the tourist map. The grounds are planted with native tropical vegetation. Rooms are oversize, with cool stone floors; ten have a lake view. Walls are colorful--picture a shade of pumpkin cutting to cantaloupe--and decorated with original art. Furniture is heavy Spanish-style, but painted perhaps a light shade of blue. Locally-made baskets hang over light bulbs and cast romantic shadows onto the walls. Some rooms have sliding doors with screens permitting you to open the door to mellow Mexican music drifting up from the restaurant patio, and to the deep, deep silent nights broken in the morning by the pealing of the town’s church bells at 6 a.m. and followed by a cacophony of birdsong at sunrise. Rooms are cooled to a comfortable temperature by a ceiling fan; air conditioning is not available.
Restaurant La Rusa is named for a young ballet dancer from Budapest who inherited a gold mine in the early 1900s. It features an expansive patio fronting the lake, with seating under a gigantic banyan tree, and the menu offers both continental and Mexican cuisines.
More things to do in Ajijic.
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image c2011 Carole Terwilliger Meyers