Friday, August 31, 2007

New, Locally Owned, Rentals in Chacala

Usually I keep my four Chacala blogs separate,

Gardener in Mexico
Chacala Nayarit (about travelling to Chacala)
Chacala Rentals

but today I am going to publicize two of the newest, locally-owned, rentals in Chacala.
People from the U.S. and Canada have been making reservations for this winter much earlier than usual. Many are returning visitors, some are new. Many places are booked for Christmas, but there are still places available. Generally mid-October (after the rainy season ) thru early December are pretty open, andit's possible to just show up and find something nice, and affordable. Or not so affordable and very special.

I want to make sure people know there are some new rental options in Chacala. These three rentals are locally owned, and very nice. Three difference price ranges, too.

Angeles Rentals
First, and least expensive, is Angeles's (go to Chacala Rentals for more info) two new units. One has an attached kitchen, screened and with brand new appliances and running water. Both units have a large screened window with glass, tiled floors, very nice tiled baths, a double and a single bed, and ceiling fan. $410 a month or stays of two months or longer, or $35 a night.
Berta's Estrellas del Mar Rentals
Casa Estrellas del Mar (above), owned by Berta (housekeeper at Casa Pacifica). It's just beautiful, with wonderful views, and about 100 feet to the ocean. Via a path. Both units are upstairs, have kitchens and queen beds, ceiling fans, lovely large baths, and very nice decorations. The unit facing the ocean has a covered view (great view) patio with the complete kitchen. The second unit has an inside complete kitchen. And small patio. These are large units, and brand new also. I think the nightly rate is $60. Contact Berta at 011 52 327 219 4067 in the morning. Go to Chacala Rentals for more info and photos.

Chacala to La Penita, and Back to Chacala

I have had some rapid changes in my vision lately. I am still buying the cheap readers from sidewalk vendors, for $30pesos ($2.70US) usually. But now I need 3.0 level magnification, and it’s hard to find those around Las Varas.

I have been trying to get connected to an opthamalogist in P.V., but apparently he is too busy working to come to his office. Or whatever. A new office just opened in Las Varas. An Optomistrist's office. It looked very "U.S.", so I dropped by to see if he had the kind of equipment to do an in-depth eye examin. He was very nice, but he said he thought, because of my diabetes, I needed to see a medical eye doctor. He said he only does eye examinations for prescription lenses. Okay.So yesterday I went to the tianguis, the Thursday Street Market, in La Penita, hoping to find some some glasses. It’s still pouring rain every night, and the streets are pretty much flooding in the low lying areas. But yesterday morning started out bright and beautiful.My streak of good luck with rides continued. Just as I got to bottom on my stairs, the collectivo came driving by. I got a ride out to the highway (at the Crucero de Chacala fruit stands) , and then quickly got another ride with a taxi van to La Penita. I was traveling with 120 pesos (about $11US), hoping I wouldn’t need to spend more, or to go to the ATM.Strangely enough, I found 4 100 peso bills in the pockets of my shorts, as I was digging in my pocket for change for the van ride. That’s more that $40US. I guess I must have left it in my pocket during the bus ride home from Oaxaca. And washed the bills too.Anyway. I did find some glasses. 3.0 magnification, but for $40pesos instead of $30 pesos. But I bought two pairs anyway, since I seem to lose or scratch or break them regularly.
Most of the regular (non-tourist-items) vendors were in place. Lots of household stuff. I bought two cantaloupes, 3 grapefruits limes, and a kilo of red grapes for 25 pesos. A little more than $2US. I thought it was a mistake, but the girl said it was correct. Good deal for me.
My favorite vendor of the day was this little girl. Her folks have a refresco place at the start of the market. When Lupita saw me admiring this stick burro, she posed for me, and then she "helped" me take a couple of photos, which didn’t turn ouWhat a little sweetie. Not shy at all. I keep glancing back at her folks, in their restaurant, to make sure it was okay to be interacting with her, and it was.I walked back up toward the highway, stopping at an internet place for a few minutes, and then continuing on. As I got near the intersection of the highway, someone called my name.It was a local builder, on his way back to Chacala, so I caught a ride. Not bad for easy rides. The longest I waited, for about two minutes, was out on the highway at the Crucero. I love it when things go so smoothly.

