Sunday, December 31, 2006

New Years Resolution and a Thank You

First, some nice people who were staying at Casa Chacala over Christmas left me two really really good Canadian mystery books by a woman writer. And some wonderful tea. I didn't get a chance to thank them in person, so I am writing my thank you here, opening they read this post. I wish we had had more time to visit.

Okay, on to today. This is New Year's Eve. I have some invitations for celebrations tonight. An early dinner, and then a pozole at Esparanza's, and a late night event at my first landlady's family's restaurant. I will probably take a nap and go to the late night event. I love the food there. And there's usually a band and dancing and kids running around doing pinata's and fireworks. My kind of party. Maybe I will even dance for the first time in my life. I feel like such a grinch when I don't want to dance.

I printed my first batch of photos in Las Varas today. For the past 5 months, since I got the camera, I have just been posting them on my various blogs, and storing them here and there.

But yesterday some wonderful people, Dave and Marci, showed me how to set up photos on a CD so I can print them in Las Varas on a yellow Kodak console. Actually, they are printed in a little room behind the counter.

The owner couldn't believe how ignorant I was, but he walked me thru the proces, step by step, and I printed 40 photos. It cost more than I expected: 120 pesos. About $10.80US. Not too bad actually. Only five were sort of out-of-focus looking.
I had printed out photos of the people who had asked me if they could have a print over the past few months.

Today I walked around town handing them out. Usually two or three to a family. It was very satisfying. Juanita, who has the middle store in Chacala, started crying when I gave her the two photos. They are my favorite photos, of her two darling little granddaughters. Some of the photos were pretty good, and a few weren't. So I ditched them. I can see all the money I am trying to put aside for travelling going down the drain at the Kodak shop, so I will have to restrain myself. Which is hard for me to do. I love seeing the photos on paper. Very satisfying.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Finding a Place to Stay in Chacala

These photos are of a boat trip we took yesterday, south to a local small beach.
Someone just mentioned in a Comment they didn't realize that I have a smal website with photos and contact information for all the rentals in Chacala. Well, there are a couple I don't list. But all but two rentals in Chacala.It's called Chacala Budget Rentals at

The website includes photos, descriptions, location, and contact information for all the rentals.

For most of the rentals owned by local people, I will make reservations, take deposits, and help with arrangements. I don't charge the owners or rentors for this service.

I regularly arrange rentals for the Techos de Mexico units: Aurora's, Concha's, Gracias, Laura's, Dona Lupe's, and Beatriz's. And Mirador (owned by Chata/Inez and Isreal), Socorro's, Antonia's, and the rentals behind Tres Mars restaurant. And Casa Chacala.

There are also other ways to contact owners of the Techos de Mexico units, via email at their website.I can contact almost all the other rental owners for you, particularly the ones where the Contact Information says "Spanish only" (if you don't speak Spanish). But my preference is that for the other units, usually owned by gringo or out-of-town people, is that you make contact using the Contact information on the website.Yesterday Beto and Aurora took some of us over to a lovely little beach south of Chacala. It was a wonderful day. The weather was perfect, and the water fine. And the food was great.

This is a photo of Concha's (Guanahani Techos de Mexico) son Juan Luis's new duplex. It's available for rent starting on the 12th of January. 450 pesos (40.50US) a night. Chacala Budget Rentals

The Week After Christmas, and All Thru Chacala...

Playa Chacala looks like this for a week around Christmas and another week around Easter. Otherwise, it's usually empty, or almost empty, except for Sunday's, when familes come down to the beach from nearby towns.

Twas a few days after Christmas, and most of Mexico is arriving at some beach somewhere for a few days of sun and fun. And eating and music, and a little shopping for trinkets.There are a bunch of big tourist buses (60 on Wednesday, today) parked along the beach road and around town. They come from Guadalajara mostly, for a day, or a couple of days of fun. They arrive full of families and all their stuff. If there are spending the night, or nights, they might have camping stuff. Otherwise they stay mostly in the small places along the beach: Posada Gloria, Sarai, Guadalupe, Seashell, and Las Brisas. And the Tres Mars units.The water is perfect, but the waves are really lazy and boring. Great for families though. I just took a 10 minute swim, and the water was wonderful.

