Thursday, March 30, 2006

Changes in Chacala

The biggest news in Chacala today is that the ditch for the new water line is moving rapidly towards Chacala. It has reached the first intersection as you arrive in today, just past Casa Chacala. I don't know where the water will be coming from, but the ditch runs almost all to Chacala from somewhere near Las Varas. I have seen some white water pipe lying along various sections of the ditch, but don't really know what's happening. It looks like some of the ditch at the LV end is now filled in. I have been told the waterline will be attached a well near Las Varas.

A couple of days ago Guillermo (the head of the Chacala Water Board) was out near where the beach road leaves the paved road, talking with the guys with the ditchdigging machines. Everyone is exciting and no one seems to expect there really to be water. Also, some people are worried about all the water pipes around town leaking all the new water away. Who knows. As far as I know everyone in town has been buying water for months. Except the Marina Chacala people who seem to have a salty water well. But I am not sure about that.

Tres Hermanos restaurant and the Guadalajara Posada are both building additional rental rooms at their locations. The new room (#9) at Las Brisas looks almost completed. The two rooms being built on the left as you first come into town on the paved road (owned by Augustine) is looking very nice. Not completed, but nice. You can see them from the beach.

Yesterday Lola, who owns or manages the Seashell Motel (used to be the Kenna), across the street from the beach, gave me a nice tour of their six. Very nice. Clean, tiled, nice baths, TV with cable, and air conditioning. Lola said they have hot water. the rooms have either two double beds or a double and two twins. Nicely decorated. $50 US a night, more during Semana Santa. I guess the high price is because it's near the beach. The various Techos are between $25 and $40 a night for much nicer rooms with patios and kitchens (but no TV or aircon). One or two blocks from the beach. In the past I have noticed that most of the renters have very large families. There is an open grassy area in front of the rooms, but no patio furniture, etc. During Semana Santa the yard is filled with campers. No kitchens. Very pleasant rooms, each with a large window in the front of the unit and a small venilation window in the baths. Nice location for people with a bunch of kids who want to be right near the beach, but noisy location.

The noise of construction continues at Casa Azul. Mar de Jade has a large yoga group in this week. Last night they had a very noisy party with very loud music. First time I ever heard music from the south end of the beach. The party ended early. The new spa at Majahua is getting a lot of visits from Chacala visitors. Lots of people coming to check it out. It is so beautiful it is getting alot of word of mouth attention.

There are still some yachts/power boats/catamarans in the bay, but most have headed north or south. We had a busy week with about 12-15 boats an night for the past couple of weeks. The boat people mostly congregrate at Las Brisas and visit with each other. One exception to that was Valerie, who visited via boat last winter and ended up staying for weeks and weeks. She and her partner made day trips all around the area, via bus and taxi. It was nice to see how curious they were about Mexico and this area.

The motor homes are almost all gone, five are still here now (and they have been here all winter) and the rest seem to be packing up to leave town (and Mexico I think).

There was a meeting of the cuesto (shop) people yesterday afternoon. I asked the people in the next space what the meeting was and they said it was a "junta de el syndico", which probably sounds more omninous that I heard it. I pictured a Mafia group or union heavies, but it looked like mostly people from around town. Another example of my not knowing what is going on and making up my own explanation, not based on any particular facts. I asked someone later how often they met and she said, all the time. Talking talking talking, doing nothing nothing nothing.

Yesterday we, Esparanza, and her two daughter-in-laws and I, and all the babies went to dig some more dirt from the nearby (dry) streambed. The wheelbarrow was filled with nice rich looking dirt. We are still accumulating and sharing plants about every other day. I am catching a ride to the vivero, nursery, in La Penita today, looking for some more succulents. The plant lady (who drives around in a pickup) came by Monday and I got a couple of nices plants for 1.50US each. Each plant had three little plants in the pot, so they were easy to share.

If you are thinking of a long stay in Chacala during May thru October, check out pictures of the rentals in Chacala. Several places are offering monthly rates this summer, including Casa Pacifica, the Techo de Mexico units of Aurora, Beatriz, Laura, and Gracia. Actually quite a few rentals offer monthly rates in the summer, including Paul's, Socorro's, and La Sirena.

Take a look (the address is and contact the owners or go to alatawah (at) for more info. Use the symbol @ instead of (at) when emailing. I am trying to avoid spammers, at the advice of KK.

Monday, March 27, 2006

My Chacala Landladies

I have been really lucky with my landladies in Chacala. Aurora was my landlady for my first visit to Chacala, and then again when I returned to stay. I was at Aurora's for about four months. We had lots of fun developing some garden areas at Aurora's, and visiting and talking (really more sign language than talking), and getting to know each other. The family was very nice and I spent alot of time with the two girls, drawing mostly. Or eating cacahuates (peanuts) and playing cards with the whole family.

My first Mother's Day in Chacala Aurora and her daughters came up to where I was housesitting and left me a Mother's Day gift. It made my cry. Aurora and her husband and have been great friends to me. And the rest of her family too. They have taken me on boat trips and a trip to the hot springs, etc etc. Aurora has the most lovely smile. And she is an important person in town, kind of the treasurer for town projects and the Techo group, and involved in the schools and other things around town. It makes me happy to be around her. And her mom, Narcisa is one of my favorite people in town. She makes me feel so welcome and cared for.

The next winter, after housesitting for seven months, I moved to Dona's Lupe's, another Techo. It was affordable for me, mostly because the family wasn't really prepared to serve as landlords. So I rented by the month for six months. I learned lot about the water and electrical systems at that house. It was right next to Aurora's place, across a vacant lot, so we visited alot and did stuff together. I got to know Dona Lupe and her daughter and husband, and struggled to deal with her son. The main struggle was his habit of coming home at midnight, during his stereo or TV on full blast and passing out for the night. Ugh!! But I really enjoyed getting to know the rest of the family. They were usually at their restaurant down near the beach all day. But after they closed the restaurant each evening they would come up to my place to visit and have Cokes and whatever. Dona Lupe's has a nice terrace overlooking town, and was always cool and breezy. We still spend alot of time together, at the restaurant. The Coke truck leaves my Cokes at her place for me to wheelbarrow back to my camp. The Coke truck doesn't like the beach road by my camp. I pay extra for the drop-off service and for using the wheelbarrow. And Dona Lupe and I share plants and give each other little gifts.

Now I am camping (four months so far) at Esparanza's, and she is a good landlady and really nice to ber around. She is always home, managing her large family and the camping area and her other business, a lavendaria for Majahua and the guests from Mar de Jade, Majahua and the campground. Myself included for my sheets, towels, and white tee shirts. We spend alot of time together, talking, sharing plants, drawing and painting with the kids, walking on the beach and so on. Esparanza has eight kids, two adults living in the houses next door with their own little kids, two in University, one almost in University, and an 8th grader and a 1st grader. All boys but one. She is helping me alot with Spanish and I try to help around the place with cleaning up after campers and doing litter patrol every day on the beach between her campground and Mar de Jade. She wanders in and out of my camping space, visiting and letting me know about this and that. Like that the water, vegetable, bread, taco, corn on a stick or ice cream truck is here, for example.

