A Quick Update

In 2010, we moved back to the small town in Colorado that I never stopped missing while we lived in Mexico. Now I sometimes miss Mexico, but I wouldn't travel as freely as we did when we were there, camping out in remote areas and so forth.

Mexico today is in a period of change, and in many ways it is more dangerous now. That said, I have plenty of American friends who still live there very happily, just taking a few more precautions than they did in the past.

Just to say!


Visit Expedia…

Expedia is my favorite place to book airfare, and they handle hotels, car rentals, cruises, etc. I like the organization of the site for figuring out what flights I want. Click on the suitcase to take a look.

I was very pleased to win an award for this blog! Even better for you: click through for lists of all sorts of award-winning travel blogs.

Tripbase Blog Awards 2009

Tripbase Blog Awards 2009

Feb. 21, 2006 — This morning around 9 AM we took our little motorhome into Ajijic, about 15 minutes away, to do a variety of errands. (We don’t have a car here.) I thought that a description of “a day in the life of” would be interesting to people considering living in the Lake Chapala area especially. It’s hardly the most scintillating blog entry I’ll ever write, but it’s also the sort of local flavor that can be hard to find.

There’s a guidebook for living here, Mexico’s Lake Chapala and Ajijic: The Insider’s Guide, by Theresa Kendrick, which has an amazing number of descriptive lists, from the obvious things like restaurants and places to stay to veterinarians and furniture stores. With research from that and from ads in both local English-language free monthly magazines, we’d compiled a list of possible destinations and items to get.

We began by looking for one of two pet food stores on the western side of Ajijic, on the highway. I think we saw the sign for one as we passed it, so we stopped near the other one. It was said to open at nine, but at ten after, it was shut up tight. Okay.

We then drove further east on the highway and parked the motorhome in deep shade — it gets quite warm here in the middle of the day! We were both wearing short sleeved shirts and light slacks, with sandals.

I went into the telephone company office while Kelly went to one of the best hardware stores in the area. I took a number from an electronic device at the phone company, and after a while it was my turn. I told the young man that we had just bought a house in San Juan Cosola and we were wondering about getting a phone. Our conversation was in Spanish but he also speaks English. He explained that it would be about $180 US for installation, including the cost of the phone, and about $18 US a month. If we were living in one of the parts of San Juan Cosala where new phone service was available, it would take about two months. He asked for our address, looked it up on his computer, and said that he was sorry but no phone service was available to us.

I wasn’t exactly heartbroken, as we had been thinking of getting a local Mexican cellphone to go with our Verizon North American plan cellphone which actually allows us to make lots of calls in Mexico within its monthly fee. We’ll likely get a Mexican cellphone too so that people in Mexico can call us without it being a long distance call to the US for them.

Kelly had amassed a good pile of hose and hardware items, and after I helped him choose drawer handles to replace the agonizingly painful ones in our kitchen and bought a couple of packets of garden seeds, we were done there. We were helped by an efficient young woman whose English was excellent. I said, “Your English is as good as ours… did you grow up in the states?” She said yes.

We put all our stuff in the motorhome and left it there again. No parking meters, no signs limiting how long we could stay.

We left the highway and walked several blocks to Carlos’ bazaar, a second-hand store. Much of this walk, we were the only foreigners around but as we got more into the center of town, there were more foreigners everywhere. It takes a bit of getting used to, but I’m enjoying this bi-cultural life more all the time.

We were on a furniture quest more than anything. There was a nice wooden desk there, but it was sold. We walked through the town plaza to the Secret Garden, where we had a delicious brunch. It’s a garden restaurant in a back yard. Kelly and I had veggie crepes with salad, and it was delicious. I spoke to an American woman at the next table, and she said how she’s been coming to Ajijic for three months or so every year for 14 years. She’s in her early 70s now and commented on how much at home she feels here, how much friendlier people are. But with tons of kids, grandkids, and great-grandkids back home in Michigan, she’s happiest being there much of the time.

As we left, I asked if she happened to know the hair salon with her name that was a few blocks away. Both she and another American woman at a nearby table highly recommended another place, right by the El Torito grocery store. We’d be going there later, so I said I’d check it out.

Next we walked a few more blocks to an incredible second-hand store, Barbara’s Bazaar. It has room after room of furniture and all kinds of smaller stuff. I had been there before and was curious what my artistic husband would notice. We browsed happily for quite a while but nothing was exactly right for our house.

It was after noon by now, and the sun was quite high overhead, so we couldn’t take advantage of the shade that usually is available when you are walking on streets in Mexican towns. We went to Lloyd’s, an investment house (not exactly a bank) where we have an account in pesos. It’s in an old mansion and we went first to one counter and told them that we wanted to withdraw some money. We gave them our account number and Kelly’s FM3 visa. The helpful woman said it would be about ten minutes, but it was less when she said our check was ready. We thought we were getting cash so that was a surprise. She explained that we could cash the check across the building in another area. I relaxed in one of the many comfortable chairs while Kelly got pesos after again showing his visa. I watched the people: just about all seemed to be foreigners.

Kelly stopped in at another hardware store for some things the first one hadn’t carried, while I checked out the hair salon. It was full of foreigners. I decided that I’d rather see about finding a more Mexican place in my own town, and started the grocery shopping. I took advantage of the fact that we had our wheels with us to buy a lot: lamb chops, ground beef, chicken legs still attached to each other, greens from an organic place in the area and other produce, our favorite yogurts, and more. This store is one of two I know of that carries a lot of US goods. I was glad to see Newman’s Own ranch dressing, a favorite of mine, and it wasn’t too highly priced. Mostly we choose Mexican goods, but we’re not purists.

On our way out of Ajijic, the pet food place was open and I bought some lamb-rice naturally preserved dog food made in Mexico and about the same price I’d expect in the US. We stopped at several furniture stores on the highway too. A couple were a bit rich for our blood, but we found a desk for me and a huge bookcase which will act as a room divider, both made of pine. They should be delivered in the next couple of days.

Once back in San Juan Cosola, a cow crossing the street went slowly enough that we got past it. We were glad to get home and relax.

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