Changes and Machismo in Chacala

While I was on my Oaxaca trip, away from Chacala, my favorite downstairs neighbors, Juan and Zule moved back to Boca de Naranjo, Zule’s home. They had come up to Chacala because the Governor of Nayarit’s new money making project is developing their beach into a haven for wealthy people. Big houses and big hotels. And no grubby fruit vendors, I guess.Not enough pay-off for the wealthy, I suppose. Juan and Zule called their time in Chacala a “vacation”, but they worked their fruit stand on the beach every single day. All day. I really enjoyed them. I’m surprised how different it feels without them here.My neighbor, Aurora, told me they asked her to say “good-bye” and to come visit them. They also left a little pile of some stuff I gave them: clothes line, clothes pins, and clothes hangers. That was very nice of them. I didn’t mean them give that stuff back. They did keep some other stuff, and I am glad. Especially a piece of oilcloth that was just the right color for their stand.The other downstairs neighbors started out as good neighbors, but things gradually fell apart. Garbage outside the door. Trash around the laundry area. And then not paying their rent. Dona L. kicked them out yesterday. Some friends came up with a pickup, but S. didn’t have anything to put her stuff in. I passed on some plastic crates someone had passed on to me. And a couple of big garbage bags. She used one for clothes, and the other for the trash in the room. She left things very clean. Her husband was at work, and couldn’t leave. But her boss let her run up to the house to empty out their room.

However, they didn’t leave the key to the door, and seem to have disappeared. Dona L. and her sort-of-live-in were trying to get the door open tonight, in the middle of a terrible windy rainstorm. Dona L. finally came up and borrowed a hammer, but it wasn’t any use. I suggested that he climb in the window and unscrew the entire lock from the inside, but he either didn’t care for the suggestion, or the bearer of the suggestion, or didn’t understand what I was suggesting. Or God knows what.

Their struggles with having only one key per the three rental unit doors has been a three year old problem, at least. I have offered several times to get duplicates made. But I think Dona L. doesn’t want anyone to get their hands on a key. The last time her sort-of-live-in got his hand on one of the keys, he rented out the room for Easter. And kept the rent money for himself. Whatever.

Anyway, their key struggles finally inspired me to make several extra keys for myself. When I moved in here I replaced the door lock, because I wasn’t sure who had keys to the old lock. Dona L. has never asked me for a key to this space. But she knows my neighbor has a key, if it’s an emergency.It’s interesting to watch people use tools around here. Most men seem to be experts with the machete. I bet some of them could shave with one, or mince onions. But some other tools…… I just don’t know. People seem to prefer to use a blunt-ended coal shovel to dig holes, rather than an ordinary spade. Very interesting, and strange in my eyes.

Once I watched someone strip a Phillips head screw with a regular screwdriver, even though I was standing there offering him a Phillips head screwdriver. I guess it’s the machismo thing. Apparently, no women could possibly know anything about tools.

Men here just don’t seem to believe it when I tell them women in Europe and the U.S. drive taxis, buses, delivery trucks, even big semis. They think I am lying or nuts. I am not sure which. I am hoping someone will e-mail me some photos of women drivers, just to prove the point.

When I tell them woman drivers pay much less insurance because they have less accidents per driving mile, they just laugh.Of course, I think only a few local drivers in Chacala have car insurance. For sure the people who run Chacala Tourist Services, the van airport pickup service have insurance. And Federal Driver's licenses, and all the good stuff, like seat belts that work. It’s the law. So maybe these other guys are laughing at the idea of buying insurance. Or driving safely. Who knows?

