Sunday, July 16, 2006

Chacala: The Upside and the Downside

Bouganvilleas, one of my favorite plants in Chacala (courtesy of Sparks)
One nice result of my trip to Morelia, and to the Patzcuaro area, is that I now have some other places with which to compare Chacala. Nice places. Up until this trip I had only been to tourist-type towns on the Pacific coast. Plus time spent in the bus stations of the towns between Nogales and Tepic. Neither Tepic, the Nayarit State capital, or Puerto Vallarta and environs have never appealed to me. But both Morelia and Patzcuaro have a lot going for them, and seem to be places I might like to live.

I am not sure where this interest in checking out other parts of Mexico is coming from. Partly, maybe, it's the weather here in July, August, and September. Hot and humid. And for the past week or so, since it finally started raining, there are millions of very blood-thirsty mosquitoes. Hard to go out during the day (from say 9am to 6pm) because of the heat, and in the early morning and early evening because of the mosquitoes.. I am fortunate enough to spend the summer months in a well-designed house that is almost always liveable. Good cross venilation, three ceiling fans, and screen-only windows (no glass to slow down the breezes).

I have also noticed how much I am dreading the thought of being here next winter. I am starting to think that "culture" here in the winter is something I would do well to avoid. And I am going to try somehow to do that this year.

I guess Chacala isn't the only town in Mexico with a strange social atmosphere among the non-Mexican residents, winter only and/or full-time. I have been meeting more and more people who live either live full-time or for six months a year in other Mexican towns. It sounds like my concerns are pretty common in other towns too. There was even a Post today on Thorntree, the message board for Lonely Plant Travel Guides, mentioning Alamos as a place where gossip, or "social intrigue" is the number one activity among gringos. I am not good at staying away from that kind of interaction, so I need to figure out a solution for how avoid this kind of activity. I just don't know what that solution is yet.

So I am going to keep looking for other places to visit, and maybe live in. But I guess I better face up to the fact that I will be taking me, myself, and I along on the trip, where I go. And that how I experience and react to things probably won't change much in a new town.

But a larger town might be nice, where there may be access to activities in intellectual, artistic, spiritual, literary, and political realms, is very appealing to me. I love Chacala, but in some ways it is very limited, similar to any small, small town in the US. Of course, only tourist towns like PV seem to offer access to English language books, magazines, and newspaper. And I am still pretty attached to those items.

Now that the language barrier isn't quite as high, I am starting to think I would like to be around people with broader interests and experiences than I have generally found here. That doesn't sound very nice. But I don't mean it to sound disrespectful. Chacala has been a wonderful place for me about 8 or 9 months of each year. But maybe it's time to look around for another place, at least for the winter months.

And maybe, in a new town, I will be better at staying under the line of fire during the tourist season. Be better at keeping to myself regarding people I don't hit it off with. And just enjoy some of the many, very nice, short-term winter visitors. The last three winters I have met some of the nicest people when they came to Chacala for a visit. I hope I will stay connected with some of them for a long, long time.

Of course, it's possible I won't be able to find someplace nicer than Chacala, and will just have to learn how to deal with the stuff I don't enjoy in Chacala. And with myself.

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