Friday, March 09, 2007

Changing Chacala

I have noticed around Chacala this past week. Things that have changed, since my first visits to Chacala. The first was for a few minutes in November, 2002 (right after Hurricane Kenna) and the second was for three weeks or so, in March/April 2003. Viki, the Adminstrator at the Bibliotecha, leading the way.
One change is Chacala is really on top of the trash situation, compared to a few years ago. Of course, Semana Santa will be the real test of Chacala's capacity to handle trash.

Being a tourist town has some drawbacks, and one of them is tourists coming for the day to picnic or for several days to camp. All the trash gets left behind. And that’s a lot of trash. But Chacala is managing it pretty well. The beach and the roads and the camping areas and around the restaurants is much, much cleaner than it used to be.The Chacala kids have a large responsibility for that. They won a prize last winter for collecting the most plastico in this municipio (county). The prize was a large pickup truck and some cash. So the town has trash pickup four times a week now. By a paid staff person. And the kids pick up plastic trash all over town, on Saturday mornings. Pretty impressive.During my first visit plastic trash was being burned constantly, especially at night. The smell was horrible, and the fumes couldn’t have been safe. You could smell it all over town.That hasn’t happened in Chacala, except for brief exceptions, for more than three years now. Last night, there was a huge cloud of black smoke coming from behind the hotel on the paved road. It was billowing up into the air and everyone was trying to figure out what it was. It turned out coming from the lot owned by a gringo “developer”. People told me they were trying to force a giant rock to crack to they could remove it and build a garage in its place. Whatever. The black smoke was really horrible. It was still billowing into the air when it got dark.Another change is how many folks who live in Chacala have personal vehicles now. I think it used to be that most vehicles you saw around town didn’t belong to local residents. They belonged to business owners and construction crew-bosses, or carried building materials, or were food delivery trucks or whatever. Or they were vendor selling something, or people driving to the Marina, or Chacala visitors with rental cars. But that’s no true now. More and more families have car or pickups now. One of my favorite things about living here is the convenient combi and taxi services. Affordable and convenient. I hope that doesn’t change as more people have their own vehicles.It’s easy for me to get along without a car now. But I can see why people want to have their own vehicles. It’s easy to give up the extras in life once you have had then. It’s different it you never had a TV, and I can understI don’t miss TV at all, but I had it for about 15 years before I moved here, so it was no big loss for me.Another change is the number of people who have phones now. I think it was unusual to have a phone when I first came here. I think Aurora got a phone right after my visit in March/April 2003. The phone numbers here were assigned in the order to getting phone service, and her number was 40 27. The last phone number I was aware of when it was assigned was 41 11. That’s a lot of phone numbers being handed out in a small town.And I remember the first dial-up internet service in Chacala, in people’s homes. I think that was about 2 1/2 years ago, and then high-speed/wireless connections came to Chacala about a year and a half ago. I think that’s right. That’s mostly in homes or businesses though. The Bibliotecha has an connection/satellite system, and some of the restaurants occasionally have wireless. And on weekends a computer/play station place is open on the beach road.

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