Friday, November 30, 2007

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

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