Friday, November 30, 2007

Messages for Chacala

Four times now I have received e-mails from someone who either used to live in Chacala, or whose family still lives in Chacala.The first time, a few years ago, Lupe found this blog on the internet. She lives in California. Her husband grew up here, in Chacala, and his Dad is living here now. She and her family had visited here that summer. When she got back to California, she googled "Chacala" and found this, and wrote me.We have been writing off and on ever since. She asked me to take photos of her father-in-law, which I have done. And she has emailed me photos of her wonderful family. I put them on a CD and have them printed up. To pass onto her father-in-law. He has the photos stuck up in his house. Including copies of the photos I took of him.

The next time, the adult son of someone who lives here in Chacala wrote me, also from California. He lived here as a child, and asked if I could take some photos of his Dad and some of his friends here. He also googled "Chacala". And I did.And a few days ago, a woman who lives in Tiajuana, wrote. She also found this blog googling Chacala". She doesn't speak or write English. She sent me a "Comment", but with no email address. So I wrote her a post asking me to write via email. Which she did. She said she left here 19 years ago, or that she IS 19. And told me who her family is. And, of course, they are people I know. She asked me to say hello and offer them hugs and kisses.And another person wrote. I can't remember which family he is from, but the members of his family were not happy to hear from him, so I never wrote back.

And I don't know if this will be good news or bad news for this family, but I will find out tomorrow probably.Another odd use of the internet and blogging. It's feels sort of funny, and a little strange to be an interet email delivery person. But the day I handed over photos of his son, and his sweet looking family, to Lupe's father-in-law, he was so full of smiles. I was really really nice for me.

Version 3: On the Issue of Encouraging Visits to Chacala

Someone wrote me a "Comment", asking why I would provide a link to the CBC "Dispatches" episode about Chacala's Techos de Mexico program. The writer was concerned about too many visitors coming to Chacala. I share that concern too.

However, I am interested in encouraging short-term visitors to come to Chacala. To rent a place to stay, eat at restaurants, buy food and other items, and to enjoy the various tourist activities. Like spa treatments, boat rides, surfing, fising, visits to surrounding towns, to the petrogylphs, and to La Tovara, the swamp ride. And especially to swim in the lovely ocean and lie around on the beach. To bring income to the residents of Chacala. The local people who live and work here.

My short response to that Comment is that I hope the radio program will draw people who are, in my opinion, the ideal visitors to Chacala: the short-timers and the renters. These are people who can spend time in here without having the urge to destroy Chacala with real estate schemes. And who don't have time to start destroying the environment, breaking the laws of Mexico, or constructing ugly buildings, or block access to the beach. And hopefully, they wouldn't intentionally subject Chacala citizens to disrespect, in all it's forms.

My point of view is that IF any kind tourism is okay (and I hope it is_, then short-stay (a week to several months) visits by people who are renting from local Chacala people, is probably the least destructive kind of tourism. They leave it to local people to make money via real estate. Mostly those visitors don't bring jet skis, motos, Hummers, or build monster houses. Or hire giant machines to tear the land apart, or giant trucks speed up and down the road 15 hours a day. Or build homes that are inappropriate for the climate, and have air conditioning, clothes dryers, swimming pools and other energy and resource wasting objects.

Vistors who rent, rather than buy and/or build, or "develop" property here, bring some money to Chacala, and often some generosity for the scholarship program, and in the past, a lot of volunteer labor. And a curiosity about the natural environment, and the culture, and local history of this area.

Tourists who stay for a week or a month, or even long-term, generally don't try or aren't successful at trying to impose their values, ideas or culture on local people. And they don't have the power to insist things be done the gringo way.

It's my experience that most short-term visitors to Chacala bring cash and a spirit of curiosity and respect. And, I, personally think that's okay. They offer cash to local residents for access to their rentals, restaurants, stores, and tourist services. Particularly when the places they stay are owned by local Mexicans. As opposed to gringos and non-local Mexicans competing with local landladies for the tourist dollar with big advertising campaigns and so on.
I didn't particularly like it that the LA Times writer showed up in Chacala one day last Winter. But I took around to the Techos de Mexico units, and to meet local landladies. I wanted to be sure he had a taste of the life of local people in Chacala.

Gringo newspaper publicity is probably a mixed blessing for Chacala. But it is income producing for local people. It certainly increased the requests for reservations, particularly for Techos units, and locally owned places.

But is that article drawing people who are curious about the culture of Mexico, learning a little Spanish, and doing some exploring or bird-watching? My guess is "Probably not".

