Ferry departs from the Ajijic pier

All that I saw of San Luis Soyatlan on my first visit there nearly 8 years ago was the flower-bedecked cemetery that caught my eye just as the day was drawing to a close and I was about to turn back to Ajijic.

I ran out of daylight before I ran out of town, promising myself to return one day to finish the visit, but the recent start of ferry service from the Ajijic Pier gave me an irresistible new way to keep that promise.

Ajijic Pier

A block away from the pier on Colon I grab a latte from La Prensa Francesa, and within half an hour we’re pulling away from the pier.

The boat is easily spacious and comfortable enough for the trip of under an hour.  I watch the pier recede in our wake.

Out on the water the fishermen are already well into their day.

Pulling in the net on Lake Chapala

There’s often a mirage-like quality to things seen from this vantage point.

Fisherman on Lake Chapala

As the opposite shore draws nearer the towering campanario of the parroquia first takes shape, and then the village gathered around it. Behind it the mountain grows to cover the entire horizon.

San Luis Soyatlan from Lake Chapala

Street scene, San Luis Soyatlan

I set out for myself as soon as we land just west of town, mapless but following two time-tested rules:  (1) Follow the shoreline whenever possible, and (2) always go toward the campanario.

The shoreline path winds along an expansive lakeside park with lots of picnic tables and groomed trails.

As the campanario looms larger I turn toward the mountain and within a couple of blocks reach the coast road.

Frutas y verduras, San Luis Soyatlan

Clustered along this part of the highway are neighborhood tiendas and tacquerias that give way to homes as I approach the campanario and the plaza which must certainly be below it.

A family business, San Luis Soyatlan

Street scene, San Luis Soyatlan

 

This place feels to be about the same size as San Juan Cosala on the opposite shore – I’d guess under 2,500 persons – and just like San Juan is stretched along a narrow strip that clutches the coastline.

This place also feels like Jocotopec… a working agricultural town devoid of Tapatios on holiday or expat retirees.

The Plaza is classic. It’s bordered on one side by the coast road, framed by buildings of substance, and located directly across from the campanario.

Plaza, San Luis Soyatlan

Plaza, San Luis Soyatlan

Plaza, San Luis Soyatlan

I’m always struck by the way in which every Mexican neighborhood builds out the age-old Catholic Church footprint in a distinct reflection of its own unique image.

On that count this one does not disappoint.

Parroquia, San Luis Soyatlan

Parroquia, San Luis Soyatlan

Parroquia, San Luis Soyatlan

Only a few blocks from the Plaza I stumble upon the Posada Los Crotos, an intimately-sized hotel with an impressive restaurant. I wish I’d found it sooner, because a thorough walk of the town and a leisurely lunch will barely allow enough time to make it back to the ferry before its departure!

Posada Los Crotos, San Luis Soyatlan

Posada Los Crotos, San Luis Soyatlan

I return to the ferry along back streets.

Street scene, San Luis Soyatlan

Street scene, San Luis Soyatlan

 

As the returning boat approaches Ajijic I study the town from this new perspective. I think to myself: THIS is the definitive postcard from Ajijic…

Ajijic from Lake Chapala

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