Friday, June 30, 2006

Mucho Calor in Chacala

Swimming in the north end of Playa Chacala

Yesterday seemed to have been a turning point into a long, hot summer. It's been in the low 90F's for more than a week, but suddenly, today it just seemed to be TOO hot. About 6pm I took advantage of the (cooler?) shade on the west side of the dirt street, and when looking for Viki, Aurora, Trini, Beatriz, and Maria. I had little errands with each of them. Nobody was home, not even Chata, so I headed down to the store, and found Aurora.

Aurora's clothes were wet, so I knew she had been swimming. She said she was going back to swim, and pulled me along with her. It turned out we were going swimming around at the dingy beach, near the little port. The dingy beach is called that by the yachties who park their dingies here. Local people call it the muelle (dock) beach, I think. It's a calm, safe beach with no waves, where Chacala families tend to swim.

The place was jammed packed with kids and grown-ups. I had my wallet on me, with all my cash, my glasses and keys and a couple of other things. I normally never carry anything except a little change with me when I am wandering around Chacala, but now I needed a place to leave my stuff, since I was swimming in my clothes, like almost everyone else. Then I saw Benjamin, a neighbor, whose wife is a gardener I share plants with. He was sitting alone, next to the old colummns, watching the swimmers and waiting for a boat to come back. So he watched my stuff for me.

The water was great, not too hot yet. In another month it will be too warm to be refreshing, but for now it was perfect. Caught up with everyone I had been looking for, and took care of my errands standing neck-deep in the water. Played with 2 year old Tony (Antonio), who was playing alone in the shallowest water. Some other kids came over and we played splashing-each-other games for awhile. Very cool and refreshing.

You can't see it in this photo,
but the dingy beach is right in front of that big white house in the center left.

Last summer I went swimming alot in the early evening, but most of the time I swam over on the north end of the big beach, where most of the local teens swim. It's more fun for me because there are actual waves to jump around in. But visiting at the dingy beach is nice too. I think I'll alternate or something.

I checked my weather notebook from last year, and my memory served me right. The first rain last year was also right at the solstice. The difference is last year it poured, and then rained seriously almost every night for a week. This year we have had little-bitty rain showers some of the nights. You can hardly tell it rained at all in the morning.

I hope we start getting more rain again. It's kind of scary to be so dependent on rainfall. I keep reading about how many people in the world have no local access to potable water, and in some cases, any water. Maybe I misunderstood the bible (or maybe it's from a spiritual) quote about "no more water, but fire next time". Up until now, I thought that it meant, no flood next time, just fire. But maybe it actually met "NO WATER" and we will burn up. How depressing.

Maybe Melinda and Bill Gates could focus a few pennies on getting water to everyone, especially drinkable water. It's kind of scary to see Coke (and other giants) taking over the drinking water business all over the world. Of course, the process of making parts for computers is a very high polluter of water, so maybe he is ignoring that issue. Or maybe not. I hope not.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Chacala Photos

I have added a number of new photos to the blog called "Chacala Nayarit" . You can connect to it by clicking on "Chacala Nayarit" in the LINKS list on the right-hand side of this page. Or go to

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Early in the Morning in Chacala

I love walking on Playa Chacala early in the morning. Hardly ever see any other footprints, just mine, and maybe some bird and dog prints. And maybe some plastic trash. It's so beautiful. The sun starts shining way out on the water, and gradually moves closer and closer to the beach until it hits me. Sometimes, after a some rough waves, I find some seashells. Not very often though.

Chacalilla Beach, right up from Chacala, is the place for seashells. And mala aguas (jelly fish) in the warmer months. Of course, you have to boat in there, or walk in thru the jungle or around the rocky point. Even though all the beaches in Mexico are public, somehow Marina Chacala (the name of the gated-community that has taken over the beach) has managed to make it seem like it's a private beach. Although if you boat in or walk in they can't kick you out. The security people will often try to imtimidate you, but legally they can't do much.

Anyway, walking on the nice soft, sandy beach, with no one else in sight, is one of my favorites thing to do in Chacala.

This is a view of the beach looking north from Majahua. A great place for watching the sun go down. Also for drinking lemonada (homemade lemonade with sparkling water). Or whatever it is you like to drink. Or eat.

Last winter it was interesting to watch workers build a new rock-based path across the top of the beach (near the trees, etc) from the actual Majahua Resort over to their "Beach Club". It seems to consist of laying flat beach rocks in a line and then filling between the rocks with buckets of sand. Makes a nice, firm, fairly easy-to-walk-on path from one part of the beach to the other. They used the same process for making a flat, sandy area for lying in the sun. And sitting at umbrella tables. Flat rocks covering the area, then sand covering over the rocks. They used the same technique under the ramadas at Esparanza's camping area. Somehow it makes a firm floor area.

I have been getting some emails about Christmas and winter rentals. I have been warning people that rentals are filling up earlier that ever this year. Especially Christmas thru end of February. If you are looking for a two bedroom, Paul's new "Satow" Bungalows are ready to go. Pool is finished and full of water. These are two bedroom units, nicely laid out and decorated. Nice colors. You can call Paul directly to his cell. It's listed on the Rental blog. I think the rent is in the $70/80 a night range. Terry's, next door are also nice, two bedroom units. Phone number in also in the rental listing.

It is much hotter, sooner, this year than last year. My notes show it didn't reach the 90'sF until late July last year, and it's been in the 90's for a week or more already this year. Pretty warm. Not very humid though. Although I think I might be pretty acclimated to the humidity and not really notice it any more. And I generally stay inside and out of the sun during the heat of the day.

There also seem to be alot more birds. Or make I am just more aware of them. Besides the amazing little hummingbirds everywhere, I have been seeing alot (or maybe just one, many times) of black birds with really bright yellow on the wings and breast. Kind of stripey. And on the beach there is a wading bird very morning with long skinny legs and yellow feet. Bright yellow feet. She takes one runny step and then can fly very close to the water for a long ways. So graceful. Since I still don't get how airplanes fly, I guess it's unlikely I would understand how birds fly.

There have been lots of social events lately. A baptism. Two birthdays this Friday (Blanca and little Christina) . Two birthday parties last weekend. Primary graduation this week. Kinder graduation next Tuesday at 4pm, with a Mass at 3pm. Planning is still going on for the EBACH and townspeople bus trip to Oaxaca in mid-July. Hopefully the teacher strike in Oaxaca will be over by then. It's supposed to end before the Mexican presidential election on Sunday.

My favorite palm frond (not the palm in this photo), right outside the window in front of my desk, is totally open now. It took about six weeks maybe to open completely. It stands there so straight and symmetrical and beautiful. I love the way trees and plants have such an orderly pattern/design/symmetry. They seem to know just how they are supposed to grow. I hardly ever see deformed, people-pruned, symmetry destroying pruning of trees here. It the tree looks odd, it's usually from windstorms or "self-pruning". That is, branches breaking off on their own.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Learning (sort of) Spanish in Chacala

Someone waiting for a ride at the Chacala collectivo stop in Las Varas

This morning on the collectivo going into Las Varas, I noticed I could understand most of the words to a Spanish song some guy was singing on the radio. Then later, in the market that always has a TV blasting, I realized I understood what the announcer was saying without looking at the screen for some contextual hints. After all this time, I can sort of get by in Spanish, but I am a thousand miles from being fluent, or even competent in Spanish.

