Saturday, June 30, 2007

Views of Chacala

I don't much feel like writing anything. It was rainy most of the night last night, but the pwoer stayed on. The roads are muddy. But the sun is coming out now, and everything looks so fresh and green.

This is a view looking down the paved road from Chacala toward the Las Varas highway. From in front of Casas Chacala and Socorro's.Socorro's house and garden. (not the rental Socorro).View of Chacala from the paved roadView from my garden
The ocean is in kind of a weird mood today. Smooth and calm, and then a big smashing, crashing wave, and then smooth and quiet again. Whatever.

Another Stormy Chacala Night

Lots of rain and wind and storminess last night. Didn't need a fan. Or a top sheet. Power stayed on, as far as I know.The new construction across the road from me, Guichol and Norma's two little rentals, is coming along. They have been putting the arched brick roof on the past few days.

I have been trying to figure out which way the roof tilts, for drainage. But I am starting to think it level. Water has been puddling all over the roof.I love it that every bit of cement has been hand-mixed. Not even a wheelbarrow or trough to mix it in.And I like the steady scraping sound at the guy mixes the cement. I noticed when it stops. Ojne of the nice things about no power tools, is that the workers can talk and joke and laugh with each other.

Rainy Night in Chacala

I guess is really is the rainy season in Chacala. It rained heavily last night and the power went out about 3:30 am. It came back on about 10:30am.

I hate it when there’s no power to run the floor fan. Even though I have two decent, screened bedroom windows. Plus, I have the bed positioned between them for maximum breezes. But most nights it’s just too hot without a fan running. In the summer, anyway.But the heavy rains and the power outage coincided so there were plenty of breezes, with a little rain mixed in as it came in the window that faces the ocean.

I worry about the food in the fridge, especially the pollo in the freezer, when the power goes out. Oh well.

I interneted down at Gabriel’s weekend internet place on the beach road. I enjoy Gabriel’s company, but it’s more fun when his wife comes down from Tepic. She hates the congregos too, so we can joke about that.I stopped at the two main tiendas on the way home. No fresh bolillos (like French rolls, sort of) for two days. Rats. I want a chicken sandwich on a fresh roll. So I got tortillas from one of the moto guys, nice and fresh corn tortillas.

It’s about 9:30 pm and its been raining lightly for an hour or so. The power has faded off and on twice, so I am set up with some candles in a can, matches, and my flashlight. Meanwhile there’s a pretty strong breeze. I have half of each window closed to keep the rain off my stuff.

I re-arranged my work tables yesterday, to get the drawing and paper stuff away from the windows. I like it the way it turned out. I can see everything. Aurora, my favorite neighborhood was over three times today. Once to ask me to email a person who made a reservation about some details. Then to borrow my shovel. And then to bring Tom Carter’s son over to visit.Tom Carter is the reporter from the Washington Times, who wrote several articles about Chacala, and about retiring to Mexico last. That was last April. He visited here for a couple of weeks. First solo, and then with his really nice wife. His son, who is a medical school student, just finished a two week medical clinical deal in Las Varas, thru Mar de Jade. He said he really enjoyed it, especially since it was a small group of students. Very nice young man. It was fun to meet the whole family, over time.Went down to go swimming about an hour before dark. Swam with Trini and some kids. Cundo, Trini’s husband, and a really nice woman, the newest rental owner in Chacala, came down to the dinghy beach too. We had some nice gossiping and visiting. On the way home I visited with Gracia, Salva, and ChiCha at Gracia’s, and then went by the store. Still no bolillos. Rats.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Warm, Overcast Chacala Day

It's about 6pm. It's overcast and humid in Chacala, and not nearly so hot as it has been. The waves are normal. Big enough to body surf, but safe for kids. A normal ocean for Chacala.

It rained quite a bit last night, and the dirt roads have big, big mud puddles. And the paved road had nice big muddy potholes. Slows those trucks down. The power didn't go out last night. Hooray.I spent most of the day puttering around in my little garden space, and writing some stuff. And trying to re-organize my workspace so I can keep the windows open when it's raining.

