Foreign Footprints in Ajijic: decades of change in a Mexican village

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Mar 062022

We are delighted to announce the publication of Foreign Footprints in Ajijic: Decades of Change in a Mexican Village.

In the 1940s, Ajijic, on the shores of Lake Chapala, was a small, remote, parochial village of farmers and fishermen. Today, Ajijic is a vibrant community, home to one of the largest US retirement communities outside the US, and is one of the most cosmopolitan villages in the world.

Foreign Footprints in Ajijic looks at why, how and when this astonishing transformation happened, and who and what were the driving forces involved.

Based on more than a decade of original research, this is the extraordinary, previously untold history of how early waves of foreigners settling in the village led to ripples that spread across the entire community. From artists, writers, entrepreneurs and philanthropists to land-grabbers, paradise-seekers, hippies and eccentrics —all brought their own ideas and aspirations, inevitably inspiring an astonishing transformation of their host community.

Author Tony Burton guides readers through the decades, offering examples of both the positive achievements of foreigners and the negative tensions they created; these offer some valuable lessons as Ajijic seeks to plan its future.

Whether you are a long-time resident of Ajijic, a relative newbie, or are still looking into options for your retirement years, this book offers some eye-opening insights into the community’s past.

This fully referenced book with cover artwork by Peter Shandera, has 290 pages of text, 2 original maps, 30 pages of notes, bibliography and index.

It was released in March 2022 and is now available via Amazon as a regular softcover print book. The Kindle edition will follow shortly.

By 20 March 2022, copies will be on sale in the Lake Chapala area, at the Hotel La Nueva Posada; at Diane Pearl Gallery, Arts & Activities Center, Sta Margarita 23, Riberas del Pilar; and at Hotel Villa QQ, Zaragoza 307, Chapala.

 Posted by at 10:30 am

Chapter Titles of Foreign Footprints in Ajijic

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Dec 272021

The 49 chapters of Foreign Footprints in Ajijic: Decades of Change in a Mexican Village are arranged in five parts:

Part A. Pre-1940: Adventurers

  1. Ajijic before 1940
  2. German land-grabber
  3. Ajijic gold rush
  4. Zara “La Rusa”
  5. Zara’s gold mine
  6. Austrian lakefront orchard

Part B. 1940s: Trailblazers

  1. Ajijic in the 1940s
  2. Rustic German inn
  3. English squire’s famous garden
  4. Posada Ajijic
  5. Dane Chandos books
  6. Violinist and the Pepsi House
  7. Neill James the writer
  8. Neill James builds dream home
  9. Art community begins

Part C. 1950s: Trendsetters

  1. International tourists
  2. Hotel health spa
  3. Advertising and marketing
  4. Radio, TV and silver screen
  5. Ajijic Hand Looms
  6. Neill James the businesswoman
  7. Save the Lake
  8. Violent crime
  9. Lake Chapala Society
  10. Educational initiatives
  11. Children’s libraries and art
  12. Foreign artists
  13. Creative Beats

Part D. 1960s: Free spirits

  1. Bohemians, hippies and drugs
  2. Village photographer
  3. Posada Ajijic: parade of managers
  4. Other Ajijic hotels and Chula Vista
  5. Zara meets flamboyant Iona
  6. Neill James the capitalist
  7. Art community consolidates
  8. Lakeside Little Theatre
  9. El Charro Negro
  10. Music since 1960

Part E. 1970s on: Modernizers

  1. Neill James the philanthropist
  2. Canadians revive Posada Ajijic
  3. Art in the 1970s
  4. Medical and health services
  5. The performing arts
  6. Zara’s final years
  7. Ajijic expands east
  8. Ajijic expands west
  9. Traditions and festivals
  10. Art and creative writing since 1980
  11. Press and academic articles