The kind of people I enjoy meeting in Chacala are people with gentle spirits and inquiring minds. People who will come here open to a new experiences and ready to open their hearts to another culture and another way of life. And people who have an interest in ecology and the natural environment are a plus in my mind.
I hope that offering a link to the "Dispatches" show will catch the attention of people who would have a positive presence in Chacala. That it might draw the kind of people who are trying to be, at the least, a benign presence during their vacation here. And at best, people who want to be involved, or offer scholarship. Or learn Spanish, or a new skill here. Or to bring things for the Kinder kids. Or arrive with curiosity and a desire to learn about life here. And in Mexico.

Of course, swimming and enjoying the incredible beach, the small town environment, and the local residents who welcome them, is worthwhile too.

So, that's where I am at today on the subject of tourism advertising.. Tomorrow, who knows?

Here is the info for the program:
1K Download

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Mexican Textiles Website, not in Chacala

Note: I am sort of embarrassed to post these photos of textiles made commercially for the tourist market . When this post is about handmade, traditional textiles. But it's all I have right now. And they do look colorful, if not authentic.

Last month someone told me about the most amazing website for people who interested in textiles. This website has photos, trip reports, and other written materials about textiles created by persons from indigenous groups all over Mexico. I think most of the photos are of textiles that are being made and used right now. Mostly in the remote villages of where small groups of people continue their lives in their traditional manner.In February, the creator of this wonderful site, Robert Freund, will be in mountains of northern Nayarit, doing more research. I think with the Cora Indians, but maybe he will be working with the Huichols. I don't know. I am hoping to met him, since Chacala is in Nayarit, and he may be coming here briefly to met some some folks who will be visiting here. Here is the link for the website.

Mexican Textiles http://www.mexicantextiles.comI love learning about, or meeting people, who have devoted their lives to doing something they really love. People who just go out and do the work. Not for fame or credit or money, but from their hearts.I think there are people everywhere who have found their work, their special interest early in life. And just jump in and pursue their quest for knowledge and understanding. And sometimes chance they have a chacne share what they know about their often very specialized knowledge. And this seems to be the case with Robert Freund. A woman named Catherine Palmer Finerty, is another example of someone who found a niche for themselves, where they immersed themselves in their quest for understanding and knowledge. She wrote a book I have read several times. "In a Village, Far from Home" is her story of living in a mountain village in the state of Nayarit. What she learned and what she did there. And she started her adventure with the Cora Indians after she reached retirement age. Anyway, I am really excited about this website about textiles. And I hope there are other people out there who are interested in textiles of Mexico too.I don't have any photos related to this topic, but I am going to the tianguis today, and maybe I will find some things to photograph. No textiles like on the Mexican Textiles website, but the best I can do right now.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Building a Just and Sustainable Chacala?

I just read an article in a magazine-in-English called " YES!". It's subtitled "Building a Just and Sustainable World. I only run into to this magazine occasionally, and I don't remember how this issue (Fall, 2007) came my way.But it's an interesting magazine. One of the articles is called "Five Ways to Get Free". Free as in "...making lifestyle choices that protect the environment, reduce global injustice, reflect social responsibility, and contribute to richer communities.....". To live in the world with out destroying it. To live in manner that can be sustained for more than the next 30 years.Here are the author's five ideas about how to attempt to live sustainably. (edited by me):

Reduce Fuel consumption: use the bus
Avoid "fashion" and clothes made in sweat shops: buy used and mend
Buy locally grown or made foods: buy in farmers and locally-owned markets
Money: Barter, share and trade goods (stay out of the money economy)
Entertainment: make music, tell stories, play games, visit, talk with each other
I think these ideas sound very much like my life in Chacala.
I take the bus, taxis, collectivos, and very occasionally (monthly?) ride in the back of pickups and in the front seat sometimes. Since I am an old person.

The new clothing I have bought in my four four years are the following items :
  • replacement rubber sandals (and one pair of leather sandals)
  • and three new pairs of boxers and three white cotton tee shirts a year. From the local tianguis
  • And various shade hats, and umbrellas,which I tent to lose, usually by leaving them somewhere or their flying of my head. The combi driver's usually bring them by the next day. It's kind of embarrassing to be so forgetful.
  • Occasionally I buy used cotton, button-front shirts and shorts at the local tianguis. Maybe one of each a year.
  • And I might buy a new pair of long pants at the La Penita tianguis tomorrow. For bus rides (which are often cold with air con) and wandering round as a tourist in cities and visiting churches. One of the two pairs I brought with me to Mexico disintegrated in Oaxaca last summer. A potentially embarrassing event that worked out okay.
And luckily for me, people sometimes bring me cotton button down shirts from thrift shops across the border.I think it's easier to live a simpler life here. For one thing, temptation to consume is easier to ignore. It's a long trip to go on a buying spree. I almost always cook at home. There is only one really tempting restaurant here, and it's out of my price range.