Last night I was lying on my bed reading. Little moth-like things keep landing on me. I finally got up and looked around. There was a huge swarm of little moths on the wall over my bed. I don't know how they got in. I swatted and swatted and swatted them with a flyswatter and finally killed them all. And then swept two dustpans full out the door and down the stairs. Ugh.
I don't know where they came from and I hope they don't come back.
I went swimming just before dark last night, and the water was perfect. I went swimming with a nice family that's visiting here. Two very nice children who are interested in everything. The father's special area of interest in "cultural geography", a term I was not familiar with. But I liked what he had to say. The little boy is very in every creepy-crawly thing, so there's plenty for him to do around here.It's nice to have just a few gringo tourists here. I think there are two sets at Mahajua and three other families in town. I think it's going to rain soon, there's a breeze coming up and I want to get home before it starts pouring.
This was the bizarre scene that gratehen i went down to the internet place on the beach road. Four giant semi's parked along the beach road. There are the trucks that are running up at down the formerly-paved road to the Chacalilla "development". I say "formerly" because the pavement has been pretty much torn up in the large sections, but the trucks speeding in and out. The drivers were having lunch here, and waving at meet and inviting me in for lunch.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Rain is Coming, in Chacala,

It’s a Monday evening in Chacala, about 11pm. It looked and smelled like it was going to rain most of the evening. It hasn’t really rained much yet, only a few minutes of light drizzle. But there was enough lightning, and thunder, to blow out the electricity again. Third time so far this month. The power went off about 9pm, then back on a few minutes later, and then off again. And it’s still off.

(Update, Tuesday am) The power came back on about midnight. It rained most of the night. The dirt around Chacala is nice and wet, and there’s a lot on mud and water on the dirt roads. And the paved road),

One of the good things about Gordon’s house, where I housesat for my three previous six-month summers in Chacala, was that the bedroom had a couple of 12v lights powered by a solar system on the roof. So when the power went out I could still read, and see the insects and bugs, etc. Of course, that system tended to fail, but when it worked it was great.

I have some candles here, and a great wind-up flashlight that Serena and Richard, the Hornsby Island pizza makers, left me last winter. But reading by candles is a pain, so I am computing instead. The hardest thing about no power is not fans. It’s hot and humid and still. Ugh.

The other problem with no power is no refrigeration. And of course, for the first time in months and months, I bought a big package of frozen chicken breasts at Sam’s in Puerto Vallarta today. Now the fridge, with it’s tiny freezer section, is slowly warming up. Darn! I hope I don’t have to cook a dozen chicken breasts tomorrow morning.I got a chance to go to Sam’s Club today, because a woman here in Chacala who I really like, wanted some company driving into P,V. She was picking up some furniture at Sam’s, and we spent some time shopping too.

I checked to see if the pharmacy there had Byetta, an injectible diabeties med, not insulin. But they don’t. They did have another drug that might work for me, but it’s $5 a day for the lowest dose, which probably wouldn’t be enough.

I have been off my diabetes meds for almost a month now. My blood sugars are higher than they should be, but not terrible. I am kind of waiting to see if I can fake it with diet and exercise. We’ll see. It feels so good to be off all meds. It’s the first time in about six years. It seems like the problem I have had for the last five years or so, with going down steps, has faded away in the last few week. The problem was needing to take one step at a time. Both feet on a step, and then both feet on the next step. It felt as though I would lose my balance if I went down the steps the normal way. Whatever.

It was a very nice ride in the P.V. and back. (Aside from maniac truck drivers in semis passing in the middle of curves,etc). My friend speaks more English than I speak Spanish. We seemed to be able to communicate pretty well. It was a nice day for me. She is a really interesting person, and we seemed to share some opinions about some aspects of life in Chacala. And what’s valuable in one’s life.

