OUR HOME IN AJIJIC
Updated: January 19, 2010
In January 1997, four days after we arrived for our first look at Ajijic and Lake Chapala, we bought a 800 square meter lot in an old chyote field about 3 miles west of town.
When we returned in July for three weeks, we began to search for an architect and soon located two young men in Guadalajara, Pedro ("Pico") Fernando Somellera and Guillermo Kunhart.
We discussed with them what we wanted in terms of layout and amenities. Originally, we had told them we wanted it to look like a 200 year old
hacienda. But youth and imagination won out. We arrived in Ajijic fulltime in May 1998 and began to build that November.
Casa Construction took only seven months, and by April 1999 we were in our new home.
We live in the small community of La Cristina down a cobble stone street from the highway. The mountains are north behind us
with the lake a couple of blocks south in front of the house. Our home is on a short street (Privada La Cristina)
only one block long with four houses on the north side and three on the south (lake) side.
At the end of the Privada is the farmyard, now a small riding stable and charro training facility.
Like many homes in Mexico, our property is surrounded by walls giving us both privacy and security. As you enter our street
entrance we have a long pool with water flowing down the steps leading up to the front terrace. We live on the this
terrace which stretches between the kitchen on the right end to the open fireplace on the left end.
We are proud that five pictures of our home now appear in the 2005 publication, "Ajijic Behind the Walls" by Alison Pickering.
We entertain largely outdoors in front of the fireplace where we have an abstract painting by our favorite local artist, Efren Gonzalez.
The kitchen is at the opposite end of the terrace handy for serving drinks and food. In March 2006, after purchasing the new wicker furniture for our front terrace, we moved our wrought iron furniture to the rear terrace behind the dining room. With an enlarged glass top dining table we
can now seat eight in this new dining space.
Coming up the front steps, one enters the foyer of the house through a 700 pound wooden pivot door. The foyer contains only three large urns made over open fires by the women of Perpechua.
The modern Mexican style of our home, is influenced by the work of the late architect
Luis Barragán. One touch is seen in the large free-standing wall that masks the entrance to the dining room and leads to the stairway to the second floor.
Across from the entry is a large painting by Jesus Lopez Vega of the Ajijic Plaza and a fireworks castillo during the celebrations for the village's
Patron Saint Andres.
A large wooden grill screen separates the foyer with its huge 700 pound front door from the living room. The living room has four large sliding glass doors
which can slide back entirely into a pocket. We open all these for larger parties so people can move freely between the living room and front terrace.
The living room contains many paintings, from the Sante Fe New Mexico artist Ford Ruthling painting of "The Cat Who Loved Birds" to many local Ajijic artists such as
Efren Gonzalez, and Georg Rauch. And on the sofas are needlepoint pillows by Jim done during and after our stays in Buenos Aires over the last several years.
We often entertain in our dining room with square table seating eight. Our artist friend Efren Gonzalez has painted
our 12 foot high ceiling with a lovely mural with blue sky, clouds, swallows and plants. We have more than fifteen of Efren's paintings throughout the house.
The bedroom downstairs is reached by a corridor along the back of the house. This bedroom has a more formal decor and has sliding glass doors leading to a private terrace with fountain.
On the stairwell to the second floor we have a growing collection of Mexican folk masks including a jaguar costume worn in traditional folk dances.
The library upstairs was first only a command central for our computer, reading room, video and book collection.
In 2004 we decided to add a media room to our library. We purchased a new sectional sofa and moved the big television, never used in
the living room, upstairs. And in January of 2010 we bought a new LCD flat screen 47 inch TV.
Now we have a more comfortable space to read, compute, and watch television and films from our collection of over 600 videos and DVDs.
The upstairs bedroom features more rustic Mexican furniture and a growing collection of Mexican folk art and artifacts.
Our upstairs terrace or "mirador" is great for sun bathing. Until 2004 we had a great view south towards Lake Chapala and Mount Garcia on the north shore.
Our own fast-growing trees and an elegant new two-storey house built on the vacant lot across the street has now restricted our lake view to a narrow sliver.
We love our home behind the walls and delight in the many gardens and flowering trees on the property. Each winter the
pink bloomed tree outside Jim's bathroom upstairs is in full glory. And in the rear of the house, we have a quiet space with
Russian black olives, hibiscus, lillies, gardenias and ground cover. In 2009, after an invitation from
the Lake Chapala Garden Club to appear on their monthly tour,
we spent four months updating the gardens.
The rear northside garden is primarily shaded. The east side patio behind the dining room gets partial sun.
And on the west side, the curving stone path leads down from the back terrace, past the bedroom wing to the front garden.
The low garden walls were built in 2009 as part of our Garden Club tour renovations to help preserve the soil and moisture in the beds.
The front westside gardens now are a profusion of roses, dahlias, daisies, day lilies and other colorful flowers. And the
two gardens flanking the entrance walk have been rejunvenated as well thanks to the hard work of Jim and our gardiner.
In our 11th year in our fully owned unmortaged home, we are still content and happy with our move to Mexico and Ajijic.
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