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.

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