I had two years of Spanish and two years of Latin in high school, and two years of Italian in college, and never learned much of anything. For the five months before I moved to Mexico, I took two Spanish classes (two different classes with two different teachers on two different nights a week) for most of two quarters. Still didn't learn much. Written vocabulary and some phrases maybe.

I took some Spanish classes with Trini when I first arrived, but it was the start of the winter tourist season and I never really got into the rhythm of classes. We did/do spend time together, talking and helping each other some with our respective language studies. Of course, Trini is a thousand years ahead me in her English, as compared to me and my Spanish.

Lately we have been talking again about her "Escuela de Espanol". Awhile ago I set up a mini-website for her but we never really took the time to work on it and I took if off the Web awhile ago. But if you are interested in arranging for classes with Trini her e-mail is or call her from the US 011 52 327 219 4018.

The story I told myself is that I was learning by "immersion". I guess I was because I obviously have learned quite a bit. But in the second winter I was here an American woman, Gale LeBow, came to Chacala. It turned out she had written a book called "Spanish Simplified", which has CD lessons, written lessons, and flashcards included. Eight lessons. Very clear and easy to follow and understand. I really liked the book, and Gail, but didn't want to spend the money, and didn't. If you are interested her website is

But then, later that winter, the mother-in-law of a friend of Gail's came to Chacala and she gave me a copy of the book. I was thrilled, and went thru the written part of the book completely, several times over a couple of months. Didn't have a CD player so didn'd do the CD part until later. Learned alot. Then my son brought me a CD player and whenever I was cleaning or drawing or cooking or something, I would play the CD and talk back to the CD. Learned a lot.

Then the CD stopped working and I lost interest in studying. Didn't study at all until the following Fall, when Ann, a great traveller and very generous person, gave me a really nice Spanish language grammar testbook. I have be dipping into that off and on. Usually when I want to know how to say something in particular. But I am really not studying at all.

I usually "read" the weekly Spanish language political "newspaper" in Las Varas whenever I see it. And I buy a couple of Mexican magazines every month. I read them and pass them on to someone in town. I can read signs and stuff. And I can understand some people pretty well and others not at all. People can usually understand me, and they freely correct me, so that's good.

I feel sort of dumb that I haven't put a serious, organized effort into learning Spanish. But it's the truth. Oh well. I can talk to most people around town, and do, everyday. There are still a few English speaking people in town right now, maybe six or eight. And I usually run into one or two of them most days. So I probably won't forget how to speak English.

But I have turned over a new leaf. I set up a little "studying Spanish" desk for myself last, and I am about to put in my 30 minutes a day. Starting today. Well, probably today.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Chacala Morning and the Alta Vista Petroglyphs

I just looked thru some photos taken by Karim Merchant, who stayed here in Chacala this spring at both Majahua and Mar de Jade with his family. He is letting me borrow three of his photos of Chacala, below

E-mailing Karim this morning reminded me of how many really nice people I have met here in Chacala. There's a whole bunch of them.

I think Chacala draws particularly nice visitors, probably at least partly because of the presence of the Techos de Mexico program, Mar de Jade, and the Bibliotecha program (with a library, computer place, kid's afternoon program, and EBACH, the scholarship program for Chacala kids), all of which have drawn many, many volunteers to Chacala. Some are individual volunteers and others are part of Rotary groups, church groupsm and even Habitat for Humanity. Habitat has worked on a number of houses in nearby Las Varas, while the vounteers usually stay here, in Chacala.

View from Majahua, north.
Walked down to the beach road at 7am this morning. Wanted to get some apple juice and microwavable popcorn before it got too hot to be walking around. This popcorn addiction of mine is getting pretty strong. Plus, almost everytime I pop some, somebody shows up, and I have to (get to) SHARE it. Oh well. I like having visitors, especially at the end of the day.

Ran into Jose Manuel when I was out walking. He used to caretake the area where motor homes camp in the winter, on the beach. But he isn't working there anymore. He was at Las Brisas for the whole winter, but now he's driving the Chacala garbage truck around town. He is very happy with his new job, and says it's pays better than his other jobs.

I think there have been about five or six different teams picking garbage since the job started mid-winter, but no one seems to last very long at that job. I only need my trash picked up on Saturday am, so I put my trash barrel down at the bottom of the hill so they won't have to drive up. But then they carry the barrel back up to the house because they have to give me a receipt. I am confused about tipping the garbage guys. At first they weren't supposed to take tips, I think, but maybe it's okay now.

Fruit stand at the La Penita
Thursday street market
Stopped at Aurora's on the way home. She is going to borrow some rolling suitcases from me for the Oaxaca trip. I am lucky, because my son, Erik, has been bringing me suitcases filled with really good stuff whenever he comes down. So I have enough suitcases to loan out. My suitcases have been more places than I have. Guadalajara, Mexico City, San Miguel, Guanajuato, etc etc.

Just as I was leaving Aurora's, her uncle Luis and his wife came driving up. They sell some kind of food, maybe tamales, or something, in the morning. House-to-house. They are very entrepenurial, and are always trying out some moneymaking scheme. This year at Easter they had nice shower and toilet facilities for rent (by the use) for the Mexican tourists in town. Well, any tourist, including me. But at that time of the year it's mostly Mexican tourists in Chacala. And they have a booth in front of the shower area for selling tee shirts and stuff. And I think maybe he, Luis, delivers water to the other cuestos, but I'm not sure about that.

They gave me a ride in the back of the truck, since they were headed up the paved road anyway. People think I am rich when they see the house I am staying in, but then I explain I am cleaning and watering and stuff like that for rent. Some people in Chacala still think I am rich though. I do feel rich here in Chacala, in terms of having a wonderful life.

These petroglyphs are only a few of the many located near Alta Vista, about 20 minutes from Chacala. They are very old, and there are explanatory signs in English and Spanish, with historical and religous information.
The petroglyphs are located in a small valley/stream bed at the start of the mountains to the east of the main highway. It is shady, cool, area and fairly easy walking. Alvaro, who lives in Chacala and speaks English and Spanish, is a special tour guide for going to Alta Vista, and also to visit Huitchol families. Look him up here if you are interested in a small guided tour.

Depending on the season, there may be small pools of water along the Petroglyph trail. This area is an amazing natural amphitheatre that I found a little frightening for some reason.

This is a "no charge" volunteer service.
No charge to the landlady and no charge to the renter.

