Ajijic, on Lake Chapala is in part a retirement community. Because the Americans and Canadians who live there are embarking on a new life, most are intent upon making friends, so it's easy to strike up a conversation, learn the ropes, and be invited to parties.
Very few expats work. After a lifetime of it, Gringos are here to play. Given the friendliness, perfect weather, and low prices, play is easy. It's like living a vacation full-time. Happily, being carefree fits right into Mexican culture.
Due to low prices, most transplants have a maid and maybe a gardener, which frees up lots of time. A few spend some contemplating what matters. Almost everybody spends lots of time socializing.
Thanks to affordable everything and tasty cuisine, many expats dine out with friends, or sometimes at home, taking time to enjoy the meal. They also participate in clubs:
- art classes (loads of creative galleries in town),
- garden club (numerous gorgeous lawns),
- bridge club,
- writers club,
- culinary society,
- French society (overlapping with the gourmets), etc.
Many meet at the Lake Chapala Society, which is like an embassy for expats.
Thespians enjoy three theaters; one featured a Grammy winner, another streams performances from around the world.
On their own, expats hike the mountain, waterski, kayak the lake, stew in spas, play golf and tennis, ride horses, etc.
Many transplants volunteer to support their new community. Winter sends Canadians and Americans southward November through April. Then the town puts on events like the Northern Lights Festival. Charities hold galas to fundraise for:
- student scholarships,
- medical care,
- abandoned dogs/cats, etc.
The local Mexican residents set a fine example of friendliness. In the street they greet each other and non-shy Gringos. They show respect for elderly people. Sometimes a task might not be accomplished as quickly as an expat wold be used to, but it's part of the relaxed pace.
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(Picture: Ben White of Lake Chapala Society, after interview with Chuck Bolotin, of Best Places in the World to Retire. Click here to read the interview.)