Anyway. I love being around families here in Chacala, and am really going to miss being here at the beach. I am getting comfortable with the lack of privacy. Last night right when I got home from doing errands and visiting with Narcisi I had guests. Aurora, Leila (a guest from Boise who is from Venezula and speaks Spanish) and Lupita (who has Casa Chacala hotel). Luckily on the way home I had asked Frank at the little market to microwave a packet of popcorn for me (it's my latest favorite treat here). So we sat around my table and had Coke and popcorn and talked and laughed and joked for an hour or so. The stars were really really bright and we admired them pointed out the constellations to each other. I am so surprised and pleased that I can mostly follow and participate in the Spanish conversation. At home I didn't have many drop in guests, and here I have them all the time. And I have gotten to really like it. I think not having much control over my environment is probably good for me.

Chacala in the Summer

During my first year ( in the years since) in Chacala I housesat for seven months at a very nice American-owned (and designed) house near the entrance to Marina Chacala.
I thought I was the only gringo in town that year, from the end of June thru early October. Later on that Fall a US guy told me he had been in Chacala all summer. I never saw him for six months, and I have no idea where he might have been staying.

Anyway, two Chacalean residents, Trini and Laura Sura, both English-speakers, were in town most of the time that first summer. They really helped me a lot. Phoning the builder when the roof of the house starting leaking like a sieve. Calling the bug-spray and gas guys for me. Explaining which days the Coke truck and garbage truck come thru town, etc etc.

It is amazing how much Spanish I didn’t learn that first summer in Chacala. Somehow local people could figure out my horrible Spanish and sign-language, and things went okay. Another local man, Juan Luis fixed the electricity system when the water pump for the house went out. He also speaks English and helped me a lot.

The second summer/second year of my residence in Chacala was a little different. I was still housesitting at the same house. But there were more English speaking guests off-and-on all summer. The owners of Casa Pacifica were around all but about 8 weeks of summer. And various other English speakers were here off-and-on. The Canadians who are having a house built, a couple who have a place in the walled-in gated community, a nice couple staying at Mar de Jade for about five months (who spent a lot of time making friends in Chacala), a Swiss family here for a month, a woman from Washington state here for a month learning Spanish and teaching drumming, etc etc etc. Quite a different summer.

Both summers in Chacala I spent most of the days at home, writing, drawing, gardening, cooking and cleaning, making things, having visitors, and last summer, computing. My son brought my lovely Mac laptop down last July and showed me how to Blog, and I have been at it every since.

Usually, summer and winter, I do my own projects during the day, and the visit around Chacala and do errands starting a couple of hours before dark. I like that schedule, but there are times when I get a lot of company during the day, and that’s hard for me. Even if they are very nice, and I enjoy meeting them, I still need a lot of private time for myself.

I am thinking there will only be three US people living (semi-permenantly) here this summer, but I might be wrong. I will be housesitting again, and I am looking forward to it. I am also thinking there will be more summer tourists again this summer. Now that I can fumble along in Spanish I really like being in Chacala with few, in any, English speaking people around. People are very nice and I like not being being good enough at Spanish to be able to gossip and say bad things about people. Slows down my urge to gossip and malign people quite a bit.

Chacala Tourist Season and the Gringo Population

Another Chacala gringo tourist season will be finishing up in the next few days. And the high point of the Mexican tourist season starts in about 11 days with Palm Sunday weekend, and then peters out the weekend after Easter Sunday. The last few long-stay tourists from Canada and the US (here from around Christmas thru the end of March, generally) are pulling up stakes. Well, not actually stakes. But extension cords, and the 4” plastic flexible pipes they use to bury their bodily fluids, etc in the sand. Plus some of the long—term campers share their discards with local people, including various miscellany, like straw mats, tarps, food, plastic buckets and boxes, etc. And the few small campers and minivans or whatever on the beach now are generally just here overnight, on their way north. There will still be non-Mexican tourists in the rest of the year, but not many, and not often. A good time to visit if you want to learn Spanish rather than hang around with other English-speaking tourists.

As of today, not counting the remaining tourists, or the few gringos who own places in the gated community (Marina Chacala) or people at a yoga retreat at Mar de Jade, there are (I think) five gringos actually living permanently in Chacala right now. That’s not counting the guy who is building, or overseeing the building, of a restaurant or something on the beach. I don’t know where he is actually living. And not counting the three US citizens who work at Mar de Jade most of the time. And even most of few the “permanent” residents tend to spend long periods out of Mexico.

Then there are the gringos who “own” houses in Chacala and who visit Chacala occasionally. That would include the big orange place way up the hill overlooking town, the two Canadian couples who are in the process of building houses on the east side of the paved road, and the owner of the place I have been housesitting the past few summers. And the guy with the red truck/gold camper has built some kind of bodega on his eijido lot. He is living in the trailer parked there, next to Casa Pacifica. Rumor is, however, that he is leaving town. And Ana, who has a open-style house up the hill next to the big orange place. The restaurant builder is also building a sort-of-a-house near the Marina gate. I think I have that right.

And then there are gringos who own either legal lots in Chacala proper, or eijido lots around the edge of Chacala.

And then there are the owners of rentals or former rentals who come to Chacala occasionally, but aren’t really involved in the town. Like the (new) co-owner of Casa Azul, the two co-owners of Casa Tortuga, and the owner of the new hotel, who is a Mexican-American living in Palm Springs. And T, who has the two nice yellow rentals near Trini’s. And developer of the lots on the hillside above the ocean south of Chacala. And a women who lives in California and owns two small potential rentals kind of near the school.

Quite a few of the houses and undeveloped lots “owned” by gringos in Chacala are in the eijido (communal land) section of Chacala, which are currently under some kind of court struggle. No building permits for those lots, so far. I wrote “owned” in quotes because no foreigners can directly own land within 30 or so miles of the border or the ocean. I guess the options are to have a Mexican citizen spouse, pay for a bank trust, or to set up a Mexican corporation here, which can own land. I am no expert about this stuff, but that’s what I have heard. If you are interested in more information on the topic of land ownership in Mexico you can go to Rolly Brook’s website ( for more info.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Kids on the Chacala Beach

My camping area is right on the beach, under some palm trees. I have noticed that the local little kids that lived right here, Carlos, Markito, Jasmine, and Gilberto (ages 2-6 years) rarely play on the beach or in the water. The big boys surf along that part of the beach quite a bit, but not the little kids.