Or for more information about Chacala, go to

Monday, June 19, 2006

Creepy Cangrejos Hit Chacala, Again

One downside of the Chacala rainy season is the 300 million cangrejos that appear from nowhere, and cover the roads, especially in the early evening after a rainy night. They are little land crabs (I think) , about four to six inches across, and really really creepy. And very noisy. When an army of them (they arrival together) goes thru dry leaves or weeds it sounds like a rainstorm.

The new town water system seems to be running. Got about two hours of a full pipe of water on Friday and then more than two hours on Sunday. I now have a big and a small tinacho full of water. That's enough for more than a month. I saw Julio and Guillermo filling a 6 meter long, three foot deep trench with sand this evening. Catching another big leak.

I just noticed that the ratty old delapidated old building just south of Casa Chacala, on the paved road on the way into Chacala, is being torn down. I remember a couple of winters ago that a guy bought that lot. At the time he said he wasn't going to tear the ruin down until he was ready to build. Since it is being torn down, I can make a couple of conclusions (probably all wrong):
That owner is tearing the building down
That owner is planning to build something on the lot
That guy sold the lot to someone else who is going to build something on the lot.
Or, who know, maybe something else altogether.
At the moment most of the buildings on the paved road, coming into Chacala are rentals. First on the left are Augustine's (new white upstairs rentals), then Casa Chacala (white, six units with lovely flower baskets), then a home (Socorro's), and then Concha's Techos rentals and then her son's new rentals (not quite finished). On the right side of the paved road there are two beat-up places with rentals (only rented at Christmas and Easter), and then two Techos de Mexico rentals (first Aurora's four units, then Dona Lupe's upstairs unit, then the new hotel. On up the hill is only houses, for now at least.

Next time I come home to Chacala I am going to try to imagine what the rental row looks like to first-time visitors.

I think I figured out how to set up links to interesting websites on the right hand side of this blog. We'll see if it works.

Chacala's Rainy Season has Begun. Maybe

Guess what? Had a good rainfall in Chacala about 5 this morning. With thunder and lightning right overhead. I got up and unplugged the "refre" and phone. I always keep everything else unplugged unless I am actually using it.

This was the first rain of any kind since early last October. More than eight months without rain. It's incredible how beautifully the fruit trees produce and the vines and shrubs flower with no water.

I think I prefer the title:"An Homage to the Ingenuity of Those Who will Die Young"

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Waiting for Water (in Chacala)

Local dancing girls, practicing in front of the lunch-window/bibliotecha in Chacala

I ran into a very interesting blog today. It's called My Oaxaca and the address is I found a post there, called something about a bomba (pump), to be very timely for me. It's about cultural differences in the experience of time, including some "research". I really enjoyed the post, and found it to be consistent with my experience here, living in Mexican time.

One of the author's comments was that the Spanish verb "esperar" has at least three meanings:
to wait, to expect, and to hope. That fits for me this last six days. I have been waiting for water, expecting the water truck, and hoping for water. And the water I DID get wasn't the water I was waiting, expecting, and hoping for. But I was really happy to see the town water running at this house.

I think Chacala is a great place to try to practice being in the moment. Without smearing my needs and wants all over whatever is actually happening. Being in the here and now, at least for a brief moment in time. As in "be here now". For whatever that's worth.

New Look for My Life in Chacala

I got bored with the old blog template and and trying out this one. Don't know if I like it or not.

I think this phot0 of the beach restaurants/dwelling is from maybe 10 years ago, just guessing. Or at least from before Hurricane Kenna.

Here are some old photos of some of the husbands of the landladies who have Techos de Mexico rental units. I haven't found any pictures of the lovely ladies, but I will keep tooking. If you want to take a look at rentals in Chacala, including the Techos de Mexico units click here.

This is Euloiao, whose wife, Dona Lupe has Casa de Dona Lupe.
This is Gabriel, whose wife has Casa de Beatriz.
Salvatore, whose wife Gracia has Casa de Gracia

I don't know where there are any photos of the women/Techo de Mexico owners. Wish I had some. I love meeting and talking with the older women in Chacala and Las Varas. Older being around my age. Although I have a hard time telling how old women are here. Usually their skin stays soft and unlined even when they are in their sixties. And hair color really isn't much of a clue, what with hair dyes and tints, etc. Or else they look like they are in their late seventies, and it turns out they are younger than me.

This is SATURDAY MORNING, day of the water jug delivery, Coke delivery, water tanker truck delivery (I hope), garbage can pick-up, and two little-boy birthday parties. It was 82 degrees F at 7:15am this morning, with some humidity. The PV weather report predicts run, but no one seems to expect any until after the solstice.

It's 9:39am and no water truck yet. I am getting anxious that it's going to be another no-show day for the water truck. The plants around thehouse are getting very unhappy about the water problem (which I caused myself by forgetting to turn the faceut off for two hours), and so am I.


The bad news is the water truck never came.

The good news is Guillermo (the water master) and the water worker, Julio, showed up about 11am and had figured out what was wrong, and I had water going into the downstairs (2500 liter) tinacho for more than two hours. Maybe 400 liters. Guillermo said everyone will get two hours of water every day, even Sunday, now that the new well is hooked up to the system. At least I hope that's what he said.

The water seems really clean and clear. I watered all the plants, took a shower, and then washed clothes by hand. Feels good to have a few days water in the tank. I hope the water guy does come tonight or tomorrow. I missed a couple birthday parties today because I am afraid to leave the house. The minute I do, I know he will come.

And here is the world-famous "Muchachos de Chacala" band, rehearsing for their next big performance. Just kidding. It's Euloiao and his buddies taking a break from taking a break.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Hanging Around in Chacala

This nice little map is from a website:
At the actual website you can click on the squared places and see photos and further info.

Yesterday I went into Las Varas first thing in the morning to go to the ATM and the Post Office (Correo) , and then came home, computed for a while, washed clothes with almost the last of the water (hoping the water guy would really shows up in the morning) and took a nap.

When it cooled off a little I walked down to Gracia's house and hung around under the ramada, visiting with Chicha (Narcissa) and Gracia, and her husband Salvatore, and his daughter, son-in-law and grandaughter, America. We laughed and laughed and laughed. I can understand more Spanish lately. I think I moved up a small level in comprehension. Berta, the daughter, was painting some directional signs for going to the Muelle. She said they see tourist cars going the wrong way, and then backing up, all day long, and that the signs may help. The signs seemed to be readable only after you make the turn, but maybe I am just being picky.

Narcissa said that Julietta, my favorite Kinder teacher, has finished working in Chacala and is starting a computer course in Tepic. She will really be missed. Her sub, for the last two weeks of the school year, is staying at Marta's, about a block from the Kinder building. The sub is some kind of supervisor, so that should be okay. Some very nice tourists from Idaho brought some Spanish-language books down for kindergarten-level kids. She is a teacher in Idaho. I love it when people bring things for the Kinder.

Frank, who has the little new tienda in that neighborhood, picked up a paperback books I was carrying around and starting reading it, in English. He and his wife, Angelica, both speak and read some English. He was in high school in San Diego for three years and remembers alot. We agreed I would bring him some other English language books and magazines to practice on.

