In India I learned that I have to walk about every day to take care of my aging body. Being an early riser, and in the cooler morning air, I would walk through the scrub forests that surround much of the holy mountain, Arunachala. This is good for me, I think, and so I want to keep it going now that we are in Mexico. Shortly after we got here, I gave up the idea of the morning forest walks; it was too hard to find a good rental home near the woods. Now that we are getting settled into our new place in Riberas del Pilar, a neighborhood closer to Chapala, and with lower rents (and better values) than Ajijic proper, I wanted to start walking again.
As I have done in other Ajijic posts, I give my initial impressions of life in Mexico. As with other posts, my impressions are informed by our life in India, as well as California. I have photos from the first three walks, along with some commentary.
First walk, Sunday, April 25, 2015
Carol and I set out about 7:30. I was leaving a little after 6:00 in India. In Mexico now there is Daylight Saving Time, so sunrise comes about one hour later in the day than in India. This is the reason that I, a morning person, think of it as “Daylight Losing Time.”
The first thing than stands out is how most of the houses are like forts, enclosed within high walls.
Some have painting on the wall to make it less imposing.
Below, a new house being built. The construction approach is very similar to what we knew in India. After all, the materials are basically the same: brick and concrete built on a stone and concrete foundation, with steel reinforcing rods. The designs of these Gringo houses are different though, with more space, more rooms, bigger rooms, and a nicer design.
We found a way to get to the lakefront. This photo is of Chapala in the early light.
At the lake’s edge are many water birds.
Even White Pelicans. I don’t think of a pelican as a freshwater lake bird. But there they are.
We found a small dock to walk out on.
Looking towards Ajijic from the dock.
Fishermen, getting ready to go out.
Walking back, we went by this new house being built, a very modern design.
The street here, next to the lake, gives no lake access, and everything is behind high walls. Not an inviting neighborhood.
One house has this tile painting of a mythical Mexico, maybe Ajijic in an earlier day. The church would identify the exact location.
A house with what I think of as a “Mission” design.
What is notable about this place below is the high concrete wall that surrounds it. Looks like a fort, or a maybe a jail.
Already I feel a big difference from India. As for the Gringos here, many of them live behind these walls. In India much of the life was in public view. I guess for Mexican people, it is similar. But for Gringos, so many seem isolated in their own private spaces. Now these are nice spaces, don’t get me wrong. But still separate and isolated from other people.
Second walk, Thursday, April 30, 2015.
I head off by myself today, about 7:15. I find another way to get to the lake.
Here is Chapala in the early light.
The mountain across the lake. What is its name?
Water birds at lakeside again.
The sun is almost ready to rise over Chapala.
Looking towards Ajijic.
The line of rich people’s houses on a ridge, overlooking the lake.
The line of hills behind Ajijic.
Chapala again. The light has started to illumine the grass.
Looking towards Ajijic in the same light.
Walking back I saw this painting on the outside wall of a house. It is inscribed, I think, with words from local myth. Carol arrived at the following translation, with help from Mr. Google: “A symbol of life: We emerged from the flock like sheep and were transformed into men whose time passes just like the fish, reaching the same goal. The cycle of life.”
This upper story of a house is typical of many here. It rises over the walls and has big windows that face the lake.
A new house for sale. Very modern design. I notice that there are NO windows on the street side. And no protective gate, either.
This photo shows how old this neighborhood is. The entrance to this house is set in among full grown trees. These take maybe 40 or 50 years to get this big.
Below is another street view. No people are on the street. As I go along I see a few people walking dogs. Mostly these are Mexicans walking their employers’ dogs, but a few Gringos, too. Then there are a few locals, mainly mothers and children, starting off for their days, as well as gardeners going to work.
Another inviting wall. This one is topped with razor wire. Again, my impression is that the Gringos want to be left alone in total security.
Third Walk, Friday, May 1, 2015
I take off by myself, shortly after daybreak, about 7:20.
Here are houses with more traditional Mexican-style designs.
A nice painting of fancy flowers on the wall.
In this area Mexican houses are closest to the lake. These are much smaller and poorer than the big Gringo places. Yes they are right next to the lake.
Right across the street is a fancy place, behind a steel fence.
I peek through the fence to get a look at the house.
Back to the Mexican houses, right across the street.
I can see the lake between two of these houses. It does not look like this is a place where I can walk to it, though.
The road here. This is a spot that looks like life in the countryside, no houses, just trees.
The lake from the road.
Fishermen on the lake.
Horses and a foal. After India it always surprises me to see horses. Earlier today I saw three horses, saddled up and being ridden along the road, going somewhere in the morning.
I found another place where I can get to the lake.
The mountain across the lake.
Towards Ajijic. The ridge line to ends there is a definite landmark.
Chapala view, overcast with light breaking through the clouds.
This Mexican house is near the lake here. Compared with the Gringo houses it is from another time and place.
Right across the street is this nice Gringo compound. What a stark comparison!
The house below was on my route back to our place. It is for rent. I wonder for how much? I bet a lot more then our $400 per month.
A house at the start of construction. This scene looks just like what you would see in India. Foundation made of stone and concrete, with rebar rising from the foundation to reinforce the pillars that will support the house.
Yellow flowers hang from a tree. These are just like ones I have seen in the Arunachala forest. I wonder if they are the same?
Below, another traditional design. This house has a cupola rising above it. This is a common feature here. We even have one in our house. It lets good light into our meditation room.
I am happy to start getting to know the area in which we now live. I was concerned about no longer having the quiet, mostly private morning walks. But here in Mexico I see fewer people in my morning walks that I did in India. And nobody here is relieving himself by the paths and roads I walk on. That is a plus. Point to Mexico.
I also see a pretty wide gulf between the local Mexican people and the Gringo expats. I am not so comfortable with this. We are all the same; we all want to be happy, we are all part of families who love their children and want the best for them. I hope that we can break down this gulf, at least in a few cases, and get to know real Mexican people and see a bit of their life.