Ajijic, our new hometown

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One of many Catrinas on the plaza, this one with a cornhusk skirt.

Leslie and I arrived safely in our new home about a week ago, right in the middle of Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) celebrations. We like this Mexican tradition. It’s far better than what Halloween has become in the U.S. There’s a fun element to this three-day holiday, but much of it is sacred. The link above takes you to a very good National Geographic piece, and there’s more in this link to Trip Savvy. I encourage you to learn more.

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The largest altar on the plaza. You can see a photo of the honored family members on top.

Even though we were sharing a bad cold, we walked through the Día de los Muertos displays in Ajijic’s central plaza. Families set up altars to honor deceased relatives, and organizations like the Lake Chapala Society also participate. Most of the altars are made with dried flowers — primarily marigolds — so they look a little like Rose Parade floats. And everywhere you see the iconic skeletal character Catrina. Even the gringos get their faces painted to look like Catrina. We saw one woman with full Catrina make-up. She even put make-up on her dog, who seemed to enjoy the attention he got!

There are many other events here, such as parades and an outdoor screening of the movie “Coco.” Illness kept us from participating, but we’re looking forward to next year!

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Family members start on their altar by drawing the outline in chalk. Then they fill in with dried flowers, like the completed altar in the foreground. Some of these altars were quite moving.

We like our new place. It’s a townhome on the west side of downtown Ajijic, a short walk to the lake, to the central plaza, and to many of our favorite restaurants and shops. This is new construction. We are the first residents, so we’ve found a few little glitches that our property manager is fixing. We’ve found it’s also much quieter here than where we lived last year. We have yet to hear any bottle rockets going off at 5 a.m.

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Driving in Ajijic can be challenging. You can see the cobblestone streets, and here’s a minor traffic jam with a golf cart (ahead) and a guy on a horse. Normal.

Yesterday we went to the immigration office in nearby Chapala to start the second part of the process to get our permanent resident cards. More paperwork to fill out, more ID-style photos to take and more money to pay. It shouldn’t take us long to pull everything together, but we’ve heard it can take several weeks to get our cards. When you live in Mexico, it’s very important to be patient!

Leslie and I went to church Sunday at St. Andrews Anglican, and we were welcomed back. We saw some familiar faces and met several new friends. The greeter even helped us find our old name tags from last year. They knew we’d be back!

We’ve also been to the weekly Wednesday street market, known as the tianguis. We can walk there easily, but walking back home with a load of fruits and veggies is not so easy. Fortunately, parking is adequate. Next week, we’ll hit the organic market on Tuesday, and a new Monday market we just learned about last weekend.

So we’ve begun the third year of The Vagabond Retirees, but we plan to stay in Ajijic for that entire year, and possibly longer. Stayed tuned, there’s more to come…

Hasta luego!

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We were greeted on our first night by this stunning sunset. You can see lots of people, mostly locals, on the malecon (right).
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Leslie liked this Catrina because she’s in a sexy pose. “She’s showing a little leg!”

6 thoughts on “Ajijic, our new hometown

  1. Love hearing about your adventures! Happy Thanksgiving to you both, Anne and John

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  2. Glad you got to your new home safe and sound. Love the Catrinas! How interesting to see how other cultures celebrate the same holiday. Take good care of each other. Blessings, Joyce

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    1. Thanks, Joyce! Leslie and I think the U.S. celebration of Halloween has become hideous and over-commercialized. But Mexico’s Day of the Dead is NOT the same as Halloween, although there are similarities. Day of the Dead is actually more like our All Saints Day, which is only celebrated in churches now rather than in our general society. In Mexico, instead of going to a haunted house, families are more likely to go to a cemetery and spruce up the graves of departed family members. Family is very important here in Mexico. It’s one of the things we like about this country.

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