Ajijic - The Remarkable Lake Chapala Society

Trip Start Dec 27, 2008
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Flag of Mexico  , Central Mexico and Gulf Coast,
Wednesday, December 31, 2008

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First Time Reader? ...... here is the background to this series of blogs
http://www.travelpod.com/travel-blog-entries/lobo/9/1233502800/tpod.html
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Click on SLIDESHOW and the rectangle in the right corner to see photos in full screen format
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Mexico:  23 Destinations to Spend the Winter Months
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AJIJIC
No.  7 of 23 Destinations (this is not a ranking)
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Ajijic: The Amazing Lake Chapala Society
Part 3 of 5
(blog co-authored by Barbara)

Lobo and I headed out this beautiful sunny morning to explore the town of Ajijic.  Just a few blocks southeast of our hotel, we stumbled upon the Lake Chapala Society a renowned gathering place for expats.  We entered the open gate and wandered around the lovely gardens, admiring the variety of trees, bushes, plants and flowers growing therein.  We were very impressed as this was the last day of December and there were a good number of flowering plants to marvel at.  At the same time, we were amazed that we appeared to be the only two people around. 

We strolled along the pathways meandering between lily ponds filled with gold fish, flower beds, tables and chairs in various locations and several small buildings.

This calm oasis was like a distant cousin of the Public Library in San Miguel de Allende.  The Lake Chapala Society had a more distinct structure but was clearly the home to Canadian and American expats.
In the far end of the garden we saw a group of ladies participating in a Yoga class on their mats outdoors on the grass.  It was so tranquil.  I almost walked over and joined them!

The pictures show evidence of video and book lending libraries as well as Spanish lessons.  There is a bulletin board for advertising homes and apartments for rent and various items for sale.

I was excited to see a sign that read "Talking Book" lending.  I work with people who are visually impaired and I know how important their talking books are to them.  These are books recorded onto CD's that a person with a visual impairment can listen to.  Several years ago, these books were only available on cassette tapes.  They were cumbersome to deal with as a book could fit onto 8, 12 or more cassettes.  They were double sided tapes and you can just imagine how the tapes had to be juggled to listen to the book in the proper sequence.  Now a 600 page book can be enjoyed on one single CD.

Before writing this blog I checked the website: http://www.lakechapalasociety.org  and found lots of information about the club and their activities.  You can keep yourself busy at the society from morning till night with exercise classes, writer's groups, Spanish classes in 3 levels, receive typhoid shots, attend shop class, get help for your hearing aid, learn computer skills, play scrabble, join the digital camera club or get tested for osteoporosis.  The list goes on as you can see if you check out their website.  There is something for everyone.  I would have liked to see the club on a regular day when all this activity is going on.  Alas....that's for the next trip!
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Additional notes by Lobo
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Yes, it would be hard to imagine a more expat friendly environment than what exists in the offerings of activities in the Lake Chapala Society.  However, it also appears that there is trouble in "paradise" characterized by an attempted recall vote of three members of the board of directors:
http://www.lakechapalasociety.org/archives/BOD110508.htm
as well as a lawsuit launched by a former president
http://guadalajarareporter.com/content/view/23426/92/.
 
In conclusion while the society has an idyllic setting reminiscent of paradise, the politics of the place tell another story.

For an entirely different point of view on the idyllic enclaves established by expats in Mexico, the following website makes for interesting reading:
http://ezinearticles.com/?San-Miguel-de-Allende,-Charities,-Questionable-Motives?&id=530770
 
Comments:  travelswithlobo@yahoo.com

Coming soon:  Ajijic - A Final Look at this Beautiful Place
 
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