A River Runs Through it

Settling into our new life in Chacala. So far, so good…except for the hurricane, and the construction zone around our house. Oh, and the river running through our house every time we have a big rain (it’s rainy season, so that’s pretty often).

But it’s the weekend, the boys are home, and we’re heading to…you guessed it! The beach!

But not before a bit of beach brunch to kick the day off.

After brunch, we opt for a long walk exploring the beach, before regrouping and returning for a swim later. The awesome thing about living within a 10 minute walk of a beautiful, swimmable beach is you can come and go as you please. No need to worry about parking or packing are your beach gear with you in the morning. Just head on down to the beach and see where the day takes you.

That’s the town’s resident extinct volcano, which we’re very excited to hike up the first chance we get. Maybe when things dry out a bit more and aren’t so steamy.

At the end of the beach there is a swanky wellness retreat, also started by the same hippie doctor who arrived 40 years ago with a somewhat different objective.

The first time we saw Chacala Beach, Lori and I were pretty certain we hadn’t seen a more perfect beach in Mexico. We still can’t get over the fact we get to live here!

Any time the construction pounding and clanking becomes unbearable, we hope we are able to come down here and let off some steam. Being on the beach makes it all seem worthwhile.

But of course we’re only a week into our time here. Ask us again in another six months.

Shifting into the swim portion of our beach time. I waited a bit to see if the boys wanted to go in, but ultimately couldn’t wait any longer.

This time of year, the water temperature is just about perfect, and the sea is fairly flat for facing the open ocean.

Unlike Sayulita, Chacala Bay faces mostly west, benefiting from a lot of protection from the rocky headland to the north, and the volcano and angled coastline to the south.

Our view of the ocean from our bedroom balcony…

…and the hotel project across the street.

Lori turned the mother-in-law suite into her office. This is her standing desk, very convenient for reheating coffee.

A Michelada, Chacala style. Might be the best I’ve had in Mexico, and right in our own town. Dangerous.

Another rainy morning at home. And, another river.

At least we (and the boys) are prepared this time.

Moments later, it’s off to school. Rain or shine, school waits for no one.

The entire 10 minute walk this morning was essentially one big creek to shuffle through. This little town has zero culverts, drainage ditches, or any attempt to divert water during a rain storm. So, the few roads in town become the gutters and culverts.

We get about half way to school when a rushing stream stops us in our tracks. That means we’ll have to take a different route, adding 10 more minutes to our morning commute. No big deal, we’re operating on Chacala time like everyone else.

But the sun always shines again. There may be no drainage in town, but fortunately things dry out pretty quickly (including our house).

The latest with that is that the landlord sent an engineer over to survey the building. Apparently, someone dug a trench on the lot behind the house to lay some pipe, but hadn’t gotten around to it yet. So, every time it rains, the water collects in the ditch forcing water through the tiny cracks in the walls of our house.

The good news is that the house is structurally sound. But it will take some time to repair. They’ll send out a crew next week when things dry out. That means we’ll have construction on literally all four sides of the house! At least some of it is to our benefit.

In other news, a tropical depression came through, kicking up the surf and taking a good chunk out of the beach. After a few days of being cooped up in the house, we were all hankering for some beach time, even if conditions weren’t perfect.

My office for the morning. I can get use to this.

There are only a handful of restaurants and cafes in this small town and Lalaxtli Bakery was one of the more popular ones. It was closed for the first couple of weeks when we moved here (they moved locations) but finally reopened. Good food and a prime location. It was worth the wait.

Afternoon cool-off time.

The boys’ classroom (above) and school dining area (below).

Pool time. The days that are too gloomy or a bit rainy make for nice pool days. Noe is becoming a real fish. He got a snorkel set for his birthday in Sayulita, but wasn’t able to use it much there. The pool has been perfect for this. He likes to drop various odds and ends on the deep end (4 feet deep) and dive down to retrieve them. He can do this for hours.

Riley, on the other hand, likes to jump from the edge of the pool into the arms of mommy, then call it a day. He’ll come around.

