Monday, March 27, 2006

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.

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