Wednesday, January 31, 2007

New Line Water in South Chacala

The new section of Chacala’s waterline is being installed from Delphin’s Restaurant, south to the houses around Don Beto’s house and camping area. That would include the house of Gilberto’s family, Esparanza’s house and camping area, and her two son’s houses.

The old line was destroyed by Hurricane Kenna, in October 2002, and had not been replaced. I don’t know why, but maybe because the creek that supplied the town’s water was running dry the past few years.

But this summer a new water supply, from a real well, was brought into Chacala. The existing waterlines delivered the water to most of the houses in Chacala.

And now the folks who live on the south end of the beach have dug a trench (by hand) from the beach road all the way across the camping area at Delphin’s, and then south to the five houses on the beach. And to the shower and toilet facilties those families maintain for campers who camp in their campgrounds or on the beach and fields

They dug the trench in about two days. All the men and boys were digging all day. With the help of Jessica, who swings a mean pickaxe.

These men are two of Esparanza’s sons and her husband. They are putting the faucuets for their three houses.This is another son, digging the trench near Esparanza’s house.And some of Esparanza’s grandchildren are playing in the dirt around the open waterline trench.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Chacala Kids at Work

Most of the kids in Chacala work part-time. This three year old is helping her aunt to open the souvenir store. She is removing the rocks that hold down the tarp surround the display are. No one asked her to, she is copying her aunt. Most kids work in their family business. Kids work in the stores, rental units, fish shop, restaurants, groceries and as fisherman. This 12 year old has a candy stand in front of his aunt's grocery store. His little sister is helping him with customers. The candy table is usually open on weekends and afterschool.Since they usually grow up in their families place of business, many kids grow up working without realizing they are learning working world skills. And they know where the money comes from and what you have to do to get money. Of course some kids don't do much work, especially some of the young teen-aged boys.

Surfers in Chacala

The surf in Chacala is very small-time, but some of the local boys are very dedicated surfers and spend hours out there mornings and evening, working on their surfing skills.Other boys like to slide across the very shallow water on little plywood circles. It seems kind of dangerous to me, but I haven't seen any one get hurt, so far.
The water is warm enough year=ar

Monday, January 29, 2007

Inspired By Friends in Chacala

Some return visitors I especially like to be around arrived in Chacala about 10 days ago. They are a mother-daughter team. Adults. And really fun to be around. We finally spent some time together yesterday. It turned out they brought me a bunch of really great stuff: seven shirts that I really like, and that fit. And a bunch of really, really, delicious chocolates, and some Garden Design magazines. And a new (for me) magazine called "Conversations&Work" I think. It feels like a good Christmas or birthday.

I am amazed that Nicole could pick out so many shirts that I really like. She shops at a thrift shop in Oakland/Berkeley. I think it's called "Thrift Town". I didn't realize how predictable or obvious my preferences in shirts is. I guess I have a very boring, or maybe consistent, wardrobe.I am loving looking at the gardening magazines. The only ones I can find here in Mexico are really crummy, basic, and cheap. The nicer ones are from Spain, and they don't seem to have articles about tropical plants. I have been pouring over them all last night and this morning.

But the very best thing, of all the gifts, isn't a gift. It's a loan. I am reading a couple of issues of "work" (and another word I can't remember), published in Berkeley. This issue I am reading right now is written by ??? and refers to Christopher Alexander. Shoot. I can't remember his name. I think it's written by Galvin something.

The article is about figuring out about dwellings/housing/community/how people create spaces for living around themselves. That's a really poor description, but I will write more about it later, when I have re-read it. I am going to end up wanting to write more about these issues, because it's really on my mind.And one of the gardening magazine said that Portland cement is fine sand and crushed limestone. I am confused about that because I read recently that Mexico is the #3 or #4 producer of cement in the world. I guess that means there is lots of limestone here? Don't know, but I will research the topic more.

I am very curious about cement right now because I am thinking about doing a small project here with hyuper-tufa or whatever it's called now. Cement mixed with peat or fiber(glass) or perlite or whatever, instead of sand or gravel. So it's light enough to make movable objects with.When I came to Chacala I was thinking about doing some things and got kind of sidetracked. But one of the gardening articles was about Little and Lewis, on Bainbridge Island, and their beautiful work with cement. Making garden things. Plus Sheri brought a photocopied article on Las Pozas, a magical garden in the mountains between D.F. and the Caribbean. It's been at the top of my "must see in Mexico" list since I got here. But it's a long ways and I haven't wanted to spent the money yet. But I will probably go this April. Maybe.