Just as I got home a local friend showed up at the house, wanting help sending an English language e-mail to a mutual, English-only, friend who has visited and contributed alot to Chacala over the years. We did okay with the letter, I think. We also practiced making (and eating) popcorn on the microwave here. It was Delicious!!! Popcorn and Coke. My favorite, right now.

Then we walked over to a neighbor's house. She had just had surgery and was reclining gracefully on some kind of chair arrangement. She seemed to be cheerful, so I hope the surgery was successful. I couldn't follow the conversation very well, and went down to Sarai's store to get some jars of fruit juice, which were a hit.

On the way home I walked with Socorro and her adult son. We went into the mango orchard and picked a big bag of mangos for them to take home. I think those trees are just about picked clean. The sweet roll and bread truck came by, and the owner, Lalo, wanted to come up at the see the house, which he did. He seemed to think it was funny I was living in so many different places, especially going from the beach (and tent) to this big house.

Now it's Friday morning, and I waiting for the water truck to arrive (fingers crossed). Friday is one of the days the Coke order-taker comes around to take orders. I just leave my order clipped to a plastic chair down at the bottom of the driveway (so he doesn't have to drive up). A few minutes ago two ladies came up on the porch. After a confusing conversation I figured out they thought the "Coke" sign on the chair meant I am selling Cokes and they wanted one. I only had warm ones so we shared a warm Coke. Nice friendly smiles.

There has been a very very loud jetski running constantly for two days, or more, down in Chacalilla.

(Added Saturday am) The "jetski" was going until almost 10pm last night, and started up again at 6:05am right under my window (almost). So I went out to see what the noise was, and it was a security guy with a muffler-less blower, the kind for blowing leaves away. He was apparently blowing dust off the cobblestones. Must have been a boring night or something. For months I had thought that sound was the muffler-less moto belonging to one of the security guys, but no, it's the blower.

Chacalilla pre-invasion
I think this photo of beach restaurants might be pre-Kenna.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Chacala Beach, Jungle, and Dancing

One of the most beautiful and secluded places in Chacala, hidden away from the hustle and bustle of a very small town is Majahua.
Majahua (restaurant, small hotel, and beautiful spa) is tucked away, overlooking the sea and Chacala beach, from a hillside filled with palms and trees. And its a one minute walk to the beautiful, sandy beach.

I know this looks kind of like an advertisement and that's because it kinda is. I think Majahua is an amazing place and I can't help but want to tell people about it.

Looking south on Playa Chacala, in front of the path up to Majahua hotel restaurant and spa.

This is the path from the beach up to Majahua, hand carved out of the steep hillside.

Golsalvo and Flor, who occassionally offer an lovely program after dinner at Majahua. This photo is taken on the lower restaurant terrace, and was taken by Jared.

Two photos of the Majahua buildings.

This is the smallest tub in the beautiful new spa at Majahua. There are other larger pools, all connected by waterfuls and overlooking the ocean. This photo was taken near the end of construction.

View from Majahua, north along Playa Chacala.

The owner of Majahua, Jose Enrique, with his wife Carmen, have built five beautiful rental units, plus outdoor spaces including a spa with multiple small outdoor pools and covered massage areas, a platform in the "jungle" for Yoga, and a lovely covered, outdoor restaurant with an amazing menu. And wireless access too.

Jose Enrique is the founder, and on-going inspiration, for the Techo de Mexico program, which has been responsible for providing construction loans, volunteer labor, and ongoing training and support to eight local families who have built rental units at their homes in Chacala. You can see photos of Techo de Mexico units here or here: Techo de Mexico website

These photos are from the sailors on the the Ohana Kai, who have a very interesting blog of their family sailing adventure.

Lessons and Sights Around Chacala

Well, my favorite Chacala sight for the week was a large, white cow (with horns) strolling about the little mango orchard outside my window, delicately nibbling here and there. Looking for the ripe mango without bees buzzing it, I guess.

She must have wondered down the road from the cattle pen up near the big trees: the two trees that often have those giant birds that eat dead meat. Can't remember their names right now. Maybe vultures. Hundred of them at a time. Waiting for a aged-beef snack, maybe. Anyway, I can hear the other cows (and bull?) mooing away up the road.

Went into Las Varas this morning (after finding out that the water guy isn't coming until tomorrow morning). While I was waiting for the collectivo, I looked inside the new "real estate" office that Gary, the developer of the gated place south of Chacala, up on the hill, is building. It must of been 115 degrees in there (at least!). No cross venilation at all. Maybe they are going to knock some holes in the concrete walls.

Then I played hide and seek with Guadalupe, a little 1 1/2 year old sweetie, and then held Juan's baby, Jesus, while he waited on customers. There were three tourists down at the tienda waiting for the collectivo. One was a woman from England, staying with Concha for a week. A taxi came by while we were waiting for the collectivo to collect its' five passenger minimum. The taxi only had room for one more person, so she hopped in, once I convinced her taxis charge the same price as the collectivo when you are heading back to Las Varas. Nice woman.

The other people were a couple from Idaho. It turned out we have a mutual friend who lives in their hometown. Small world, of course. They were on their way to the Thursday street market in La Penita, and I pointed the way to the correct collectivo. It's fun to be able to help out a little sometimes. When I first came to Chacala I had a real mix of experiences with other gringos here. Some people were really friendly, fun, and helpful, and some others were rude and kind of arrogant or something. Weird experience, and I hope I don't treat new visitors like that. Maybe I do, but it's not on purpose if I do.

I had to mail a letter today to someone who made a reservation for next winter. So I mailed it today. Cost 10 pesos plus some centavos. They never have change at the Post Office (Correo) in Las Varas, and this time I made sure I had change. But, unfortunately, I never have centavos because no one ever uses them. At least not until today. Finally we agreed I would bring the centavos the next time I came in. He wouldn't /couldn't just keep the change from one peso.

When I got back to the collectivo stop in Las Varas, there were a bunch of people waiting for the collectivos for some of the other local towns, like Alta Vista, Abajo de Lima, and El Capomo, but no one for Chacala. I was thinking, "oh ###" I must have just missed the collectivo. It was about 90 degrees F and I didn't feel like sitting on the bench, even in the shade. I started to walk away, considering taking a taxi, when the El Capomo driver, put his arm out, and said to wait a minute. And I did. He went somewhere and came back in about two minutes with a van load of people who were waiting in the little taco stand around the corner. Plus three school kids showed up. So, no waiting. Hoorah.

We're still waiting for the rain to start. The water is perfect for swimming, in my opinion.


Wednesday, June 14, 2006

My Favorite Plant in Chacala: Desert Rose

Until I came to Chacala I had never heard of the succulent plant called the Desert Rose (Adenium Obsesum). I love succulents, and had lots of them in my old Zone 5/6 garden, but the Desert Rose is just so beautiful. It blossoms all the time, loves the sun, doesn't mind the salty air, is easy to propagate, and the plants are cheap. Around $2 US for a plant more than a foot tall with four or five branches.

