Lake Chapala has the largest community of expats in the world, and residents enjoy a slower pace of life. Merida is another attractive place to live with its reputation for being the “safest city in Mexico” and its close proximity to the coast. See the following article from International Living for more on this.
Brilliant purple bougainvillea spill over the wrought-iron gates of second-floor balconies. Massive stone walls and big carved wooden doors completely conceal what lies beyond. But open those doors and step into a world of wonder. Central courtyards where you can laze beneath a shady tree during the day or watch the moon pass overhead at night, lulled by the soothing sounds of an ancient fountain.
This is colonial Mexico…and I dare you not to fall in love with it.
Check out this video Dan shot to see what I mean…
Over the years, we’ve lived in three of Mexico’s most charming colonial cities. We’ve had many family and friends visit us at each one of them. And every visitor has left our home with a new understanding and enchantment for the true Mexico.
Our son, for instance, who—fresh out of college in 2003—visited us in Ajijic, and fell so in love with the Lake Chapala area that he stayed for six months, driving our car back and forth to Guadalajara where he studied Spanish.
Lake Chapala boasts the largest community of U.S. expats in the world and life moves slowly here…its rhythms are measured by the chiming of church bells and the laughter of children walking to school.
Lake Chapala, once endangered, is now lapping again at the piers and pilings of shoreline buildings. On town plazas of the many small villages that dot the shoreline, tiny carnivals set up kiddy rides and people lunch at sidewalk restaurants on cold beer and fresh fish tacos…soaking up the relaxing, paradisiacal atmosphere.
From Lake Chapala, we moved on to San Miguel de Allende where many friends and my brother and his family visited often. That’s where their love affair with Mexico began. (More on that in a moment…)
No one can escape the charm of San Miguel. Surrounded by the Sierra Madres, a majestic mountain range that rings the city like distant fortress walls, a sand-castle church called La Parroquía rises over El Jardin, the pretty and shady town plaza. Yellow and burnt-orange Spanish colonial buildings line narrow cobbled streets that seem locked in another, more cultured time.
But inside the meticulously preserved facades, modern culture and sensibility hums like electricity. Jazz strains wafts from clubs in the evenings, the smell of exotic cuisine stream from restaurant windows, and artists from dozens of countries strive to capture the highland sunlight that fills the town like honey.
In Merida, where we now live, we’ve been visited by some of our very best friends from our former lives in the States. All of the family and friends who have come to visit have made repeat visits or plans to return ASAP.
Merida is a city that lures top-notch fashion photographers, thanks to its massive colonial architecture and Mayan sensibilities. Often named the “safest city in Mexico” it’s a place of sultry, mysterious beauty and genteel disposition. The people are among the nicest, most gentle people you’ll ever meet.
My brother…whom I mentioned before…and his wife and children have visited us so many times in the three years we’ve lived in Mexico that I’ve lost count. They purchased a beach lot next to ours on the Yucatan coast about an hour from Merida. They plan to build their retirement home there. Their youngest child, a 15-year-old daughter, couldn’t be happier. She’s diligently studying Spanish in anticipation of spending future holidays here.
But is one of these colonial cities better than the other? It’s a completely subjective choice, of course, and depends on what you’re looking for. And that’s why you must come and see for yourself. But be forewarned. I suspect you, too, will fall under the spell of enchanting colonial Mexico.
This article has been republished from International Living.