Sheri was the one who brought down the gardening magazines, and a tee-shirt with her garden design and construction company's logo on it. And the "work" magazine. She also brought a great photo album of her garden in the hills above Oakland CA. In seven years she has created a really amazing lovely beautiful garden. I was really impressed. And I was impressed by her photos, taken with a regular film camera. Great shots. And she didn't take 50 photos to get one good one. She could really have fun with a digital camera, but she doesn't need one.
So, I have lots of inspiration this week. I am excited and feeling really motivated. To work on my garden at this house, and to keep growing new succulent plants from cuttings. And to come up with a little business plan for my project. And to keep reading. And to save money for a bus trip to Las Pozas. And to get rid of my worn-out shirts that keeping shredding while I am wearing them. Right now I have 11 good shirts. I love it. I feel rich, and I don't have to wash clothes quite so often. Of course, my shorts are disintegrating even as I write this. I guess I will have to buy some at the used clothing booths at the La Penita market. Maybe next month.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Volunteering and Learning in Chacala

Pretty often people who are coming to Chacala are interested in “volunteering” here. Some come to stay at a local retreat center, located south of Chacala, where they pay room and board at the retreat center and volunteer in a nearby town, Las Varas. Other times people write and ask about volunteer opportunities here. Sometimes people are surprised when I ask what they had in mind, and if they speak Spanish, or if they have some special skill or talent they could share with local kids or adults. Sometimes pople seem to be surprised that they might need some skills to be useful volunteers here. Usually I refer them onto Viki, the coordinator of the Bibliotecha program here in Chacala. I have a suggestion for people who are coming to Chacala and would like to help out in some way. To share their money or talent or time, or whatever. My suggestion is instead of (or in addition to) offering to volunteer, people can come to Chacala with a desire to learn about Mexico and Chacala. They can become students of life of Chacala and all of Mexico. And to learn about what life is like in a small Mexican tourist and fishing village. And about the culture, the family life, the role of religion, food, architecture, infrastructures issues, the working lives, the schools, and whatever else is interesting to them. In Chacala a person can learn about the birds, the petroglyphs, the animal and sea life, and all kinds of things. And maybe learn a little Spanish.

One thing you can bring to Mexico is a respect of the people of Mexico. And a sense of curiosity and a willingness to learn about the history and culture. It is very possible to prepare for a visit to Chacala by learning some Spanish, and reading about the history, politics, geography, art, and culture of Mexico. There is so much to learn about this beautiful country. There were beautiful cities here while our Pilgrims were living in log hovels in the wilderness.Of course, there are many people who come to Chacala, having learned some Spanish, and with something to share with the kids here. Or some skill to teach. And, of course, there are the volunteer groups who have come to Chacala. Like Rotary. And people who have worked on Techos de Mexico projects. And church and student groups. All of whom have come here to help support the people who live here. They have created some wonderful buildings: homes, the learning center, and school buildings. And thee are individuals who bring down tools and school and art supplies. Some of the new owners of homes in the gated community have made wonderful contributions to the Kinder and the Bibliotecha. And people come here to learn Spanish during the months when there are few English speakers here, say April thru mid-November. And learn Spanish with classes and thru immersion in a Spanish-speaking environment. The rents are lower in the off-season months, and it’s easier to learn Spanish if you have to speak it to do everyday errands. And there are people like Memo, who was here a few years ago, and worked with the kids every day for about four months. And he didn’t approach them as a person from a supposedly superior and more advanced culture, but as someone who was learning from the kids. He wanted to share experiences with them.And there’s Becky, who came prepared to develop a small percussion band with interested kids. And to do a little concert with them at the end of her stay. I think that people who come here ready to learn about life in Chacala and about the individuals who live here have the nicest visits.One thing anyone who comes to Chacala can to is to come with an open mind. Come to watch and listen and observe. And ask questions. Not judgmental questions. Like asking “how do you….?”, rather than “Why do you….?” . And we can try to remember that cultural differences are not necessarily good or bad. Often they are just different.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Lost in Chacala

I had a strange experience this afternoon, walking from my house to my landlady’s restaurant. There are three ( or maybe more) alternate routes. And today I thought I would try a little path my landlady had kind of waved toward yesterday, when we were out walking.