I have shared the Desert Rose with some of the other gardeners around Chacala, and the plants seem to survive well around here. Aurora has a couple of plants we started together that are very large and always have blossoms. Berta, Henia, Maria, and Esparanza like them too, so maybe Chacala will become of the Desert Rose of the Mexican beach towns. Not really, but the plants are just beautiful, and tough as can be.

Wednesdays in Chacala

Chacala Street

Basic home in Chacala

View from one of the beach restaurants

Young surfer, practicing
It's pretty warm this morning in Chacala. 89 degrees F at about 9am. Not particularly humid though.

Woke up to the sounds of Chacala: a truck with a loudspeaker selling tortillas, two moto's tooting their little horns to sell tortillas, the water jug truck with is odd little musical whistle selling water, a really loud voiced pick-up selling something, and thirty or forty truckloads of workers heading into the gated community. And something different, a truck selling, or maybe giving away, newspapers. The big Presidential election is coming up in a couple of weeks, so lots of campaigning is going on.

The worker trucks have mostly stopped tooting their horns to get into the place (officially Marina Chacala / formerly Chacallila, a beautiful small bay north of Chacala). Makes sense since the workers have to get out of the trucks and walk thru the little side gate, showing their ID's. Coming and going the workers try to grab a mango or two, but there aren't many left now and they are resorting to throwing rocks at the mangos in the hopes of knocking one off the tree.

The drivers of the resident's vehicles and the construction and materials trucks are still beeping their horns as they arrive at the gate. It is really amazing how many trucks go in and out in a day. The big ones move really fast, and I expect one day one will go right thru the gate (big wooden gate) without stopping.

The people at the new hotel installed a very tall tope (speed bump) in front of their building after a couple of near misses. The big empty trucks come barrelling down the road heading back to Las Varas or wherever at very high speeds. The tope slows the trucks down momentarily, but they pick up speed again as soon as they can.

The owners of smaller vehicles are not too happy with tall tope, since it's difficult for a small car or pickup to get over it without high-centering. Apparently anyone can build a tope (or dig a small trench) in front of their place, and many do. Actually, I like anything that slows the maniac truck drivers down. Particularly on the paved road. But even on the very narrow beach road trucks and buses and SUV's go very quickly dodging children, dogs, people carrrying things and bike riders. Well, not actually dodging them, more hoping they will get out of the way.

It's interesting the they have the same trash problem at Chacalilla as on the regular Chacala beach. I have noticed that the Marina people seem to be having trouble keeping the beach cleaned up. The last two times I have been down there the beach had quite a bit of garbage both above and below the high-tide lines. And there are signs asking people to keep the beach clean and to not drive on the beach in motos. Apparently they have that ATV problem as Playa Chacala.

I have just been reading an interesting (at least to me) website about the state of the sewage treatment facility in Guayabitos. This is a purpose-built tourist "town" just south of La Penita - which is about 15 miles south of Chacala. If I remember correctly, the area was identified by state tourism people maybe ten years ago as kind of tourist-zone. A basic services infrastructive was provided to attract the development of vacation homes, and tourist hotels, and other resort-type facilities. They have electricity for each building, and sewage and water lines and trash pickup for most of the town. And it's nice looking, with palms and plants, and paved and cobblestoned streets with curbs in the tourist and vacation home areas of town. There are some un-developed areas of town still, and the areas where workers and local residents live is kind of tucked away and not very noticable.

However, according to this website (which I can't find at the moment), the agency that runs the sewage treatment facility doesn't have the resources to pay the electric bills, so the electric that runs the pumps and treatment machinery has been turned off repeatedly (?) and the sewage just runs through the system untreated. This info was current last winter, and I don't know if the situation was resolved or not, but I hope so.

I mention this because I am curious about how water system here in Chacala will function with the new well and water line. I think Guillermo, the water master, along with the other town leadership, has put alot of attention on how to ensure water bills are paid so there will be some cash to maintain the system. I don't know how the payment system works, since there are no water meters. I know some of the restaurants are ordering trucked water constantly but I don't know what that means.

It looks like most of the actual work on the new water line is completed, but I don't know what happens next. But as of a couple of days ago there still wasn't any new water in the system. Some parts of town are still getting water. I think it depends on what neighborhood your house is in, or something.

I don't know if there are any plans to build a sewage lines in Chacala, but I do know that septic tanks buried in the sand level with, and about twenty feet from, the high-tide line is not a long-term solution for busy restaurants. Especially with a number of new tourist rental units being built right on the beach (At Hotel Guadalupe, Tres Hermanos, Las Brisas, and the two new buildings being constructed across the street from Juan's tienda).

I am settling into living in a house (as opposed to a tent/ramada on the beach) and starting to really enjoy how easy it is to do daily tasks, like cooking, bathing, cleaning, washing clothes, taking care of plants, and accessing the internet. And not having to worry about my drawing paper getting damp or the kids getting into things I want to keep separate.

But I still miss the beach alot. I put one of the pictures Jared took of my campsite on the desktop of my computer, and it looks great. Makes me a little sad though.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Gardening Today in Chacala

I think I have posted this photo before, but I like it anyway.
It's the view from one of the room patios at Casa Chacala.

I have learned so much here about the plants here in Chacala just by sitting here and looking around. I sit at my computer right in front of a big window that faces south. It is just a screened window, no glass, so I can catch the breeze, and watch the plants growing in front of my eyes.

The palms are so fascinating. I am eye-level with one plant that's about fifteen feet tall. When I first moved back into this house in early May I noticed that a giant thick stalk was growing up out of the middle of the palm fronds. Maybe six or eight inches in diameter and taller than any of the fronds. Then gradually I noticed that the top of the stalk was opening up, and the long skinny palm frond leaves were opening up from the top down. Now, after about four weeks, the top three feet of the stalk are completely open and you can see the leaves opening up further down.

Once I had noticed the stalk on this tree, I started seeing other palms with stalks. Yesterday, while I was lying in the hammock on the west facing terrace, I saw that a much bigger palm tree on that side of the house has six giant stalks coming out of the middle. It's so amazing, and so dumb, that I never noticed the stalks before. I guess it's partly because now I am eye-level with the one outside this window.

I think this is the third day I haven't gone anywhere, except to get some buckets of dirt and talk to my neighbor about the water truck. Just puttering around the house and yard and trying to figure out how to use IPhoto on this little Mac.

Yesterday I did the dumbest thing. I was watering the plants on the front patio and the garbage truck guy came up, and I got distracted and forgot to turn the water off. FOR TWO HOURS!!!! Almost a whole tankful of water: 2500 liters, which costs 250 pesos or about $23 dollars. Usually, if it rains, I can make it a month on a tankful, but not this month. I watered the driveway instead. I can't believe I did that. What a waste. Now I have to wait a day or two or three or more, for the water guy to find someone to share a truckload of water with me. Everyone else has big underground water storage tanks and they can take a whole truckload.

