Thursday, July 28, 2005

More Chacala news

The weather just moved to really really hot and humid. Big time. With lots of mosquitoes and no-see-ums to add to the pleasure. I am sitting quietly at the computer, in a small breeze, dripping with sweat. Oh well. I still love it here in Chacala. I have gone from sleeping under a sheet most of the night, in a shirt and undershorts, to sleeping in nothing and no sheet on top and the fan on high. A couple of evenings ago we were watching the novella (short term soap opera) finale at one of the restaurants. It was so buggy that the normal method of burning coconut shells (to make smoke and run the mosquitoes off) didn't work and we all ended up wrapped in the restaurant's tablecloths.

The latest gossip in town is that three gringos from California have bought the restaurant on the beach - across the beach street from Juan's tienda ( which is also known at the Joker tienda). (Later, haven't heard any more about that sale). The big one with a chain link fence across the front. Apparently they plan to open a "Club". Whatever that is. I am thinking really loud music really late at night. Who knows. Probably I got it wrong anyway. I hope so.

The road in front of the c/puestos (the little shack type stores that run from the entrance to town on the beach road to about Chico's restaurant) is a total mud hole. But not as bad as last year, since it hasn't rained as much and since a lot of the dirt excavated from the new hotel on the paved road was dumped on the beach road in that part of town, to help prevent flooding of the road. Now the c/puestos flood instead. But not too much.

The beach and town has had a lot of tourists from Guadalajara and wherever all summer. On the weekends the beach camping lot is usually pretty full. Lots of buses are parked along the road and in the restaurant parking lots on the weekends, and on weekdays too when it isn't overcast and rainy. The last two weeks of summer vacation ( first two weeks or so of August) were very busy here last summer. Tons of people on holiday. So I am expecting a big influx this August too.(Later: Didn't happen)

Someone mentioned to me yesterday that Marina Chacala, formerly known at Chacalila, has had an upswing in buyers from the US. Until sometime this spring almost all the residents were people from Mexico who wanted a vacation home. Mostly people from Guadalajara, I think. And two Canadian families and one from the US. But in the last few months there are about five new buyers from the US. One seems to be there full-time, working in real estate in Sayulita.

Don't know what that means for Chacala. My main experience with people who live in Marina is that they drive big fancy cars and drive much much too fast. Really fast!!! Day and night. And if the security people don't open the gate fast enough after the first time they honk their horn, they will just keep beeping until the gate is open. Lovely in the middle of the night. Of course, they don't ALL lean on the horn repeatedly, but they do all beep their horns to get in. Being the closest house to the gate sometimes I feel like I am living in NYC. (not really!!!). Particularly on the weekends. My other gripe would be the amount of trash Marina people throw out of their cars within maybe a hundred feet of the gate.If I sound resentful I guess I am. Maybe this is the first time I have lived on the poor side (outside a gated community) of the tracks.
(Later: the current security gate people (those guys work 24hour shifts) are doing a great job of keeping the trash picked up around the gate.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

July 6-25th, Chacala Notes

Chacala, 7/26/05

The place just off the paved road that I thought was the beginning of a new road going up from the paved road into the jungle now looks like a building site tucked back in the jungle.

There is a new project in town. A man from California named Paul is planning to start a surf shop and an exercise gym. He has a lot of equipment he brought down from the States. He is a friend of Terry ( who built the yellow painted duplex across the road from the house belonging to Dona Lupe/Pablo,/Juan etc and just down the road from Trini ). Terry is family with Pepe (who has the Koraney hardware store).

Anyway. Paul says he has bought the little white duplex next to Terry's yellow duplex and will use those two units for his surf shop and exercise gym place. Two large stacks of bricks were unloaded there a couple of days ago. Paul says he is going to build a three story place in the back, with two rental units and a unit on top (3rd floor) for him. Of course, any change kind of scares me. And I have questions about the details of this plan, but really, it's none of my business. But I am curious.