I am hoping the power will come back on before I go to bed. The storm has passed. Usually the power is back on in a couple of hours, and it’s almost that long now.

I love being out on the patio, looking at Chacala and the ocean, when the power is off. Chacala looks so nice. Little bits of candle light here and there. A car’s headlights coming thru town occasionally.

The folks who are building their new home up the paved road, are leaving for a week for some family business. I went up to say goodbye and to go over my check list. For keeping an eye on the house they are staying in during construction of their new house. We sat on the patio and chatted and enjoyed just being in Chacala. They said it’s hard for them to leave to go back to Canada, even for a few days.I think maybe a new breed of folks are starting to settle in a Chacala. Planning to stay here for the long-haul. Nice folks with a social conscience. People who want to find a way to fit into life in a small Mexican community. And to pursue their own interests, and enjoy life in Chacala. With the beach, the slower pace, and the stronger family life, and the semi-tropical climate. And maybe to make some friends among the residents of Chacala, local and gringo. I can think of three couples who have settled in here this last last year who might fit that description. One couple is renting long-term and the others are building, or just finished building.

It sure feels different around here the last couple of weeks. But maybe it’s just where my head is at.This is Aurora's downstairs rentals, two units, private baths, shared patio.
Something else that’s different around here right now is how many gringo tourists there are here now, in June. I think there are four families here right now. Maybe some other people too, who I haven’t run into yet. It’s certainly more than have been here in my three previous summers in Chacala. Kind of a mixed blessing for me. Nice people though.

Gambling My Pesos Away, in Chacala

I had a nice Chacala morning. Everything seems fresh and new and green after the rain last night. And the sun is shining. And there’s no dust from the construction trucks zooming by. I filled the three big (tinaco, lavendariva, and big trash barrel) water containers, and 5 smaller water containers when the town water came on about 10am. Washed some clothes and tidied up.

One of the kids yelled up from the road that Juan, at the tienda, wanted me to come down. To the tienda. It turned out my case (24 glass bottles) of apple juice had arrived. He gives me 15% off the town price if I buy by the case. It seems to be the only way to get liquids in glass bottles around here. I hate the taste of aluminum and plastic, so….

This is Coke truck day too. Usually they get my this house about 2pm if I have ordered the day before. Today I ran into the Coke truck guys down at the store, and paid up front for my two cases of Coke in glass bottles. I am set for the rest of my month now. My month starts on the third Wednesday of the month, so I have three weeks to go.

I paid up front so I wouldn’t have to be at the house until they got around to my place. These Coke truck guys have been bringing me Cokes since I figured out about buying by the casa and having it delivered. Almost three years. They are really funny and nice.

Today, it turned out I was home when they brought my Cokes. I gave them some Spanish language magazines someone had passed on to me. We sat there and looked at them for a few minutes. They were especially taken with a woman in one of the beer ads. Whatever.Pool at Paul's Satow duplex: two bedroom apartments
The collectivo driver, Samuel, dropped my case of apple juice off at home, on his way to the Chacalilla gate. I held out my hand with some change, maybe 30 pesos, for the tip, and he took only 10 pesos. That was nice.

Normally, I can carry a case of juice up to the hill to my house. But my excuse for getting it delivered right now is that I re-broke the bone I broke in my wrist last winter. It healed up but I fell down hard last week, and apparently broke it again. This time I had an ex-ray for $18US. The tech pointed out the line, the crack. I am wearing an elastic bandage at night, but it’s too hot and sweaty during the day. The doc has a plastic cast for 350 pesos, but I though I could figure something out.

After paying the Coke guys I went over to Mars Tres, and ended up playing Bingo with Marta and the two current waitresses. I have played cards around Chacala before, but never Bingo, and never for money. I won the first card (1 peso) and lost the next five cards (5 pesos). Then we quit playing for the noon rush. Which starts about 1:30 around here. The Bingo cards have the titles of the cards printed on them, so I learned some new words, plus the word for empty (as in pop bottles).

