Monthly Archives: October 2015

Ajijic, Mexico–Wake Up Call

I love our house in Ajijic.  It has a great view, a big bed, and a huge bathtub.  The stained glass and tile give it plenty of character.  It’s in a great location, right near the center of town and a close walk to almost every restaurant in Ajijic.  It is pretty much perfect.

There is one drawback.  Since the first of October, I have been woken every morning between 5 and 6 am to the ear-splitting sound of bottle rockets.  The cannon-like boom is followed by live mariachi-type music that lasts for a minute or two and then the sound of chanting ensues.  Not to mention, they’ve woken up the roosters.  This repeats for the next hour as the mob makes their way from one block to the next.  In short, it is really fricking noisy.


So…we’re not being attacked by pirates?

So what’s the story with these disconcerting wake-up calls?  A small amount of investigation reveals that it is exactly that: a walk-up call.  It is apparently issued to wake people up and get them to church (although they seem to begin worshiping in the street in front of our homes).  The entire month of October in Ajijic is devoted to the Virgin of the Rosary.  As we live in the less touristy area of Ajijic–north of the carretera (highway) and not in a gated community–we suffer the brunt of it.  EVERY MORNING.


Balcony street view to investigate

In the pitch black I startle awake as the peaceful air explodes around my head and I have to remind myself that I am no longer in Cartagena–nor am I on the coast–so a pirate attack is impossible.  I stumble up the winding staircase and lean over the balcony to glimpse the locals pouring from their homes to join the mob gathered in the street.  I glare at the mariachi band, so live and awake and full of staccato.  And then, as the entire mob moves on, a calling of roosters can be heard in their wake.  I am as confused and disoriented as they are but I return to bed and try to go back to sleep.  As soon as I have, another cannon-like blast sounds in the night and I am awake again.  And it’s 5:45am and pitch black outside.  And the roosters are still crowing.


All the noise, noise, noise, noise, noise!


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Guadalajara, Mexico–Oh My!

Because Ryan and I are members of the Lake Chapala Society in Ajijic, we get to participate in all of the cool activities that are organized by the LCS.  Last week, I was thrilled to be included in the Guadalajara zoo excursion.  This was a truly sweet deal.  All we had to do was pay our discounted price (members only) and show up at the pick-up location.  From there, we boarded a comfortable bus and rode a little over an hour to get to Guadalajara. Everything else was taken care of.

All the way to the back of the bus

View from the back of the bus

Zoo prices in pesos. Our tickets were pretty much all-inclusive for 320 pesos per person. That's a little less than $19 (including transportation) at the current exchange rate.

Zoo prices in pesos. Our tickets were pretty much all-inclusive for 320 pesos per person. That’s a little less than $19 (including transportation) at the current exchange rate.

The Guadalajara Zoo easily made it into my top three zoo experiences ever.  Not only was the entire trip a cake-walk for us–with everything organized ahead of time–but in addition to the expected lions, tigers, and bears this zoo had the most incredible monkey domain imaginable.  In this zoo of zoos, we were able to enter the monkey enclosure and allow them to climb all over us.  It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience and I think I stayed in there for at least forty minutes.

I was so excited I cut Ryan's head off!

I was so excited I cut Ryan’s head off!

Who knew that monkeys have a thing for babies in strollers?  They went crazy every time another unsuspecting family entered the monkey pen.  They literally ambushed the strollers and began crawling all over them.  Of course what they really wanted was food and they made a big deal searching the nooks and crannies of the strollers for anything of interest.  When they were not satisfied–because food was not allowed in the enclosure–they even gave the babies a once-over until the zoo attendant chased them off with a spray bottle.

He's going for the baby...

He’s going for the baby…yep, it’s crying.

Another high point of the Guadalajara Zoo was the safari.  This was exactly what it sounds like.  Ryan and I were able to board a long jeep-like bus and were driven out into an open animal sanctuary were zebra and ostrich and gazelle all grazed the green open landscape in utter bliss.  The giraffe herd sauntered up to us and ate carrots from our eagerly outstretched hands.  Who knew those big lips could be so gentle?  It was so, so cool.


Home on the range.

Ryan is The Terror

Ryan is The Terror

Elephants on safari! For once, they seemed to have enough space.

Elephants on safari! For once, they seemed to have enough space.

Hot in these rhinos

Hot in these rhinos


My previous zoo experiences have always found hippos to be totally submerged, which he did shortly after. It was neat to see him out of the water.

And yes, they did have lions and tigers and bears and they all looked well-fed and happy as they slept in the sun.  Every so often the train would go by, carrying many of the other members of the LCS to the other end of the expansive zoo.  Overhead, the chair-lift carried more happy zoo patrons who peered down in delight.  In the distance, the Howler Monkeys would get a little carried away but the rest of the animals napped on in peace, undisturbed.  And all were happy, especially me!


We were pretty much right inside with these guys too. There was only a little rail to keep up from walking right up to them.


I promise, he’s not dead.

Lil foxy

Lil foxy

This pile of lemurs was curled up right beside the monkey door, close enough to touch, with no barrier. Luckily I restrained myself.

This pile of lemurs was curled up right beside the monkey door, close enough to touch, with no barrier. Luckily I restrained myself.


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Ajijic, Mexico–Join the Club


The small city of Ajijic is located on the edge of Lake Chapala, the largest lake in Mexico.  It is a quiet sleepy town, at the foot of lush green mountains.  There are flowers everywhere and the air smells like guava.  The weather is perfect and the sunsets are beautiful.


It was in this town that The Lake Chapala Society (LCS) was first founded in 1955.  Today LCS organizes many services and activities for members and non-members alike.  As of yesterday, Ryan and I are both official members.  This means that every Monday from 1-4 pm, I get to come to this beautiful outdoor Utopia and enjoy playing games!


The LCS Gaming Group is a fun friendly crowd comprised mainly of retired expatriates.  Paul and Sue serve as the group’s leaders and organize a social dinner every other week in addition to their weekly gaming obligations.  They were especially friendly and helpful to me, the newest member.


Yet the same can also be said for everyone else I met.  One friendly face after another came over to introduce themselves and exchange pleasantries.  One member is even famous for appearing in a PBS special on the retirement scene in Ajijic (she is the woman walking her three dogs).

After three hours of playing Royal Rummy, I was pleased to have placed a close second.  It was the perfect day in paradise and I am ever so grateful to have many more Mondays to look forward to while staying in Ajijic.  Who knows, we are enjoying it so much that we may decide to stay longer than expected…


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