A bunch of us went up to Las Calaetas with Beto and Aurora today. The waves were larger than I had seen there before. There were about eight surfers, maybe half and half gringos and locals. There was also a new building there. Well, not a building exactly but a largish palapa. Looked nice. Later someone said it is a rain and shade shelter for surfers. Built by surfers. We didn't land because the tide was way up into the rocks.

Instead we went to the Chacalila beach and ate lunch, actually multiple snacks, and swam and hung out talking. A very nice day. The weather was perfect and the water was warm , but not too warm and no mala aguas. And no coconuts fell on our heads either, as we followed the shade around the palms trees. Are palms and coconuts in the same group? Don't know.

There are trucks driving into Chacalila (the Marina) all day long Big, heavy construction trucks. But I didn't notice any new houses along the coast. Maybe I just didn't notice. Someone said they are still building cobblestone roads all over the place in there. The clubhouse building off the beach looks done. It looks very nice, painted with nice bright colors on some of the walls.

Someone who reads this asked if Laura's techo is finished. It is near completion. Working on the electric and water and the windows. It looks very nice. I don't know how someone would get ahold of her about renting. Maybe through the techo website. Or I would be glad to pass a message on.

Gora is adding a kitchen area in front of her one of her downstairs units and a teraza roof in front of the other one. At least that's the plan.

Concha has an email address for her rentals. If anyone is interested I will pass it on. I don't remember it right now.

That's all for now.

Lovely Chacala 7/23/05

It is just amazing how green and lush everything is around Chacala. It is raining more often now in the evening or night.

The flying insects and the congrudos continue to be everywhere. The congrudos are sort of land crabs that seem to come out after the rain or when it is sunny and damp. They are around six or seven inches across and have sort of translucent oranges colored bodies. Maybe 3 inches tall. The first time i saw them I thought they were poisoness and going to attack me. There were hundreds and hundreds of them, running around on the paved road at dusk. But they aren't aggressive or poisoness. The kids catch them by the bucketful and some people eat them. Ugh!!!

When I walk out the door of the house at certain times of day, the porch, steps, and the gravel road down to the paved road are covered with scuttling crabs, making a strange scratching sound as they rush to get away from me. In the evening when I am walking between my house and the nearest neighbor, the sound of the crabs running away is so loud it sounds like a heavy rainstorm.

I remember there being lots and lots of flower blossoms everywhere last year, but so far I haven't seen as many this year. Maybe it's because we are in the second or third year of sort of drought. Things still look great. The morning after an evening rain is especially nice, everything looks fresh and green and clean.

More construction has started up this last few weeks:

On the beach road "downtown" what appears to be a couple of more rental units are being built, including buried large size tinachos (plastic water storage tanks that usually hold either 1200 or 2500 liters). I'm not sure who is building it. (Later). It turns out it's a two story restaurant.

And up the beach road across from the deposito beer, ice cream, and telephone store there is a new restaurant, built under a new palapa roof in front of some already existing rentals units. I am not sure if the rental units will still be rented or what. (Later, the owner says yes) Maybe it will be a kind of sports bar. During its construction there was always a group of mostly young men watching futbol or whatever. They started serving food a few days ago.

There are two projects just starting on the paved road. On the uphill side of the road on a lot uphill past Aurora's and the new motel they are apparently building a new road back into the hillside. I think it is a road. Its seems too narrow to be preparation for building a house. Naturally they are dumping the dirt and large stones onto a nearby lot. This nearby lot was cleared and leveled last year in preparation for building, so I imagine the owners will be surprised to find a huge pile of dirt and stones on their nice flat lot. On the other hand, who knows what is going on there. Not me. I guess if I don't know what's going on, I tend to just guess.

