Nov 022017
Archaeologist Dr. Betty Bell lived in Ajijic in the early 1970s

Archaeologist Betty Bell and her husband William W. Winnie Jr. (1928-1988) lived at Calle Colón #36 in Ajijic for several years in the early 1970s. While the precise dates are unclear, the couple made many significant contributions to village life. Bell gained a doctorate in archaeology at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and […]

Oct 302017
Modernist architect Pedro Castellanos Lambley designed the Villa Ferrara in Chapala

Pedro Castellanos Lambley is one of several distinguished Mexican architects who designed and built the fine old homes in Chapala that now give the town its architecturally-eclectic appeal. Castellanos was the architect of Villa Ferrara, at Hidalgo 240, in Chapala. This elegant dwelling was photographed in the mid-1930s by American photographer-architect Esther Baum Born during […]

Oct 262017
Geographer William Winnie Jr. and his map of Lake Chapala towns

Dr. William W. Winnie Jr. (1928-1988) was an American geographer who lived in Ajijic with his wife – the archaeologist Dr. Betty Bell – in the early 1970s. Winnie published several papers relating to Guadalajara and western Mexico and also produced a map of Lake Chapala towns. The map, which was widely-distributed, was the earliest […]

Oct 232017
Molly Heneghan designed the first map-poster of Ajijic

Molly Duane Heneghan (now Molly Leland) is an artist and graphic designer whose husband, George Heneghan, the architect of the Danza del Sol hotel in Ajijic, was the subject of a previous post. Molly Heneghan was born into a society family in 1942. She graduated from Concord Academy in Concord, Massachusetts and attended Manhattanville College […]

Oct 192017
Manuel López Cotilla described Lake Chapala's villages in 1843

Following Mexico’s independence from Spain in 1821, a renewed emphasis was placed on the gathering of reliable statistics. Officials of the state of Jalisco made several attempts to gather relevant information, primarily in order to better monitor the state’s development. These efforts began with Victoriano Roa (1825) and were continued by Manuel López Cotilla (1843), […]

Oct 182017
NEW RELEASE:  Dilemma, a novel by Jan Dunlap

Sombrero Books is pleased to announce that Jan Dunlap’s debut novel – Dilemma – is now available for Kindle readers at the very attractive price of US$2.90. The regular print version (real books are nice!) will be published early next month, well in time for those Christmas gifts! [US $2.90] [Cnd $3.62] […]

Oct 122017
Pre-eminent American travel writer Horace Sutton visited Chapala in 1970

Horace Sutton (1919-1991), one of the most prolific and well-known American travel writers of all time, and the creator of the term “jet lag”, visited and reported on Chapala in 1970. Sutton was a lifelong travel journalist and editor. He began his career, before the second world war, in the advertising department of The New […]

Oct 092017
Photographer-architect Esther Born (1902-1987) visited Chapala in the mid-1930s

The American photographer-architect Esther Baum Born is known to have visited Chapala in the mid-1930s in order to photograph the modernist architecture of Villa Ferrara. Esther Baum was born in Palo Alto, California, in 1902. She attended the Oakland Technical High School before entering the University of California, Berkeley, in 1920 to study architecture under […]

Oct 052017
Author Vance Bourjaily lived and worked in Ajijic in 1951

Author, playwright and lecturer Vance Bourjaily (1922-2010) lived in Ajijic during the summer of 1951. We know from Michael Hargraves that Bourjaily completed a play there, entitled The Quick Years that was performed off-Broadway two years later. But the most interesting of Bourjaily’s works from a Lake Chapala perspective is one that was never published. […]

Oct 022017
Painter and guitarist Gustavo Sendis (1941-1989) found artistic inspiration in Ajijic

The talented painter and musician Gustavo Sendis divided his time for much of his life between Guadalajara, where he was born in 1941, and his family’s second home in Ajijic. Born on 8 July 1941, Sendis became interested in art at an early age and studied drawing with Juan Navarro and Ernesto Butterlin in 1958 […]

Sep 282017
Buddhist author Pema Chödrön lived in Ajijic from 1968 to 1969

Pema Chödrön, then known as Deirdre Blomfield-Brown lived with her husband, the poet and writer Jim Levy, for about a year in Ajijic from mid-1968 until May 1969. Chödrön was born (as Deirdre Blomfield-Brown) in New York City on 14 July 1936. After attending Miss Porter’s School in Farmington, Connecticut, she married at the age […]

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Sep 252017
Designer, craftsman and bon viveur Russell Seeley Bayly (1919-2013)

Designer, craftsman and bon viveur Russell Seeley Bayly (1919-2013) lived in Jocotepec, at the western end of Lake Chapala, for close to forty years. He became a good personal friend, though I now regret not having recorded him as he reminisced about his life, loves and adventures. Bayly was born in Los Angeles, Calfornia on […]

Sep 212017
By toss of a coin in Chapala, Jack Vance won the opportunity to write an amazing novel

Jack Vance was a successful mystery, fantasy and science fiction author who wrote more than a dozen books and also wrote TV screenplays. He and his wife Norma spent several months in Mexico traveling with Frank Herbert (author of Dune) and his wife Beverly and their two young sons in the second half of 1953. […]

Sep 182017
Dutch actor Roland Varno retired to Ajijic after a glittering Hollywood career

Roland Vargo, the only Dutch actor to play in films alongside Marlene Dietrich, Greta Garbo and Katherine Hepburn, left Hollywood behind on retirement and settled in Chapala Haciendas, overlooking Lake Chapala. Roland Vargo was his self-chosen stage name. He was born Jacob Frederik Vuerhard in Utrecht on 15 March 1908. He grew up on Java, […]

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Sep 142017

Journalist-adventurer Don Hogan was one of the more extraordinary characters who lived in Ajijic in the late 1960s and early 1970s. While there is no evidence he wrote anything of significance while living in the village, several people certainly later wrote about him, not always in a very complimentary manner. Stories about Hogan’s life are […]

Sep 112017
Photographer Toni Beatty found creative freedom while living in Ajijic in 1976

Photographer Toni Beatty and her husband Larry Walsh lived in Mexico for several years, starting with a three month stay in Ajijic in 1976. Beatty and Walsh had originally planned to spend six months traveling through Mexico before heading further south to Peru, but they ended up staying in Mexico for nine years! Toni Beatty […]

Sep 072017
Nationally-acclaimed sculptor and painter Adolfo Riestra (1944-1989) lived in Ajijic in the 1970s

Adolfo Riestra, a superb sculptor and painter, lived and worked in Ajijic from about 1971 to 1976. For most of this time, he occupied the former home (Constitución #32) of German artist Peter Huf and his wife Eunice Hunt. Riestra and his partner, Wendy Jones, had 2 young children at the time. Riestra was born […]

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Sep 042017
How Lake Chapala and some cookies led Frank Herbert to write Dune, the all-time sci-fi classic

Near the start of his writing career, an impecunious Frank Herbert, the genius behind the epic science fiction novel Dune, lived in the town of Chapala for several months. It was September 1953 and Herbert was 32 years old and struggling to make a living as a writer. Herbert would not have been in Chapala […]

Aug 312017
American anthropologist Frederick Starr visited Chapala in 1895

Frederick Starr (1858-1933), born in Auburn, New York, was a distinguished American anthropologist who visited Lake Chapala over the winter of 1895-1896. Starr, whose primary scientific background was in geology, graduated from Lafayette College in 1882 and was appointed as a biology professor at Coe College. In 1889, as his academic interests shifted towards ethnology […]

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