Thursday, August 30, 2007

One Last Oaxaca Post, Then Back to Chacala

People have asked me, via emails and comments, about where I stayed in Oaxaca. I think I actually stayed at the best cheap deal in Oaxaca.

It's called Hostel Pochon. It has a website,and they respond to emails quickly, in a number of languages. Mostly Europeans and Australians were there during my visit. Which I enjoyed. The location is very good. Unfortunately I deleted my photos of Pochon, but their website has good photos.

My only complaint about the place was I found the owners to be rude and disrepectful to the guests. There was an amazing negative change in the atmosphere of the place when they returned from a vacation about halfway thru my stay. Very clean, free delicious breakfast and decent free internet. Easy bus (35cents US) or taxi ride$3US) from the bus station.

I took some photos of some of the other places I ran into in my wanderings around the Centro area. Some of the hostels looked pretty grim, others looked okay. All the small hotels were about $30US a night and very nice. I would definitely look at several rooms before I paid for one.



Includes a restaurant, crafts and artist gallery, and internet. $30US a night

Waiting Around in Chacala

I just read a mystery where the Cuban heroine complained about her gringa friend having been brain-washed by a rigid Anglo-Saxon grandfather on the subject of punctuality. And how it drove everyone else crazy. Which got me to thinking about how hard it’s been to adjust to the relaxed attitude about schedules and dates, etc, here in Mexico. If you think U.S. doctors are horrible about keeping on schedule, you should give Mexican doctors a try. Dentists too.

The quote from the book got me started thinking about the promptness issue in Chacala again (as in “Mexican Time) . I have a new little insight, I think.In some ways being punctual means living in the past, not the present. You base what’s important now on the what was important at the time you made the plan, appointment, or whatever. Not on what’s important at this very moment. It’s pretty likely that at least some of the factors that were important last week, have changed by now.

On the other hand, if you change your mind about your priorities without letting your co-conspirators in your plans knowing what you are up to, you probably won’t have a lot a friends, especially of the Anglo-Saxon persuasion.
Chacala just had about a week of wild, rainy, windy weather.
But today it's bright, sunny and calm, at least for the morning.

RE culture stuff. On the other hand……

I thought I had finally developed my ability to be patient. At least for ½ hour or so. As compared to B.M. (oops) Before Mexico. When three minutes at a traffic signal would have driven me mad. In Mexico it can easily take 5 or 6 minutes to get thru a signal at a large intersection

I finally have stopped spending the entire waiting period at signals wondering why Mexicans don’t do signals the “right” way. As in the U.S. I read the Economist most weeks here, and according to the Economist almost everywhere in the “developed” world has better traffic patterns than the U.S. And the U.S. is finally trying modern traffic circles, etc.

However, I spent 7 hours straight at the Las Varas internet place (lost in time) today. I was trying to learn how to do Goggles “Pages” thing. I sort of figured it out, but……

Then I went out to the collectivo waiting place, and waited for an hour and a half. I am really on a tight budget right now, after my Oaxaca trip, and I didn’t want to give into my frustration and spend 70 pesos for a taxi. So I hung in there. And ate grilled ends of rolls used for sandwiches and had a 7UP at “Dany’s Tacos” next to the collectivo stop.But I got pretty frustrated. There isn’t really a driver for the second collectivo right now. They keep getting hired and fired or hired and quitting. So it’s not Chacala guys and I don’t think these drivers give a sh……
And the owner of all the collectivo taxis really doesn’t care. Chacala has the cra…iest old vans around. Worst than any of the other towns. I don’t know why that is. We have a good driver right now, Samuel. He’s been driving since before Prieto (above) switched to the La Penita-Las Varas run. He is great at customer services. Really pleasant to be around.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Feliz Compleanos in Chacala

Chacala celebrates birthdays in a really big way, especially for kids. I am really amazed at the amount of money that is spent on birthdays for kids 1 to 5 years old. And older too, but especially for the little kids.But I went to a birthday in Chacala a few days ago. It was my kind of party, low key but full of energy somehow. And happy kids and Moms. And family members.

