Los Ayala: A Step Back in Time (Photo History)

I had the pleasure of interviewing Elaine Smith and Janet Wortendyke, who shared stories and the old photos featured here. They said, “Children and dogs ran all over the town. Everyone got along famously, and everyone was happy. Albeit this south sea paradise had a lot more ants, at that time. It was truly the good old days!”

Top photo: Bungalows Los Ayala at the corner of Madre Perla and Avenida Coral. The bungalows and the grocery store are still in business today.

Los Ayala Beach

In the early 1980s, the property lines on Los Ayala beach were defined by the row of palm trees that lined the beach and a fence made of rocks and chicken wire. Hurricane Gilma (1994) knocked down many of the palm trees along Los Ayala beach when it passed the coast of Jaltemba Bay. Hurricane Kenna (2002) also destroyed many of the palm trees that lined our beach.


South end of Los Ayala beach.


View of the north end of the beach.


Central Los Ayala beach.

The First Homes on Los Ayala Beach (early 1980s)

The first homes built along the beach in Los Ayala were located on the south end. The construction consisted of bricks, wooden shutters and roofs made of tejas.


One of the first houses on the beach, built in 1955. Photo from the early 1970s.


Old Timer House with a palapa roof on the south end of Los Ayala beach. The walls were built of sticks, which was common in Los Ayala during the early years.


Home of Julian Ponce. It is located at the end of Avenida del Estero, right beside the mountainous hillside which marks the south end of Los Ayala. The first house on the south end of Los Ayala Beach. (There is no photo of the second house on the beach.)


Home of Old Doc Flanigan. Doc Flanigan discovered Los Ayala beach in the early 1980s as he used to fly the mail from Mazatlan to Puerto Vallarta. He talked everyone into coming to Los Ayala and arranged for the first property owners on the south end of Los Ayala beach to purchase their properties. Doc Flanigan is now living in Coos Bay, Oregon, and is 95 years of age (January 2012). He delivered several of the babies in Los Ayala, including the Vasquez boys. They say he tied the navel cord of the new born babies with a shoe string, which was all that was available at the time. Dr. McDonald owns this property now.


The third house on Los Ayala beach was bought by Jack Wortendyke. Today, it is the home of Janette (Jack Wortendyke’s widow) who has since remarried. The house today is “exactly” as it was when it was first built in 1980s.


Originally the home of Merv Smith and Joe Kaiser, this home was purchased by Lin Chimes and Jim Stewart and today is known as Casa Contenta. The original home has been renovated and enlarged, but the living room of Casa Contenta today reflects the original house construction retaining its full character and beauty.


Home of Elaine and Morris Smith, founders of the Los Ayala’s Learning Center. They purchased the home (which was renovated and enlarged in 1987 by the previous owners) in 1995. This home’s original construction was also retained during the renovations.


Home of Juan Vasquez and his wife Antonia. Juan was the caretaker of all of these properties for about 30 years. Juan lived in a traditional stick house with a palapa roof until Dr. Flanigan built a brick home for Juan and his family. The house was torn down, but was located where John Cole’s house is now. Juan’s wife, Antonio, is still alive and living in La Peñita.

Local Folks


Huichol child at the market in La Peñita de Jaltemba (left). Rosario, a beautiful Los Ayala local (right).


The teacher of Los Ayala’s Elementary School serving breakfast or possibly preparing for a party circa 1998 (left). Huichol mother at the market in La Peñita de Jaltemba (right).


A local gathering coconuts, which is still a common sight in Los Ayala today (left). Jack Wortendyke, one of the first home owners on Los Ayala beach, who has since passed (right).

Los Ayala’s Learning Center


Fabian, one of the Learning Center’s first students, walking in downtown Los Ayala.

The photos below feature children at the Learning Center from 1996-1997…

Los Ayala’s Elementary School

In the 1980s, the students of Los Ayala’s elementary school received only the very basic education in reading, and math. The students of today’s generation are completely different. They read and write, and their math skills are strong. They also have a good knowledge of their country and background, and many speak some English. The older generation interviewed for this page, say that it has been extremely gratifying to see it all happen.


Los Ayala’s original elementary school from approximately 1995. The male teacher lived with the Mayor and stayed and worked with the children in the afternoons. The female teacher rode the bus home every day to Tepic. They were a very devoted group of teachers.


A building located on the Los Ayala’s Elementary school property where the children were served a daily breakfast consisting of tacos and milk. In the early 1980s, the school was an 8 x 10 concrete block with a chicken wire fence and nine handmade desks.


Students of Los Ayala’s Elementary school in class.


Julian Ponce, Elaine Smith, Maggie Ponce, Jack Wortendyke (deceased), Lindy Worten Dyke (deceased).

Points to Ponder about Life in Los Ayala in the Early Years

  • The beach homes described were purchased in 1980 and it took the owners 16 years to obtain title.
  • The homeowners of these properties today describe Los Ayala as a south sea paradise. They subsisted on fish, vegetables and fresh fruit, and enjoyed plenty of potable water from gravity fed spring located on the hillside on the south end of Los Ayala.
  • The only road into Los Ayala at that time was a make shift road carved through the jungle coming over the mountain on the south side of Los Ayala.
  • There was only one small grocery store in Jaltemba Bay which was located in Rincón de Guayabitos, so property owners stocked up on convenience groceries in Tepic.
  • The only telephone in the Jaltemba Bay area was located in Rincón de Guayabitos.
  • Children and dogs ran all over the town. Everyone got along famously, and everyone was happy. Albeit this south sea paradise had a lot more ants at that time.
  • Supplies were delivered by boat, including the bricks that were used to build the homes. The mortar was made from beach sand which was washed to remove the salt.
  • Local folks enjoyed a simple life and fondly remember the days when they did not have to pay federal or state property tax, or a bank trust.

Photos courtesy of Elaine Smith, founder of Los Ayala’s Learning Center. Beach and home photos courtesy of Janette Wortendyke.

This article was originally published in March 2012 on Magical Los Ayala.

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