Manuel España Ramos
Ajijic native son Manuel España Ramos died Tuesday, March 22, while under hospital treatment for complications of diabetes and kidney disease. He was 71 years old.
España came into the world on June 17, 1945, the eldest of nine children born in Ajijic to José Rosario España Orozco and Julia Ramos Veláquez.
España was best known to the expatriate community as an accomplished chef and founder of the ever popular Manix Restaurant. He developed a passion for cooking as a teenager after a foreign resident recruited him to assist in the kitchen temporarily while her regular cook was off on maternity leave. He ended up keeping the job for many years, refining his culinary talents until he was finally able to realize the dream of establishing his own restaurant.
The family pitched in to convert their home into the big kitchen and cozy dining areas of Manix Restaurant, opening the doors in September, 1987. Failing health eventually forced España to retire and turn the business over to his brother Hector several years ago. However, he remained in the wings as an advisor to watch over the preparation of the many menu specialties he originated.
España continued in his other vocation as a catechist, devoting more than 50 years to teaching the principles of his faith to youngsters at Ajijic’s San Andrés Parish. In 2013 he was awarded special recognition for accomplishment in that role by Guadalajara Cardinal José Francisco Robles Ortega.
Throughout his adult life he was equally dedicated to the promotion and conservation of Mexican traditions and local customs. Back in the 1970’s he started up a ballet folklórico dance troupe in the village. He became actively involved in reviving the January celebration of the Fiesta de San Sebastian in upper Ajijic and helped stage the representation of typical village festivities as part of the annual Rebozo parade held in conjunction with September’s Fiestas Patrias.
As word of España’s death spread through the community, the ground floor of Manix was cleared out for the customary wake, held March 23 and 24. Per his last wishes, he was laid out in a simple pine coffin, handsomely dressed in one of his favorite Mexican outfits. As hundreds of friends and admirers gathered with the family to pay their respects, the place filled up with scores of floral arrangements and memorial wreaths.
A funeral mass was celebrated on the evening of Wednesday, March 23 at the San Andrés church, followed by a rosary service at the nearby Capilla del Rosario.
The following afternoon, España was sent off to his final resting place with a colorful procession to the Ajijic cemetery, in fitting style for a beloved member of the community who so relished local festivities, A band of masked Sayaco dancers, two marching bands and a throng of mourners accompanied the hearse as it slowly rolled along the main streets of town to the gates of the Panteón. Once his coffin was laid in the family crypt, the crowd joined in a joyful papaqui, breaking confetti-filled eggs over one another’s heads in a sign of fond farewell for his journey to the afterlife.
España was preceded in death by both of his parents and two siblings who died in infancy. He is survived by his sister Martha and brothers Armando, Daniel, Gustavo, Alfredo Óscar and Héctor.