I have just returned from a great trip to Sicily and Malta organized by Wendy from Big Yellow Suitcase.  The itinerary was varied and very interesting covering archaeological sites, fine dining, cooking class and much more.  Our local guides were very knowledgeable and really made a difference.  I would definitely recommend this tour.

Annette

Sydney

Big Yellow Suitcase guests in Ajijic during a 'Behind the Walls' private November 2014
I would just like to thank Tom and Wendy who are Big Yellow Suitcase for such a wonderful trip to Ajijic in November 2014.
 
I didn’t know what to expect of this 8 or so day trip to one town in Mexico but it surpassed anything I did expect.
 
The highlight for me was that the trip was so personal and people involved. We met wonderful interesting locals and were invited into their homes .This gives a real insight into the local way of life. Many of these people were expats but all living and contributing to the town .Hotel was fun bordering on the lake -very Mexican -and I don’t mean that in a negative way. It was brightly coloured, slightly worn but very welcoming and not slick and American.
The entertainments that were organised were terrific. Fun nights with Mariachi bands and cooking classes with an amazing Venezuelan woman , trips to surrounding towns. Ah Tequilla !!! The markets and of course raison d’être The Feria all really interesting.
 
Plenty of down time to do your own thing , so much laughter.
 
This was the first trip organised by this tour company so there were a few tiny teething problems that were overcome very quickly and efficiently.
 
We were very well looked after at every step.
 
I so enjoyed Tom and Wendy and their ability to organise a fun interesting tour that I have already organised to go on another this year.

  Sally R

Palm Beach, NSW

Big Yellow Suitcase guests in Ajijic during a 'Behind the Walls' private November 2014

Big Yellow Suitcase guests in Ajijic during a ‘Behind the Walls’ private November 2014

Efran Gonzales artist in Ajijic

What an amazing experience!
 
You could actually put your arms around this village, Ajijic. Thanks to Big Yellow Suitcase, every day had a WOW factor. We blended into village life as we danced, or learned to dance in the village square and cooked in a local’s home. We discovered the amazing houses that existed “behind the walls”.
 
These experiences unfolded naturally as we immersed ourselves in the culture. The exceptional local knowledge of the tour leaders was willingly shared amongst the group of 13 – all hungry for more local information and to be part of this idyllic way of life. We observed and experienced many aspects of life in this village and felt very much included. The contrasts were stark – from the opera, Carmen, in Guadalajara to slashing the leaves of the Agave plants in the farms in Tequila and shopping in the local markets – we did it all!! And loved it!!!
 
A great experience, great company and amazing tour leaders – I can’t wait for the next tour. Sandy D Hamilton

QLD

“Mexico is one country that doesn’t seem to be on anyone’s Bucket list. Wendy and Tom from Big Yellow Suitcase can change that perception. Their November 2014 “tour de force” was based in the delightful village of Ajijic (pronounced Ah-hee-heek) on the shores of Lake Chapala. Lake Chapala is about 45 minutes’ drive from the airport at Guadalajara. We stayed in the delightful Hotel La Nueva Posada on the shores of Lake Chapala. When I tell friends about travelling to Mexico, they all ask about security and the bad reputation for drug running. Ajijic is in the state of Jalisco (pronounced Halisco), which is called “the true Mexico” and is remote from the security risk areas. My wife Paula and I felt quite safe walking around Ajijic at night going to and from restaurants.

Ajijic has a strong arts culture. The purpose of the tour was to experience the vibrant art experience and immerse ourselves in the culture. That we did. There were tours of houses steeped in local art work, a photography tour, a visit to the Lake Chapala Society open day and a guided walk around the street art of Ajijic.

The tour culminated in the Maestros del Arte Fair, which is the annual “Feria” for some 80 artisans who come to the town of Lake Chapala to exhibit and sell their ceramics, textiles, artworks, silverware and craftwork. The fair was held in the grounds of the Lake Chapala Yacht Club and we were entertained by a female Mariachi band, resplendent in their silver buttoned black outfits.

For the foodies, there are choices for eating out from street food to good quality restaurants with variety ranging from international dishes to Mexican influenced cuisine; notwithstanding the Hotel La Nueva Posada served very good breakfasts and evening meals. The tour included dinner at Viva Mexico, where the philanthropic owner Agustin treated us to traditional Mexican food and the sounds of a Mariachi band. There were other dining events in some spectacular locations, organised with panache by Wendy and Tom. Some of the group tried their hand at a Mexican cooking class under the guidance of Linda, who is renowned for her Mole.

For the shoppers, the trip to the very quaint Tlaquepaque near Guadalajara was worthwhile. After a cultural briefing by Stan, a local B & B owner, on the different Mexican ceramic styles we walked to the village centre, where there are shops-a-plenty. Don’t miss the renowned sculptor and silversmith Sergio Bustamante, whose artworks we had seen in the beautiful grounds of the Jose Cuervo distillery in Tequila, following a visit to an Agave plantation and an impressive tour of the tequila distillery.

The finale in Guadalajara was a walking tour of the city and a spectacular performance of Bizet’s Carmen at the opulently appointed Guadalajara Opera House. The performance was excellent on so many levels.

I was impressed with those expatriates who live in Ajijic and who contribute to the local community by supporting people with disabilities, helping disadvantaged people and supporting youth art and culture. I was also impressed with the local people who we met, who were proud of their country, their culture and what they did in life.
Don’t miss an opportunity to see more of Mexico while you are there. Paula and I went by a very modern bus to Guanajuato and San Miguel Allende and wished we had stayed longer. My tip is to take a Mexican Spanish pocket book, which you can buy at Dymocks for $15, for when Tom is not around to translate.

I’d like to thank Wendy and Tom for organising this first-time Mexican cultural experience for such a diverse group of experienced travellers.

Did Big Yellow Suitcase change my perception of Mexico? Absolutely!

Russell W

Allambie Heights, NSW

Lake Chapala fisherman

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