Someone who reads this blog asked me via email why I didn't get plant cuttings from my neighbors here. I guess he was suggesting I would save money or something. I do get cuttings from the women around here. We share plants and give each other plants all the time. It's the gift that keeps on giving. But almost all my neighbors here have all the same old boring (and beautiful) plants: bouganvillea, hibiscus, jasmine, some really nice vines, etc. We share cuttings all the time, but usually it's people wanting cuttings from my plants, because I get stuff at the nurseries that nobody has around town has.

My neighbors have taught me how to do cutting for all their plants, and I have learned alot about how they use their plants. But there are a million plants that can grow around here and I want them all. I only know of one local woman I who has ever even been to a plant nursery. The closest ones are in La Penita. She's Berta, the housekeeper for my closest neighbor. Berta is the most amazing gardener. All her plants look wonderful and I learn alot from here. She has only been in her new house for about a year and a half, and it's surrounded by beautiful plants.

I also learn alot from another woman in Chalaca, who is kind of a klepto-plant-maniac. But I give her plants before she can take them, so that works out okay. And she shows me where to cut cuttings and what's a weed, and so on. It's a trade. My plants, her knowledge.

When I move, every six months or so, I leave almost all my plants or give them to whoever I like the best that day, or whoever has expressed appreciate for a certain plant. Then I start over again. Aurora has gotten 50% of my plants because I love to see them growing at her place. Aurora's looks so different now that when I first came. They have done so much work there. She has Aurora's Techo de Mexico Rentals, and really has a nice setup. She is a gardener, but it really looks nice. And I generally recognize each plant I gave her or planted there, and that make me feel good.

When I left the beach last month, I left all the plants and pots and dirt with Esparanza and her daughter-in-law, except for some succulents that I had been babying from cuttings. But I go visit the plants every week or so. Every couple weeks Maria comes up looking for cuttings. She always seems to know when I have been to the nursery and comes up the next day looking for starts. I love seeing "my" plants around town.

No rain yet. High nineties and not really humid, but humid enough. Breezy all the time at this house, and I stay in the house or outside in the shade during the day.

This is a photo of Beatriz's upstairs Techo de Mexico rental unit. Go to Chacala Budget Rentals to see more Chacala rental info. The website is a no-charge/volunteer effort for find rentors for Chacala landladies without websites to advertise their rentals.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Take a Walk on the Chacala Side


After a day around the house gardening, housecleaning, sewing, and writing, eating, and napping, I finally decided to go for a walk about 6pm. It is getting dark now by 8pm so I had a couple of hours to walk around.

I hadn't talked to anyone all day, and it was nice to walk thru town visiting with people. Little Ana, whose not so little anymore, is back in town with her Dad, Terry, and her mom. She was full of energy and invited me to her 10th birthday in July. She is out of school in the US for the summer but school goes thru the first week of July here, so maybe she'll put in some classroom time here too. She is lucky enough to be bilingual.

Fidel, one of the longer-time waiters at Chico was standing in front of Socorro's waiting for a ride home with a friend of his. He reinjured his knee playing soccer last month and his having a hard time climbing the steps at Chico's. He doctor apparently told him that Vitamin B complex would cure a torn meniscus in a couple of weeks. Very interesting.

Went by Frankie's new store, looking for some apple juice, and visited with the people hanging around there. Lots of joking and laughing. Walked around the back way into Berta's lot and visited with her Mom, Lupe, and a bunch of relatives. Lately there are almost always a handful of relatives at the extra house next to Berta's (built, I think, for her mom and Dad in case another Hurricane runs them out of their beach house). Berta's sister is very ill with a chronic illness and someone is always there with her.

Beto, Aurora's husband was visiting with a friend near the church, and said Aurora wanted me to come by their house.

Adrian, son of Hector, great-nephew (?) of Berta (Susana's housekeeper), was playing in her house with his cousins, jumping around and having a great time. All the little boys in that extended family (Markito, Carlito, Adrian) are so much fun to be around. Full of energy and spunk.

There was apple juice in glass bottles at Juan's tienda for the first time in months. My very favorite! But I only had enough cash for two bottles. I got four and a drinking water, and will pay the rest of the money tomorrow. Four year old Juli, and Juan's 9 month old son Jesus were at the store and we played for a few minutes.

Then I started walking up the hill to Aurora's. Juan, the painter, walked with me, and he asked me to send Ana, his American landlady, an email saying "Hi!" and best wishes. He started living at Ana's, caretaking, the same time I started housesitting at this house. Except I go elsewhere in the winter, and Juan stays at Ana's. She may be down this next winter, according to a friend that saw her last month. I hope so.

I stopped to visit with the oldest guy in Chacala, or maybe second or third oldest (in his mid eighties), Miguel Hector, and to pet my favorite dog, Lukey (which apparently means "Buggy", as in fleas). It's interesting to me that there are hardly any ladies in town older that I am. And the women who look older usually aren't.

Things were very up at Aurora's. She is moving into her new kitchen/living/dining room. It's very nice. I know she will miss the social aspects of her old outside dining room, which was about five feet off the road. The kitchen is very nice, lots of space and lights. I admire Aurora so much. She has done so much with her life. She always has goals and plans for what she will do next. I wish I had managed my life the way manages hers. She has dreams, and she is making them come true.

Aurora is coming up in the next few days to type an email to some mutual friends, David and Linda, who have been strong friends and supporters of her family for maybe 10 years. And we are going to practice making popcorn on the microwave here. Someone gave her a new one without a book and she is afraid to use it. I am afraid to use them too, but my addiction to popcorn helps me overcome my fear.

After admiring everything in the new kitchen, Aurora and I walked up the road and took a look at the new house some Canadian's have built just off the paved road, up the hill from the new hotel. It looks great, all painted, with the front steps poured, the garden rocks arranged, tarps over the windows for the rain, and the new road put in. The new electric post is all installed on new the road and waiting for power to arrive.

The new road (dirt only) runs north from behind the new hotel north, opening up the second row of lots behind Clemen's and Benjamin's, and the motor home garage house, which is partly built. Three lots are cleared up there, or maybe more. I have been told that builders are going to start working up there very soon. Who knows. It looks so different it's amazing.

Walked on home, visited with the security guy at the Gate, and he offered me a ride into Las Varas in the morning. I am expecting another package at the Correo so I will probably go in with him.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Growing Chacala

View from Aurora's upstairs Techo de Mexico rental.

This lovely vine grows wild all over Chacala. I am having good luck with cuttings from this plant. It's grows pretty quickly though, and probably isn't the greatest garden plant, unless you are trying to cover a wall or something. Blossoms all the time.

This is a little photo view from above the paved road near the hotel, looking northwest.

It is a photo of a plant that I have noticed over in the stream bed between MardeJade/Majahua and Chacala. It gets pretty big, and I haven't figured out what it's called yet. That streambed, further back up toward Las Varas, is a good place to find other plants, including sprouted coco palms.

