Adobe Walls Inn
Ajijic's Best Kept Secret
The Legend of Adobe Walls

My name is Don and along with my wife Kimberly we own Adobe Walls Inn. This is some background on the purchase of our old hacienda.

The steel gate entrance is overgrown, yet I imagine this distinguished old hacienda is patiently awaiting its renaissance. It is 2002 when I first see this abandoned property. Years pass. The property stands deserted and empty.  Neglected, timeworn graffiti covers faded and peeling paint. On top of the ancient walls lies a thorny tangle of vines and old bougainvillea.

It is March of 2009 and I'm working at our 'other' house. When one of my workers informs me.... "the gates are open and there is activity on the property".

I rush down.

I meet the owner and her name is Ana Rosa. She is one of three sisters who own more-or-less the entire block. They are direct descendants of a Conquistador. I come to find out Ana Rosa is forced to sell a property in order to send two family members to Music School in Liverpool England (the Beatles home town).

Also, I discover the property has stood vacant for more than 30 years. Windows are missing and doors hang askew. It is evident various critters live inside. Dozens of Mud Swallows nest on the walls. The property is used for storage and is chock-a-block full of stuff. Stacked in each room are dusty objects de art, furniture, musical instruments, books, Life magazines with Grace Kelly and JFK covers. Both trash and treasures are discovered. In one wardrobe hangs disco shirts and pants and on the floor are dancing shoes—remnants from the last tenants. In a dusty book case are leather-bound books: some in French, others in Spanish and still others in English-among these are the complete Dickens.

Ana Rosa and I strike a deal for the property “as is”. Ana Rosa is clearly relieved at not having to remove all the “junk”. For the next six weeks I work alone to clean out and inventory the property. There are more than 60 chairs, something like fifteen tables in various condition, old wardrobes, mirrors, chests and trappings from the barn. I find steamer trunks full as well as desks with old documents and photographs. I show them to Ana Rosa.  She keeps a few.

The best find is an ancient strong box that I learn dates from the late 18th century! There is also a ‘newer’ safe which dates from the 1920’s (we use this safe today). In the back is a locked storeroom stacked with paintings and objects de art. This is truly a treasure hunt.

Since 2009 I’ve spent countless hours with the gracious Ana Rosa, her sisters and a historian. The result is the Legend of Adobe Walls.


1492 is a defining year for Spain and, in a way, for Adobe Walls too. 1492 is the year the final stronghold of Emir Mohammed XIII falls and the Moors of Alhambra surrender; thus ending 780 years of rule. In 1492 the authority of the Spanish Inquisitors is evident with the Alhambra decree; it expels all Jews. Also in 1492 a little known explorer, Christopher Columbus, lands on a remote island, and our Patrona of Adobe Walls, Doña Ana de Mendoza dies in prison in Madrid.

In the 500 years since, the fortunes of the House of Mendoza ebb and flow with the destiny of Spain.

Doña Ana de Mendoza y de la Cerda is a Spanish aristocrat. She is considered a great beauty, despite having lost an eye in a mock duel with a page when she was young. Accusations of betraying state secrets leads to her arrest and imprisonment. She dies, declaring her innocence, 13 years later in 1492 in prison.

This same year,1492 sees her grandson, Pedro de Mendoza y Valencia born. He is raised in subtle disgrace and gentile poverty, yet, providence smiles when he is allowed to accompany Hernán Cortés in 1519 on an expedition for the Conquest of Mexico. This grandson, Pedro de Mendoza returns in glory to Spain and thereby restores wealth and prestige to the House of Mendoza.

For the next 200 years, gold and silver pour out of New Spain; enriching both the House of Mendoza, the Church and The Royal Court of Spain. It is a Golden Era for this noble Mendoza family... there are soldiers, statesmen, priests and elegant ladies of court.

The House of Mendoza reaches its apex with Doña María Josefa Mendoza-Valencia, Duchess of Osuna, Grandee of Spain (1752-1834). She is every bit a Spanish aristocrat and is famous for her patronage of artists, writers and scientists. Doña María is of keen intelligence and poise and plays a vital role in Madrid’s society. This is the Age Of Enlightenment and this open-minded Duchess is a central figure in the literary salons, thus making her a veritable illuminated aristocrat.

Her son is Javier Duque Mendoza-Valencia (1772-1832). He is vainly proud of his ancestry; yet, regrettably, he does not inherit their qualities. And when the Mendoza family receives a Royal Land Grant - Rancho Simi in California in 1792- it is the pompous Javier Duque who returns to the New World where he naively squanders away his family’s holdings through mortgages.

And so, in the New World, the House of Mendoza falters. So too wanes the influence and wealth of Spain. The gold bullion from New Spain ends when Mexico declares and wins its independence. (c.1815).

By 1835 Javier Duque Mendoza-Valencia is dead. His wife and two sons are forced to sell their Simi Valley ranchero and leave California bound for Mexico with only their strong box, which contains gems and gold.... it is what is left of their fortune.

It is 1837 and Mexico is in revolt. There is no central government. The Alamo is a smoking ruin and General Santa Ana is at war with the Republic of Texas.

Into this maelstrom come the remains of the House of Mendoza.  Led by two sons, a strong box and hopes for a better life, the family resettles in the Alto Plano of Central Mexico.

The family’s holdings in Mexico include vast lands east of Guadalajara around Lagos de Moreno and a Hacienda on the shores of Lake Chapala.

The younger son is Mariano Arista Mendoza Valencia (1810-?). Mariano hears the call of the Church and disappears into obscurity.

The older son is Don Jose Antonio Mendoza Valencia (1798-1872). He oversees his cattle ranch and distills Mescal. A man of extensive learning-he dies possessing a vast library.  In 1870, he wrote of his library, “Books are my world. If I had been born in another time or another way of life I should have been a scholar and if I have not written words upon paper as I should like to have done, I have written large on the page of life that was left open for me.” 

This is the final Patriarch in the House of Mendoza.
His name is Ráfael Vásquez Mendoza Valencia and he is a disillusioned man. The year is 1917 and the revolution led by Pancho Villa sweeps away the last of the aristocratic estates and the family holdings are reduced to this Hacienda beside the Lake Chapala. 100 years ago the Hacienda and grounds included the surrounding blocks.

Since then, the fields are sold off. Ajijic village grows into what you see today.  Adobe Walls is purchased from Doña Ana Rosa Fernandez Valencia in 2009. Doña Ana Rosa inherits the honorable qualities of her ancestry and a Swiss finishing school polishes her into a sophisticated aristocrat. Blessed with fair skin and blue eyes she is an elegant lady and resides in Guadalajara.

Dear Reader: this is our Legend. We know nothing more. Yet, we do know the subtle sounds that surround the tranquility of Adobe Walls Inn. Mornings and evenings one hears songbirds. Frequently, we are treated to the clip-clop of horses’ hooves on our cobblestone street. And just before sleep, if you quietly listen, you might hear the echoes of the Mendoza’s ancestors as they stroll the grounds at Adobe Walls.