As Bob and I toured the small town of Ajijic, Mexico, also known for its heavy contingent of resident Canadians, we soon discovered why it is referred to as a Town of Murals.
After landing at Hacienda del Lago Boutique Hotel in Ajijic, we had every intention of doing some birding along the shore of Lake Chapala. Bob and I were on the last leg of our trip, a cross-country drive from San Blas on the Pacific Coast of Mexico to its capital, Mexico City.
Allowing a stop for one night in Ajijic divided the drive into 2 segments. The sumptuous and well-appointed accommodations at our hotel had us deciding to lounge on our private patio throughout the lazy afternoon.
Before dinner, Bob and I sauntered down to the lake where we discovered a fabulous malecon, a raised stone esplanade, that stretched in front of the upscale haciendas and restaurants. It was abuzz with people and children playing, picnicking, skateboarding and strolling.
Young kids were not the only ones taking advantage of the exercise equipment in the adjacent park.
Bob and I had a blast attempting to use some of the apparatus.
It was a good way to work up an appetite because it wasn’t as easy as it looks.
As Bob and I took in the sights, we were really impressed by the extensive array of street murals decorating many of the buildings and businesses along the promenade.
The murals in Ajijic are used to beautify otherwise plain facades, but they serve a dual purpose.
Exposing residents and visitors alike to such vibrant and culturally significant works gives everyone the chance to appreciate the paintings by talented local artists without stepping inside a gallery.
In fact, many professional artists have provided their expertise to render a variety of works from mosaic tiles, wall murals and graffiti murals along the Ajijic Malecon.
Some of the murals tell stories about the political or cultural aspects of the community using unusual “canvases” such as lamp posts, doors and even sidewalks on which to create their masterpieces.
We found some interesting paintings in the oddest of places but they helped turn the mundane into extraordinary.
It was the efforts of one Neill James who, in 1954, organized Lake Chapala Society’s Children’s Art Program. That gave rise to Ajijic as an art centre.
Many local artists went on to become famous, several of whom were Neill’s original students. Their art adorns buildings both in Ajijic and communities throughout the surrounding area.
As Bob and I moseyed along the lakeshore, a threatening storm front moved in boding another afternoon downpour.
All pleasure seekers were holding tight in hopes that they could continue to enjoy the dying hours of the day by the water.
We were fortunate that little rain fell, and the clouds gave way to a wonderful, dramatic sunset.
As the clouds shifted and moved off, remarkable views of Lake Chapala were afforded. Lake Chapala is Mexico’s largest freshwater lake. It is a shallow lake with depths ranging from 23-34 feet.
Just before we returned to our lodgings, a lone horseback rider cantered down the thin stretch of sand, dust carried on the onshore breeze. His trusty canine pal led the way.
Back at Hacienda del Lago Boutique Hotel, a warm and friendly atmosphere enveloped us.
The cheerful chefs and kitchen staff allowed us a sneak peak into their culinary world, tempting us with descriptions of dishes on the evening’s menu.
Later, we descended from our room in the 3-storey turret to dine on authentic Mexican cuisine in the cozy dining room of our hotel.
The floral scent of roses wafted through the air in the flower-festooned courtyard, while glowing orbs of golden light reflected from wet patio stones created a romantic atmosphere and made it quite magical.
Roosters cockadoodling in an adjacent “farmyard”, really a tiny, cramped dooryard filled with pens and cages, rousted us from our sleep at an early hour the next morning. All was silent in our hotel establishment, but we had the benefit of seeing a glorious pink sunrise. We were off to another good start!