I came home for lunch. Made quesadillas with three tortilla straight from Dona Lupe’s grill, with cheese, and tomatos. And my second, and hopefully last, Coke of the day. Then I cleaned up the photos on my computer, and wrote something for my gardening blog. And now this.Some people just came by who had spent the morning with Alvaro, walking thru the woods, up a dry streambed to see very, very old petroglyphs near Alta Vista. They are about a half an hour from here. The people said they had a great time, and Alvaro was a great tour guide.

Don’t get it. Don’t like it. Don’t understand it. But I guess my job is to figure out my reaction, not worry about what the cheapskates are up too.I do feel a little guilty bringing annoying quests to landladies in Chacala. But there’s no way to know ahead of time what people are going to be like. And almost all the people who come to Chacala are very, very nice, and respectful of their landladies.

Concha’s son, Juan Luis has just finished the first unit of this new duplex. His first rental guests arrived just as he was finishing. Almost in time.Berta showed me the construction progress on her two new rental units last night. We shared some chocolate covered cherries someone gave me for Christmas. Well, actually, I just offered her some, because I am staying away from sweets right now. Her new units are being built on top of her family’s house, and look very nice. I hope they finish up this year. She will be a great landlady. She’s so much fun, and is working on her English.

Getting Used to Strange Food and Travelling

Many experienced traveller’s visit Chacala. Lately I keep running into people here who have spent time traveling in Central America. Which is probably my next destination. Sometime in the not-near future.

But I love hearing about the towns and areas people especially liked. And pouring over maps with them. Following their travels. Two people who are in Chacala for a month are on their first leg of a three month trip, looking for a winter home somewhere. They are heading to Central American next week, and I am really jealous of their plans. It looks like a great trip.And another couple who are here now, staying at Isreal and Chata’s, have also spent quite a bit of time down there. And Memo was there for about a month a couple of years ago. And a guy named Eric from S.F. was in Chacala a couple of winters ago, on his way home from Central and South America.

I am not sure what the appeal is for me. Maybe just someplace new. But I like the vegetation and birds and the pictures I see of the beaches, so I am pretty sure I will make the trip sometime.I am so impressed by people who just take off and go somewhere, not seeming to worry about language, meals, bugs, etc. But I am getting much more adventurous and confident that I can find what I need, wherever I am.

Most of my life, until about ten years ago, I was very afraid of traveling, generally. Even when we went on road trips in the U.S. and Canada, my attention was always on what could go wrong. Car breaking down. No place to stay. No food. Lost wallet. My ex had traveled a lot before we met, and I think he would have liked me to be a better traveler. More adventurous.

Plus, I am the pickiest eater in the world. Not adventurous about food at all. And I have a limited range of foods I like. It’s a joke around Chacala that I eat Coke and cacahuates onlys (that’s peanuts). It’s not true, but it probably looks like that.My boss at my last job had traveled a lot to awful places, for Catholic Relief. He always stayed in hotels and ate in hotel restaurants, but he told me that everywhere in the world seems to have Coke, peanut butter, and Ritz crackers. And he was right. That idea freed me up to travel some. Bananas and oranges seem to be everywhere too. I could like on those five items for quite awhile, if I had too.

Although my first four visits to Mexican I stayed in nice hotels, with meals included, as a base. And went out on buses very day looking for little towns that might suit me. I was pretty nervous about food. Wanting to make sure I had meals I like, and was familiar with.I am getting better about taking chances. I have been eating quesadillas with carne and with pollo at Tres Mars, and that’s a big leap for me. The first couple of years here I mostly ate at my place. Where ever that was. Or had quesadillas with cheese only, or grillede fish, carne, or pollo.