I found what appeared to be the start of a well-worn path just off the side of the road. Someone had stuck a branch between two strands of the barbed wire fence next to the road and I went thru the space. Only caught my computer/backpack on the barbs for a couple of seconds.
The path went into the bushes, and seemed to be heading into the area I thought was a flood plain/dry lagoon area this time of year. But as I walked thru a small wall of bushes I came to a nice grassy clearing. With a couple of beautiful big Gumbo Limbo trees. Trees I had never noticed from the road.

And a small hill with a rocky sort of cliff on one side. I had never seen before.
It was a very strange feeling. I couldn’t believe this space was right in the middle of Chacala, and that I had never noticed it before. I walked thru the little grassy meadow-like space, and walked backed into another shrubby area.Then I started noticing a lot of trash in the bushes, and by the time (10 seconds) I got to the next clearing I could see trash everywhere. Very disgusting.Then I walked by some more bushes and ended up at back of the restaurant, where my landlady has a small garden. And a toilet with a standing pool of black water behind it.Anyway, the next time I am on the hillside behind Chacala I am going to take a look around. And see what I can see.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Resolutions and Rentals in Chacala

Chacala, and all of the Pacific coast of Mexico is still having some very uncharacteristic weather the past few days. I am still wearing shorts and short-sleeved shirts, but I now have a blanket on my bed, instead of just a sheet. And I will probably wear a long sleeved shirt when I go out this afternoon. But it's supposed to good by day after tomorrow. Thursday. And maybe sooner.Aurora's Techos de Mexico Rental
I am still struggling with my New Year’s Resolution. To try not to say or write mean things, etc. I can’t remember the exact language of my resolution right now. But it’s something about not being so judgmental.Isreal and Chata's Mirador Rental
Partly it’s a bad habit: being judgmental, I mean. It’s is bad enough to have judgmental thoughts, but expressing my judgments and opinions is worse. But I am having a hard time keeping my month shut and my fingers under control (when I am writing this). But I am trying. Concha's Techos de Mexico Rental
However, sometimes I think it’s a different problem. Maybe it’s more about when I should keep my mouth shut, or my opinions to myself. Casa de Iguana Rental
Antonia's Rental Units
I Tres Mars Rentals
I don’t know when it’s okay for someone to take up an issue and make a fuss (writing on a blog about it) and when it’s inappropriate. I know I have written things here that I have gone back and deleted in the light of day. Or after someone wrote to me or talked to me about something I wrote.

Socorro's Rentals
Alonzo's Rental
.I don’t know how to tell when it’s my business, or appropriate to comment on some things that go on around here. But when it appears that a local person is being abused in some way, or people are taking advantage of the lack of enforcement when they act selfishly or thoughtlessly, it’s hard not to say something. Concha's new Rental Units
People have told me that what they like about Chacala it that it’s in Mexico. Ande apparently to them that means they can do whatever they want. And a few days ago a very nice motor home person told me she wanted to pay rent but other motor homers told her she didn't have to. Very interesting.

Oh well.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Hornby Island in Chacala

This has been a year of Hornsby Islanders in Chacala. I have meet a bunch of very nice people from there this winter. I visited the Island about 10 years ago, and loved it there. Especially the pizza place. The owners are here now, and it's really be nice to get to know them a little and to meet other people from the Island. The only drawback is I think they brought their weather with them, because we are having another warm but dreary and overcast day here in Chacala. Supposedly it's going to break up tomorrow. I hope so.

On my last trip to Puerto Vallarta I noticed a nice change at the bus terminal. Some of the toilets there now have toilet seats. A lovely addition to an already decent bathroom. There is always toilet paper there, but not in the stall. You get it ffrom the big dispenser out front. 30 cents a visit.And a few not-so-nice changes at the Airport. There was no toilet paper in the downstairs bathrooms the day I was there, and the locks on the toilet stall doors have been removed. Very strange. Plus the airport magazine stands are no longer carrying the Economist, my favorite weekly. And my only print connection to the outside world. Oh well.

Last night I was hanging out at Las Brisas Restaurant with a nice bunch of people. Ramon, probably the best waiter/manager in the world was taking orders and generally being a great host.