A couple of evenings I walked around Chacala, getting the kinks out of my legs after spending a very nice day riding around in a car looking at some of the little towns I have only glimpsed before (and that was three years ago). San Pancho has changed quite a bit, with alot of construction going on, but looking fresh and painted and tidy. Lo de Marcos also seemed to be much bigger than I remembered, but my last visit was a couple of weeks after Hurricane Kenna, so maybe I didn't see the whole town.

I think that I really enjoy Las Varas and La Penita because they seem to be working towns, where people have businesses, and sell materials, and create doors and windows, and fix things and make repairs. As opposed to tourist-economy towns like San Pancho, Sayulita, Guayabitos, and Chacala, where income comes from offering services or selling stuff to tourists. Makes for a different environment. Maybe part of the difference is in tourist towns generally the locals are serving people who have more money than they do, while people with businesses in working towns are offering a needed service, and are treated with more respect by their customers. As opposed to tourists who seem to expect to be catered to.

Maybe I am wrong here, and certainly is just part of the picture, but the difference in the environments of the two kinds of towns is striking. In Las Varas and La Penita there is a bustling atmosphere, with people busily going about their work day, taking care of things and getting things done. As opposed to tourist towns with streets (sometimes) filled with people with nothing in particular to do and no where in particular to go.

Anyway, I walked around the area between the primary school/bibliotecha and the ocean, which includes the church, kinder and muelle. Lots going on. There's a new rental duplex going up right near the church (locally owned), a new unit for a family member right across from the church, a gringo house on a half lot one lot south of Casa Azul, and an addition to Maria's ex-Techo de Mexico unit. Plus there's Juan's new house right down the hill from the primary school.

And there's the new building that's tucked in behind the columns that are intertwined with strangler-fig vines, right up from the dinghy beach. It's really amazing how the structure is being built back in behind the columns without actually touching them, except in the back where there are some support beams next to some of the columns. I am really impressed with how nice it looks.

Here's a photo of the columns pre-construction. They still look exactly the same today.

And of course the "new" owners are still working on the additional rental units in the garden between Casa Azul and the sea. There's probably some other stuff , but I can't think of anything right now.

Frankie and Angela's new tienda up right near the church looks pretty busy. They seem to be taking turns running the two stores. The other one is in front of Chico's, on the main street. The new store is starting to become a kind of neighborhood hang-out for adults. A place to visit, and catch up a little. It's handy for me to go there because it doesn't involved any hill-climbing (except for the driveway up to this house) or cobblestones. I hope they have an ice-cream freezer soon. My favorite is a chocolate ice cream bar filled with strawberry yoghurt ice cream. But since Semana Santa there hasn't been one bar in any of the four ice cream freezers in town. Oh well. It's not like I "need" ice cream they way I "need" Coca Cola".

Terry, who owns the yellow rentals near the gate to Chacalilla is back in town with his wife and daughter for awhile. And I think there are at least a couple of visitors from the US around Chacala, although I actually have met only one. Still about four gringo's still living here, apparently with plans to stay thru the summer.

I did a beach trash patrol last Monday morning, and found a little plastic coin purse with 76 pesos in it. About $7USD. Used it to buy more plastic bags. Definitely inspired me to keep after the trash. Right now I am only doing Monday mornings, after the weekend invasion of local tourists. It usually looks pretty bad.

I am having a great time with my new buckets and dirt. I am planting seeds and cuttings from the plants I already have. Plus the plants I bought at the La Penita market and the nursery a couple of days ago. More succulents. My favorite is still the Desert Rose succulent plant, but lots of the others are beautiful too. Next time I feel flush I am going to buy an oleander to take cuttings from. Most of the plants I buy here are 15 to 35 pesos, except for a large, blossoming, Bird of Paradise which was 50 pesos. I feel so rich, actually having soil to use. Yesterday I made a new planting bed outside the house here, and transplanted some struggling bouganvillea's there, hoping they will spread all around the rocks and bushes. I bought a beautiful vine with bright pink blossoms on Thursday, hoping to successful grow cuttings from it.

Back to looking around at the other little towns in the area. I was really surprised at how big San Pancho and Lo de Marcos are. And Abajo de Lima and Zaculpan. I can't tell if they have grown that much in the last three years, or if it's just my perception (and maybe only seeing part of the towns before because of the mess Kenna left behind). I was also impressed with Zacaulpan (sp?) a few miles west out of Las Varas. I had been thru there on their collectivo a few years ago, but didn't realize, again, how big it is.

Or how small Plantanito is. It has beautiful little cove and then a big lagoon back around behind the headlines south of town. Then a long stretch of beach south. There were some very very large houses up on the headlines, but almost nothing in the actual town except some restaurants and a HUGE parking lot for buses. We ate there, at a restaurant that was also hosting a summer camp for a lovely group of teenagers. They were camped in tents down below the restaurant (and right above the nice beach) and did their activities in the restaurant pool, and on the restaurant tables. While we were there the kids were doing some kind of crafts. I couldn't tell if adults were running things or not. In fact, I wasn't aware of any adults at all. The camp had a big bulletin board (white board) with the daily activities listed. I really liked the idea and started thinking about there being something like that in Chacala. Of course, Plantanitos is very small and absolutely nothing was happening when we were there, which is pretty different from Chacala. Still, the kids were very well behaved and seemed to be having a good time.

On the way back to Chacala we drove by the sign to Las Tortuga's which is I think another gringo vacation home development. I might be wrong about that. I certainly have been wrong before.

If you are looking for a place to rent in Chacala (long or short-term) look at this non-commercial, no profit, website showing all the rentals in Chacala, with some photos and contact info.

Monday, June 05, 2006

The Real Dirt, in Chacala

Being a gardening-type person I have been doing some kind of gardening efforts every since I moved to Chacala ( in 8 days it will be two and a half years ago). I have figured how and and where to get plants: local nurseries, local street markets, neighbors and friends, growing from seed and from cuttings. And pots ((4 gallon plastic buckets with handles, for 10 pesos) from the street markets.

But getting good dirt has been hard. The first garden project I worked on in Chacala was with Aurora. We planted lots of pots and also made a big planting bed. Aurora's husband and some other family members went to a local streambed, called an arroyo here, and brought back a truckload of nice sandy silt. At the time I didn't realized how precious that truckload of dirt was. Later that spring I went to one of the plant nurserives near La Penita with Susana and Berta and we filled her Combi (VW van) up with burlap sacks of soil and plants.

When I moved into my housesitting house, I asked Jose Enrique to bring me a couple sacks on his way home from Sayulita, and he did. And then a friend took me and his wife down to one of the nurseries a couple of times, for pots, dirt and plants.

But it's still pretty hard to get gardening stuff. I finally figured out how to use the collectivo's to bring plants home: Chacala to Las Varas, then Las Varas to the nursery near La Penita, then shop, carry my plants across the highway, flag down the La Penita/LAs Varas collectivo, get to Las Varas, and catch another collectivo back home. The actual travel/waiting for collectivo's can take a couple of hours or more.

