“You can’t stay in your corner of the forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes.” Winnie the Pooh.“Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, ‘What! You too! I thought I was the only one!” C. S. Lewis.
The people of Ajijic Mexico are what make the town great. Yes, this is a tropical setting with palm trees swaying on gentle breezes off the Sierra Madres and light glistening off beautiful Lake Chapala. The inherent friendliness of everyone from the children who live next store to us and their families to the two “sentinels” posting themselves outside their doors each day, on Hidalgo Street, waiving to all who pass by it is a daily reminder of what friendship is about. A smile and a Buenos Dias begin your day. Often you see people stop to chat with these two charming gentlemen. This is Mexico. This is what brings people back. This is what makes the quality of life – very different then that of the States, Canada or Europe – what draws people to make this a winter home or a charming year-round residence.
Yes, business owners the world over are friendly. It is part and parcel of being a good business person. However, our Mexican neighbors take it a step beyond the norm. Let’s face it, some of us gringos and gringas….as I mentioned before….have not quite slowed down to the relaxed Mexican pace. Sad but true, I must remind myself to say “hola” when I open our gate to someone….no matter who it is…before launching into a conversation of sorts (lest we forget I am still learning the language). Thank goodness I am able to wave my arms about because, quite frankly, I’m sure some of the smiles are generated by my rather confusing “hand jives”.
Smiles seem to come naturally to everyone’s face here (well, most everyone). Some are more comfortable then others having their pictures taken. David is always cautious to ask first…”May I take your picture?” (puedo hacerte una foto) before launching in. Most are more then happy to pose. Some are a bit shy but usually come around. David also makes sure, once he takes a picture and if he can find the person again, to give them a printed copy. Everyone to whom he’s given a picture is thrilled and gracious with their “gracias”.
Below you will see pictures of our young neighbors, our two sentinels, and the coffee vendor, Francisco, David gets all of his coffee from. He recognizes us as we traipse through town and always has a friendly “hola” ready and waiting. A construction worker sifting sand by hand, and other workers on a scaffold nearby and enjoying the whole picture taking escapade. As well as the friendly barber who cut David’s hair and remarked…as he sat down: “lots of hair!” and upon finishing: “you are a new man!”
They say it takes a village to raise a child. I think, no matter where you go in this world, if you are a visitor it takes a village to make you feel welcome. Mexico has this down pat. SOB (south of the border) remains safe, charming, welcoming, enchanting and fun.
We have a particularly favorite restaurant we fell in love with when we traveled down here last April. Located on the carretera between Chapala and Ajijic, Pizzeria Toscana has the best and most realistic Italian pizza I have tasted in this area.
Trust me when I say I know Italian food. I learned to cook Italian/Sicilian from a lady who spoke little English and whom I watched cook for months on end. I learned how to make noodles…yes, from scratch. Sauces, a wonderful treat called Braciolone straight from the Iles of Sicily that started with a hard boiled egg, wrapped in a meatloaf concoction then wrapped again in round steak. Baked in the oven for a short while and then added to her Italian/Sicilian spaghetti sauce to simmer for hours prior to serving with the obligatory noodles, it was a symphony for the palette upon completion.
This little restaurant has expanded since we’ve moved down here. From its bright and cheerful tables and chairs, outside fountain and new coffee and mixed drinks bar to its lovely waitress’ and the owner, you can’t beat the food or the service! A most visit if you are ever down Mexico way.
As you will see by the photographs David has taken during some of our excursion through the village, it is chock full of life and definitely user friendly!! Viva Mexico.
[Some of you may have wondered where we have been lately. Our blog site has been astonishingly received by so many people our host provider was unable to keep up with the subscriptions and provide us the services we needed to continue to post. We have ported over our blog and our soon-to-be-opened online store to a new provider. Wanting to make sure everything was in order before launching the store and continuing the blog, we waited. Hope you enjoy the outcome. If you encounter any problems opening our pages, please feel free to let us know by writing to firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for your wonderful response to our slightly askew of center blog. We sincerely hope you will enjoy our J. Peterman-style online store once we are ready to launch.]
The kids next door. We are somewhat of an anomaly to them and yet we always find time for a laugh and a wave.
Simply the best coffee around. Fransico, the owner, has become a friend.
Sifting sand through a hand sieve. Most of the labor is done by hand and is back-breaking work.
These construction workers found the picture taking, of their friend, humorous even when David turned the camera on them!
A friendly barber. Note the barber pole and, if you look closely, the photographer in the background.
The always friendly pizzeria owner.
Everyone has a smile at our favorite pizzeria!
Beautiful and welcoming places to sit and enjoy life while savoring great food.