For a change of scenery, consider a day trip to some of the other towns and villages around this part of Jaltemba Bay. Our group of 6 friends makes a trip to Chacala every year we are here. It’s about 30 minutes north of La Peñita on the road to San Blas. Turn left on the road to Chalaca just before you get to Las Varas. It’s marked with signs, and all the taxi drivers know where it is.
The little village of Chacala is home to about 300 residents with a few tourists staying for all or part of the winter. It has a spectacular sandy beach and lots of places with food and accommodation. Great for a day trip from the Guayabitos area.
For our trip, we hired a local taxi van from La Peñita. We were a little surprised when the driver showed up with his 12-year-old son Alex. He had been raised in California and spoke perfect English. It was a delight to have him along as he acted as a self-appointed guide. He had such a great personality, taking the time to point out different crops, trees and interesting things growing along the way to Chacala.
When we arrived at the beach, we arranged to be picked up later that afternoon and headed for the sand and surf. Chacala is a picture postcard spot that will delight those looking for a more Mexican town without the over-development of larger cities. Dirt roads, palm frond palapas and colorful 2-story buildings make up the small village. This is not the spot for those craving jet skis, parasailing and a rocking night life. If you appreciate quiet walks along the sandy shore, reading a book in the shade of a palm tree or sipping a cool drink at one of the beach front restaurants, this is it. If you were any more relaxed than this, you might slip into a coma.
We walked along a short trail on the west side of the bay until we came to another small bay where the local fishing boats anchor and the Port Authority is located. There are some remains of an old building that date back to ancient times when the locals fished the area.
After a delightful stroll about town, delicious lunch and drinks on the beach, it was time to meet our taxi back to Guayabitos. After we headed out of town our guide Alex asked us “do you want to stop and see my uncles farm?” Absolutely we did. Any chance to experience interaction with a local is much appreciated and usually ends up being the best part of any trip. We were in awe when we pulled off the road to a little patch of land that had been manicured as beautifully as any downtown park. Even the earth had been packed down and swept as clean as pavement.
Alex introduced us to his uncle and began to show us what he had planted and harvested on his little farm. All kinds of fruits and nuts were growing and some drying in the warm sun. His uncle showed us the well he had dug by hand. It was amazing to see the perfectly round hole in the ground that was about 5 feet across and at least 30 feet deep. Two ladders were tied together to reach the bottom and a large pointed post was used to break up the soil on the bottom. The soil was loaded into a bucket and then the uncle climbed the ladder and proceeded to haul the soil to the surface with a rope. This was a mind-boggling chore to us and we hoped he would soon discover that all important liquid of life. We marveled at how hard this man had worked and what a simple lifestyle he lived. It made me think of the contrast of our life at home with granite counter tops, big screen TV, computers, cell phones, multiple bathrooms and many other luxuries we take for granted.
The highlight of the day was the unexpected stop at the little farm and generosity of the family of sharing their life and achievements. There was no expectation of a fee for the unplanned stop and I believe it was simply a young man proud of his uncle’s accomplishments and wanting to share them with us. Needless to say we thought it was appropriate to tip his father the taxi driver as we always do and of course added a generous tip for Alex, our self appointed guide. A trip to Chacala we will not soon forget.
by Brian Betts
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