Friday, March 10, 2006

Insights and Predictions

Type of website: Magazine-style guide to Ajijic and Lake Chapala
Excellent source of...: Articles of interest to people living or thinking of moving to Lake Chapala. Slightly interesting to anyone interested in living in Mexico.

I think if we want to see the future of any popular Mexico expatriate city in Mexico, all we have to do is look at Lake Chapala and Ajijic. The expatriate community there is large (about 20,000 according to this website) and has been growing steadily for years. They have developed things like garden clubs and magazines; lots of people have written books and articles about the area. There are many businesses in Ajijic being run by gringos, and quite a few websites too. Not that many good ones, in my opinion....but I did find one recently that is well-designed, easy to navigate and well written.

Mexico Insights is run by a group of women who have lived in the area for varying amounts of time, with varied backgrounds. Some of them have written books; others are tour guides. What they seem to have in common is a deep love for their new home, and the ability to both write and gather information through a network of other residents. This combination has created a website and online magazine that has been taking in-depth looks at the cultural and everyday experience of living in Mexico, and Lake Chapala in particular, since December 2001.

Each month, there is a note from the editor that explains what is in the magazine. The magazine is available only to subscribers (for $39.95 a year). In addition, you can have access to all previous issues for $24.95. I am not a subscriber nor have I signed up to read the previous issues (nor, I might add, do I even know these people). But I don't have to. The editors are smart enough to put enough information on their website so that you can get a good idea of their writing style, the depth of their understanding and experience and their general attitude, as well as an idea of the kind of subjects covered by their magazine.

Every month, the editors give the casual reader a paragraph or two (and some photographs) that preview what is in the current issue. This month's issue includes an article about Mata Ortiz pottery, English-language bookstores in the Lake Chapala area, an assessment of the Lakeside real estate market, things to know about being in the hospital in Mexico and about six or seven more subjects. Each of these seems to be written by someone who has been there and has first hand experience.

There is a Complimentary Issue of the magazine online that is available to everyone. The articles there are thorough and helpful to anyone interested in the area, even if you never go on to buy the magazine. Articles cover subjects like what to expect at the Guadalajara Airport, how to shop the "Mexican way", a list of B&B's around Lake Chapala, a list of fall fiestas and information about the safety of the drinking water.

The water subject interested me, so I clicked on that and got a list of "facts and figures", only a few of which were related to water. OK, so the title was a bit misleading, but the other facts on that page were just as interesting, factual and useful to someone living or considering living here.

The website is also selling Living at Lake Chapala seminars, as well as books on Lake Chapala and Mexico written by the editors and their friends.

I wouldn't recommend this website as a place to revisit unless you plan to subscribe, though you might learn something from reading through it once. I also wouldn't necessarily recommend it to someone under the age of 25, unless they are interested in garden clubs and hospital visits. But if you are a typical resident or future resident of Lake Chapala, I would think the magazine subscription for a year and/or the archives would be well worth it. And a casual read of the website would be worthwhile for anyone interested in living in Mexico.

1 comment:

Judy King said...

Hi Ellen...thanks for you great review of Mexico Insights Living at Lake Chapala back in 2006...As the editor and co-founder of this online magazine I read your piece with fascination and pride. Thanks again for your nice words. Here are the codes so you can read all of the current February 2010 issue! user name: carnaval; pass parade.

Thanks again! Oh, by the way, we have a new blog up and I think you'll enjoy that too!

Judy King, Editor, Mexico Insights