Saturday, July 08, 2006

Changes in Chacala

Title: Chacala Escape, Chacala Budget Rentals, My Life in Chacala... and much much more!
Type of website: Blogs and websites
Excellent source of...: whatever you need to know to get to, rent a place and spend some time in Chacala, Nayarit, Mexico. Or just an interesting peek into the life of a gringo living in a small Mexican town.

Where in the world is Chacala? Until I found these websites, I'd never heard of it. And probably, neither have a lot of other people. But as in all charming little places in Mexico, that may not be true for long. Chacala is two hours north of Puerto Vallarta in the state of Nayarit, and a new road has recently been built between the two places that makes it easier to reach Chacala. Still out of the way for most folks, it sounds like the kind of place that people who like to get away from it all will like to get away TO. After reading about it in these websites, I'm putting it on my list of Places To See in Mexico (it's a VERY long list...).

The person who writes the blog My Life in Chacala lives in Chacala year round. He or she also maintains the other two websites, as far as I can tell, one for general tourism to Chacala and one to give exposure to the budget rental properties available in Chacala (that is also a VERY long list....). reading the blog I have found that there are two MORE related blogs:

Gardening in Mexico
- This blog is really all about gardening in Chacala
Friends of Chacala - An open blog for people who like Chacala to post information and photos and stories about it.

This has got to be the most blogged about Mexican village in the country :-)

The central blog from which all these other blogs and websites spring is the My Life in Chacala blog. This blog was started in July 2005 and every post is on the same page (it's a VERY long page...). It's like a gossipy newspaper all about the people and happenings in this little town. There are many entries about various houses being built, who cooked dinner for what occasion, what's happening with the local ejido land, who graduated from kindergarten today, etc. Very chatty, very first person. The writer is really into the flojera of Mexico. (If you don't know what flojera means, I'm not sure I can describe it. It has something to do with 'going with the flow. She or he seems very resigned to not speaking much Spanish and not really knowing what's going on around him (though she sure seems to know a lot to me). A lot of her/his writings are rather mundane, with a lot of reporting on the local construction projects. But as you continue to read, the mundane-ness of the goings-on in Chacala starts to transform... probably in the way it has started to transform the writer. And then every once in awhile, there are little gems like this, the writer's response to people wanting to come down and volunteer in Chacala:

"It's hard to get back into my mindset then, but I think I thought that because I was from a wealthy nation, and had the "advantages" of education, etc, that I was in the position to offer my expertise or experience, or knowledge to people in Chacala. And I don't think it occured to me that what I had to offer could possibly be damaging or disrespectful of the culture or families here.

Now I wonder if maybe people who come here with the idea of "helping" people who live here are often unaware that there is a strong culture and set of values here about which they, as gringos, have little knowledge of. That it would be hard to "help" here until you have learned about what is already happening here.

And that maybe the first step to "helping" here is to learn about the history, culture, language, values, and mores here. Like what is polite behavior in this society. Maybe try to make some friends, and observe what it going on. Or at least learn how to be polite here."

Honestly, if I was thinking of moving to or investing in Chacala, this blog would be a great source of information. A steady reader of this blog could keep on top of the development of the town. But this blog is also the chronicle of the transformation of a person who moves from Gringolandia, perhaps a little wounded or a little disillusioned from his former life, and over time is healed and changed by the power of Life in Mexico, one family, one coconut palm or one kind word at a time. And that is becoming a longer and longer list of people...

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

A Mexican In Brazil

Title: Ricardo's Blog
Type of Website: Blog
Great source of...: whatever Ricardo is interested in this week. Ricardo is a Mexican, working for a multinational corporation in Brazil in their IT department.

Here's another great blog. Being a resident in Mexico, I like to read (in English) about what's going on from a Mexican's point of view. In this case, Ricardo is an expat like me... only he's a Mexican living in another country and not in the US, which is so, well... predictable! (This photo, by the way, is from his blog and is a picture of his son)

I got to this blog originally because Ricardo is keeping on top of the Mexican Presidential race, which as most of you probably know is starting to look a lot like the first time they made Bush the President of the US. Too close to call, recounts, you know the story. Anyway, Ricardo is watching and reporting, from a Mexican's point of view. Ricardo is watching a lot of things and commenting on them (photography, soccer, websites in Spanish, the US immigration debate, biofuels...) and his comments are interesting, intelligent and enlightening.

Ricardo has only been blogging since February... I hope he continues. I'll be watching!

But Ricardo's blog is more than political.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Cabo San Lucas

Title: Cabo San Lucas Beaches
Type of Website: Travel Guide to Cabo San Lucas
Great source of...: Insider's tips on traveling to Cabo

Mexico is a huge country isn't it? We live in the Yucatan and sometimes I forget that Cabo San Lucas and Baja California are part of the same country. They seem so far away in both distance and culture.

But they are indeed still part of Mexico. And this website is a great guide if you're thinking of going for the first time and are a little worried about being in Mexico.

Of course, those of us who live here or have been going to Mexico for a long time know that you have nothing to worry about. But with the press that Mexico gets, ranging from Montezuma's revenge to Mexico City kidnappings, it's no wonder that people have some trepidation if they have never been to Mexico before.

This website seems geared towards people going to Mexico for the first time. Cabo is probably a good place to go on your first trip to Mexico, as it has a lot of the amenities that Americans and Europeans are used to, while still retaining some Mexican charm and its natural seaside beauty.

The website is obviously written by someone who loves the area. It is set up with a "story" on each page, ranging from how to select the best resort for your needs to the background on Cabo Wabo, the famous Cabo bar. There are also pages on How to get to Cabo, Where to Stay, Where to Golf and what weather to expect. And a small photo gallery.

My only complaint about the Cabo website is that it's pretty shallow. I'm sure there is a lot more to say about the place. I'd like to see some more in-depth maps (the one map is pretty simplistic), more photos, more detailed recommendations about where to eat and what to do. The website does a good job of presenting Google ads to the reader, but doesn't balance them out well enough with original content. The writers have been visiting Cabo for 20 years... I would love to read more about how Cabo used to be, stories of their trips there, the people who live in Cabo or go there regularly.

The content that is there is helpful... there just isn't nearly enough of it!