And I actually had the experience of actually being late to a social event. A first for me in Chacala. The organizer said the event would be in the late afternoon, and I said 4 or 5? And I thought she said, maybe later.So I wandered over about 5pm, assuming I would be early, as usual. It was in the late afternoon, and the party was held under big a metal roof. It was really a garage area, but it worked great for a birthday party.

But much to my surprise, the party was going full blast when I arrived. It was the best birthday I have been to in Chacala. Lots of games for kids and adults, and a very relaxed and social atmosphere. I really liked it.

There was even had red jello for the food. I haven’t had red jello since I was in the hospital. Red jello and chicken broth for three days straight. In Mexican hospital for Gringos, Europeans, and well-off Mexicans. I don’t think that would have been the diet at a Securo (public) hospital, but who knows. I am surprised here every day.I really had a nice time, mostly taking pictures and hanging out. The kids were around 5 to 10 years old, some younger and some older. And lots of Moms were there, and mostly in the party mood. It was a nice party, from my point of view. With homemade decorations and food, and no paid EVENT COORDINATORS. Or loud voices shouting directions over microphones. Or loud bands. playing non-music sounds. I liked it a lot.
The party included some of the kids dancing, in a kind a of contest. And the mothers playing that game where you “out” if you aren’t sitting in a chair as the music stops. Musical chairs. Very fun.

I think childhood memories come flooding back at birthday parties, at least for me. I grew up in a neighborhood in Los Angeles where there were a lot of wealthy families. So I got invited to some pretty amazing birthday parties as a little girl. At one party, at a famous comedian's home, was held around the swimming pool. Maids helped us change into swimming suits in individual, private dressing "tents". At another party, a dinner at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel (site of "Pretty Woman") we had a luncheon served by waitresses, and then played party games with amazing prizes. One little broke his arm during "Musical Chairs", which kind of brought the party to an end. And the game where everyone has balloons tired to their ankles. Everyone tries to stomps everyone else’s balloons. The winner is that last person with a balloon. The birthday boy won the two main games. Legally. I thought that was really nice.I think there might have been the traditional piƱata before I arrived. I could hear a lot of yelling as I walked over.
I loved it that there were lots of family members there, including Arturo, Pablo, the birthday boy’s young Uncle, who has just graduated from a 2 ½ year college program for tourism. Including English and computer skills.On a different topic entirely, a little baby girl was born here last month, and another local woman is well on her way to having her third child. That seems to be the number of choice for young Mom’s around Chacala. Three kids.I think babies came to mind as I was writing this because I remember the mother’s pregnancy and the birth-day of a number of the kids at the party. I like that feeling. I have had my camera for a year now, this week. And I have photos of many of the kids in town, starting from then. I like looking at how they have changed, or not changed. And how much some of them look like their Mom or Dad. Or a grandparent.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Last Shots of Oaxaca

Oaxaca's Zocala always seemed to be filled with balloon vendors.
Just like in Chacala, I love watching the kids in Oaxaca. Many are working, These kids were playing most days at the front garden on San Domingo's. Their grandmother was a vendor, selling fabrics. and I think their job was to kept happy and busy and out of the way. They always seemed to find something to examine or play with.This is my favorite store selling fine crafts. Manos de Magico. Hands of Magic. It's located in a lovely building, and the prices are fair for the beautiful things they sell there.The Oaxaca area is famous for this pottery. The items are glazed in a very dark green color.I sampled pizza at three different Oaxacan pizza places. I have be avoiding pizza every since my disastrous experience with food poisoning from the P.V. Pizza Hut a few years ago. The three pizza places were all home grown, and very good. My photo of the third place didn't turnout very well.
This is the upstairs patio of Mezzaluna, which is actually a fine Italian restaurant. I have super delicious pizza here, baked in a huge wood burning pizza over. The service was great and the view was superb. All the Centro area lay at my feet. I ate here a couple of times. The pizza was pretty good, and it's close to San Domingo.