By Suzanne A. Marshall on the Winter 2022/2023 Edition
Even though we live permanently in beautiful Manzanillo Colima Mexico now, we love to get away every now and then and, either visit different parts of the country, or seek out an event we’d like to experience.
In this case, we decided it would be fun to head to Ajijic, Jalisco for the Annual Artisan Festival.
Not far from Guadalajara, and nestled at the foot of the Sierra Madres, is the town of Ajijic and next to it the town of Lake Chapala; the body of water that supplies the needs of Guadalajara and surrounding areas. The towns are extremely popular with Americans and Canadians, many of whom live there year round.
There is so much English spoken that one gentleman we talked to in a nearby restaurant said “If you want to learn Spanish, go to California; if you want to learn English, come to Ajijic.” I found this quite hilarious. And here I must compliment the local Mexicans for speaking wonderful flawless English, which can’t be said of many of us Spanish students! Anyway, back to my story.
The first surprise was discovering that the twinned highway that we must drive (and that has been under construction for years) was finally complete. When we were returning home using our car mapping screen, it showed us floating through space since the programs have yet to be updated!
A few hours later, we rolled into Ajijic and sought out our rental contact to access our AirBnB. To say that this home was beyond expectations is an understatement. Like many homes in Mexico, they are very conservative from the outside and this one was no exception; just a simple brick façade with a door on a street corner close to the main thoroughfare.
But what another wonderful surprise as we stepped inside! The home is a gallery in and of itself. Wall murals, fixtures and collectible art pieces everywhere we looked! We’d have no trouble spending time in this environment, to be sure. Stepping in the door we were greeted by a fabulous wall of rock, 12-foot ceilings and collectible “Day of the Dead” crucifixes and a tall Katrina ceramic statue, as we peered through to the main living room and the home itself. I must share more of this beautiful home we were lucky to chance upon.
Below is a hand-painted mural that fills one complete wall of our master bedroom. A similar hand-painted mural covers a complete wall in the living room as well. As we understand it, the artwork was done by a local artist.
We found a woven straw and ceramic wall hanging, I believe to represent Mayan culture. Sorry, no information on this lovely piece. It was demurely placed on the opposite wall of the bedroom.
The mural above depicts a rural farm overlooking Lake Chapala, complete with goats, corn and vegetables growing, the farmer and tiny homes of the village. It’s almost a shame they provided us with a television as it interrupted the mural. Admittedly, we did watch some TV here and there as we re-energized.
I could go on about this lovely home. Suffice it to say it was a delightful stay for 3 days.
Our next adventure was to find our way to the artisan markets where we would spend an entire day gazing, learning and delighting in the amazing crafts.
And away we went with shopping bags in hand to view an overwhelming array of crafts and art pieces. As we passed many people coming back with bags full and arms stuffed with beautiful pieces, we knew we were in for a delightful afternoon leisurely cruising the displays and seeking out that special item.
Here we found a mirror with so much detail I had to take a close up of the perimeter.
At the right, you see ornate birds with wings like butterflies around the mirror. You’ll not see another like it anywhere.
It would take a mighty big grand entrance or dining room to stage this amazing candelabra!
You may notice on the side of this photo a stage sits beside it and we were entertained with live music throughout the afternoon as well a few outdoor lunch areas where you could order small meals or ice cream. There were many local volunteers around to give directions and help us find our way around. The show was very well organized.
I can’t even explain this piece (left), besides its multi layer construction and how alluring it is.
This woman (below) Paty García, is constructing various artworks from individual pieces of very thin straw. Her work was so detailed, we had never seen anything quite like it before, so this was it; we decided to take one home for our small collection of Mexican art.
Of course while we were there in Ajijic we did a lot of walking and dipping into various shops. We even found a painting gallery but of course we were not al-lowed to take photos let alone publish them. But suf-fice it to say Ajijic in and of itself is full of shops and painted murals on street walls and of course there are those fabulous doorways.
We’ll be travelling to this area again in late January with friends where the plan is to branch out and possibly visit Morelia which we understand to be beautiful and beckoning.
Suzanne A. Marshall hails from western Canada and has been living the good life in Manzanillo over the past 8 years. She is a wife, mom and grandma. She is retired from executive business management where her writing skills focused on bureaucratic policy, marketing and business newsletters. Now she shares the fun and joy of writing about everyday life experiences in beautiful Manzanillo, Mexico, the country, its people, the places and the events.