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.

We’re not baby boomers. We’re baby zoomers. Like the Mazda ad says, “Zoom. Zoom. Zoom.” We zoom on a moving highway also known as the great wave.

I’ve been a life-long non-athlete, so what was I doing out in the ocean, body board in hand, with those huge waves pounding mercilessly towards the shore and me!? It was all at the urging of friends who said enthusiastically, and with entirely too much good cheer for my liking, “Try it. It’s fun. You’ll love it.”

“Yeah, sure, right, whatever you say.” I’d been in the ocean a few times. I knew how small I felt up to my neck in the water, the waves looming on the horizon. I knew how scared I was as they crashed over me. I knew how wildly I scrambled for shore, abandoning the water for the gentler, not to mention safer, pursuit of sea glass hunting. But, I persisted, and with the patient and cheerful coaching of my friends, learned to body board.

“Way to go,” they shouted, with each successful ride. “Way to go,” I echoed with the thrill of the second and third push that whipped me into shore. Zoom. Zoom. Zoom.

“Why aren’t you catching the waves?” my friends asked as we stood in the water with our boards a few weeks later.

“They’re not big enough.” Laughter erupted around me. I laughed with them. The cool exhilaration of boarding – an incredible gift from my friends.

The beach at Guayabitos is considered one of the best for body boarding. You will find most boarders at the north end towards the residential zone. Never board alone. Always wear water boots and a top to protect your skin from rash.

About the Author: A long time ago, I lived in Mali. Every single day, I wished I could wave a magic wand to relieve the heart wrenching poverty. My experiences there led to the writing of this story. Some aspects of “Embattled” reflect my desire to wave that wand and make the world a better place – if only wishes could come true. And of course, every novel needs its love story, so along with the sci-fi magic, I’ve added the requisite romance.

Initially, I intended to write “a” novel. The story and characters took over and the ending of “Embattled” demanded another. “Empowered” is that “other.” I’ve always believed we can’t be the only beings existing in the vastness of the universe, There must be others “out there somewhere” and I’d like to believe they’re not all that different from us. Those beliefs are reflected in my writing. My novels stay, for the most part, within the realities of our world, but I’ve found that I love the magic the sci-fi element of other beings could bring to a story. Click here to learn more about and/or purchase “Embattled” or “Empowered.”

This story was originally published June 1, 2011 on Magical Los Ayala. Darlene has written a follow-up to this story on her blog. You can read “Doing the Shuffle” here.

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

La Peñita de Jaltemba is the largest of the four towns that make up the community of Jaltemba Bay. A long, leisurely stroll up Guayabitos Beach, which lies just north of Los Ayala, will get you there. As will a short ride on the colectivo, a unique Mexican form of transportation. It’s a Volkswagen van that seats eight comfortably but rarely carries less than a dozen people. It’s worth the trip – especially on a Thursday.

La Peñita is a community in transition. It’s a town where you still might see a woebegone donkey tied in the back of a rusting pick-up truck right across the street from a ritzy Italian Restaurant.

Certainly, it has its share of fine restaurants. Gigio’s, adjacent to the town plaza, serves fine Italian fare. And then there is the Xaltemba Restaurante & Galeria next door, which is run by Eddie and Roberto, two tireless volunteers who seem to be involved in every community event going. It features fine dining and art exhibits and hosts a wide range of special events.

But it is still, above all, a working town. Along with La Colonia, it is home to the locals who work in the hotels and restaurants and stores of Guayabitos.

There are no vendors on the beach in La Peñita. Instead, pelicans dart and dive for the remnants the fishermen have left on the beach and the air is punctuated by the roar of the fishermen gunning their engines as they ram their boats as far onto the shore as they can, before tying them up to a house or a tree or, occasionally, a post on the far side of the road.

The best day of the week to visit La Peñita is Thursday: market day. The town has one of the biggest markets in the State of Nayarit. In fact, for all intents and purposes, it has two markets.

The ‘gringo’ market fills the town plaza. Vendors come from all over the country to sell blankets and table cloths and handcrafted jewellery. It is here you buy the distinctive blue goblets and jugs and water glasses from Guadalajara. Native women from up in the mountains sit behind tables laden with plates and bowls decorated with brightly painted chilli peppers or scenes of donkeys or mountains or Mexicans with big sombreros sleeping in the shade of a cactus. And everything is “almost free.”

There is a saying in Mexico that when you see something, you want, buy it or you may never see it again. It is never truer than at the market.

But it is not just souvenirs that are for sale. The smell of churros, the fried dough snack that is the Mexican equivalent of a donut, assaults the nostrils as they cook in a bubbling vat of oil. A middle-aged woman hands out samples of peanut brittle and tempts you with the aroma of fresh ground coffee. Newbies, still too timid to buy directly from the fishermen, buy shrimp from the lady with the umbrella, the umbrella designed to ensure that there is at least some ice remaining under them until the close of the market.

Nord Americanos fight with the locals for a place in line at the vegetable stand, the one that serves as the border between the ‘gringo’ market and the Mexican one.

The ‘other’ market runs south for five blocks from the plaza to Lucio Blanco. A vendor displays an eclectic collection of rusted out tools and motor parts on a blanket. You can buy fresh pineapple or papaya or watermelon in a plastic cup. An open grill cooks tacos with a meat of some description that assaults the nostrils in quite a different manner than the churros that cook on the plaza. Salsa music blares from overworked ghetto blasters as CD merchants compete for business. Sellers hawk DVDs of the latest Hollywood movies – English with Spanish sub-titles – available well before they hit the legitimate market and although the quality is generally pretty good, there is an occasional break in the action when the fellow in the row ahead gets up to go for popcorn. Everything is for sale: used cloths, birdhouses, Tupperware, cancer remedies, stuffed toys, hand-made furniture.

