Ajijic - Hacienda Frontage

Tlaquepaque – Mexico – To Ajijic


JULY 2016:




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OVERVIEW:

I made my way from Puerto Vallarta to Tlaquepaque to attend Spanish Immersion Classes. I stayed in a Homestay for 14 nights.

Tlaquepaque - Homestay - Wardrobe Tlaquepaque - Homestay - Ensuite Entry I pre-booked the Homestay through my Spanish School.

The cost was US$21 / night including Breakfast and Lunch Monday-Saturday.

The Homestay was a pleasant surprise.

I was expecting a room in a house with an ensuite … what I got was my own separate unit.

I completed my Spanish classes and it was time to move on.Tlaquepaque - Homestay - Courtyard


MY PLAN:

I am not in Mexico at the best time of year.

Down south near Oaxaca it is the middle of rainy season with 300-350mm of rain in August & September. Hurricane Season is just about to start in the Yucatan.

I need to choose my route through Mexico and my timing carefully …

I have decided to ‘tread water’ in central mexico for 1 more month before heading to the Yucatan in September. It may be Hurricane Season there, but September only has 180mm of rain which drops to almost nothing by December. I would rather have wind than rain.

There are many excellent targets in the area between Guadalajara and Mexico City. Many of which are listed in Mexico’s ‘Magical Town’ program. This is Mexico’s list of heritage sites and towns of national importance.

I have chosen 4 of them: Ajijic, Guanajuato, San Miguel De Allende, and Queretaro.


UBER TAXIS:

I was ‘stung’ MXP226 in Puerto Vallarta to travel only 10kms from the airport to my hotel. I managed to get back again for MXP100.

I was ‘stung’ another MXP50 on arrival in Tlaquepaque to get from the bus terminal to my Homestay. Only to discover that it should have been half that price.

In Mexico (and Central America in general) you are strongly advised to be careful with taxis … it is not as safe as S.E.Asia. This means that you can’t ‘toy’ with transport options. You are warned NOT to just flag down a taxi on the street.

I talked to a couple of people in Mexico and, as a consequence, I downloaded the UBER smartphone app and joined up.

UBER is meant to offer:

  • Safe taxis from anywhere to anywhere
  • Cheaper prices than what you can negotiate with Taxis on the streets

TLAQUEPAQUE HOMESTAY TO BUS TERMINAL:

Xavier, at my Homestay, told me that to get to Ajijic I could catch a bus from the Nueva (new) Central Bus Terminal. I should have asked for more details …

I could, now, speak a bit of Spanish … and I was armed with my little notebook … I had Google Maps … I had UBER … how hard could it be?

 I got onto Google and searched for ‘Nueva Central Bus Terminal’. Google pinned a Bus terminal 2-3kms south east of my Homestay.

Bus Station to Ajijic

I checked out of my Homestay at 8:45am, opened up UBER and booked a Taxi using the Google destination address.

The price quote was MXP23.50. Excellent … that was half of what I managed to negotiate when I first arrived in Tlaquepaque to go the same distance TO my Homestay. UBER was looking good!

The taxi arrived 5 minutes later. UBER had told him my destination so there was no need for me to … but, I did anyway just to make sure. I told him that I was going to Ajijic … he said nothing.

I was at the Nueva Central by 9:05am. I went to a ticket counter … out came my first Spanish ‘me gustaria ir a Ajijic, por favor’ … she looked at me … chatted to a colleague … then pointed for me to go outside and catch a number 616 Bus.

Ajijic is only 1 hour from Tlaquepaque so the idea of catching a local bus didn’t seem too unusual.

Anyway … I walked outside to the Bus Stop and asked a couple of locals waiting there if this was where I caught the bus to Ajijic … they said yes.

The 616 arrived at 9:15am, I boarded, and asked the driver for a ticket to Ajijic. He said that he didn’t go to Ajijic! A few locals had a conversation and, then, a lady sign languaged to me that she was going there and for me to follow her. The driver charged me MXP7! I took a seat … but I knew that something was wrong … a bus to Ajijic was going to cost more than MXP7.

The 616 proceeded to wind its way through the back streets and stop every 200m to let someone get on or get off. It wasn’t long before we passed my Homestay! … and kept going north west away from Ajijic towards Guadalajara!

There was no point in panicking … I just relaxed and enjoyed the ride.

At 10:10am my ‘friendly lady’ indicated to me that it was time to get off. We alighted in the middle of nowhere and walked about 60m down the road and around the corner. She stopped and pointed at another Bus Terminal and said that this was where I could catch the bus to Ajijic.

