In a word Chacala is…

Hmmm… one word can’t say it… not a sentence or a paragraph. It takes a few images to let you see.

Chacala is rich in natural, human and ecological history. It’s a lush tropical jungle cozying up to a perfect sandy beach in a geothermic-volcanic region of a series of intensely pristine mini bays… virtually identical in latitude to the Hawaiian Islands. It’s a baby paradise just 30 minutes up the Pacific coast from your “Three-Sister” Paradise of Jaltemba Bay. It’s a people with rich histories of honest hard working fisherman, famous priests and infamous pirates. And it’s a small paradoxical village with serious opportunities and serious limitations; the will and the drive to make life ever more meaningful… and the sadly trailing resources to grab the vast opportunities that beckon.

Chacala is old and new, rich and poor, discovered and undiscovered. Simply to experience Chacala is to step back in time maybe 100 years. But as you do, you also enjoy the modern conveniences of local cell phones, WiFi cafes on the beachfront, cable and satellite towers nearby. The some 400 local residents are rich with family, friendship, essentials and natural diversity. But they are also poor in educational classrooms, educational tools and educational support. Almost as if the new millennium brought in a new serge of community evolution… a paved road turned Chacala from an undiscovered off-the-grid-secret into a mildly and thoughtfully discovered utopia. About 50 North American households have made Chacala their dream destination in the past decade. They brought with them a serious sense of obligation and inspiration to the local people and their dreams too!

Chacala is too small to ever get too big. The tiny bay invites the hearts and minds of young and old souls yearning to slow down, smell the flowers and experience the fine art of making a difference! But it does not invite the big, the loud, or the different for differences sake. Sail boats and a yacht or two drop anchor picturesquely off shore… but no cruise line will ever find enough reason to off load its “discerning” clientele. Room to grow… yes indeed. Room for improvement… a big yes! Room for your help to really make a big impact… yes, critically yes.

When one learns of Chacala, they also will learn that Cambiando Vidas is as vitally a part of its definition as its people, its history and its dreams. Cambiando Vidas is a 501-C Non-Profit Scholar Assistance Program with 12 years of “Changing Lives” for the better. One by one, people who step-up to join the one-true meaningful hope for our local students, they find themselves “Changing Too” for the better… that “giving” is the one true way to “get.” For more information and some good old “Life Changing,” write Hal & Steph at

Our Gang at Leadership Training… and having some seriously happy times together.

Our very well-loved and maintained Primary School where we run our Program (upstairs)

Weekday serenity…

Holiday excitement… Day’s end Magic

Chacala & Cambiando Vidas invites Jaltemba Bay to another Bay they’ll never forget!

About the Authors: Hal & Stephanie Arnest retired full time to Chacala (Nayarit, MX) in April 2009. Very soon, Stephanie became involved in “Cambiando Vidas,” a 10-year-old local scholarship program, and has been serving as its President for the past 2 years. Hal, the awesome, obedient, dutiful husband that he is, quickly assumed a totally subservient role as her Ghost Writer; authoring newsletters, brochures, website, historian and rookie photographer. Above all they found themselves deeply committed to the students and to the many tasks necessary to give local kids an authentic opportunity for a bigger life. They found what so many expatriates find… paradise without purpose… isn’t paradise. Hal’s favorite thing is taking the kids on “outings.” He is 72 and she’s “obviously” 29½… and says, “… feels like we’ve been married f-o-r-e-v-e-r!”

For more information, visit the Cambiando Vidas website.

This story was submitted by one of our readers. If you want to join in the fun and share your stories and photos of Jaltemba Bay, Mexico, please email them to

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2 Reviews on “In a word Chacala is…”

  1. :

    Hello Hal and Stephanie! This is Donna Johnston and we are coming to PV in 2 weeks. Are you both currently in your beloved Chacala? Please notify us if you are there; we would LOVE to connect up, your place or ours, ha!

  2. :

    Wow ... what a handsome man ... what a lucky lady ... what a well writen article! Count me in! Mandi!

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