Try saying that one five times! Welcome to La Peñita de Jaltemba, a small town on the Pacific coast of Mexico, an hour north of Puerto Vallarta.
We arrived on a rainy day. The clouds hung thick in the sky like sodden laundry and the streets, made from mud and stone, disappeared into giant potholes underneath our tires.
“Uh ooooohhhh…” my internal dialogue began. I mean, they said it was local, but this is really local, I thought as we began the steep climb up the hill to our adopted abode.
“That whole thing cannot all be ours,” I said as we laid eyes on the big ‘yellow house on the hill’ we had been solicited to take care of. Surely it was two or three homes in one complex and we would be residing in one.
But no, it was all ours, complete with two resident cats to keep us in line, two iguanas who live on the roof and scare the bejeezus out of me on a regular basis and a gazillion different bugs of every imaginable size and color which we fish out of the pool and examine every day.
I’m becoming the David Attenborough of bugs and can definitely see why people study them.
The King and Queen of the house are Chica and Matu (who have their own throne). They have stolen my heart and I pour love over them every day, much to their disdain. To them I am the giver of tuna and occasionally strawberry yoghurt (yes) and that is about it. I like to think they are testing how far my love reaches and whether I can make the distance. I tell you, I can and I will MAKE THEM LOVE ME!!!
The star of the house though is definitely the view. Or, should I say, views. A panoramic, 360 degree beauty-fest of the Pacific ocean and rolling jungle clad mountains. I seriously don’t know where to look. It causes me great anxiety that when I am looking one way, I miss the other way, so I have devised a viewing system of facing the mountains in the morning while I do yoga, then the ocean in the afternoon.
I mean, seriously??!!! My eyeballs cannot handle this much beauty. I get very overwhelmed, hence the obscene amount of facebook updates made lately because I just can’t take it all in and need help to process this display of nature’s glory every evening.
The fact that I get to witness 90 of these makes me giddy with gratitude.
Oh yeah, then there’s the sunrise. If we’re up early enough, we get to catch it rising over the mountains and staining the sky the color of the mangoes hanging from the tree next door.
Which brings me to my next point – the mangoes. And the pineapples and the coconuts and the bananas which are bursting forth from the trees right now. It is seriously hard (and sad) to believe there is a food shortage in the world when you are in the lush ‘Riviera Nayarit’ of Mexico.
Devouring a mango over the sink while it spills down your chin must surely be one of life’s great pleasures.
The town of La Peñita, it turns out, is absolutely wonderful. A small yet busy epicenter of industry and commerce which services the nearby resort town of Guayabitos. We have found our ‘seafood place’, our ‘local eats’ place and our cafe which roasts local coffee beans and does a mean frappacino – perfect for these humid days.
From the seafood place we watch local families escape the heat of their homes in exchange for a sea breeze and dripping helados. They gather on the newly built malecon every evening, a pedestrian promenade which was built a little over a year ago after a decade of planning.
Life in La Peñita is lazy and languid. Every day we wave to our neighbour down the road who hangs in his hammock under the shade of a tree, just… chilling. If there is something Mexicans do well (except cook and laugh and eat and drink) it’s relax. The heat here during the summer is enough to slow even the zestiest of folk down to a crawl, but in this little town that no-one has really heard of except the lucky ones who live here, life, just, goes, slow.
Until you get onto the highway leading south to San Pancho, Sayulita and Puerto Vallarta which becomes the stage for a testosterone fueled, four-wheeled machismo fest of overtaking on blind corners at high speeds. Go figure.
A five minute drive from ‘our house’ sits the charming beach resort of Guayabitos. A jumble of colourful buildings, striped umbrellas and beach hawkers selling everything from ceviche to sunglasses.
A local resort popular with the residents of Guadalajara and Mexico City, Guayabitos is like stepping back in time. Families gather on patches of sand which spill down into the water, enjoying the simple pleasures of sun and sea, set to the soundtrack of a local musical act.
Bowls of fresh fruit and skewers of plump prawns are passed between niños and abuelas while touts tempt tourists onto boats heading across to the island or neighbouring bays.
We love it here. Tyrhone has clocked two flights over a long, empty stretch of beach north of town, improving his skills and increasing his confidence.
I have been attempting to be present with all this natural beauty around, and have been feeling very blessed to wake up to such gifts every day. I’m definitely experiencing the beauty of my imperfect journey at the moment and am falling in love with a new part of this rich and varied country which has come to feel like home.
by Sarah Chamberlain
Editor’s Note: Sarah is an Australian traveller, writer and dreamer who happens to be house-sitting at the beautiful El Panorama Villa Hotel B&B in La Peñita this summer. Thanks to Sarah for allowing us to share her article, originally published July 13, 2014 on her blog, Sarah Somewhere.
If you want to join in and share information, stories and photos of Jaltemba Bay, Mexico, please email them to Allyson@JaltembaBayLife.com