But today when I walked out on the beach to tell an idiot tourist that he couldn’t drive his pickup on the beach, the kids ran out on the beach with me. We ended up digging holes in the sand, which quickly filled with water. Then moms of those kids came out with the the little neighborhood kids and we all ended up jumping over the incoming tide and plopping around in the holes we dug. Very fun. Four young moms and nine kids all playing in the shallow ocean water. Reminded me playing on the beach at Malibu with my cousins and brother. We spent hours digging holes and running along the tide line, collecting seashells and star fish and abalone shells.

I spent a couple hours on the computer this afternoon. Watched the ocean from my tent windows and used up my battery power. Now I am up at Majahua getting charged up and interneting. It's so beautiful up here. Carmen, one of the owners, has a nice little "store" on the dining terrace, full of very nice and unusual things.

I am getting organized up for moving further back away from the beach for Semana Santa. They built a new ramada for me because they charge alot more than they charge me for the beachfront spots. The guy that owns the place I housesat for the past two summers isn't sure when he is leaving Chacala yet, so I am planning on being on the beach for awhile. I really love it here on the beach. The ocean, the sun, living outside, the nice family, etc. And little contact with the rest of the town. Or cars. Etc.

But the rain and bugs get pretty serious from about July thru mid October, so I guess having a real roof will be nice. For awhile anyway. It's kind of odd that I pay rent to live on the beach, and the nice house I stay in for the summer is rent-free. Not work-free though. It's amazing how much work it takes to keep that house and "grounds" clean and tidy. And the plants alive. And each year there are some problems that require calling someone in. Like the roof leaking, electrical problems, etc.

It's a nice house, but things happen, and sometimes it takes alot of work to find the fixer, and make arrangements, etc etc etc. The house I housesit in is an owner-designed house in a quasi-Mexican style, and it's very, very nice. And it has great cross-venilation. I think it's the most comfortable house in Chacala in the summer.

Anyway, I will miss the beach, but love having a beautiful terrace, an oven to cook in, and an internet connection in house. I have been warned not to use complete email address in order to beat the spam machines. So if you want to write email me at alatawah at Or go to to post photos or stories about your time in Chacala.

Chacala Palmas

Until I came to Chacala I didn’t have much experience with palm trees. In Los Angeles, where I grew up, there were palms everywhere, but mostly they were discussed in terms of the rats that lived in at the top of the palms. The big kids would try to hit the rats with their BB guns. And in Hialeah FL, where I worked at a school for disturbed kids (that is, children of disturbed and inadequate wealthy parents), the rats would run across the sidewalks at night. Bigger then small dogs.

But here in Chacala palm, or palmas, are very valuable. The town is set in a palm grove that was (I believe) planted in the 1950’s. Marie/Palila has told me she came to Chacala as a child to help plant the palms. I have been reading a little booklet about the history of Chacala, and it mentions a tsumani and a couple of hurricanes that have come through Chacala. And a lot of the palms are still standing. Don’t know how many have died for various reasons. During hurricane Kenna, in October 2002, a lot of the sand was stripped away from the bases of the palms, but I can’t tell if that killed any palms or not. When I came here the first time, in November 2002 , and then again in March-April of 2003, some of the palms were being removed, maybe because they were dead or dying. Don’t know.

What I do know is that palms are a widely used construction material. This weekend, Leovardo, husband of my landlady, has been re-building the showers and toilet stalls here at the camping area. Someone in the family brought a truck load of palm fronds from the hills around town. Then the green fronds are trimmed from the main stems, which become like 2x4’s, and are used as structural members for the walls dividing the shower and toilet stalls. They are about 12 feet long and are wired or tied in place. The uprights are posts made from tree trunks, which generally sprout into trees, offering shade to the area. Also offering leaves falling into the toilets, which can clog the toilets.

I love taking showers here at the beach. In the past, at the place I have been a housesitter in the warm season, I turn off the gas water heater (too cheap to pay for gas for hot water) . Then I either take luke-warm showers in the bathroom or take showers outside using the hot water heated by the sun in the garden hose. But here I shower in nice hot water every day about 2 or 3 in the afternoon. The water is heated in the big pipe that brings the water around to each shower head. And the sun shines right down on me and the water is very warm and comfy. I love standing in the hot water in the sunshine.

I got a messy and painful ear infection here a couple of years ago, and the ear doctor told me that it is important to take make sure your ears are regularly washed in warm water showers. I guess in the old days before hot showers, people had serious problems with wax build-up in their ears. Plus, the sand from the ocean tends to get embedded in earwax, causing problems. According to this guy, the sandy earwax is itched and people scratch the itches with whatever, and then end up with small cuts in their ear, which become infected. It kind of makes sense to me. Who knows.

Back to the palm fronds. My little camping area is covered with a ramada. It’s about 8 or 9 feet high, and about 18 by 36 feet, plus a little sunny, sand garden opening out onto the beach. I have seashells out there, and driftwood, plants, bead and shell wind chimes and stuff out there for decoration.

The roof of my ramada is built by planting posts in a rectangle that includes one or two palms, (for stability I think). Then a few rafter-type posts are tied to the vertical posts . Then the long palm fronds, maybe 20 feet each, are laid across the roof rafters. Nice and shady. And it catches the breeze off the water.

There are some drawbacks to this kind of construction, though. For one things, it’s not waterproof. For another, the coconuts falling from the palms come right thru the roof like missiles. Plus The palms are self-pruning, so when on the giant palms fall down and break off the tree trunk, they tend to come crashing down on the ramadas. It’s kind of scary when the whole roof shakes and all kinds of crud falls down onto the tents and my eating table.

People have told me scorpions and rats like to live in ramadas, but I have not seen proof of that, and I don’t look because I don’t want to know. I have my outside light bulb hanging over my eating and visiting table. It’s attached to one of the palm fronds by a wire, and I am very careful not to stick my fingers up into the greenery.

People camping here like to make small campfires with the dried palms. The “leaves”, or fronds, over whatever dry into perfect kindling, and the thick stems burn for quite awhile.

The high-end use for palm products around here are the giant palapa roofs built over some of the restaurants. They are maybe 30 or more feet high, and look wonderful from both underneath (where you can see the woven design of the fronds), and the outside, where they look thatched.

I just read an articles in a “rich people houses” magazine that said that the wood of palm trees is practically indestructible and good for floors. Etc. New to me. I have been trying to draw palm trees every since I got here. The trunks are so beautiful, with lovely patterns caused by the fronds breaking loose from the truck. The colors are soft browns and greys. Hard to draw but pretty to look at.

One of Esperanza’s sons just drove up in his pickup, loaded with palm fronds. Fresh, green, and just macheted fresh from the tree. They are for the new ramada in front on the house of the eldest son, whose house is next door to my landlady. They build the frame of tree posts and stripped palm fronds in the last few days, and now they are putting the fronds up on the “rafters”. It will give them a nice outside shady place that faces in the ocean. Nice for summertime.