No car. Lots of things to do at home or within a short walk. Lots of visiting back and forth. And helping each other out.My social life is almost entirely visiting and hanging out with friends. A little loteria maybe, or listening to a local group of wandering musicians. Nothing big. But nice. No travelling, paying money except for a drink or coke maybe. Just relaxing, kids running around having fun. No dressing up, unless you want to. Lots of fiestas for varies things. With food, music and games and lots of fun and laughing.

I love how borrowing is done here. Or at least, this is how I experience it. If you know someone has sometime you need some of (band aid, shovel, aspirins. Sharpie pen, etc etc) it's fine to ask for it. Not awkward at all. And the paying back is different. It's not the tit-for-tat kind of borrowing I am used to. Borrow two eggs. Pay back to eggs. Here, you would probably never get the eggs back, but you might get a sack of lemons, a ride to town, help with something. Your dirty clothes my disappear awhile and come back three hours later, all clean and dry and folded. It's much more relaxed and trusting. It's seems like it's the norm to share with family and friends.

I think this way of sharing is part of the same mind-set as "oh-ha-la". Loosely, "as God wills".
You just kind of go with the flow for certain things in life, including the passing around of items.On the other hand, some local people tell me that there's another norm here about not getting to far ahead of the others (materially) in your circle. They have used the analogy of crabs in a bucket, trying to get out. Some make it out by crawling on the backs of their cooperative fellow escapees. But some people say that here, it's more like that if people see you getting far ahead and almost out of the bucket, they will pull you back down. I don't know if that's true or now. But that analogy has been told to me many times, but local folks. Who knows?
One day I am working on the water line at this house. An anonymous person has chopped the hose with a machete again (accidentally). I am bent over, working on it. The neighbor across the way walks over with the fitting I need. I didn't even know he was watching what I was doing. So I watch for some little ways to pay back. And there's always something down the line. But no one seems to be waiting for paybacks. But they do pay-back all the time.

Today I was buying two big trash bags at the tienda. Someone I helped with some photos last week, paid for the bags. I didn't realize what had happened for a minute. The guy at the cash register kept waving me away when tried to pay. Then he pointed to Juan, and said had paid. So I thanked Juan. Pretty nice. Sharing happens all the time around here. Many people are generous and kind, and they don't understand, or seem to be surprised when they see how possessive some people are about their possessions.

Of course, I may be totally misreading the whole culture of Chacala on this issue. And I have to remind myself that this is mostly a poor town moving out of poverty into lower class Mexico. And other classes have different mores and attitudes. About which I know next to nothing.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

CBC Radio Show about Chacala and other News Bulletins

Today's weather in Chacala seems to have varied from low of 77 to a high of 89 degrees F.
The humidity apparently stayed between 92 whatevers to 55 whatevers. I don't have a clue about humidity.

After I am fluent in Spanish I will start in on the concept of measuring humidity. Maybe, if I still care, in the year 2013.Under the guise of educating the public, today I am offering a variety of news tips.
A big wrestling show, never one of my favorite events, is arriving in Las Varas next week. Luckily for those of us in Chacala, the show is being heavily advertised all around town.The boy in the middle proudly told me that the father of the little girl is the star in the middle of the poster. They didn't know how much the shows costs, which is fine because I already have plans for that night.
And here is the real news. Marjorie Greaves, a Public Television producer on Vancouver Island spent part of her vacation in Chacala last winter creating a program for the CBC "Dispatches" radio program.The focus of the show is the Techos de Mexico program here in Chacala. It's a program offering interest-free loans to families who want to build a combination home and rental units structure on their property.I won't talk about it because the radio show describes it well.
Here is the intro

Making Ends Meet in MexicoLinkIn Mexico, the difference between poverty and prosperity is sometimes just a place to call your own.

It certainly was for Aurora Hernandez and her family.

In their coastal village, a Godfather and a modest guest house changed their lives forever, as we hear now from journalist Marjorie Greaves.

