Staying in Tijuana, Guadalajara and Ajijic on Lake Chapala

sign in tijuana that says, 'boundary of the united states' - this is just across the official border on the mexican side - how Mexico changed me for the better

Last Updated on June 3, 2023 by Ellen

The adventure continues. In the last few weeks, we stayed in Rosarito Beach, Tijuana, Guadalajara, and now we in Ajijic on Lake Chapala.

In Tijjuana, we stayed in the Playas de Tijuana neighborhood, at the south end of the boardwalk. The wall, or fence, dividing the U.S. and Mexico was at the northernmost part of the boardwalk – not too far from our place – and we walked there each day.

It was a cool area – a lot of nice people, and a lot of people spoke English. It’s laid back, and the sunsets over the water are just as spectacular as they are in San Diego. I’d recommend tourists at least check this area out. It’s a wild difference from the San Diego side of this terrain, and it’s surreal to look at San Diego’s and Coronado’s skylines from this Tijuana beach just over the fence.

Again I think: how did my soul get so lucky as to be born on the other side of the fence? At this time in history? Don’t get me wrong – the Tijuana side of the fence was a pleasant experience, and I’m glad we stayed there for several days.

Next was Guadalajara. We flew there from Tijuana on Volaris. Cool city. Sprawling city. Not as big as Mexico City, but it is Mexico’s second largest city and it has a really neat, artsy vibe. Don’t miss the murals by José Clemente Ángel Orozco, just don’t.

We stayed near the Rose section, a ten minute walk to Avenida Chapultepec, famous for its restaurants and bars. Somehow we managed to find the Tribe World Series games each night, although some nights we had competition with soccer games. It all worked out for us, though too bad it didn’t work out for the Cleveland Indians. (What a series! What a Game 7!!)

On Sundays, some roads are shut down to cars so bikers, skateboarders, walkers and runners can use a large road to enjoy easy mobility in a good section of the city. We rented MIBICI bikes for a few hours and had a great ride.

The main market was a blast to check out, too. San Juan de Dios, or Mercado Libertad, is said to be the largest indoor market in Latin America. Everything you can imagine was for sale at this market. We’ve been to many markets around Central America. This one was the cleanest market I’ve seen.

We would go back to Guadalajara if and when we feel we need some city culture. There’s a lot to see and we didn’t see it all in the week we were there.

Now we are on Lake Chapala – Mexico’s largest freshwater lake. We’re staying on the outskirts of a place called Ajijic (ah-HEE-heek — with a soft ‘k’).

We’ve been here a couple of days so far. I haven’t taken many pictures yet, but I will. The lake is beautiful. The mountains are stunning. The weather is perfect. These are reasons why there are thousands of American and Canadian retirees here.

Expats have invested a ton of money in this area in housing. The local economy is based on a higher standard of living for these retirees. There are doctors and dentists everywhere – they all speak English. The Walmart here in Ajijic is the most well-stocked big box store I’ve ever seen in Mexico.

Yet somehow, the place taken on the whole is charming. There aren’t any McDonald’s. The waterfront in downtown is well-developed with a park and long walkway called a malecon. You can hear horse hoofs on cobble stone streets. Cows and sheep and horses dot the landscape around the lake. Downtown has a colonial-like feel.

We rode our bikes to the town of Chapala, which is about three miles from the center of Ajijic. It appears there are fewer expats in Chapala, but, there are still a lot of them.

Ajijic is expensive compared to other places we’ve stayed in Mexico. In fact, that is one of the drawbacks now for retirees who don’t have a gazillion dollars. This area is not as affordable as other areas of Mexico. Housing prices are actually comparable to some areas of the U.S. And – there’s no beach! Sure the lake is gorgeous – but my soul needs salt air. I have read when Ajijic started attracting expat retirees several years ago, it was more affordable.

We are living in a large duplex about a mile from the center of town, so the cost is a little lower than it would be to rent a place right in town. We rented it on AirBnB and got a monthly discount.

There are some things I want to experience in this region, including the islands on the lake, several hot springs and Foco Tonal. I’m sure we will have a blast exploring all of it over the coming weeks. Even Paramahansa Yogananda came to Lake Chapala and enjoyed its beauty. Hmmmm, maybe I’ll finally try yoga…


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