TRAVEL with pat and lew

Ajijic, Mexico

Posted by Lew Weinstein on April 13, 2007

On our first venture into Ajijic, just finding the old town proves more difficult than expected. We drive along the main street, the Carretera, but see no signs of the charming shopping streets we are expecting. Several miles down the road, we make a u-turn, which is very difficult because going off the roadway involves rocks, steep inclines, and danger from oncoming cars which do not stop.

Anyway, we return and Pat suggests that the old town is off to our right, between the Carretera and the lake which we know is down there somewhere. We turn off at a street which has no street sign, which is typical, and the road is immediately steep down and narrow. A pile of construction dirt fills part of the available roadway, and a truck is coming the other way. We can barely pass. “Ajijic?” I ask, pointing. He nods. We drive on, see nothing that we expected, reach the lake, which seems polluted.

Finally, we see a street sign which we can match to our map. We drive a few more blocks, find a parking space – we hope it’s a parking space – and emerge onto the cobblestones. The streets are dusty and too often littered with trash. We find a few nice shops, mainly selling women’s clothes.

We wander into the town square, near the cathedral, and find an outdoor restaurant. All of the customers are Norteamericanos (American or Canadian), and the menu is in English as well as Spanish. We have an excellent breakfast, eggs over, French toast, coffee, tea and juice, for 70 pesos (less than $7.00) for both of us.

There’s a bank on the corner (BBVA Bancomer) with an ATM. It gives me 2000 pesos, and I’m relieved. An earlier try at an ATM in a store did not work at all, and many stores and restaurants, and gas stations we later learn, take only pesos – no credit cards and no USD.

We returned to the old town several more times, and our impressions didn’t change. There is a great contrast between the town, and the vibrant life that has been fashioned by the 5,000 Americans and Canadians who live there.

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