Plus, the palms grow coconuts, which are used for everything, especially for drinks. They chop the top of the coco off with a machete and then stick in a straw for drinking. I think they add flavoring sometimes too. When the coconut gatherers show up, they climb the tree, maybe 40 or 50 feet tall, barefoot, without a safety line. They carry a rope up to tie around the clump of maybe 20 coconuts. After they tie the rope around the clump, they lower the clump. Very slowly so none of the cocos get cracked. Last year someone told me they get 50 pesos a tree to clear the coconuts over parking lots and motor homes.

Don't forget to check out the Friends of Chacala blog.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Chacala and Sunshine

The whales are still around. Saw a couple of little ones this morning. The sun was out at 6am and I wore shorts and a tee shirt all day. Cooked breakfast, washed some clothes by hand, drew for awhile, read in the hammock until the sun was too strong. Drew some more and talked with visitors. Moved my potted flowers out into the sunny part of my "yard".

Onto some gossip. There is a new teacher at the Kinder, at least for the moment. Trini and I walked over there last night. The new room looks great. The desks and shelves are nice too. I am not sure what will happen with the old room. For now, it looks like storage.

Om, sister of Jose Enrique and Laura de Valle, is building a restaurant, designed by Jose Enrique, kind of behind the old stone pillars right above the little boat beach. The pillars that have the figtree vines wrapped around it. It looks to me like the new construction is not touching the old pillars. A couple of the old pillars are leaning over, have been for quite awhile. Having the restaurant may save the pillars. Some people are upset about the construction, but I don't know the whole story. I know that when there is a public debate about something people always have private agendas, usually different from the ones they voice in the public debates. And I don't have any idea what the underlying issues are on this topic. Lalo seems to be leading (?) the way.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Semana Santa is Coming to Chacala

People in Chacala are working hard getting ready for Semana Santa. The little cuesto (?) stands are getting spiffed up with paint and new roofs, and people are starting to move stuff it.

More ramadas for camping are goinging up along the beach. This weekend was a practice run for Semana Santa I think. It was a four day weekend, with the birthday of Benito Juarez and the first day of Spring. Lots and lots of people. The people camping around me were nice families that went to bed early, or at least were quiet. No loud radios and lots of nice people to visit with and talk to.

I spent a lot of time sitting with my landlady, Esparanza, while she collected money from people using the toilets and showers. She told me lots of new gossip (new for me) and about the good old days, other stuff. Nice times for me. The kids have be doing clay (plasticine) with me and making stuff with sea shells. Pretty fun.

Nice relaxing days with no particular agenda. Usually I go walk around town just before sundown, delivering messages, making arangements about rentals, buying garbage bags for the trash I pick up on the beach everyday, visiting with people, etc. I can't remember if I mentioned how nice Chico's looks with a new yellow paint job inside. And lots of tidying up going on. Very nice. The bar looks great too.

Las Brisas continues to be the restaurant of choice for people who want to hang around with other English speaking visitors. There have been about 10 yachts (and power boats) a night in the harbor, with most of them leaving in the morning. It looks like most of them are heading north. I like watching them motor out, and then get under sail. The sails look so beautiful, billowing in the wind, catching the sunshine, gliding thru the water.

There is alot going around town that I am not catching up on because I spend most of my time on the beach. I do hear lots of gossip that is probaby incorrect. Like the gated community was just bought Japanese investors, etc.

The town is selling special Chacala trash cans. I am not sure what the deal is, but they kind of pivot in a stand and look nice.

After some motos (4 wheel noisy, smelling little machines) were von the beach on Thursday night and Saturday am the town enforced the State Transito Police rules about no vehicles on the beach, and we had a nice quiet weekend. Except for the ever-annoying Jet-skis. I can't wait until someone puts sugar in their gas tanks or cuts them loose. It amazes be how inconsiderate some visitors, particularly regarding Jet-skis and motor bikes. One of the Jet skis just missed two young swimmers who were playing in the waves on Sunday. Just missed. People in the water started screaming and yelling at the driver, but he circled back and did it again. Very weird. If they don't ban Jetskis from Chacala, maybe they could insist they stay beyond the buoy or go over to Chacalilli. I know, always complaining.

For the second time I heard one of the guys from the US who is building here talking about the restuarant he is apparently building a disco. I don't know if he is kidding or not. Just what Chacala needs, loud music during the night, provided by someone looking to make the big bucks. I hope I misunderstood what he said or his intentions. You never know in Chacala. Something different everyday.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Chacala Sunday

Woke up to a beautiful sunny morning. Warm and comfortable at 6am. Lots of people on the beach and swimming early in the morning. Some more families moved in last night, one with a yapping dog. Ugh. But otherwise things quieted down early and I slept well. This morning the three grandpa/brothers and their kids left. I was sorry to see them go. The men were in their 70's maybe, and very polite and humorous. Two spoke English and had lived in the US, so we had lots of funny joking around. The family that spent the afternoon yesterday next to my camp were alos very fun to be around. Invited to share their delicious fish and I let them cool some beer in my refrigerator. Nice family. Nice kids. Don't know who will be here today, but it will probably be fun.

I am still having zipper problems, but the solution seems to be on the way, with replacement zippers coming via my son. I think i will try gluing, rather sewing them in place. Finally found some more small propare cylinders for my stove, at Mega. 50 pesos each. Ugh.

Lots of sand fleas on the beach and I am scared they will get into the tent.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Comfy and Quiet Chacala Day

Chacala as been really nice today. Sunny, clear and warm. This is a three-day holiday weekend and there are two big families camping at Esperanza's. One family is three older men with the three grandchildren of one of them. (Aged about 6 and 7). The men are trying to catch fish in front of our beach, and doing okay. The other group and a half dozen kids and a very very pregnant woman. Nice to have neighbors (that aren't too close).

Early morning I headed up to the Kinder (garten) with a backpack full of contributions from various Chacala visitors. People who visited Chacala around Christmas brought lots of stuff, which I passed onto Sarai, the president of the Parents group. She took everything over to the Kinder when it reopened after the vacation. Since then a number of people have brought colored pens, pencils, and crayons, and PAPER!!! for the Kinder, and I though this would be a good day to walk up there and deliver the goodies. But, luck was with me, and the collectivo came by just as I got to the road, and the Kinder teacher, Julietta was aboard. So I handed over the loot and when back home. Saved a walk in the hot sun.

Back at the camp E. came over and we took some cutting from my new coleuses and then we when over to her plants and she gave me two little and two big aloe plants. Very nice. We were standing around looking at her garden when a truck arrived from Compostella with alot of plants for sale. I somehow managed to resist buying anything, partly because I am focused on succulents right now, and also, they were too expensive. It was amazing. The truck came up, no horn tooting or anything and within 3 minutes there were 9 people surrounding the truck. In a neighborhood with hardly any neighbors. There is some kind of secret telegraph here that keeps everyone up to speed.

The two littlest boys here, Markito and Gilberto came over and had cookies and played with clay and toothpicks. I was cutting up a grapefruit at the table and the boys were amazed to see me cutting it in half and into sections. They are used to peeling citrus I guess. They really wanted to eat the little pieces and we gobbled them up. Cookies were forgotten.

