Ajijic

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View of Ajijic and Lake Chapala

Ajijic (Spanish pronunciation: [axiˈxik] (About this soundlisten)) is a town about 4.8 kilometres (3.0 mi) west from the town of Chapala, part of the municipality (also named Chapala), in the State of Jalisco, Mexico. It is situated on the north shore of Lake Chapala, surrounded by mountains. Ajijic enjoys a moderate climate year-round. The population of Ajijic was 11,439 as of the 2020 census.

Geography[edit]

Aerial view of Ajijic's Malecon and park at sunset

Ajijic is located 1,538 metres (5,046 ft) above sea level in Mexico's Volcanic Axis also known as the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt.

The Chapala Lake basin has a year-round average temperature of about 19 °C (66 °F).[1] Due to Ajijic's tropical latitude, the sun is warm year-round; due to its relatively high elevation, it is seldom unpleasantly hot or humid. The rainy season begins in June and lasts until October. The average rainfall is 793 millimetres (31.2 in). Even during the rainy season, precipitation generally occurs during the evening or at night.

December and January are the coolest months, with nighttime lows just above 4 °C (39 °F). May is the hottest month, just before the beginning of the rainy season.

Overall, there is very little temperature variation year round: daytime highs in January are around 24 °C (75 °F); while daytime highs in May range from 27 °C (81 °F) to 32 °C (90 °F).

History[edit]

Chapel in the main plaza

Up until the arrival of the Spanish, the region was occupied by nomadic Indian tribes, probably the Coca people that settled the northern shore. There seem to be many explanations, and meanings for the names Chapala and Ajijic, all of which are Indian place names, probably derived from Nahuatl, the native language of the area.

Ajijic, formerly spelled Axixic, means “place of water” or “place where water bubbles up” in Classical Nahuatl.[2] Don Andres Carlos and Fray Martin founded Ajijic in 1531 because it had a good source of water.[3]: pg 9  It is one of the oldest villages in Western Mexico. By 1833 it is said to have had a population of no more than 2,000.[3]: pg 155 

Ajijic has attracted foreign artists and writers since the 1890s.[3] Englishmen Nigel Millet and Peter Lilley settled in Ajijic before World War II and under the pen name of Dane Chandos wrote Village in the Sun (1945, G.P. Putnam's Sons), about building a house on the edge of the lake in nearby San Antonio Tlayacapan. Using the same pen name, Peter Lilley later teamed up with Anthony Stansfeld (an English academic) to write House in the Sun (1949), which concerns the operation of a small inn in Ajijic (now known as the “Old Posada”). These books were written when the main road from Chapala was unpaved,[4] ice was delivered by bus from Guadalajara, and electricity was just being installed.[5]

Ajijic today[edit]

Aerial view of Ajijic's Plaza and kiosk, looking South towards Lake Chapala and Mt Garcia
The cobblestone streets are an enduring cultural tradition that adds charm to the already artistic and ornate town.
Colorful painted eggshells, filled with confetti, made by the hands of village children and used to celebrate the most important traditions of Ajijic.
Ajijic Kiosk and Plaza

The Ajijic population of about 11,000 excludes the hundreds of visitors from Guadalajara (35 miles (56 km) north) who spend weekends and vacations there. Many retired Americans and Canadians now live in Ajijic, with an estimate that expats make up more than half of the population in the winter.[6]

The influx of large numbers of expats is a mixed blessing for the local population; some welcome the expats and some find their presence an annoyance due to gentrification.[7] With such a reliance on the expatriate community, many businesses struggled when that population did not arrive in full strength due to the Covid-19 pandemic.[8]

Ajijic is a very festive village with many holidays, special events and parades about once a month.[9] Mexico's National Chili Cook-Off has been held in Ajijic since 1978 and attracts thousands of Mexican and international visitors each February.[10] In addition to the cooking competition and chili eating, it attracts scores of vendors selling a large variety of items including art, crafts, clothing and novelties. Ajijic’s “Chupinaya Carrera de Montana” attracts about 500 males and females from all over Mexico each July for a grueling 13.8 kilometer foot race to the summit of Cerro La Chupinaya (2,400 meters, 7,874 feet) and back to the Ajijic Plaza in about 90 minutes for the best runners/climbers.[11] Hundreds are attracted each September to the unmanned Hot Air Balloon event (Regatta de Globos) where local groups enter their homemade tissue paper balloons some as big as 200 cubic feet.[12]

The biggest local event of the year is the San Andreas Fiesta dedicated to Ajijic’s patron saint.[13] The Fiesta dominates Ajijic’s central plaza and surrounding streets for nine days in late November and attracts the majority of Ajijic residents.

Since Tuesday, December 1, 2020, the town of Ajijic, located on Lake Chapala, has been declared the ninth Magical Town of Jalisco (Pueblo Mágico), designated as such by the federal tourism government.[14]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Ajijic climate: Average Temperature, weather by month, Ajijic weather averages - Climate-Data.org". en.climate-data.org.
  2. ^ "Local History Lake Chapala Ajijic Mexico". hotelnuevaposada.com.
  3. ^ a b c Tony Burton, "Lake Chapala Through The Ages, an Anthology of Travelers' Tales" (Sombrero Books, BC Canada, 2008)
  4. ^ "A Brief History of Ajijic".
  5. ^ "Dane Chandos Books : Mexico Travel". mexconnect.com.
  6. ^ Rogers, Mark (22 January 2018). "Ajijic: Mexico's expat paradise on the lake". USA TODAY. Retrieved 31 March 2021.
  7. ^ Tucker, Duncan (4 April 2017). "The American expats breaking up indigenous communities on the Mexican 'Riviera'". the Guardian. Retrieved 31 March 2021.
  8. ^ Janowitz, Nathaniel (26 October 2020). "Americans Living In Mexico Are Tearing Each Other Apart Over the Elections". Vice. Retrieved 31 March 2021.
  9. ^ "Ajijic Events and Holidays - Escape to Ajijic, Mexico".
  10. ^ "Events: Chili Cook Off Ajijic".
  11. ^ "Chupinaya 2019". chupinaya.com.mx.
  12. ^ https://www.accesslakechapala.com/2011/09/12/regatta-de-globos-hot-air-balloons-in-ajijic/, https://lakesideguide.mx/regata-de-globos/, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IoVyhaPzU98, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ry4DGIxR6i8
  13. ^ http://www.lagodechapala.com.mx/2013/12/10/las-fiestas-patronales-de-san-andres-en-ajijic/ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S0OLeSOr5Aw. https://www.facebook.com/chunimc2/videos/10203749492174074/UzpfSTY2NjYzNDAxMDM5MDg2MDo2NzE2NDEwNzk4OTAxNTM/. https://vimeo.com/115233597
  14. ^ "Ministry of Tourism adds 11 new destinations to the list of Pueblos Mágicos". Mexico News Daily. 1 December 2020. Retrieved 31 March 2021.

External links[edit]

Media related to Ajijic at Wikimedia Commons Coordinates: 20°18′N 103°17′W / 20.300°N 103.283°W / 20.300; -103.283