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Ajijic is a popular destination for American and Canadian retirees. The climate is as near perfect as can be found, and the local population goes out of their way to accomodate the northern visitors.

The cost of living is higher than most other towns around Lake Chapala, but still well below what most of the expatriates were accustomed to in their former homes. Many visitors are seasonal, Canadians and those from northern states come down for the winter, while a smaller, but still substantial number from southern states come down during the summer, when the climate here is more comfortable than that of Florida or Texas.

Historically, the name Ajijic is a modernization of the older Nahuatl Axixique or Axixic, which was said to mean Place Where the Water Springs Forth. It was settled in prehistoric times.

In the 1910s Chapala began to be the holiday destination for wealthy Mexicans and foreign nationals. A few foreigners even settled in the town, and began to promote local tourism. By the 1940s a few of these foreign visitors began to discover the charm of nearby Ajijic, a quite village that then had none of the amenities of Chapala, but offered a more authentic Mexican experience.

By the 1960s Ajijic began to attract artists and writers, as well as the occasional retiree -- mostly those with experience of foreign travel and a compentance in dealing with unfamiliar cultures.

Then the National Geographic published an article describing the Lake Chapala area as the best weather in the world. The peso was low against the American dollar, and adventurous Americans began to flood in. Many left in disgust when they found that the culture was not like 'back home' -- but others adapted and stayed, building a major expatriate community.

The local community, in turn, adapted to the influx of foreign settlers. Restaurants, galleries and real-estate boomed. Expensive imported food was provided by local supermarkets. Prices rose to fill demand. The expatriates not only fuel the local economy, but contribute substanially to charitable causes.

The vast majority of expatriates have only fleeting contact with the local Mexican community -- mostly through commercial enterprises. The maids and gardeners who work for these 'gringos ricos' act as the translators of Mexican culture and experience, and because their English is often limited much gets lost in the translation.

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