Someone told me that the reasons there have been so many pelicans on the shallow water at the north end of the beach is because they are eating the baby turtles who hatch in the sand during the night and make their way to the water. And instead of swimming away, theybecome tasty little protein snacks for the pelicans. I hope it's not true, but it seems very possible. I have seen the little trails down to the water early in the morning before the tide comes in. Ugh!!!When I was riding home on the bus from PV, I started thinking about the oddest dream I have had since childhood. At first, when I was a child, the dream's setting was on the coast highway south of Ventura, CA. In the late 40's it was very close to ocean and occasionally the ocean came up on the road. My dream was always about that scene. Then, as adult, I started having dreams about another, similar looking lcoation. This was the highway between Brewster and Pateros, going south along the Columbia River in Washington State. The highway used to be right down along the river and the setting looked alot like the Ventura dream. I dreamed about that scene for a long time. Now I am having a new set of dreams. It takes place on the highway to P.V., between Brucerias and Sayulita, near San Ignacio. It looks just like the setting of the other two dream settings, but here there is no water, no river. It seems peculiar to me. The dream always has a air of danger, and I wake up upset. How's that for weird?Some very nice people from Washington are trying to set up a weekly time when gringos wanting to practice their Spanish, and local peple wanting to practice their English, can get together and talk to each other. At Koko Bongo's at 6pm this Wednesday night. I hope it clicks. It would be an easy way for people to get connected and to practice whatever language they are interested in.

More construction going on around Chacala. But many projects seem to run out of money before they are finished. Mostly of the time work continues the next year, but there are some half-built projectd around town that are slowly being covered with weeds and whatever.

Las Brisas is actively enforcing their "No Pet/NoMascotas" policy this year. Nice for those of us who don't enjoy pets in a restaurant, and difficult for pet lovers who like their pets with them and usually don't have anywhere to leave them. I guess the main problem with pets in restaurants is agressive animals and owners to don't clean up after their pets. Whatever.

My landlady told me she is having the building painted soon. The last time whoever bought the paint either didn't want to pay much or the painters diluted the paint with too much water. Because the first time it rained almost all the paint washed off the building. I will be interested to see what color it gets painted. She told me it was going to be white.Visitors to Chacala are bringing school, art, and craft supplies for the Kindergarten. Or for the afterschool program at the Bibliotecha. The Kinder and the Bibliotecha are two separate projects, so you can choose to support one or the other, or bring some things down for each program. Whatever visitors choose to do is good for the kids of Chacala.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Kind of Peculiar Weather in Chacala

I think the weather Gods who are watching over Chacala are acting up. Again. Or maybe they are sick of seeing all the war activity on this planet. In any case, Chacala is getting some strange weather. It actually rained again last night, for the second time this winter. This is NOT the rainy season, and is not acceptable. Not acceptable to me anyway. Although the plants and trees seem to be enjoying the surprise.And right now, about 8pm Saturday night, it is sprinkling slightly. It's still warm. I am in shorts and a tee shirt. And it was in the mid/high 80's for the past few days. So who knows. It's kind of annoying though. I like blue skies and sunshine.

I have a new theory (new to me) that the most important thing about what you eat is if it was prepared for you by someone who cares about you and wants you have good food to eat.

I guess that includes when you are cooking for yourself. I am thinking of the difference between eating food cooked for you in a fast-food factory restaurant by people who probably could give a sh....I am thinking it must be better for us to have our dinners cooked by someone who seems glad to see you come, and knows you food preferences, and likes to joke and talk with you. And who cooks your meal just like you like it, and checks to see if everything is okay.

It was like that for me the other night (and always) at Tres Mars. The girl (of course, I can't remember her name right now) greeted me like a friend. She was standing next to the drink cooler and held up my favorite choices for me. The little house doggy comes running up for a bet. Then the waitress (still can't remember her name) came over and asked if I wanted a quesadilla with just cheese, or with pollo too. She already knew that I didn't want onions or cilantro. I like my quesadilla kind of overcooked, and that's how it came.

Marta, the owner of Tres Mars, came over to tell me some mutual friends, Lonnie and Carolina, are arriving on Thursday. She always hugs me, and I love her hugs. She hurt her knees falling yesterday, and had to show me her wounds.
I was at Tres Mas with some other gringos with a nice group of people, some of whom were here last year, or the year before. French, English, and Spanish (from Cuba) speaking. I have been having another physical complaint. An inflamed (torn rotor cuff) shoulder joint, which is really painful. This is Lupita, who works at her family´s grocery store in Chacala
My shoulder was one of the topics of conversation, and I ended up with some Celebrex, which really worked. And some suggestions, which also worked. Ice on the shoulder. And a wad of folded fabric in my armpit. All three of which worked wonderfully. I am almost pain-free. I can't believe it.