And the link

And then click on blue highlighted line "Listen to Part two in Real Audio".
You can see photos and make reservations thru Chacala Vacation Rentals

The 8 minute recording includes interviews with Jose Enrique de Valle, the creator of the program, and home and rental owners Aurora, Beto, and Leti .

Monday, November 26, 2007

Chacala Weather Info Centro

Now that I have a weather thermometer and humidity thingie, (a great gift from a nice visitor) I can stop using PV weather data and my guesses to talk the weather here. Right now, at 1:30pm MST it's 82 F degrees and 52 whatever humidity. An hour ago it was 86 degrees F and 65 humidity. I don't know why it's cooling off in the hottest part of the day, or why the humidity is dropping. I have a lot to learn about the weather. Other than the basics, as in, cold/hot, humid/not humid, rain/no rain, snow/no snow, and wind/no wind. I do know when the sky looks really neat. I was down on the beach not long before sunset when this was going on. It felt like god was sending down a message or something.Mirador, a popular Chacala rental, is located right on the low bluff over the ocean. It now has a new palapa, grass sod everywhere, and a brand new tiled counter in the upstairs kitchen on the patio unit.This is Las Brisas's spiffy new juice bar and ice cream place, located in the edge of their parking area, on the beach road.

The following photos are from a recent baby shower in Chacala. An Australian woman and her daughter, and I were gringa invitees. Nice party. Nice folks. Lots of laughing. I am feeling pretty contented in my life right now. Somehow I never or rarely see the folks I would prefer not to see. And get to spent nice times with the people I enjoy. And there are some nice gringos here now. I like Chacacla in November. The weather is great, and there aren't many tourists.

I am waiting for my pizza dough to rise. It's hard to wait. I am starving. I am going to go out and cut up a pineapple for a snack.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Twos in Chacala

It's raining in Chacala right now. The rain started a couple of hours ago. It's about 9:30pm. Not a downpour, but a pretty solid rain. I had to go outside and move things around a bit. I'm out of the habit of making sure things are protected out there, since the rainy season is usually over by the middle of October.There was a pretty bus down at the beach parking area this afternoon, covered with red designs. It turned out to be a dance troop that does very old dances from long ago, in Mexico. I ended up visiting with the adults for a couple of minutes. These folks had camped on the beach last night, and were on their was to Tepic to do a big performance in Tepic tomorrow, all day Sunday.
It's an old troupe, with grandchildren, parents, and great-grandparents, and grandparents involved and performing, in costume. I had a dinner invitation for tomorrow night. But I asked the people to let me know about the time and location, and I haven't heard from them. So I think I will take the bus up to Tepic tomorrow. I have to take some photos of a house Juan the painter has been working on, first thing in the morning. Then I will take off.
There is a website that has a weekly photo contest, with a cool first prize(s) for the best photo, as determined by voting viewers. I entered my first photo this week. The subject was "Two", and I picked a two-people photo to enter, without thinking. I actually have non-people "two" photos too.
But I decided to post these photos from the last year, just because I like them.
There is someone playing very loud music tonight. I assume it's the hotel up the road. But I don't want to go out in the rain to look. And it doesn't matter anyway. Besides, I like the music. I think it's not live music. For one thing, the singer can sing in tune. For another, there are more instruments that just 15 trumpets and 15 drummers, and I don't think they are using the normal 1/2 dozen of the biggest speakers I have ever seen. That's the musical taste of the owner of the hotel. So maybe it's coming from somewhere else.
I went to the plant nurseries, the vivero, today, and got 13 plants: 5 bouganvilleas, 2 Desert Roses, and 6 Kalanchoes. And three big sacks of nice dirt. Very satisfying. Clemen's baby shower was yesterday, late afternoon. It was supposed to start at 3:30 and I went over about 4:15. I could see from the shortcut that it wasn't really going yet. So I did some errands, and got there at about 5, and it started a little later. I had a nice time, visiting and playing with the kids a little. I think I have been to a dozen of these events. They are pretty much the same. Which makes it easier to act more or less appropriately. Usually, when you arrive at the party, you get a little decorative pinned on your shirt. Then, if you cross your legs or ankles any time during the party, the person who sees you do it runs across the yard and takes your pin. The first shower I went to, someone ran across the room and grabbed my pin off my shirt. I must have looked pretty shocked, because everyone laughed and joked. It took me awhile to understand what was going on. The person who has the most pins at the end of the party wins a prize.

I had a nice time. Easygoing and comfortable feeling.