Saturday, July 28, 2007

TV in Chacala

One of the nice things about Chacala is that many times watching T.V. is a social event. You watch your evening “novella”, or soap opera at your favorite restaurant. Or at the home of a family member, or a neighbor. So at least it’s a social event, rather that isolated individual watching TV in a room alone.

Sky, the local cable TV company, appears to cost about $50US a month. That’s a lot of cash for families that are struggling to have enough cash to send their kinds to school on the collectivo, or to buy textbooks, and special school uniforms, etc.

Computing is similar in Chacala, at least so far. Hardly anyone has internet or a computer at their home. So computing is mostly a social event. Either upstairs at the Bibliotecha during the week, or maybe at the internet place on the beach road. It’s open Friday night, and Saturday and Sunday, the hours when the Bibliotecha is usually closed.

So, at least for now, using the computer in Chacala is likely to be a social experience. Other people can see what you are looking at on the internet. It isn’t like in middle and upper class homes all over the world, where you are alone in your room, doing whatever on the internet. Of course, this will all change in the next few years, I suppose.

This isn´t to say I am a TV watcher. I am really happen to be away from telephones, TV´s, regular mail delivery, and answering machines. It felt strange at first, but now I really life their absence.

Water in The House, in Chacala

When I first came to Chacala, I thought it was odd that people did all their cooking, clothes washing, and most of their bathing outside. There were outdoor toilets (and still are) at a number of houses.

I lived with outhouses for about 25 years of my adult life. I like going outside for toileting. I liked watching the sun come up, and observing the stars and the moon while I took care of business . We had a nice little porch-style building, with a roof. It was small and light enough to move around when the hole underneath filled up.At fiirst came to Chacala, I didn’t see the advantage of doing all the other water-based activities outside. I have definitely appreciated the nice tiled bathrooms everywhere I have stayed in Chacala. Tres Hermanos restaurant annex.
But I do see the advantages now. For one thing, cockroaches and some other insects, including mosquitoes, tend to be attracted to damp, wet areas. So it helps to have a dry house, with no kitchen inside.Dengue Fever, which endemic in the P.V. area, is carried by “house” mosquitoes, who are active, and biting, during the day. So the less attractive your house is to flying creatures, the better. One of the massage space at Majahua
Plus, cooking outside is much nicer. There’s usually a breeze, and people walking by and visiting, and it’s shady and nice. And the cooking odors, like oil and spices and fish and meat and garlic and onions, don’t smell up the house. And ants aren’t in the house looking for a handout. Shared guest patio/kitchen at Elezar's rental
And doing the dishes is nicer outside. Birds are singing, the sun is shining, the shade is cool and breezy, and friend might come by and visit with you.And doing the laundry outside makes more sense, especially when you are doing things by hand. But by machine too. It’s quieter, and the water drains away into the dirt, reducing water flowing in the septic tank. And you hang to clothes up next to where you wash them. Very handy.This is the guest patio at La Sirena rental
So it’s kind of sad for me to see local people moving their kitchens inside. “Modernizing”. And isolating too. Eating outside tends to turn into a social gathering, which can be a mixed blessing I suppose.
I wish that some gringos who build here would take the time to understand the climate here before they build. To understand the need for outdoor living spaces. And cooking spaces. It’s cooler, it reduces the insect and spider problems, and it’s just plain nicer. The the need to keep the sun and rain out of the house, and to keep the breezes coming thru, day and night. Luis and Suleima's Fruit Stand on the beach
I think it’s hard to understand how different the life styles are in tropical climates, where it·s warm all the time. Unless you have actually spend a full year here. Many people spend most of their time outside. Inside is mainly for sleeping. And storing things. And, unfortunately, watching T.V.Isreal and Chata are rebuilding their palapa overlooking the ocean
Almost everything I do in Chacala is outside. My main internet connection is outside. The restaurants are outside. School events are outside. Visiting is outside. I cook, wash clothes and dishes outside. I read outside. Hammocks were invented in the Garden of Eden. I read that in the Bible. I like this life. The air is clean and fresh, and the sun is shining. What more could I want?

Well, lots of things, actually. But anyway…..

Visiting Outside, in Chacala

I was walking up the beach road today, along the south end of Chacala beach, when a friend, an adult woman, called out to me. She and her Mom was sitting in her Mom’s shady garden. They offered me a piece of the sandia they were eating. The sandia, watermelon, was delicious. Most of the time the fruit here is so good and sweet. Freshly picked. We sat and visited and spit seeds onto the ground. And eventually threw the rinds out into the field across the dirt road. Where the chickens picked away at them.

