Ajijic’s aspirations for designation as a Pueblo Mágico moved another step forward Monday, February 19 with the arrival of five federal officials on a mission to carry out a technical evaluation of the town’s qualifications.
The gang of five started their one-day visit at Chapala City Hall where they viewed a video presentation highlighting Ajijic’s natural, historical, cultural, commercial and connectivity attributes. Afterwards, Mayor Javier Degollado, Municipal Tourism Director Habbath Angel, Historical Archives chief Rogelio Ochoa, and Ajijic Delegado Chuni Medeles complemented the video, responding to a series of questions posed in reference to paperwork previously filed in the Pueblo Mágico application process. While most replies came off the tips of their tongues, they all fumbled when asked to define Ajijic’s singular magic in no more than one or two words.
All parties set off from there for a full-day tour of the village. Pueblo Mágico committee chairmen Eduardo Ramos and Canadian-born entrepreneur Michael Eager welcomed them to La Nueva Posada for some informal conversation about the town’s finer qualities, shared over a light breakfast in the hotel’s garden dining area. From there they proceeded to the Lake Chapala Society headquarters where executive director Terry Vidal filled in the visitors on its programs and activities aimed at the integration of Mexican and foreign residents.
Following lunch at Ajijic Tango, the inspection team was guided to other key points of interest on the Ajijic map. The itinerary wrapped up with a repast of typical village cuisine at Cenaduría Don Memo, followed by the simulation of a traditional Ajijic fiesta held at the central plaza that included lively music, the jubilant antics of the Sayaca masked dancers and the Papaqui, a mock battle employing confetti filled eggshells employed as harmless, laughter-provoking weaponry.
The inspection team was led by Claudia Luna, from the federal Ministry of Tourism (Sectur) Destination Management Department. She was accompanied by Pamela Sue Vergara Alemán, Adriana Aguilar and Yonel Aguila, employed in other Sectur divisions, and Teresita Guadarrama, representing the National Trust for the Promotion of Tourism (Fonatur).
Throughout the day this newspaper engaged the visitors in brief chats to gauge their preliminary insights on Ajijic’s eligibility for Pueblo Magico status. Overall they found the town to be exceptionally friendly, colorful and highly advanced on a cultural scale. Nonetheless, they expressed some concerns about the town’s ability to measure up on issues such as planning for future growth and development, adequate management of litter and solid wastes, regulation of informal street commerce and the improper role of public officials in the conformation of the Pueblo Mágico committee.
Ajijic faces stiff competition to gain Magic Town status. Sectur will grant only nine of the coveted titles this year. There are 88 places in the running at this stage of the game, including six other localities in the state of Jalisco.
Application files and the results of on-site evaluations will be compiled and put up for final review starting in April. No date has been set for the announcement of the new title holders.