On the downhill (towards the beach) side of the paved road in the same area but down from the road in kind of a ravine where there is runoff during the rain, some people (later, from LV) are building a large looking new house. No one that I have asked knows who the people are, but of course someone knows. I just haven't asked the right person. Or maybe the people I asked didn't under my Spanish.

And the pool at the rental units (called Casa de Nuevo Espana) across from Casa Azul is filled with clean water (obviously trucked in from elsewhere).

Chico's has beautiful new bathrooms located next to the old not-so-beautiful bathrooms. There are three stalls on each side (for men and women) and there are clean and light, tiled with transluscent plastic dividers and doors. And toilet paper. And an eldery gentleman to collect the 50 peso user fee.

Some of the new street signs made by the EBACH and Pittsburgh church group kids are up and looking very nice. I had no idea there were names for all these streets.

Two local places are trying out new advertising techniques:
Las Brisas has two new huge plastic billboards with a photograph of the beach and palapas (from before the hurricane I think) and some words about the restaurant, rentals, and bar) . It's a nice enough sign, but it is startling to see it at the corner where you turn off from the paved road to drive long the bumpy beach road. They have the same sign up on the highway between Las Varas and the turnoff to Chacala.

Concha's techo rental has a nice new sign(s) advertising their rentals (name, phone number and email address) . The email address is Concha says that she and her family can handle emails in both Spanish and English. It was painted on the walls of the little room on top of the house where the water tinacho sits. Juan, who painted Ana's house with those very eye catching colors, painted the signs. They are very visible from the paved road as you turn down toward the beach. Beautiful colors and nicely done.

For some reason the basura/garage trucks has been coming once a week (instead of twice a week) on Sunday morning, which seems odd but who knows. It's hard for me to pay my 10 pesos for the trash pickup because the guys don't start ringing the warning bell until they finish picking up the trash piles near my current home. Usually a young guy runs about a hundred feet in front of the truck to warn people to get their trash out. But since there is a long non-house stretch on paved road before they get to our pickup stop we don't get a warning. If you leave trash out overnight the dogs and wild varmints will tear the bags open.

I don't how long they have been installed but there are beautiful new stained glass windows in two of formerly open windows in the church. Very beautiful.

Lots of things are going on around the school:

A young adult who is doing some kind of internship in Las Varas, I think in agriculture, is teaching Tae Kwan Doe to the kids late in the afternoon two days a week.

A Canadian woman who lives in La Penita and has an English language school in Las Varas is teaching English to EBACH students and other interested parties on Friday and Saturdays.

Sarai, who has the little store next door to Trini's house, is teaching a class (or maybe mentoring a class ) for adults who want to complete their education. Actually I think the class has only woman students right now. The women in Chacala are so amazing. Some of the participants have had no schooling or very very little. I have been sitting in a little, and a couple of women are learning to write the alphabets. Others have more schooling, are are working towards the Mexican equilivalent of a GED. l am so impressed.

Aurora just told me that Viki is starting a computer class at the bibliotecho on Saturday morning.

A bunch of younger and some older men play volleyball on the basketball court every evening. Last year it was basketball with tournaments with teams from Las Varas, etc. I don't know if there will be a volleyball tournament this year.

That's it for now.

The weather has definitely started to heat up here. High 80's about 16 hours a day with quite a bit of humidity. Although not as uncomfortable as last summer. Although maybe I am acclimating or something. We are still in a semi-drought situation here. On June 16th we had the first rain since last October, (actually I think it rained alittle a couple of times during the winter) and since then there have been a couple of other decent rains. It is overcast about half the time during the daylight hours. The nights cool off some.

Everything is turning green and beautiful with lots of flowers. During the winter I get used to the leafless trees and general dryness, so when the rain comes and the trees and shrubs turn green and the flowers burst into boom, it is kind of startling. Everything looks so green and lush. The ocean water is very comfortable. Not too warm, not to cold. And the lake behind the puestos doesn't have enough water in it yet for the crocodiles to return for the summer.