I am pretty old to be learning new food tricks, but I am. It sure makes my life more fun to be able to happily eat a bigger variety of food.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Trip to Las Cuevas

Las Cuevas
It’s a another beautiful Chacala morning. I am finally regularly sleeping in until about 6:30am, when the sky is lightening up, and I can see the horizon to the east. The sun is actually up and shining on me a little after 7am. I love hanging over the teraza wall, watching the sun come up, and the yachts pull out. Heading south most of the time. In the Fall they will all be heading north. I watch for whales too, but I have only seen one this year, and I’m not sure it was a whale.

But I will probably see some whales this morning, because Aurora’s husband, Beto, is taking some of their guests out to a beach, probably Las Cuevas, but maybe Chacallila. Either are okay with me. Chacalilla has lots of seashells and has lovely clear water and a nice place to sit in the shade. . And I like the idea of local people marking their territory on the beach there. Reminding the rich people that the beaches in Mexico are public, and open to all.

But Las Cuevas is really beautiful. Small, like a desert island. Although, today, during Christmas week there will probably be other people there. It’s a lovely little beach, with clear water and some nice little waves. And a lemon tree and lots of shade.

Last night I hung out with gringos again for awhile. I was delivering rental messages around town just before sunset. The horizon had the look it has when there is a “green flash”, and I was hope to see one. No “green flash”, but there was a beautiful long sunset. We ate at Chico’s. Or rather, my companions had barbequed fish. I usually eat dinner in the late afternoon, so I am not hunger at gringo-dinner time. But it was fun to visit and meet some new people,

I am getting requests everyday now to “list” people’s rentals on my Chacala Budget Rentals sight. Most are new rentals, like Antonia’s, and other are new units at older places, like Concha’s new units, built by her son, Juan-Luis. And other other other places that have been undated, or painted or something. Like Guillermo’s new rental. I am getting better at getting up and out before the sun is really up, since that seems to be the best time for photographing buildings.I think the understanding of websites, and how it helps fill rentals with renters, has just become clear to almost everyone in town. It happened really quickly. Even a few months ago, when I showed someone local the rental site, they didn’t seem to understand how it would help people find their rental units.

But now, all of a sudden, people to seem to get it. Like Augustine’s wife, Ana. I don’t know if she understand about the internet at all, or has ever even looked at a computer. But she does know I have been helping local people find renters.Or people from the U.S. and Canada find Chacala rentals. So I am going over in a minute to get some inside photos, just after she has cleaned the rooms.Ths winter, everyday, people, locals and gringos, approach me with very positive remarks about my trying to help Chacala landlords. Especially my efforts to help the local families with a few rentals, to find renters. I don’t care too much about the places owned by out-of-towners, but I list almost all the rentals in Chacala, so visitors can see what’s available.

The strangest thing for me is when someone makes a negative comment to me about this Blog. When I ask when they read it, it always turns out they hadn´t actually read it. Someone ¨told them all about it¨. Direct suggestions or complaints would me nice, but that doesn´t seem to be the usual way around here. Except for Laura de Valle, who talked to me about a comment I made. Which I appreicated. Alot.

I am concerned about the impact of both these blogs, but at the moment my point of view is that Chacala is going to keep growing no matter was I write or say. But I can help local people get their piece of the pie. And try to encourage nice people to come to Chacala. People who are trying to respect the people and culture in Mexico, and who are interested in learning Spanish, and who are concerned about the environment.

I seem to be feeling nasty and cynical again. I guess it’s time to eat something.

