Updated: January 19, 2010

[Casa #50-5] [Rainbow: July 17, 2009]

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.

[La Cristina,north to the mountains] [Privada La Christina, Ajijic] [Privada La Cristina #50-5]

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.

[Front Entrance] [Entrance Walkway & Terrace] [Terrace from lawn]

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.

[Ajijic Behind the Walls] [New Front Terrace furniture] [New Front Terrace furniture]

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.

[Terrace towards Kitchen] [Kitchen] [New Rear Terrace 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.

[Entrance from Foyer] [Foyer with urns] [Foyer to stairway] [Jesus Lopez Vega Painting]

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.

[Foyer to Living Room] [Living Room] [Living Room to 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.

[Living Room to Foyer] [Living Room from Terrace] [Living Room art & pillows]

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.

[Dining Room] [Dining Room Mirror] [Dining Room Ceiling]

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.

[Downstairs Bedroom & Hall] [Downstairs Bedroom] [Fountain off Bedroom]

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.

[Stairwell Mask Collection] [Jaguar Mast Cosutume] [Mask Collection]

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.

[Media Room new sofa] [Media Room Big Screen TV] [Media Room computer]

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.

[Upstairs Bedroom] [Upstairs Mirador] [View towards Lake from Mirador]

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.

[Pink blooms outside upper bath] [Rear garden through foyer] [Rear garden]

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.

[North rear garden entrance] [Dining Room Patio] [West Fern garden]

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.

[West front gardens] [Entrance from upper terrace] [Front west gardens & Snickers]

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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