Thursday, November 08, 2007

Chacala: Here Come Some RV-ers

The gringo RV parade has started to wonder through Chacala. Some are parking parallel to the beach, taking up two or three spaces. Others are more considerate. And seem to realize that the tent campers from all over this part of Mexico would like to be right on the beach too.Usually there aren't any RV-ers in Chacala from mid March thru early November. And not many come down until after Christmas, or early January. January and February are the busiest months for RVers around here.

And there many RV-ers are just traveling thru Chacala, looking for a place to park for a nightor two. And a place to leave behind their trash, bodily wastes, and grey water. They are often on their way south to other beaches, where there are more gringos and bingo games. .And then in late March another wave of Rvers come thru. Staying for a night on their way north.

Some people staying on the beach for the winter are very thoughtful, and interested in learning about Mexico. And trying to be sensitive to the situation in Chacala, and to be aware of cultural issues. But that' s hard to do if you don't speak Spanish.

As far as I can tell, many RV-ers are looking for portable gringolandias to tuck themselves into for the winter. Safe from contact with Mexico and Mexicans, and from learning something about another culture.
Some RV-er's do make efforts to contribute something back Chacala. And to support the local economy. The one that pays the taxes that provide emergency services, like the Green Angels, and medical and emergency services to travelers. And the roads. And who try to be appreciative of the kids and adults trying to keep the beach and roads trash free - against a ever-rising tide of tourist trash and garbage. And thanking the store owners for offering ice and beer for sale. And toilet paper. And access to basic groceries. And there are some RVer's who appreciate the water, garbage, fruit and vegetable and bakery vendors who come thru town. And who love to have access to delicious fish and seafood.

And some visitors support a local child's education, sometimes for years. Some offer activities for the kids, or work, or a chance to practice English. I have the impression many RV-ers believe that their presence is a benefit to Chacala. Since I am around here all year, I hear what local people are saying. And it isn't most RV-ers who are welcomed here. It's the people who come to Chacala and spend their money who are actually appreciated. It's traveler's who come from the U.S., Canada, other parts of Mexico, and from Europe, and spend money, and make an effort to get to know local people, who are welcomed in Chacala.

Those people who spend money here. By renting a nice place, or buying food, or eating in restaurants, or shopping for trinkets and clothes or using the toilet and shower facilities (rather than digging holes in the sand) provided for them.

Here are suggestions for RV'ers, and campers who spend time in Chacala:

1. Learn some Spanish. If you can remember how to get to Chacala, you can learn Spanish.

2. Study up on the culture in Mexico. And the history. Learn what the impact of Spanish colonialism and the U.S. appropriation of half of Mexico was on this country.

3. Consider buying what you can locally. Lots of it. The food is delicious here. You don't have to bring EVERYTHING FROM HOME.

4. Spend a few evenings making making friends with Chacalenos. Offer to teach someone some English in return for them teaching you a little Spanish.

5. Watch a Spanish lesson, or a Spanish language video or Spanish soap, rather than watching s English-language stations on your satellite TV.6. Try to understand the differences in our two cultures. Rather than complaining about Mexico and Mexicans and how things are done here.

7. Many people who live and work in Chacala speak enough English to understand rude comments and disrespectful attitudes. Making arrogant remarks or jokes in front of your waiter or the tienda clerk does not make you many friends in Chacala. Something to think about.

8. Provide access for other campers in the campground to walk past your RV to get to the beach. Remember this beach belongs to the people of Mexico. Graciously make space for them when they want to camp on the beach in front of your rig. It's not your country or your beach. Share.

9. Find another way to get rid of your black water. Other than digging a hole in the beach to dump your shit and dirty water into. It's disgusting. RV'ers doing this (polluting the sand, and eventually the water) are almost the only people in Chacala who don't use septic tanks which are routinely pumped out.

10. This is a tourist and fishing town. Buy or eat the fish. Or spend money for groceries and meals, or use the public showers and toilets (there are clean and cheap), or the internet places, or the curio shops, Chacala gets no economic benefit from your presence unless you spend money here.

11. Pay the camping fee, without whining. Or sneaking off in the night or early in the morning without paying. The people who run the beach camping areas from Chico's south to the Mahajua/Mar de Jade area, have Federal concessions for those areas. They aren't squatters. They pay lots of money for those concessions, every year. They can, and do, call the police to come deal with RVers who won't pay.

Again, Chacala has a tourist-based economy. And it has a lovely beach and the kindest, most helpful, people you can imagine. Your presence is appreciated in Chacala if you spend money here. Or find someway to be helpful. It's the same in tourist-based economies all over the world.

Just my opinion, of course.


Jennifer said...

You know this should be posted on any and every beach, website etc. etc. for most touristy places south of the border (I hope this makes sense - it makes sense in my head, LOL, I just dont know if I am getting it out making sense, LOL).
This list could be perfect for many places, just changing Chacala and putting in a different city.

It sad that so many gringos have such a mindset that things like this do not come naturally. This list should be second nature for everyone. To bad it isn't.

christine said...

very nicely stated. how wonderful it would be if this was second nature for travelers anywhere in the world.

the importance of concepts such as respect and contribution are so basic and vital within any community we live in or visit - I hope this posting helps remind a few people of that.

wayne said...

Well said! Somebody should post this as a big mural right by the RV camp grounds. I agree with Jennifer too. The list should be posted throughout Mexico!