I am home right now, cooking two chicken breasts. One for today and one for tomorrow. Someone gave me some small cucumbers yesterday, and I am going to have a little tomato, celery, cabbage and cuke “salad”. Yesterday, when I was visiting with B. and B., we were talking about the struggle to find a daily menu here. One that satisfies my gringa food tastes, and one where the ingredients are available. I think it took me about a year to feel comfortable with my food options here.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Another Sweet Saturday in Chacala

Saturday morning in Chacala tends to be busy, at least on the main street. Main Street is actually the dirt road running parallel to the beach. It’s not called Main Street. I call in the Beach Road. I am not sure what other people call it. The formal name is Calle de Chacalilla.

That's because that's where it went before the lovely little Chacalilla bay was fenced off by a 10 foot cement wall. In order to create the "development". It's funny. For several years I would say to myself, "at least they don't destroy to trees and landscape in the development". It's really pretty lovely in there. Until now. I have been told some developer is building 22 units in there, and wiping out the trees right and left as he goes. Which is against the rules in there. But who cares, right?It’s usually busy on Saturday, and especially Sunday, if the weather is clear. Folks from Guadalajara and Tepic and other towns come by bus, tourist bus, collectivo and private vehicles to enjoy the beach most weekends.And various vendors come from the small towns around here to sell whatever it is they have to sell.And most of the Chacala school kids are out picking up trash, led by the Director of the Bibliotecha program. Viki almost always has a big group out every Saturday, with big plastic bags, picking up trash and plastico.The kids got bright orange shirts a few weeks ago, and most of the kids where their shirts when they are out on a Bibliotecha or EBACH (scholarship program) project.The kids cover most of the town, but these photos are from the center of town.Some of the kids got sidetracked, admiring items at one of the tourist shops.And holding their new puppy.And riding down the road, three to a bike.School is out the first week of July. But lots of activities are being planned for the local kids.

Right now, the kids who are eight and older are preparing for their First Communion. If they haven’t already done it, that is. Three afternoons a week, at about 5pm, the church bell rings to bring to kids to class. Chata and Juanito are teaching the classes, and it looks like the kids are learning a lot and enjoying themselves.

And there another now-annual bus trip. This time to Mexico City and/or Vera Cruz. Other years the kids went to Mexico City and Guanajuato, last year to Morelia, Patzcuato, Uraupan, and somewhere else.
It’s wonderful to know these kids, and most family members, are getting a chance to see the rest of Mexico.

And, Trini and some other adults are organizing a program offering new and different activities for the kids. Really, all kinds of activities intended to inspire their creativity, and expose them to new ideas and experiences. I am really excited about this program.Of course, here in Chacala it’s still in the 90’s most days and very hot. I am on my way down to swim and go to the internet right now. At 6pm.