I love how so much of daily life takes places outside in Chacala. In most of rural and small town Mexico, I think. People usually sit and visit outside. I think it’s sort of unusual to be invited inside peoples homes, or sleeping spaces. Parties are almost always at restaurants. Or out in front of the house.

I have been in lots of houses in Chacala. But often it’s so people can show me their family photos. Often I am taking photos of people to add to their collection, and they want to show me their other pictures. Some are so amazing. Life in rural Mexico has changed so much in such a short time.

Yesterday, when I was eating sandia with my friends, the Mom was telling us about her life as a child. She is 76, so she was born in about 1940. A few years older than me. She went to school for four years. Schools were open for about 4 or 5 months a year, for the morning. Usually classes met outside. She said her Dad wanted her to work, not go to school. She said she can read and write a little. Not much. This is a very intelligent woman who keeps an immaculate house and yard. And manages her beach camping area with showers and banos.

She said when her last child was very small he got pneumonia. This must of been in about 1970. There was no road then to Las Varas, and they walked the path to town, carrying the baby. I think it was in the night. The baby died on the way. In her arms. The three of us just sat there after she told the story, in silence, with tears in our eyes.

My friend has cages of colorful little birds around the garden. And doves, Palomas. They were all singing and cooing, and the breeze was cooling us off. It was one of those moments. I have teary-eyed as I write this.

Polite in Chacala

This week I am loving the weather in Chacala. It IS still hot and humid, with ocean breezes, but the sky goes from blue to thunderclouds to a few light drops of rain, to sunshine, and then it starts all over again. It doesn’t rain enough to stop anyone from doing normal daily activities: swimming, lying on the beach, hanging out the laundry, playing on the road, doing construction work, whatever.I was around the house all morning: cleaning, laundry, filling the water storage containers, weeding the garden, taking the trash for this building down to the road. And admiring the kittens, who are crawling all over and drinking milk. And using the litter box.

I like having neighbors downstairs. It’s much different than having big rowdy vacationing families here from Guadalajara for Semana Santa.These two couples work everyday. The younger ones have a fruit stand on the beach, from 11am until just before dark. The other couple works at Las Brisas everyday, from 11am until maybe 10pm.

Today Suleima (Sule for short) and I made another clothesline for her clothes. From a piece of rope I found on the beach last night. I washed and rinsed the salt and sand out of it. And then pruned from thorny lemon tree branches back so the clothes hanging on the new line wouldn’t get snagged.

Last Fall my son brought down my favorite pruners. I had given my gardening tools to him when I got rid of everything, before I moved to Chacala. It was really nice of him to do that. I use them a lot around here. Things grow so fast during the rainy season.A few days ago I bought a new pack of plastic clothes pins from the truck that comes around with laundry and household stuff for sale. There were 36 pins for $1.80US. They’re six different colors and I don’t like the pink or purple pins so I gave them to Sule (pronounced Sue-lei) and Suzie. She’s the other downstairs wife. I like seeing the clothing hanging on the line. I have clotheslines around my patio, on three sides. Nice and colorful. Things dry quickly. Maybe three or four hours. No one seems to hang things in the direct sunlight, so I follow that method too. Maybe the sunlight is too strong.

Last night Sule came up, about 9pm. Very late for Chacala. She said Juan was sleeping. I wasn’t sure if she wanted something, or what. Then it clicked that she probably wanted to look at the photos I have been taking of the two of them, at their stand.

We looked at the photos, and deleted the ones she didn’t like. And made a new album for them. I am going to email them to her email address. And probably print some, for her Mom. She says she looks at her email every week or two. Sule showed me how to spell her name, when we titled the album: “ Suleima and Juan”. I had been pronouncing it wrong. I thought it was "Sulima". She was so tactful. I am going to take more photos today, after the Coke truck comes by.

I am slowly learning about being polite, kinder, and tactful in Chacala. (These are skills I have needed to learn for a long time, in the U.S. too). The local people here are sooo polite, and tactful. And kind. In fact, too tactful for me, because often whatever I am too thick (and lacking in Spanish) to get their subtlety. Sometimes what they are trying to tell me flies right over my head. Mirador is getting a new roof on the palapa overlooking the ocean. It's pretty tall.
But they usually try again until I get it. (Or write me off as another dumb gringo). Mostly it’s to do with social customs. Like don’t embarrass someone by asking for a ride. It might be really inconvenient for them, and they wouldn’t be able to tell you that. But if you are just standing there with your stuff, obviously looking for a ride, but not making eye contact, they will stop for if you if they are so inclined. At least I think I have that right.