Chico's was packed yesterday (Sunday) afternoon. Four bands in town. Quite a bit of the sand on the beach in front of Mar de Jade has washed away, leaving it looking something like it looked the spring and summer after the Hurricane (lots of rocks from the fence to the water). The sand in front of the restaurants seems to be washing away too, but not as much. The restaurant workers have added sand in front of the restaurants, to keep the higher tides from coming into the ground level restaurant areas. I have the impression this is a cyclical thing, not the beginning of a problem.

There is a new American woman who (according to gossip) has bought (?) a small white duplex (one story and back from the road) kind of north of the schoolyard. It is the building with a giant trash pit, with lots of trash, directly in front of it. It is not very noticeable and a few houses off the main road. I was told she will be retiring in Chacala in a few years and will be visiting often until then.

For American/Canadians who own lots on eijido land around Chacala, there seems to be some progress being made on resolving the on-going problem re the probable developers (who want to buy all the eijido land around Chacala) and about access to building permits, etc. More about that later.

We actually had a trash pickup this morning, so maybe we are back on the regular Saturday Monday schedule. The security guys at the Chacalilla gate have been great about keeping the dogs away from the trash bags we have been piling on tops of a big rock next to the road and their gate. It looks much better than last year. Not much trash floating around.

This week the 3-5 inch land crabs called "congrejos" (however you spell it) were out in force, and mornings and evening whole families were running around on the gravel and paved roads catching buckets full of them. Apparently they are a delicacy, which is hard for me, a very picky eater, to imagine.

There are still mangoes on some of the trees around town and the other fruits seems to be coming in) . The newly refurbished fruit stands at the Crucero de Chacala (where the road to Chacala leaves Highway 200) seem to be as busy as ever, but the prices seems to be higher that the stores in Chacala and Las Varas.

Kind of a boring post, but the real gossip is kind of scandalous and I don't want to get sued.
Just kidding. That's it for now

This Blog is written in an effort to keep people who are interested in Chacala more or less up to speed on some of what’s happening here. At least my version of what's happening.

Of course, it's now the rainy season, hot and humid, but definitely livable. Cooler than last year, and not as humid so far. I am sleeping under the fan, mostly without a sheet until early morning. The trees are greening up and the flowers are starting to blossom. The land crabs (congrudas ?) and various flying insects are out in force, especially in the evening. It is dark by eight pm, and the sunsets are almost always very beautiful. It has finally started to rain. The first rain was June 15th, and only a little since then. But it is raining right now, so who knows.

The town feels very empty right now. Forty six (approximately) EBACH students, kids, moms, grandmothers, friends, one American tourist, and Cuando set off in a huge bus on Sunday night, headed out for a six day trip to Mexico City and Guanajuanto, (probably spelled wrong). It was a wonderful to see everyone with all their luggage trekking up to where the bus was waiting (in front of Marta’s new house - the former tortillia tienda kitty corner from the school yard and next to Viki s house) . About fifty people turned out to wave goodbye. I am not sure about this but I believe Viki, the director of the bibliotecha , was the creative spark and organizer behind the trip. My understanding is that donations subsidized the trip for the EBACH students, but I am not sure about that.

During the last ten days of July we had a wonderful group of young adult volunteers from a Pittsburg church group here to work on street signs and some signs reminding us all to use the trash bins. Actually most of the trash cans seem to have disappeared somewhere, but that is probably another story . The kids had worked all year to raise the money for the trip. They worked hard here in Chacala and suffered through some pretty hot weather with smiles and joking. The EBACH kids did a good job of welcoming the volunteers and the kids spent the afternoons working together. Chavala catered two wonderful dinners are her place. There was two big parties, including a wonderful dinner cooked by Poncie and served on the Casa Pacifica roof, and the other at Koko Bongos. The party at Koko Bongo ‘s included a great talent show and lots of dancing by everyone, including all the adults, almost.