Two motos started zooming up and down the beach mid day, and I took down their licenses and truck license numbers and took them over to Juan's. He was at Lalo's and he told me the police would come down later, and that there would be police here every weekend. Then he and Lalo started talking and I didn't really understand the conversation, but Juan seemed uncomfortable and I left.

The water truck came to E's mid-day and they were filling a new water storage tank (tinacho) and filling every water storage unit around the house. I think they are expecting alot of visitors for this weekend. Monday is Benito Juarez day, which will make a three-day weekend.

Nice afternoon in the hammock, reading a great book, and then tidying up my tent and trying to fix the zipper.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

A Little Chacala Garden

Chacala has been a hard place for me to start gardening. Everything, the plants, soil. climate, temparatures, humdity is so different from what I used to. I am starting to think that you can successfully get starts (new plants) from almost any plant that grows around here, just by sticking the cutting in the dirt and leaving it along. The fenceposts all grow into trees. The post that surround the showers and toilets where I am camping have grown into small trees, shading the area.

My little plant collection is starting to look kind of nice. I have 12 pots (actually 10 peso/90 cent buckets) filled with plants. Some of the dirt is from the creek bed and the rest is from the local plant nursery. I am getting hungry for plants, although I have bunch of starts and some pots where the seeds are just beginning to sprout.

So this morning I got rides down to La Penita, the next town south of Las Varas, on the highway. It was easy getting down to La Penita. Someone picked me up right on the road, and then out on the highway a cab came along right away. One of the passengers was a woman I met last week going somewhere. She sells Mary Kay and is learning English. So we practiced English as we sped toward La Penita.

In La Penita walked down to the Thursday market and looked at the plants there, which were much too expensive, between $2 and $6 dollars. Then got some buckets for pots, and stopped at the used clothing space at the market. I have been going thru their "Hawaiiana" shirts whenever I go to the market, but I never wanted to pay 75 pesos (about 7 dollars). but my two "nice" shirts that I wear to town, etc, are both disinigrating, so I went ahead and spent the money. I really like the shirt. I washed it get I got home, and am going to wear it next week when I go to visit the botanical garden south of PV.

Bought a pineapple (50 cents), a cantaloupe (60 cents), and two grapefruits (30 cents) and walked back up to the highway. There's a shady place to sit and wait for the right taxi or collectivo. There is alot a construction going on in the area right now, but someone was directing traffic and calling out which destination each vehicle was heading for. I waited about 10 minutes. Someone sat down next to me, and introduced himself as a sign painter who had seen me around Chacala when he was painting signs there. Asked me to say hello to some individuals in Chacala. Nice conversation. I can't remember if we talked in Spanish or English. I guess that's a good sign that my Spanish is slightly improving. My landlady is teaching me numbers right now, and I seem to be getting better at hearing prices and understanding them.

Caught a collectivo and got off at the plant nursery a couple of K's north of La Penita. Got four nice plants, a yellow Lantana, and two really nice coleuses and something with a pink blossom, for $40 pesos. Stood on the road waiting for another collectivo, and got picked up by someone I had riden with before. And he had my lost sunglasses for a month ago. Pretty nice.

Got off at the Cucero de Chacala, at the fruit stands, and waited for a couple of minutes, and Beto, Aurora's (my first landlady here) husband came by in a friend's truck, and they took me home.

The plants look great, and I shared the coleuses with the neighbors. We are going to get more dirt this evening.

Six boats came in last night, and will probably be gome in the am. The grassy part of the motor home camp is empty, and there are about 7 motor homes left on the main beach area, and about 4 spread long the south end of the beach road. Getting quiet. I think most all the Canadian and US visitors will be gone in about 10 days. Just guessing.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Chacala Family Life

This morning I was lying in my hammock, tied between two palms, reading a book and thinking about how lucky I am. I was watching the little family, oldest son of my landlady, his pregnat wife, and the almost-two year old little girl.

He was weaving a fishing net, something he spends alot of time on. He runs the rope that forms the edges of the net from the palm tree my hammock it tied to, and then all around the open area around my camp, from one tree to another. The netting fabric comes pre-made, from plastic-y stuff, and he weaves into the ropes that form the edges and adds weights and floats and other stuff. The nets are about 8 feet wide and really long, maybe 1000 feet or so. The weaving is down with a sort of a knife shaped shuttle object, around which he wraps the twine he uses to weave. When he or his wife finishes loading the shuttle/knife up he cuts the twine by picking up a rock and smashing it against the strand of twine lying on another rock.

This morning his wife was wrapping the twine onto the shuttle while he was weaving, and the baby, Jasmine, was picking up rocks and trying to smask little pieces of twine. It was so nice lying there enjoying the family scene. Every once in a while Jasmine would toddle over and hand me something, or wave at me from her mom's knee. The two little two year olds that live in this area both are calling me by name now. I really like that.

The gringo tourist season continues to wind down now. For the first time in months there are no "yachties" in Chacala, and most of the motor homes and campers are just stopping for a day or two on their way north. The people who have parked here all winter are making plans for driving north.

Went to a nice little birthday dinner last night at Chico's. It was celebrating the 67th birthday of a woman from Taos, who has had a long visit here. She is taking a break from her family life to step back and think about her life, etc. The other guests were almost all older women and it was very nice for me to hear what other women are thinking about and their experiences here and in other places.

I think this is a good place for some single women who want to take a time out from their other lives and make a longer visit. It takes awhile to settle in here, I think, and to figure out the ins and outs of life in a small Mexican village. Then you can relax and give yourself time to think and read and visit and draw or meet people or help out around town, or hike, bird watch, or just swim, have hammock time, daydream, etc. My favorite activity at the moment, besides reading and eating drawing and messing with plants, is staring into space.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Chacala and Gardening

Chacala has a really different gardening climate than what I am used to in the US. I was gardening in Zone 5 and 6 in the US for almost 40 years and this is probably zone 16 or something. Never colder than 64 or so, and never hotter than mid ninties with rain and alot of humidity from late June thru early October. I am not sure about those temperature numbers because I only occasionally have a thermometer, but I think that's about right.

My current landlady here in Chacala, Esparanza, and her daughter -in-law, Henia, are both flower gardeners and we have been sharing plants and seeds during my stay here. On Thursday I went to the La Penita street market and got some plants. mostly for 20 pesos, about 1.85USD each. When I got home we divided up the plants and took cuttings and we all ended up with a bunch of new stuff. Very satisfying.

I am focusing on succulent type plants, plus the things I see other people growing here.
I think I might be gardening closer to the actual ocean water than anyone else in town, and I am worried about the impact of the salt water and constant breeze, but so far, everything is looking okay. I have been buying three gallon plastic buckets with handles for about 90 cents US. They are cheaper than the crappy plastic pots and the beautiful clay pots they have here and they seem to work okay. I have started lots of plants from seed, including coleus and morning glory vines, and they are doing okay. I was surprised about the coleus but so far they look good.

