History of Ajijic
Ajijic is located in the state of Jalisco, on the north shore of Lake Chapala, in the Sierra Madre Occidental Mountain Range. The Sierra Madre Mountains, translating to 'Mother Range', consists of 3 mountain ranges. The Sierra Madre Occidental, the Sierra Madre Oriental and the Sierra Madre del Sur.
Ajijic is approximately 30 miles from the Guadalajara airport. (Guadalajara is Mexico's second largest city.) Originally Ajijic was a small village of Nahuatl speaking people, but is now a community of citizens from Mexico, Canada and United States.
In the Nahuatl native language, Ajijic, pronounced Ah-ee-heec from the older spelling Axixique or Axixix) means; "The Place Where the Water Springs Forth". It is located on the north shore of Lake Chapala, the largest natural lake in Mexico measuring approximately 48 miles long by 10 miles wide (Encyclopædia Britannica) at the altitude of approximately 5000 ft.
1 Chapala is named after the last Nahua chief of Jalisco, Chapalac. The Nahuatl speakers belong to the same language group as that of the Aztecs (2 Uto-Aztecan, which also includes Shosone, Hopi, Yaqui and Huichol).
3 The Huichols were one of the main tribes living in Mexico when the Spaniards entered Jalisco. They resided in the Northwestern area near Huejucar and Colotlan. The Nahuatl speakers were also living in Chapala ruled by Chief Chapalac. The Coca Tribe, also in the area around 1400, lived near Lake Chapala and Guadalajara. When the Spaniards arrived, the Coca Tribe relocated to a place they called Cocolan.
“The Huichols are the only Indian population in Mexico or Guatemala that has been able to hold onto its own ancestral culture and still follow the old ways,” says exhibit curator, Dr. Peter T. Furst, an anthropologist and cultural ethnologist who has been studying the Huichol culture and art for more than 40 years. It was during the 1950’s that the Huichol began to sell to the tourist trade by placing their beaded bowl designs on flat boards. 4 It wasn’t until the 1960’s that their visionary yarn design began.
5 Lake Chapala is what is left of Lake Jalisco, a lake measuring 8500 square miles compared to the 825 square miles for the current Lake Chapala. Lake Jalisco formed during the late Pleistocene era, 38,000 years ago, confirmed by carbon dating of wood found in the sediment.
Ancient peoples inhabited the lake area and came and went as the waters rose or receded. There were also huge animals at the time. At least 2 mastadons have been excavated. There were also mountain lions, jaguars, camels, etc., now extinct.
Lake Jalisco was not fed by glaciers, but rather by much more rain than we see today as a result of a colder climate. (The glaciers did not advance further than St. Louis, MO.) It is possible to see the remnants of this huge lake sediment on the Guadalajara-Chapala highway and the Ajijic bypass from the excavation cuts of the highway construction. For more information, click here.
In 1925, intellectuals seeking sanctuary from religious and political persecution, relocated here. There was another big influx in the 1960's and another is expected in the 2000’s by the ‘baby boomers’. Now it is home to the largest population of expatriates in the Lakeside area, mostly retirees from Canada and the United States.
Further Research for the Inquisitive:
More History of the Lake: http://www.mexconnect.com/articles/2591-the-geology-and-geography-of-lake-chapala-and-western-mexico
Interesting information regarding the Nahuatl Language http://www.sil.org/Mexico/nahuatl/10i-NahuatlQuestions.htm
Uto-Aztecan Languages Spoken Throughout Mexico and the Western United States
By John P. Schmal http://www.houstonculture.org/mexico/aztec.html
TRADITIONS OF MEXICO
Huichol-Wixarika Language Group