But the collectivo route doesn't work with dirt. The sacks of dirt weight about 60 lbs, and they are too heavy for me. Plus the taxi drivers don't care for the dirty sacks in their collectivos. It's hard enough to convince them that there's room for me and 12 plants (the most I can carry, usually).

But after weeks of agitating around about getting some more dirt for my new plants and pots , I finally got someone to drive me to the nursery for dirt and plants, (for money). But I didn't get enough dirt and I really wanted more.

And then !!!!!! a few days ago, I heard all this noise outside my window, guess what? My neighbors were dumping a bunch of topsoil next door. And they said I could have some
bucketfuls, so I brought some home.

I am happy as can be, with plenty of dirt. But it's kind of strange. Now that I have the garden dirt, I don't seem to be able to get to planting and transplanting. Maybe tomorrow morning.

I spent this morning watering, pruning, and weeding all the plants around the house and in pots. Tomorrow, I will plant cuttings from the Desert Rose plants, plant all my seeds (coleus, nastursium, and sunflowers and some other stuff), and take cuttings from the hisbicus and some other plants I don't know the name of.

Of course, I might spend the morning in the hammock, or looking for pirate treasure while I pick up trash on the beach.

If you have visited Chacala and have some photos or comments to share, you can post them on To post on this website, you go to and enter the user name chacalaplaya and the password chacalablog and then go ahead and post or add photos.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

The Long Way Home from Las Varas to Chacala

These two photos show a couple of views of Chacala. The upper one is from one of Aurora's Techo de Mexico rental units and the lower one is from the upstairs unit at Concha's upstairs unit. Both rentals are only about a block from the beach, uphill.

Here in Chacala, I usually wash most of my clothes by hand, out on the patio. But I haven't figured out how to wash sheets and towels by hand, so about every three weeks or so I take three sets of bed linens and a bunch of towels into Las Varas (LV), to the Seco Facil (Easy Dry) laundry, owned by Lulu. This is not a self service laundry (although rumor says there will be one in the new three story building near Foco Loco).

Anyway. Usually I go into LV first thing in the am with my dirty stuff and come home on the collectivo or with anyone who offers me a ride. Then later in the afternoon I usually take Prieto's collectivo to LV and he drives me the six blocks to the Seco Facil, so I don't have to carry the clean laundry.

Yesterday everything went as usual, but after we picked up my laundry we went back to the collectivo pickup spot and a couple from Lima de Abajo was waiting for a rid home. But the last ride to Lima de Abajo had already left and Prieto decided to take them home. I had never been there before. It's on the ocean side of the highway, maybe 6 miles south of the turnoff to Chacala and then maybe three miles toward the ocean. I had seen the sign lots of times and always imagined it was a tiny town, maybe smaller than Chacala.

But, to my surprise, it's a pretty big town, and it's on the way to the Playa de Naranjo. There were four tour buses leaving as we drove into town. We didn't go all the way into town, but I'd like to go back sometime and take another look. I was amazed how different it looked than I had imagined. I have no idea where I got my mental image of the town, but it was really off base. Lots of nice gardens, for one thing.

Now I want to take a look at all the other little towns in the area that I haven't visited yet. Alta Vista, El Capomo, the other Lima, and so on. Prieto said some of the towns have plazas and are very nice. I can't believe I have been here this long without visiting all these little townts. Each town has one or two collectivos that go back and forth between that town and Las Varas, so it's not as though I would get lost. Or that it costs much. Usually 90 cents each way.

So, after dropping the couple off at their house, and picking up various passengers on the way back out to the highway, we returned to Las Varas and picked up a full load of passengers, maybe 12 people and headed back to Chacala. I got the scenic route for the regular price.

Plus nice clean sheets and towels. The three sets of sheets and 4 towels was about $7.50USD.

Don't forget to check out Friends of Chacala, a blogger site where you can post your own photos of Chacala, or write about your trip here, or whatever. or e-mail me at alatawah at

Or check out the new Paraiso Chacala website that some of the Chacala scholarship (EBACH) kids are developing under the leadership of Rodrigo, a local Realtor who lives in Chacalilla.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Chacala Photos Borrowed from the Web

This is a photo of the southern end of the main beach street in Chacala. Those little stores and restaurants seem to be called cuestos, and many of them are only open for Easter, Christmas, and/or weekends. The cuesto business people seem to have a pretty active governing group, or at least I think that's what it is. They have a lot of meeting, but when I ask someone what they talk about usually the person remarks on big mouths saying nothing.

I have no idea why these photos are so little, and I don't know how to make them bigger.
The shot above is taken from the water, showing a couple of houses on the Chacala beach. I think Jessica and Gilberto and family live in the house on the right.
Below is the muelle, where the fishing boats are tied up and fish are unloaded from the boats.
Today was June 1, a special day in Chacala (and maybe all over Mexico, for all I know). It is a special day for fishermen, and boats, and fishing. I think I have that right. This is the 3rd year I have been in town for this special day, but the first time I attended some of the events. First there was a Mass, including two baptisms after 11 am. I could hear the church bell ringing (three times, onces every 10 minutes or so, to let people know the priest is here, I think).
So I went down to the church, and there were a couple of hundred people at the church and in the church yard, which was decorated with Maria's beautiful banners of colored tissue paper. A group of men were smoking and barbequeing fish during the Mass, and tables were being set up for a big potluck.

Right after the Mass ten boatloads (actually, launcha-loads) of people, led by the Harbor Master's boat, which carried the priest and a special huge flower display, took off from the muelle (above) and went up and the down the coast around Chacala. Las Cuevas, La Caleta, and Chacalilla. I didn't go, but I watched everyone loading onto the boats and taking off.

I have the impression that the idea is to ask for special blessings for fishermen, but
I may have missed the point completely. Then, back to the church. On the way back I looked at the new building on the dingy beach. Om, sister of Jose Enrique and Laura de Valle, who owns the lot that everyone takes pictures of (a strangler fig tree entwined on very old stone pillars) is having JE build a structure behind most of the pillars. I think it is supposed to be a restaurant with an outside terrace where most of the pillars are. Whatever it is, it really looks nice. I am glad they found a way to build around the old parts of the building. It was getting really junky on that lot, and some of the pillars were starting to reallly lean over.

Back at the big feast in the church yard, which included a very nice band with a saxaphone player, everyone was eating and talking and having a good time. At least it looked like a good time to me, and I enjoyed myself. The band played in the church while people ate, and the acoustics seemed pretty good. The best part of the Mass, for me anyway, was sitting out until the big tree and listening to the women singing inside the church.

The little kids (boys mainly) were running all around, in and out of the church. So many kids at the church today were little babies, or not even born, when I first came to Chacala, and now they are running around and having a great time. All dressed up and many with new haircuts.

It's almost midnight now, and the final event of the day is still going on. It's a dance down on the beach kind of behind Jorge's Deposito and Acela's Restaurant. Giant speakers are stacked on top of each other, and the sound is perfectly clear from here, right next to the Chacalilla gate. Ugh.