Yesterday Henia and I took the wheelbarrow over to the little streambed near Marde Jade and dug up some soil. Both Henia and Esperanza tested the soil by smelling it. We brought Henia's three month old, Wendy, and her two year old son Markito, and Esparanza's 6 year old, Carlos along. We had the wheelbarrow, with Carlos driving, and Henia pushing a stroller with the baby and Markito reading on the front wheel. Nice little walk. Felt like we were a little parade.

This morning I moved plants around and kind of mixed up the soil from three different sources: one of the La Penita nurseries, a local field, and the heavy soil from yesterday. Looks pretty good. We'll have to see how the transplanting goes. I have been starting plants by taking cuttings and sticking them in the dirt, and most of them are successful. Also mostly they are at Aurora's, because of the salt water air here.

I think Las Brisas wins the prize for the nicest plants/garden at a restaurant here in Chacala, and the Mirador and Aurora's tie for gardens at rentals. And then both of Berta's gardens at her house and at Casa Pacifica are REALLy really nice. Just my opinion of course.

The focus around Chacala is still on Semana Santa, about April 8th thru the 22 or so. New ramadas for rent on the beach, old ramadas on the beach road are being spiffed up, and some of the rentals than normally only rent for Easter Week are now being cleaned up, etc. Esparanza and her husband have build a new ramada for me for the two weeks of Semana Santa. It's more private and back away from all the families and stuff. We'll see how it goes I guess.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Walking around Chacala

I walked around town this morning, after having breakfast at Casa Pacifica. First time I have eaten there in a couple of months. Had a nice breakfast and visit with the people there. Went looking for Trini and the Rotary folks who are working on the Kinder. Found the kids and teacher having classes outside the Kinder building, while the Rotaries fixed the roof and other things. The new room is lovely, and, according to Trini, the State offered new desks, which might be a first for the Chacala Kinder (getting State support, I mean) . The parents group had painted a new mural on the Kinder wall. The bano was fixed up, and things looked great. It's great that the parents group is so active.

Went by Casa Azul after hearing from several people that the construction had started there and that the noise was very disturbing. It looks like the whole lot will be filled. It's hard to see where the path down to the patio overlooking will be located. It's really hard to get used to changes I guess. Oh well. Life goes on I guess.

I have been thinking alot about what kind of people enjoy being in Chacala. Some people that usually go on to somewhere else are people who want to eat late, after dark, and party, and dance and have loud music in the evening. My opinion is that this is not a party town. Because this isn't that kind of town, except during Semana Santa. I think that in the past Chacala has mostly drawn (tourists from the US and Canada) social services type people who would like to "make a difference" on their vacation in Mexico. But lately I have thought that has been changing for awhile.

One of the residents of Chacalila (Marina Chacala) has been offering internet classes to some of the local kids on Saturday morning. Which may explain how it was that yesterday morning Mario, son of Leo of KoKo Bongo's, who is about 10, was Googling Chacala and looking for their restaurant and his friends, etc in the pictures that he found. I suppose the kids take it for granted that they and their town in on the Internet. The computer guy spent last Saturday taking digital pictures with the kids, and now they are probably going to open a blog about their life in Chacala. I really like the idea.

Blogger, the blog site I use, is free and is also run in Spanish, so the kids can easily put their pictures up, etc. It reminds me of the FoxFire project in Appalachia in the 70's, where kids from rural areas interviewed the elders in their communities and wrote magazines with the articles in them. Then eventually books were published with their interviews and articles about old-time skills, etc. Very neat and perfect for Chacala kids maybe.

The road that cuts down from the paved road down into the beach road has reopened after being closed for a couple of weeks. The cobbles have been cemented in place now on the top 30 feet or so. Much easier to walk on. It's the road that is at the corner of Concha's Techo de Mexico place.

The weather is horrible, with earthquakes, and the Las Cuevas volcano is oozing lava tonight, and a hurricane is expected tomorrow, so if you were planning to come down this week, you should probably cancel. Just kidding, but I am startingto wonder if it is a bad idea to be promoting Chacala this way. My original idea was that this was for my friends and people that had visited Chacala and wanted to hear about what's going on here.

But I think who reads it has changed. Alot of people who are googling Chacala because they are planning to come down are reading this blog now. I love the idea that some people are reading and enjoying this blog, but I know there are people who consider themselves to be "oldtimer" visitors to Chacala who think it's a bad idea to promote the rentals owned by local people here in Chacala.

It IS my intention with the Chacala Budget Rentals blog to promote Chacala, because I hate to see nice, affordable rental units empty during the off season (mid-April thru mid-Novemeber), when local people could be making some income. So I am having mixed feeling about this blog business. And then there is the phenomena where the last person who arrives here doesn't want anymore people to come. Oh well.

You can provide feedback by emailing alatawah at or going to "Friends of Chacala" to leave your opinion. You can use the User Name of chacalaplaya and Password of chacalablog to voice your opinion about whatever.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Rotary in Chacala

One of the Omaha Rotary's was in town last week, following up on their work the past few years on the Kinder and Telesecundaria. This week their partners, Shawnee (K.C.) Rotary is doing more work on both places. They are wiring in six ceiling fans at the Telesecundaria (Jr. High) and fixing the roof on the original Kinder, repairing the bathroom, and doing shelves, painting, and other stuff on the new Kinder room, which was also funded by the Rotaries and built by Noe (Vicki's husband) and his helper Javier. I talked with Tom Miller and David Houston of the Shawnee Rotary and was really impressed with their attitude and hard work. They are working on hooking up with some other Rotary groups in Tepic in order to get more funding for international projects. Rotary is really impressive. I am really amazed at all the good work they do all over the world.

Chacala Thoughts

I have been thinking alot about what it's okay to write about on this blog. Particularly when some of the people that read it are interested in coming to Chacala and making decisions about where to stay, etc.

I know I do some self editing, and also that some of the things I write are only my opinions and my reality (and that sometimes I probably present my version of reality as the "Truth").

And sometimes I make mistakes, or have a very different view of reality in Chacala than some other people.

It's hard to know what's okay to write, and what's destructive or not nice or something.

I have gotten pressure (I guess that's the right word) from a couple of rental owners about what I have commented on. In both cases I mentioned something negative that I had personally experienced/seen. And I know other times I may have made mistakes or assumptions that were wrong, or misunderstood something. If I find out I erred I try to correct what I said as soon as I realize I misunderstood a situation or whatever.

But when I saw something with my own eyes, and know it was something I would want to know about when I was making my decision about where to stay in Chacala, I usually feel like telling it like I saw it. Which does not go over well sometimes.

Sometimes I am torn between wanting to please people I like and respect here, and wanting to share my experience and observations here. Maybe it's feeling toward between loyalty to people I like who live here, and a desire to provide as accurate information about rentals, etc here in Chacala as I can.