And if you compliment an infant, to the Mother, you have to pat the baby’s head. So the evil forces won’t make them ill. I am becoming a believer about that, actually.
This is a Jako (sp?) fruit. They get pretty big, and I, personally, am not a fan of the taste.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Surfos (Surfers) in Chacala

The storm a few days ago brought out everyone in town who either can surf or is trying to learn how to surf. Playa Chacala isn't really a surfing beach. Real surfers take a boatride (or walk three miles thru the jungle, to La Caleta, which is a real surfing place. Apparently. Plus various non-residents came into town, looking for waves. At least the Costa Azul van didn't show up, crowding out the locals.Javier and his brothers have been surfing the south end of Chacala beach morning and night for years. They are mostly at university now, but this is summer vacation, and Javier was out on Wednesday night, when the waves were pretty exciting for Chacala.

Beto and Jorge were also out, trying out their skim boards. And some of the younger kids were trying to body surf. Not very sucessfully.

Summer in Chacala

I feel sorry for people who only visit Chacala during the winter, the dry season. It’s nice then because it rarely rains and the weather is in the low to mid 80’s with no humidity. Nice for a beach vacation. But the vegetation is dry, and many of the deciduous trees and shrubs lose their leaves by January and February.But in the summer, it’s so green, and lush ,and beautiful around Chacala. It IS hot and humid, and it rains at night, maybe half the nights. And occasionally it rains briefly in the last afternoon. But mostly it’s fresh and clean and lovely here. Grass is growing in the palm grove, and everywhere. Of course, there are always lots of flowers here, but in the summer they seem to be even more beautiful.It’s odd that we are having so many gringo tourists here right now. Maybe four couples, plus a group of 14 firends and family doing a Habitat for Humanity project. I am assuming it’s mostly because of the L.A. Times travel article about Chacala. It was published all over the country, and we seem to be getting a lot of people who came after reading the article.

I think the humidity is hard for some people, but it’s not any different that the hot and humid parts of the south, and Texas, and the lower East coast of the U.S. And the sea breeze is always here, and the air is fresh and clean. And the sky is blue. And the ocean is blue-green and lovely. The water temperature is perfect. Not too warm, and not even a hint of coolness, like in the You can swim for hours. Same in the summer.The tropical storm coming up from south of P.V. seems to have faded away. There are still more waves than usual rolling into the beach closer together than usual, but the waves are normal. I went swimming yesterday evening, when maybe people and some surfers were in the water. It was just before dark, and there were lots of waves, one after the other, and they were pretty strong. Not too tall, but forceful. It was really nice for body surfing and playing around. And the water temperature was perfect. A nice way to end the day.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Storm over Chacala

Yesterday, when I was coming home to Chacala from P.V., I met a man from Santa Cruz, CA. He was headed to Santa Cruz, Nayarit, which is north of Chacala, on the coast. About 40 miles from here. We talked on the bus, coming up from P.V. He said he was coming down to his home in Santa Cruz (here) because the internet said a big tropical storm was moving up from below P.V. And that meant good surf for Santa Cruz (Nay).He also said when there was a big storm the waves come rolling in very close together. Something I hadn't really noticed before. That sounded kind of strange to me. But sure enough, when I got home I looked down at the beach and large waves were rolling in, one after another. So I went down to the beach, about an hour before dark. The waves were coming right up into the eating areas of the beach restaurants. Everyone was down there. Lots of people were looking for coins tossed up by the waves. I think everyone but me found some. New and old. Four young boys, maybe 13 years old, were out in the water, exhibiting their blooming testosterone braveness, I guess.
I went back down to the beach early in the morning . Trini, Sylvestre, and I walked up and down the beach, looking for coins. Of course, we didn't find any. The waves were still pretty wild, and the surfing boys were out in force.The beach was beautiful, washed clean of all the litter (and now polluting the ocean).
All the restaurant people were out raking up the sea debris. It was a beautiful morning.
the sun was shining, the beach was clean. Sometimes I am so happy to be in Chacala. So is Chiquita, the Wonder Dog.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Vacation from Blogging and Chacala

I think I am going to take a small vacation from Chacala, and head south. And from blogging too, probably until the start of August.

Some Special Places in Chacala

Once in awhile my everyday, ordinary Chacala suddenly becomes new and fresh. Especially when the sun coming pouring out after a night of rain. Everything is so green and gorgeous these days. Even the ocean. Everyday I am amazed that I am living in such a beautiful place. Even when the beach is really trashy. I keep finding litttle nooks and crannies I haven't noticed before, or that have changed.