The sign above the entrance said ‘Nueva Central Bus Terminal’. There are 2 of them!

If you want to go from Guadalajara / Tlaquepaque to Lake Chapala, make sure that you go to the right Nueva Central (see the map, above).Guadalajara - Nueva Central Station


BUS TO AJIJIC:

I paid my MXP0.50c entry fee and walked into the Terminal.

Guadalajara - Direct Bus to Ajijic Guadalajara - Nueva Central TicketingThe bus destinations are well signposted and I found the buses heading for Lake Chapala easily. The ticketing booth was next to the buses.

I purchased my ticket to Ajijic using my newly learned Spanish. The bus went direct to Ajijic. The cost was MXP50 and it left at 11:00am. The travel time is 1 hour.

I grabbed a taco and black coffee for breakfast at one of the food booths: MXP16.

The bus arrived on time. They would not stow my luggage in the luggage compartment, so I carried it on with me.

The bus was nothing fancy (not as luxurious as the bus from Puerto Vallarta to Tlaquepaque) but is was perfectly adequate and comfortable for a 1 hour ride to Lake Chapala.

The bus arrived in Ajijic bang on time at 12:00 noon.Guadalajara - Direct Bus to Ajijic Seating


MY VACATION RENTAL IN AJIJIC:

I spent several hours over several days researching accommodation options in my 4 target locations of Ajijic, Guanajuato, San Miguel De Allende, and Queretaro.

I came to a simple conclusion … it is going to be a bit of a ‘challenge’ to LIVE to GRANDPAcking Standard on a GRANDPAcking Budget in Mexico.

The GRANDPAcking Budget works out to be just over MXP1,000 / day.

Accommodation is the main problem … on ANY hotel search engine you go to online (including my favourites: AGODA.COM and BOOKING.COM), you will struggle to find a Double Room with Ensuite for less than MXP500 / night. Many of those are pretty ‘basic’ even at that price.

Generally speaking, you need to pay MXP600 / night (inclusive of taxes) or more to get a GRANDPAcking Standard room in ‘established’ tourist locations.

I had to think ‘out-of-the-box’ … and started investigating Vacation Rentals. I found 2 good sites: TRIPADVISOR.COM and TRIPPING.COM.

With Vacation Rentals, sometimes you have the place to yourself but, sometimes, you are staying with the owner of the property in their home.

With Vacation Rentals you, normally, have to book a minimum of 7 nights. That was fine by me …

Ajijic - Street to my HaciendaAjijic - Hacienda Main EntryI used TRIPADVISOR.COM to book 1 week in Ajijic.

I paid the equivalent of MXP525 / night (US$200 / week). My host emailed me a map on how to get to the house and even offered to pick me up from Chapala Town if I needed it.Ajijic Map to House

I used the map that he gave me to get off at the right Bus Stop when I hit Ajijic.

Ajijic - Hacienda Garden Ajijic - Hacienda FrontageThe Hacienda was a 400m walk up the road from where the Bus Stopped.Ajijic - Hacienda Entry

What I found was a pleasant surprise.

Ajijic - Hacienda Room EntryAjijic - Hacienda Ensuite EntryIt was a 3,000 square foot (900sqm) property occupied by a single retired gentleman from the USA: Mike.

Ajijic - Hacienda BedI had my own large bedroom with its own Ensuite.

Ajijic - Hacienda Ensuite View Ajijic - Hacienda Ensuite It came with in-room wifi, and cable TV with English movie and sports channels.Ajijic - Hacienda Room

Ajijic - Hacienda Roof View of Rooftops Ajijic - Hacienda RoofMy room had private access to the rooftop terrace with wonderful views out over Lake Chapala and Ajijic.

Ajijic - Hacienda KitchenAjijic - Hacienda Roof View of LakeI had use of the common areas.

In the kitchen I had my own cupboard for my groceries and my own fridge.

Mike, my host, was very welcoming.Ajijic - Hacienda Dining




CONCLUSION:

The trip from Tlaquepaque to Ajijic is a short and easy one … if you go to the right Bus Terminal.

Door-to-door it should take 2 hours.

My total cost was MXP80. But, for 2 GRANDPAckers, budget MXP125.

I was impressed by UBER … it looks like they provide both safety (with known, registered drivers) and a good price.

I am also impressed by my first Hacienda / Holiday Rental. I will experiment with others in Guanajuato and Queretaro.

I can’t find an Hacienda / Holiday Rental within budget in San Miguel de Allende, so I will get what I can there at an equivalent price and compare … I’ll let you know more in future posts.

TTFN


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