I have decided to be really, really be careful and make sure I know what I am talking about before I make negative comments about rentals. And I am going back and reviewing what I have written before in order to update any changes or improvements or correct any errors.

It's another beautiful day in Chacala. Whales were out this morning. The water is perfect. Sunny and high seventies about 10am. Another perfect day in paradise. More or less.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Chacala from the Sky

A guy who posts on the Lonely Planet Thorntree message board sent me a picture of Chacala from the sky that I really like. I think it was taken by someone named Katie from SF. But then I couldn't move it over to Blogger. I will try again later.

When I was in Las Varas a few days ago I was in a little store, a grocery, and as I was waiting to check out I looked up and realized they had a functioning security camera, in full color. Really surprised me.

Then I had another surprise when I was going thru the clothing in one of the used clothing booths at the Friday street market in LV. A bunch of the clothes had Value Village (a big US chain of thrift shops) tags on them. I asked Jesus, a former neighbor in Chacala, whose wife runs the booth said someone in his family ships the stuff down, or brings it down from the US. I guess I should have realized that the clothes I see in the booths came down in bulk lots, and were not donations from visitors or something.

Anyway..... another beautiful day with whales swimming by. about 70 degrees F at 6am and about 82-84 mid afternoon. Lots of sun and a nice breeze off the ocean. The are about 20 motor homes around town and five "yatchies". I am computing from Majahua and five of the boat people are here enjoying the view, having a drink, and sharing stories about this and that.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Chacala and Me and Consumerism

I just finished reading the March issue of Tricycle magazine, which I think is officially a Tibetan Buddhist magazine. But most of the articles and coverage seems to be aimed at any kind of Buddhist or person who meditates. My son brought that issue and a copy of the latest Shambala Sun down last week. Plus The Sun, another great mag. Those are the magazines
I miss the most in Mexico. People have been really nice about bringing them down to me.

Anyway, one of the many great articles this quarter/month was about consumerism from the Buddhist point of view. One of the remarks was that to make the most effective changes to reduce your consumer/environmental impact, you should look at your transportation and housing/energy usage. I thought, well I am doing pretty well with transportation since I haven't had a car for more than two years. And I almost always ride public transportation or get a ride with someone who is already heading my way. But then I started thinking about a car ride I took with a friend of mind a few days ago. It would have been just as easy to take some collectivo rides to get there and we didn't even consider the idea. I don't know why.

Anyway. My direct energy usage is pretty minimal. I have two light bulbs, one for my tent and one for the eating table outside. And I only use one or the other at a time. Plus my small refrigerator. But I do use electricity from somewhere about three times a week to charge my computer battery. The electricity at my place comes via four or five extension cords and serves five different buildings plus the camping area. So I am nervous about using it for the computer. A

And my ramada ( the open, roofed structure coverning my tent and camping area) is made from wood posts that have already re-sprouted and are now small trees. And the covering is prunings from palm trees. And the floor is a rock base covered with sand. Pretty ecological I guess. I use toilets that are flushed with buckets of water, and showers that are warmed by the sun mid day. I do have trash, but not much.

But I am still filling some of the holes in my life with consumerism-type activities. Lately I was on a kick for about two weeks about these colorful plaid plastic carry-all type bags they have around here. I got the idea (after two years of thinking they were really ugly) that they would be good for hanging on my rope clothelines and storing tools and toilet paper and my umbrella, etc. So for about three town trips in a row I was focused on looking for these bags. It sort of keep me focused on anything but me for a bit. They only cost about a dollar etc, but it was the distracting quality of my short-lived fascination with collecting the bags that seems sad to me.

But, on the other hand. I make do most of the time. Replace elastic, mend clothes, look for stuff I can use (like wooden crates in the trash for bookshelves, etc) I can use, and make things for myself rather than buy, buy used clothes to replace my disinigrating wardrobe. I have been wondering if my favorite expense, magazines, is another consumerism thing. I guess it is. Both seeing all the ads, and just seeking out my favorites.

At least I have given up TV again. After about a month of watching a novela (soap opera) about three nights a week, I got disgusted and quit. I really never have liked TV very much. I rarely watched it as a child, and didn't have one (no electricity or access) from 1960 til the mid 80's. Really, it was hanging around with the crew at Chico's that was the draw anyway. But now that Ms. Chico, Narcisa, is having bed rest at her daughter Aurora's, there isn't much of a draw to watch TV. Except for that month of the soaps I haven't watched TV at all for about 27 months. No biggy. Or seen a movie either, now that I think of it. I am a reading addict though.

I am tired of writing about this, but I am thinking about how I keep myself distracted via collecting objects, even seashells, sea glass, driftwood, etc for my camp.

Just a reminder, if you want to contact Trini about Spanish classes you can email her at trinimoya2 (at) or go to Trini's blog. When emailing use the symbol @ rather than (at) please,

Or for info about airport pickups/rides to Chacala, boat rides to watch whales or surf go to airport pickups and boat rides

Chacala Thoughts

I went into Las Varas this morning, Friday. This is the day the LV street market is open and I wanted to get some plants and maybe some pots. And some elastic for a sewing project, and some peanuts. Everything went well, except no plants. I think I was there too early.

I intended to arrive about 8:30am, but, darn, the collectivo came by just as I walked out to the beach road, so I got into LV about 20 minutes after I walked away from my camp. Or about 7:50 am. Going home went well too. As I was walking up to the collectivo stop in LV a young woman started to talk to me. She was local and wanted to practice her English with me. Her English was good and it turned out her teacher was Trudy, a Canadian who lives in La Penita. Trudy taught English classes to Chacala students and adults for about six or eight months last year.

The woman, Consuela, and I got on the La Penita collectivo (she was on her way to work) and I got off at the Crucero de Chacala. I walked around the corner, and a couple of young women who work at Mar de Jade picked me up about two seconds later. So it was a very quick trip. I was home before 9:30am. Some kind of record for me.

The market was great. I got two three gallon buckets (plastic) to use for planter pots. They were only 10 pesos, compared to 35pesos ( about 3.25 US) for regular pots the same size. They had the elastic I wanted, and the peanuts. And two nice little wallet cards of Guadalupe and a couple of grapefruits. I found some gladiola bulbs, which I shared with Esperanza. She didn't recognize the name, but we are going to look them up in the Spanish language plant book I gave her later.

The plant truck wasn't at the market, but when I got home Esperanza and Henia told me the plant truck is coming by on Sunday morning, coutesy of Maria/Palila. She's the small lady who is busy all over town and knows alot about plants and herbs. Last summer we traded lots of plants and I learned alot from her. Plus, when the plant truck came driving around Chacala, she would run up to Gordon's house to let me know they were in town. In return, I would get a couple of plants for her.