The new construction, etc around town is very interesting. At least to me. However, it is hard not to be concerned about infrastructure issues, like the water supply and trash disposal .
  • There is a new house going up on the the hillside above Mahajua, where a small development is now located. Can‘t see much of it as it is kind of tucked away high above the ocean. Apparently more houses will be built up there, over time.
  • The issue the ownership of the lots on former/current (?) eijido land is still unresolved and seems to be heating up. The gossip I have heard is that two factions of the eijido are struggling over the issue of the development of the larger place of land, from Chacala and up the coast. Hard to tell how that will work out.
  • The remodelling its of the upper floor of Casa Tortuga continues and it looks like each of the three units will have a bath with a semi outside hottub and an incredible view.It looks very nice at this stage of the construction. I am not sure, but I think Casa Tortuga is now only for friends and family, not rentals.
  • Mar de Jade and Mahajua are both in the final stages of the construction of their new spa facilities. I have’t looked closely at the Mar de Jade building, but the Mahajua spa is really incredible. I think Jose Enrique has outdone himself. Very beautiful and amazing.
  • The work on the new hotel on the paved road next to Dona Lupe's seems to moving along. One of the workers said they are hoping to finish by October. Who knows.
  • Martine's restaurant, I think it is called Delfinas, located in the middle of where the motor homes area, has a new large palapa roof, which looks very nice. There has been an effort to clean up the trash in that area.
  • There are two new tiendas or puesto (?) buildings on the beach road near Chico's restaurant. They have those sliding steel doors and seem to be selling touristy stuff
  • The restaurant just south of Las Brisas has been sold to some people from San Diego. They have converted the restaurant into a house and the other building into a house for their caretaker, another person from San Diego. They seem to have a fascination with big boy toys, including jet skis and four wheelers. Place looks nice. It is now surrounded by a bamboo fence with a gate. I don't know what their long term plans are. They have a travel trailer parkers in their compound at the moment. The caretaker said it was for their guests.
  • Koko Bongos has opened, or reopened a little market next to the restaurant.
  • Marcella's restaurant has moved from across the street from Koko Bongos to up the beach road, to a nice spot on the north side of the Joker/Juan's, market.
  • Koraneys is getting a second story. The gossip is it is a house for Pepe's family.
  • Aurora and Beto are building a new kitchen attached to their brick house.
  • Berta has been building a new house on her lot for her mom and dad, I think just in case another hurricane or something chases them off the beach again. It has a great view.
  • There is a new large house going up right across from the security gate to Chacallila
  • Beatriz is adding a little patio, to the downstairs room of her Techo building.
  • And the latest Techo house is being built on top of Laura Sura's house. It appears to be almost completed.
  • Alexandro, who opened a bakery here in town about 8 months ago, makes delicious rolls and treat, especially the croissants. They are available at stores around town, fresh daily.
  • The Canadians who built the motor home garage building on the paved road, next to Clemen's house, were in town last month, taking care of things and beginning planning for the new house they are planning to build on top of the garage. it will have a great view I think,
  • There are other things going on, but I am getting bored with this list.
The trash collection is still somewhat problematic. Last week we didn’t have a pickup for ten days. There is still very limited water in town. This year many more local people seem to be buying water from the Mario's big white tanker truck . There are now four swimming pools in town, with at least two more in the planning stages. Not including whatever pools are in the Marina/Chacalila.

There are more Americans here this summer than were here this time last year. Last year there were only one or two, with occasional tourists. This week there are six people planning to be here for the summer, and six more who are here for a week or two. Don't know if this is a fluke or a sign of the times.

Last week I got a taxi ride from Commericale market, in Puerto Vallarta, to the Central Camionera and the driver asked me why so many volunteers come to Chacala. I am thinking that if one of the hundreds of taxi drivers that hang around the bus terminal have noticed volunteers going to Chacala, bit must be pretty noticeable .

Anyway. More later.