The Lake Chapala Society – the Hub of Chapala’s Expat Community


What a trip! Three hundred expats and a handful of Mexicans from the community turned up at the Lake Chapala Society in Ajijic for the 45th anniversary of Woodstock. Who knew there were still so many tie-dyed clothes in the depths of our closets.

Terry Vidal, executive director of LCS and I celebrate Woodstock
Terry Vidal, executive director of LCS and I celebrate Woodstock

A local band belted out sounds from 1969 with renditions from The Grateful Dead, Jimi Hendrix, Santana, Creedence Clearwater Revival, and Janis Joplin among others.

Attendees enjoyed hamburgers and hot dogs, along with potato salad and cole slaw. Santo Cayote, an upscale Guadalajara restaurant provided mango margaritas and guests received complimentary magic brownies along with an opportunity to purchase wine, beer, soft drinks or Electric Kool-Aid.

The majority of the participants got into the spirit with wigs, gaudy jewelry, real and fake tattoos and outlandish tie-dyed costumes. Dancing lasted until early evening. Alas, no marijuana, bras or naked people were discovered during or after the party.

Volunteers sold Electric Kool-Aid (spiked only with booze) by the gallon.
Volunteers sold Electric Kool-Aid (spiked only with booze) by the gallon.

The Lake Chapala Society is believed to be unique in the world. Located only a block from the lake in Ajijic, it is a non-profit organization focused on promoting the exchange of education, heritage, and talents among the expat and Mexican communities. In addition, it contributes to the social enrichment and health of both its members and the Lakeside community.

Today, there are almost 3,000 LCS members from countries around the world, although most are from the United States and Canada. For nearly 60 years, the society has been helping both newcomers and old-timers—both full and part-time—to have a more enjoyable, healthy and stress-free life here at Lakeside.

The Society also assists the local Mexican community through English, computer and art classes. Through its fund-raising efforts, it offers an ongoing student aid program for bright Mexican college students who could not otherwise afford to continue their education. It houses what is believed to be the largest English library outside of English-speaking countries as well video and talking book libraries. There is also a Spanish library off-site at the Wilkes Center. The society is open six days a week from 10 to 2 p.m. and is staffed primarily by volunteers.

The present 1-1/2 acre site of the Lake Chapala Society was deeded in 1988 by Neill Jamesin exchange for LCS caring for her during her remaining years. During the many succeeding administrations, the grounds have been meticulously landscaped, buildings have been updated and the Society can now handle groups as small as two and as large as several hundred.

The Lake Chapala Society monthly calendar (visit the site at promotes the following categories of activities:

  • Health Services
  • Educational Services
  • Insurance and Legal Services
  • Fun and Games
  • Exercise Activities
  • Tickets and Sales
  • Information Desk
  • Service, Social and Support Groups

A quick scan through the calendar uncovers such diverse educational, health and social opportunities as:

  • Line Dancing
  • Yoga and Tai chi
  • 12-Step Programs
  • TED Learning Seminars
  • Bridge, Mah Jong and Scrabble
  • Classes for iPad, Windows 8.1 and Android
  • Eye and ear testing
  • Skin cancer screening and blood pressure testing

Various community leaders and specialists hold seminars of vital information to the community at the society, and as you saw earlier in the article, there are myriad fund raisers and social opportunities during the year celebrating various holidays and events.

LCS Information Desk with cafe in the background
LCS Information Desk with cafe in the background

On the main patio, a small coffee shop serves a limited selection of beverage and food items where members can sit outside and enjoy the beautiful surroundings.

The Lake Chapala Society is considered the hub of expat and information activities and is extremely helpful in helping new residents become oriented. Be sure to visit it the next time you are here.

Source:, Jerry Brown Travels

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