Last night Esparanza, and a couple of her adult sons, were visiting at my camp, and it came up that E. goes thru my trash (I put it in a large black plastic bag and carry them over to her house when they are half full). I had a package of twelve white washcloths my son had brought me sitting on the table while we were having cookies and apple juice. E. told me she had found one of the washcloths in the trash and had washed it for me. Then we started talking about what I put in the trash. I was sort of appalled and started worrying about what embarassing thing I might have but in the trash, but I couldn't really think of anything. Except that I throw away food that I don't like the looks of.

Then this morning E. came over with the freshly washed washcloth for me and I gave her back that one and a couple more. She also washed a badly stained embroidered tortilla cloth I had given up on. It was sparkly white. I had just cleaned out the plastic containers I keep food in and the fridge and had a plastic bag of this and that waiting for her. They feed the old tortillas to the dogs and chickens, etc etc. And I don't like eating out-dated eggs and give them to her. Etc. I said, here's some old food (comida vieja), like usual, and she told me not to put any food in the trash, to keep it separate and give it to her. So I will.

When I first moved to E's camping area I had a bag of pretzels and everyone in the family except Ginka, one of the adult sons, hated them. We made jokes about yucky gringo food. But now they all like pretzels and I have to eat them privately or they are all gone in one day. Pretzels aren't very popular in Mexico, but they do often have them at Walmart, in PV, where I go about once a month. The other big markets are cheaper so I usually go to them, but when I am having a salt attack, I go to Walmart for pretzels. I really miss Wheat Thins, and Cheezits but they don't have them here. Except at the gourmet place for 80 pesos a little box.

My favorite event for the day was at the market, the tsangui. There I watched two little kids, a boy about 2 1/2 and a girl under 4, unloading boxes of hardware type items from big plastic boxes and carefully laying the items out on the low plywood market tables. Their Dad was unloading the boxes from a truck and the Mom was nursing a baby and organizing some clothes for sale. The kids was working hard and clearly were an important part of the family team. And they were doing a good job. The little would carefully pick and item out of the box and then carry it over to the table, and the little girl would arrange the items neatly in rows. When I went by about 15 minutes later they were still hard at work.

Saw more whales this morning, including some babies practicing their tail flapping. Very cute and close in to shore.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

The Sea is Green Today in Chacala

The ocean is just beautiful today. The water looks very green, and when you walk out into the water, you can see the sandy bottom even when the water is 10 or 12 feet deep. The waves have been small this weekend, nice for kids, boring for adventurous adults. The weather is perfect, low 80's and sunny.

I am computing from Majahua again, and it's just beautiful looking out at the ocean from here. People have been eating lunch as I type, and the food looks delicious. This probably sounds like an ad of some kind for Majahua, and I guess it kind of is. It's soo lovely here. Of course, all of Chacala is great, but this is really nice.

Things are starting to quiet down around here, and most of the motor home types are just stopping for the night on their way to the North country. Poor them. Quite a few people I know and enjoy visiting with are arriving these week, so that will be fun. I have starting spending more time drawing and it's so satisfying and relaxing, if not very sucessful.
That's it for today.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Chacala and Families

I think one of the nicest things about camping on the beach, besides living outside, and swimming in the ocean, and smelling the salt water, and seeing whales and dolphins, and staring at the ocean, and watching the sunlight hit the waves first thing in the morning, is having a nice family living right behind me.

Actually it's three families, a mom and dad with their eight kids (one gone during the week to college). The two oldest sons and their wives and babies live right next door. Henia comes over alot, so I get to hold her eight week old baby, and her little boy, Markito, who likes to paint, so we have lots of fun. And the adult son, who will probably always live at home, comes over to draw, and lately to do beads with me and eat pretzels. Lots of Mexicans don't care for pretzels, but he really likes them. He fishes every day with his dad, and he's really good at teasing and making jokes and laughing. And Esparanza, the mom, comes over several times a day, sometimes just to visit, and sometimes for a reason. A few days ago, Marcos, Henia's husband came over and hung around for the first time. Markito seemd really proud to sit on his dad's lap and draw.

Yesterday Esparanza told me they were going to build another ramada for me to use during Semana Santa, because a family member expects to be able to use my spot during those ten days or so. I think it will work out okay. They will help me move about fifty feet, and I will be out of the line of fire, so to speak. And I will still have electricity for a light bulb and fridge.

It's funny. After more than two years here, I didn't know the difference between a ramada and a palapa until a couple of days ago. Now I think ramadas are flat palapas, and inversely, palapas have peaked or pointed roofs, and they are both made of wooden posts and rafters, with palms frond roofs. Of course, I may be completey off track.

A friend mine, who has been camping on the beach here since mid-December I think, and I drove down to Los Ayalos and Guayabitos yesterday. The plan was to have lunch with some other friends who are going back to Oregon after two or three months down here. We had a wonderful lunch, with fruit sala, and whole wheat bread, and delicious soup. The fruit salad had a yoghurt based dressing and it was delicious, but I forgot to ask what was in it. They were staying in a third floor with small patio overlooking the beach and sea. Very nice and breezy.
I think this couple, S and K, some of my favorite people I have met down here. We have lots of things in common and some similar interests and I will miss them alot.

Guayabitos is really different than Chacala, and not to my taste, but very nice and clean. Ugly jets skis came and went constantly, and big party boats, but other than that it was nice.

On the way down we when to Los Ayalos, which I had never seen before. It was nice and quiet, with mostly dirt roads and two story small hotels. Nice enough beach. Jared and Lucille were staying there but we were so late we didn't get to visit them. Rat!!!! On the way back we stopped at the nursery in La Penita and i got a sack of dirt and two nice plants. An aloe with three plants in the pot and a blooming Desert Rose that had tons of shoots. So I divided the aloes and started eight new Desert Rose shoots. i hope they take. Both these plants seem to do okay right next to the ocean. I will cross my fingers for them.

The ocean has been kind of quiet the last five days or so. Smallish waves, which are boring for some of us, but the water is clear and green and looks really nice. The low tide is mid afternoon and after midnight. I'm glad the high tides are at the start and end of the day, at least right now. Then the water is right up close to me camp. The weater is perfect, morning, noon, evening and night.

Today some people came to Esparanza's looking for a camping spot. I was just starting to cook some carne, beef, for fajitas. At Esparanza's request I went out to talk to them. Apparently they had been camping all down the Mexican coast without paying for camping spots, and were very upset that they would have to pay in Chacala. After listening to them for a bit I suggested they drive over to Las Cuevas via El Divisidero and camp there. I hope they do allright if they really go. While i was over talking to them, the mother dog here, a very sweet black lab, ate my carne. not cooked. Darn dog! Oh well.

Some long-time Chacala visitors have been leading weekly bird-watcher hikes most of the winter, and as a kind of culmination, a noted bird person from San Blas is coming Friday and Saturday to offer talks about birding and the environments and the idea of birdwatching as a tourist attraction. Pretty neat project I think.

I have been having some trouble with the type size and adding additional photos on the Chacala Budget Rentals website, but you can still see the new photos by
clicking here .