Got your book? Here's a cool, quiet place to enjoy it. Carole and I enjoy dropping into the LCS on sunny mornings (which means just about any day) to sit in one of the several patio areas. This patio is one of our favorite spots where we can seek solitude or beckon passing friends to spend a little time socializing.
Fishpond forms a quiet centerpiece in one of the LCS's busiest areas. Surrounded by the coffee bar, the library, the office, and various other activities, this lovely fishpond lends a quiet, cool counterpoint to all the activities. Water Lilies such as the one above are native to various areas of Mexico.
Rosa "holds the fort" at the coffee bar. Although Rosa speaks some English, I always urge her to speak to me in Spanish because I need the practice. She seems glad to oblige, and always has a smile for me. The coffee bar concession is run by the Secret Garden Restaurant and Bakery, located near the Ajijic Plaza. Peter, the owner of Secret Garden, makes sure that the LCS coffee bar is well stocked with fresh baked cookies, muffins, and other pastries suitable for dunking in the excellent coffee served. With a good book, a cuppa "joe" and a banana muffin, we are all set to enjoy an hour or two at our favorite patio table.
Lake god oversees the coffee bar area. A mural by Jose Francisco Rojas Miramontes titled "El fiel amigo de toda vida" (The faithful, long life friend) graces the wall behind the coffee bar. The mural extends several feet on either side of the picture above, and celebrates the role the Lake plays in life around its shores. The artist is part of a family of artists who grew up in the period when the art community began blossoming in Ajijic. LCS has long played a key role in the Mexican community, by offering free art classes to local children, as well as free training in English and computer skills for adults, and providing a Spanish language library to the community. LCS also supports various non-profit community organizations including those for battered women and children, orphanages, the Mexican Red Cross, and has raised many thousands of dollars in goods and cash to help when local disasters have occured.
Swimming through the greenery. Seeming to swim through underwater vegetation, this metal fish sculpture is one of many small treasures one discovers while venturing into the winding green passages of the large and colorful LCS gardens.
Video rental library is also quite extensive. Both VHS and DVD are available to rent and several thousand are contained in this English-language rental library. Rental fees are modest, about 70 cents (US) for VHS and about $1.00 (US) for DVD. Since there is a constant traffic of expats between Lakeside and the US and Canada, recently released movies are often available soon after then hit video stores up north. A staff of dedicated volunteers makes sure that the video rental office runs smoothly.
Stone monk broods in cool leafy glade. I always enjoy a simple wander through the garden paths, never knowing what new treasure I will happen upon.
The LCS bulletin board is information central. Members list apartments for rent, houses for sale, services and goods offered and sought, impending events in the community, and much more at the main bulletin board next to the library. This is probably the single best source of reasonably priced rental property in the area. Carole and I found our current rental home on this board. A stop to peruse the board is a regular habit of ours. Across from the board is an information booth staffed by volunteers which provides another key source.
Rrrrribbbittt! Many strange and wonderful critters can be found lurking about the paths through the gardens. Wildly colorful ceramics such as this can be found in various parts of Mexico, especially Guanajuato whose inhabitants are jokingly known as las Ranas (the frogs).
A spot for quiet contemplation. Facing a cool green lawn, and shaded by a thick jungle canopy, this wrought-iron bench can easily seduce a garden wanderer into stopping for a few minutes and sometimes more.
Another fish pond greets those who pass to the south side of the gardens. The southern portion of the facility contains various areas used for meetings, clubs, and classes. The fish pond in this area is a favorite of children who visit LCS since it teems with fish which seem equally curious about the visitors. Something about quiet bodies of water seems to calm the mind and soothe the spirit.
A face in the foliage. I was attracted and charmed by the vignette formed by this bust set amongst the foliage at the base of a large tree. This is one of my favorite photos of the garden because I think it captures my feelings about the place.
Gazebo serves multiple functions. Some of the activities held in this open air gazebo, or kiosco as the Mexicans would call it, include Spanish classes, line dancing, and philosophical seminars. The LCS official history mentions some sort of controversy about the decision to build the gazebo, but that seems long past and these days the structure is used and appreciated by all.
Ideal for cards, chess, or whatever. This area, under the shade of a tiled porch, attracts morning coffee drinkers and board game players. The tables, the tops of which are surfaced by beautiful and unique mosaic work, were donated by individual members to the LCS.
Still another odd creature peers out of the jungle garden. A further example of the vivid ceramic work one finds all over the area.
Stairway to heaven. This wrought iron stairway leads upward to...nothing. Just another example of the whimsical humor expressed by local artists. It does provide a great place for the local climbing plants to cling.
Wrought iron rabbit darts through the garden plants. The artist caught the frantic movement of this metal rabbit as it flees an imaginary predator
A tribute to the Lake. Local Mexican artist Jesus Lopez Vega painted this wonderful mural on the wall just outside the entrance of the LCS on the street leading to the Lake. Lopez Vega often uses animals and ancient symbols to illustrate his work. The small objects under the turtle figure are clay vessels often found on the Lake shore when the water is low. In ancient times they were used to collect blood from body piercings, along with other sacred substances. The vessels were then thrown into the Lake as an offering to the gods. When I visited his studio, Lopez Vega allowed me to handle some of the vessels he had collected. Holding these delicate 500+ year-old objects in my hand gave me a feeling of connection to those ancient times.
Fish whirl and swirl under the surface of an LCS fish pond. The fish live in their own little world, parallel to ours, but not really connected. Looking up at us through the wavering surface of the water above them, they may wonder at the odd spectacle unfolding above.