Sunshine in Chacala

This is a gorgeous Sunday in Chacala. It’s hot and humid, sunny, and breezy. The town is about half full of tourists who live in other parts of Mexico. Compostella, Tepic, Guadalajara, wherever. Even a sweet young, English-speaking couple who grew up in Brucerias. With they lovely little daughter. Ophelia's Shop on the Beach Road
Only a few tourist buses are here today, and no big noisy bands. Just the local troubadours, going from restaurant . The restaurants are full of big families and groups of friends. All ages, babies and kids thru great-grandma.Lots of people in the water. The waves are just big enough to have fun without being scary. The water is turquoise. I love it. The sand was too hot to walk on barefoot. That’s kind of unusual here, I think.There seems to be a black or brown water drainage problem coming from El Delphin, flowing toward the beach road (aw Ugh. A few local people have being asking me to take photos of these septic tank problems, and I am. The town is trying to arrange for funding of some kind of sewage system, at least on the beach. The last three (gringo) construction projects awhile the beach scare me. There’s only so much sewage you can pump into sand. Or septic tanks.There was a big birthday party being set up at Esparanza’s camping and picnic area. Yellow balloons tied everywhere, and the palm tree freshly whitewashed. And the sand raked and the tables and chairs set in the shade. Esparanza's picnic and camping area
Lots of visitors walking on the beach road, looking are touristy stuff to buy and snacks to eat. Like Tacos from Polo’s and fresh tortas (chicken, beef or pork sandwiches) at Mars Tres. The pizza guy, Victor, seems to be out of business for now. Rats!!! I loved having pizza on the weekend here.The computer guy, Gabriel arrived early on Friday and is planning to be open until late Sunday night. Very handy for me, but kind of expensive. 20 pesos an hour. But his connections are fast most of the time, and the machines work well. So far he doesn’t want to deal with Wi-Fi, but he has lots plug-ins if you bring your own computer.There are at least three gringo families staying in Chacala right now, maybe more. At Mirador, Majahua, and maybe at Nuevo Espana.Majahua's Beach Club area, right off the beach.
Majahua’s remodeling is moving quickly. The new bar, offering all kinds of beverages, will have two levels. I think it’s going to be a big hit. The view is incredible, especially the winter sunsets. Actually all the sunsets.I think there are now seven places in Chacala with swimming pools. I am not really a fan of swimming pools, because of the chemicals. But they look wonderful, and I knows they are fun for kids. And no sand. Paul’s Satow and Casa Monarca both have shallow wading areas with a low divider separating them from the deeper water. Maybe some of the others do too.I was dozing this afternoon, during siesta time, and I kept hearing this scraping sound. I finally got up to see what it was. One of the workers from the new hotel was cleaning the dirt away from the speed bump/tope. There was so much gravel and silt built up on the uphill side of the tope that the big Chacalilla development trucks were starting to speed over it again.So the worker cleared away the debris, and the topes are higher again. The downside is, he was using the extra dirt to fill in all the potholes caused by the water from the hotel’s spring. Their water runs down the paved road 24/7 , making a potholed mess. Which I like, because it slows the trucks down. Oh well. I am going back down to the beach to swim, and to have some smoked-grilled fish at Chico’s. I can’t wait.

Friday, June 22, 2007

New Chacala Rental Options

There’s a nice new rental option in Chacala. It’s called Casa Monarca, and it’s right behind the Kinder, on the way to the muelle. It’s a little more than a block to the ocean and the dingy beach, and about three blocks to the big Playa Chacala beach.The owners came to Chacala from California, and settled here about six months ago. The husband is orginally from Mexico, and the whole family speaks Spanish and English. This is one of the few rentals with Wi-Fi for guests.

The family home is the second floor of the building, and the ground floor has two rental units. The rentals open out onto a very nice swimming pool , with a patio and covered palapa area. The third floor is an open terrace with a spectacular view toward the ocean and hills south of town. Really lovely.The rental units each have a bedroom, with a double and single bed, and large bath. The kitchen – eating- sitting area opens onto the patio, and has two build-in benches with thick foam pads. Two more people could sleep there. Lots of nice decorative touches in the units, including very nice tiles.The owners, Kate and Luis, speak Spanish and English. You can call them directly from the U.S. at 011 52 327 219 4125 or email them at

Other Chacala rentals with Wi-Fi for guests include Majahua, Mar de Jade, Las Brisas, and Casa Chacala. I hope I have that right)

Also Berta’s (famous housekeeper at Casa Pacifica) new rentals (below) can now be booked through Less than a block to the beach, nice kitchens, great views. She seems to have decided on the name Estrellas de el Mar (Starfish), but I’m not sure about that.If you are happy with a smaller unit, with double and single bed, with a basic kitchen on the patio, consider Angeles new units (below). I think she is planning to rent for $31.50US a night. These are brand new units, and very clean and nice. But small. They're nice affordable units, particularly nice for people who spend most of their time at the beach or out-and-about. Contact me at for more info.

For more photos and info on all three rentals, go to Chacala Budget Rentals