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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 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.
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.
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!
BUS TO AJIJIC:
I paid my MXP0.50c entry fee and walked into the Terminal.
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.
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 …
I used the map that he gave me to get off at the right Bus Stop when I hit Ajijic.
What I found was a pleasant surprise.
In the kitchen I had my own cupboard for my groceries and my own fridge.
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.
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