The diminutive, yet colorful main plaza of Chacala. I dare you to find a central plaza in Mexico with a better view.

Down at the main beach, there are 5-6 thatch-roof eateries. We tend to alternative between two: Chac Muul and Las Brisas. Today, we’re branching out and trying the place at the far end. A bit overpriced for what you get, but good Mexican beach fair with all the fixings.

Another stunning sunset.

If you’re curious what the status of the construction project is next door, this is where things are at. This is just on the other side of the boys’ rooms and Lori’s office.

The building supplies have now spilled out into the road, taking over half of it.

As if that weren’t enough, a precarious stack of cinder blocks arrived today. Cars can barely get through (not our problem [yet]).

But what we do worry about is ours and other neighborhood kids walking and playing around the materials (which are in the middle of the only road to the rest of town). We’ve asked them if they can move the blocks back, secure or stack them better, but they just shrug their shoulders and turn up the music.

The music is getting old. As is the pounding and the sawing and the heavy machinery. Oh, and the yelling that the workers are constantly doing to apparently “motivate” each other. It literally sounds like they are in our house.

We tried to have a good relationship with them and the foreman from the beginning, but that soured quickly. Any sort of conversation we’ve had (even involving the landlord) to find some middle ground on things like teetering blocks, or rebar left in the middle of the street, or pounding before sunrise, or construction materials falling on our house and gumming up the pool, or whatever is met with utter indifference.

The only upside is that they tend to knock off by 6pm, then all is quiet. Until the morning. We’ve come to really value our evenings (and Sundays).

We’re by no means alone in our construction misery. This entire town is under the tyrannical and maniacal control of big city developers who have half the town paid off. What was once a quiet fishing village not five years ago has become a tourist ghetto overnight.

Chacala happens to be the closest beach town to the second largest city in Mexico, Guadalajara. Recent improvements in the highway between here and there have brought the journey down to just over 3.5 hours, and Tapatios (what they call Guadalajarans) take full advantage of this.

We see them start rolling in on Thursday night, then in full force by Friday afternoon. The town population swells from 300 to several times that every weekend before they finally clear out late Sunday night.

The thought had never crossed our minds that remote little Chacala would be such as draw for Guadalajarans. It seems that all of coastal Nayarit has become an absolute madhouse, particularly since the beginning of Covid when highland Mexicans and gringos alike started flocking to the Mexican coast in droves to escape restrictions and take advantage of remote work.

In our last post, I mentioned that one of the quirks of this funky house is that half the side of the house is open to the world. While there is some half-heartedly installed bug netting placed over the iron bars, all sorts of critters from the jungle behind the house do find their way in from time to time.

Noe was having a hard time sleeping and came down to check on me. He got more than he bargained for with the big green frog in the stairwell.

Rivers running through places they shouldn’t be seems to be the theme of this post. So it’s all too fitting that we’d encounter yet another one on our first family trip to the “big city” 20 miles down the road.

We’re still working on getting a car, but have some promising leads. So a trip to Las Varas is a big deal right now, since we have to arrange a taxi there and back, and it isn’t exactly a cheap journey.

The boys get to burn off a bit of steam running around the exponentially larger central plaza of Las Varas.

Back in Chacala, Riley devours a tasty enchilada, Riley style.

Trying our best to get work done with all the construction commotion out front, out back, and on each and every side. When the workers listen to music, we listen to music. When they smoke, our house smells like a 1980s bowling alley (there are at least a dozen workers across all the sites, and someone’s smoking at any given time).

There are workers looking into our house from all angles, and we only have curtains in the bedrooms. They’re always leering and peering in it seems. When we’re working, when we’re cooking, when we’re taking the kids up and down the stairs, when we’re swimming. Always.

This guy has the right idea! Until Friday rolls around and he’s swarmed by a hundred of his closest Guadalajaran amigos.

Off to the beach! We try to get as much beach time in as we can these days. There are definitely worse coping mechanisms.

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