And head out on the launcha for a nice day on the beach, in paradise.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Hugs in Chacala

One aspect of my life here in Chacala that is really different from my previous life in gringolandia (the US of A), is that I get lots of hugs here in Chacala. From kids and grown-ups, men and women, from people I am close to, and new friends. And sometimes strangers.
Sometimes with kids the hug is somewhat manipulative. Because some kids know I will probably give them some small change for the paint booth on the beach road. Or the stupid video games (10 cents) at Sarai’s little store. Or whatever. Or because their Mom’s encourage them to be especially nice to gringo’s, because they are the source of scholarships, etc.

One of the very competent and hard-working young women in Chacala has a two year boy who always calls out “Anee” when he sees me. I think it’s mostly because his little cousins are always running up to me. And I think his Mom probably encourages it.Last night she and I were both at Tres Mars. I was eating and hanging out with some tourists, and she was waiting for take-out order. She asked me to come up and take photos of her two new rental units, across from the school. And then she told me how her little boy calls out “Anee” to any gringa-looking woman he sees on the street.I think either we all look the same to him, or he thinks any gringa is the source of goodies. Or something. Who knows. Besides, I love the kids calling out to me, and knowing my name, and running up to give me a hug.

And my very favorite form of friendly physical contact is holding babies and toddlers. And there are lots of them around here. Everyway. Beautiful little babies. I am so lucky.
P.S. And I get doggie hugs too: Chocomille and Bamboo and Jose Carmelo and Chocomille
s mommy and the doggie at Tres Mars all come running up for a pet whenever they seem me. I love it.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Sunrise in Chacala

I took these photos from my patio the other morning. At about 6:40am. The weather is lovely, with nights cool enough to want a light blanket for the early mornings. The waves have been smallish and kind of boring, but still fun to jump around in. The sand in coming back in on the south end of the beach (which has lost some of it's sand over the summer). Now more snad is coming back everyday, covering the rocks and making a lovely place to swim in front of Majahua and Mar de Jade. For several months it has been very rocky in that area, but now it's nice and sandy
Mexican tourist from Compostella, Tepic and Guadalajara starting coming in yeseterday (Christmas Day ) afternoon, and the camping areas and rental places off the beach are fillling up. More tiendas and stores and restaurants are open after sunset. Lots of fun.

The sun hits my house at about 7:10 am these days, and the sun is completely down about 5:22pm. It's dark about fifteen minutes later. We are heading toward a full moon. The ocean looks so good in the moonlight.

For The Non-Vegetarians Among Us, In Chacala

For some reason I seem to have collected some photos of carne (meat), pollo (chicken), and pescado (fish).
The snaps of naked chickens were taken on the street in Las Varas.

The beef is hung un-refrigerator and surrounded by flies in open butcher shops.

These Chacala boys are learning to process fish caught around Chacala by their Dads, Uncles, Grandfathers, brothers, neighbors and friends. They are working/learning at Lalo's fish place, in Chacala

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Boats on Chacala Bay

A little skiff of some kind, with two sails, was dancing around Chacala Bay early this morning. I love how it looked, and how fast it flew over the water.
This is the first time I really tried to get a good shot of the boats. It turned out later I had accidently turned the focus thing to "portrait", which is probably why they didn't turn out to well.
This is one of the birds from the other post. My ex said the photos didn't come up on his computer, so I am sending this extra one. For his perusal.

Tamales and The Days Before Christmas, in Chacala

Yesterday afternoon I was hanging around my landlady's restaurant, the Fonda de Lupita. She and her novio/esposo and her helper were making a batch of tamales with chicken/polo.
I don't have a clue about the recipe, but I will check. This is the papas/potatos. Boiled.
This is the chicken in sauce.
Here is Dona Lupe's hands tying the tamales. But gringo's, especially from the motor home parking area across the road, come over for take-out quite alot.
People seem to be very fond of Dona Lupe's tamales and her pozole. I am not a big fan of alot of Mexican recipes, so I probably am not a good judge of her cooking. Gringos from the motor homes across the road on the beach come over for take-out all the time. And for her handmade torillas too. Very very delicious. The tortilla's.