It was late March in the year 2006 and my husband Victor and I had finally made the big move to Mexico. One year earlier, having sold our business in a suburb of Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S.A. and spent 3 months driving around Mexico exploring, we were at last actually out of the cold and snow and living in Nayarit, Mexico.

To backtrack a year to February 2005, after selling the Minneapolis chiropractic practice, our 3 month road trip throughout Mexico began. It was a journey of exploration, as I had spent very little time touring Mexico and needed to find out if I could imagine living here. It went very well with few problems, no banditos, and we only majorly got lost twice (in the state of Mexico and in Mexico City of course). The police kindly helped by having us follow them out of town to get on the correct highway to head toward Cuernavaca, south of Mexico City. This trip took us to the Yucatan (first to Morelia for a 2 week Spanish Immersion program living in a Mexican’s home), Orizaba, Villahermosa, Oaxaca, Puebla, Cuernavaca, Mexico City, Morelia, and ended in Nayarit. Now I realized, that yes, I was willing to try living in Mexico, something Victor had been yearning for after 30 years of freezing in Minnesota.

A year later in March 2006 in a Minnesota snowfall we hit the road. We had sold our home in St. Louis Park, Minnesota and put a lot of our stuff in a cheap storage unit in a small town west of Minneapolis. Our dear kind friend Don had offered to help us move to Mexico, by pulling our 4×6 trailer behind his stuffed pickup truck full of our belongings. He followed us in our Honda Element as we crossed the border at Nogales, Arizona into Mexico. A few days later we were in the sweet little puebla of Chacala, Nayarit on the Pacific Ocean, for a nice rest after the big tiring ordeal of selling and moving out of our house, packing, and driving. We thought we were in heaven with the view of the Chacala bay and the ocean, eating freshly caught lobster, fresh fruit, and being warm at last. Mexico was paradise!

Our first house rental was in La Peñita de Jaltemba, at the Enchanted Casita at Calle Mazatlan #60, just steps from the ocean! Having brought no furniture with us to Mexico, this was perfect, as it was totally furnished, with bedding and kitchen supplies too. Being so close to the beach was fabulous. Or so we thought. Little did we know, what living by the ocean in the summer would be like without air conditioning.

One of the delightful first splendors was the sight of all the birds in the estero across the street from our casita. Mostly white and pink ones and some brown. We had just purchased some photographic equipment prior to our move to Mexico, and we ran out in the early morning to experiment with our telephoto lens and set up the cameras on tripods. We captured shots of egrets, lovely pink spoon bills, cormorants, and more. The 2nd morning we were out there again. The 3rd morning they were all gone, having made their migration north as we sadly discovered.

We had brought our kayaks with us, called Folbots (folding kayaks, made of a sturdy fabric with metal frames inserts) which we had used on calm Minnesota lakes. Not too long after getting settled into the casita, our daughter from Wyoming and her male friend came for a visit. One early afternoon the strong young male, an experienced whitewater kayaker, decided to venture out in our kayak to the island in the Bay. Our only experience using the kayaks was at Kissing Beach near Los Ayala, a small cove of quieter waters. After several hours, he at last returned from his journey to the island, exhausted. He told us he had quite a difficult time paddling back from the island to the shore. Imagine if we had tried it! After his experience, I had no desire to try ocean kayaking, even in a bay in the ocean.

One day we went out back of the casita, to where our kayaks were stored, and discovered a big mess in Victor’s boat. An iguana had been using one of the kayaks as a home and bathroom for who knows how long. Pew! What a disgusting stinky job cleaning that up.

What a surprise to one day discover hundreds of crabs crawling all over the front patio, and trying to get into the house too! Of course some did manage that.

By June we were starting to feel the heat. There were no windows on the west side of the casita, which was next to the garage. Thus no breezes flowing in and out from east to west, and west to east. It was getting hotter by the day. With no air conditioning, we purchased more fans to try to keep cool, especially to be able to sleep at night. As it got hotter and more humid, the only way to survive in the house was to wear a wet bathing suit, pouring water on ourselves to keep cool. A cold frozen damp washcloth was always stored in the freezer, and applied to our foreheads while lying collapsed on the couch to provide some relief for a short while.

By July the rainy season had begun. Everyone spoke of it, how the evenings would be cooler if it rained that day. No one warned me about the strength and power of the Pacific coastal thunderstorms. The first night I experienced the incredible loud claps of thunder, nearly sent me threw the ceiling. Never in my life had I heard such loud thunder! It scared the living daylights out of me! I found myself running for cover into a small closet, fearing the lightening was out to get me, and strike me down.

We put up one of our nice Yucatan Hammocks on the front patio, which we had purchased from Hala at her shop in La Peñita. It was so relaxing to lie in it reading, and soon found myself sleeping. One morning we woke up to discover it was not hanging out front. Simply gone, stolen in the night by someone who was lucky to find it, and had easily removed it. Lesson learned.

The most pleasant times in our short stay in the casita were to watch the sunset from the beach, to walk barefoot on the sand searching for seashells for my collection, photography, and having our family visit. They enjoyed the pleasures of beachcombing, suntanning, relaxing in the hammock, and my artist daughter spent time oil painting the scenery. Getting to know our nice Mexican neighbors Alicia and Pancho and son, was a great way to be introduced to Mexican hospitality, friendliness and graciousness. Practicing my Spanish and sharing in their family celebrations out back of their home, eating Alicia’s delicious Posole will never be forgotten.

After 4 months living in the casita, we next decided to find a bigger house in neighboring Rincón de Guayabitos and rented the home of famous singer Jacqui Watson. This house was larger and better suited to our needs. But we will never forget our first sweet home in the Bay of Jaltemba, the Enchanting Casita on Calle Mazatlan in the puebla of La Peñita de Jaltemba. It was a wonderful, memorable beginning of our 4 1/2 years of life in the beautiful friendly beach communities on the Bay of Jaltemba.

Thank you to the Grange’s for the opportunity to experience living in your sweet and pretty casita, so near the ocean and the estero full of beautiful birds and not so beautiful crocodiles (now that’s another story for another day!).

Written by Linda Youcha

This story is the last in a 6-part series. Click here to read “Enchanting Little House in La Peñita: The Intro” to learn how this story came to fruition, along with other stories in this series.

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