It may be only a hundred meters or so across the bridge that joins Guayabitos and La Peñita but, in many ways, the communities are worlds apart; the difference is as great as the gap between the two La Peñita markets.

As a working town, La Peñita de Jaltemba offers plenty of opportunities for visitors and seasonal residents who get bored with sunbathing and golf to do exactly that: work.

For those who only have a couple of days to spend in the community, there are a number of fund-raising events that take place over the winter season: the Los Amigos Fiesta, the Fashion Show, the Horseshoe Tournament, the Margarita Challenge, the Golf Tournament, Wine Tastings, and many others. They provide an opportunity not only to have fun but to contribute to the community. And they are all run entirely by volunteers.

For those who plan a longer stay, there are lots of ways to “get your hands dirty.”

Los Amigos de Jaltemba is a community service organization, comprised of both international and national members who are involved in a wide variety of projects. They run a plastics recycling program which serves all the towns of Jaltemba Bay.

Los Amigos also host clean-up days for the beach. They provide scholarships to needy students and have completed a number of construction and maintenance projects at local schools and helped to build a children’s park that is a now a focal point for community events.

Jaltemba Bay Animal Rescue runs free spay and neuter clinics, staffed almost entirely by volunteers. There is a Rotary Club that is involved in a wide variety of projects. And the Jaltemba Foundation and the McKibben Foundation collect funds from a variety of event and disburse them to worthy causes.

The reward is well worth the effort.

About the Author: “They Tore Down the Russell Hotel” is the first book by Dave Easby. Dave spends his summers in Ontario, Canada and his winters in La Peñita de Jaltemba, Nayarit, Mexico with his wife Anne and his Mexican rescue dog Amarillo.

He retired in 2005 after a thirty year career with the Canadian and New Brunswick Governments. Since much of that time was spent working on speeches and briefing notes for Ministers and other Senior Officials, he decided to try writing non-fiction for a change in his retirement years.

“They Tore Down the Russell Hotel”
Share the adventure of Dave and his wife Anne in this collection of amusing stories as they adapt to life in the enchanting Mexican town of La Peñita de Jaltemba. Click here for more information and/or to purchase the Kindle version of They Tore Down the Russell Hotel.

Article Quick Links:

This article was originally published August 1, 2010 on Magical Los Ayala under “Jaltemba Bay Articles of Interest.”

If you want to join in the fun and share your stories and photos of Jaltemba Bay, Mexico, please email them to

Ken and Bea’s love affair with Mexico started in 1992 when they won an all-Inclusive vacation at the Holiday Inn in Puerto Vallarta. It was their first visit to Mexico. They liked the people, enjoyed the weather and went home thoroughly hooked.

For the next few years their job and family commitments kept them from travelling, and their only daughter was in university and then got married in 1996. Ken and Bea both retired in 1997. But after retiring, Ken did consulting for National Research Council and Bea took a course in travel consulting. The next few years they visited 17 countries (including an African safari) and 14 Caribbean islands.

They returned to Puerto Vallarta in 1998, and being explorers at heart, one day they got on a local bus which took them to Bucerias and Punta de Mita. Bea says that back then there was only a small fishing village at Punta de Mita. However, the countryside was drop-dead gorgeous as were the beaches, and the people living in the area were incredibly friendly. It was then that they decided to plan a longer-term stay.

In 2003, they both retired (again), and moved from Ottawa, Ontario to Cobourg and built their retirement home on two acres overlooking Lake Ontario.

In 2004, they began an online search for a place which would offer an authentic Mexican experience. At that time there was not that much information available online, but they came across an advertisement on “Jaltemba Bay Folk” and “Jamie’s Board” for a bungalow available for rent in Guayabitos. The proprietor was the late Bob Howell who owned a home in the Residential Zone on the north end of Guayabitos. They rented the bungalow above Bob’s bodega. Bob was ably supported by his partner Vicky Flores (of Vicky-the-nurse-and-registered-tour-guide fame). At that time neither Ken nor Bea spoke any Spanish. The first thing Bea learned to say is, “How much is that per kilo?” Today, Ken loves to start up a conversation with any old guy with time on his hands and who looks patient. Bea knows all the important shopping phrases. Ken and Bea say the area just grew on them. Their first love was La Peñita because it was truly Mexican, and they take great pleasure in mixing with the locals who have always been welcoming.

After that first 10 week visit, they began a series of “2-3 week stays” at the Hotel Decameron Los Cocos in Rincón de Guayabitos which served as a great base from which to explore the area. The hotel provides guests with bicycles of which they took full advantage to explore every nook and cranny of the Jaltemba Bay area. To this day, they maintain friendships with many of the managers and staff of Los Cocos. Since that time Ken and Bea have enjoyed staying and vacationing in Jaltemba Bay every single year. Well almost. They missed 2009, most reluctantly, because of a family vacation in Curaçao.

Ken & Bea’s photo taken during Semana Santa – Playa Los Ayala 2011

Angels visit Jaltemba Bay

Over the years they have been involved in charity work with Nurse Vicky. They have brought school supplies, sports equipment, medical supplies, clothing and toys to distribute where she recognized the greatest need. Whenever they were in the area for Christmas, they enjoyed helping out with the annual Christmas parties hosted in a designated village. Vicky chose the village and would talk to the village chief to determine the needs and number of children and families. The parties were usually held in the schoolyard. The volunteers provided barbequed hamburgers cooked on Rocky’s industrial-sized barbeque, chips, soft drinks and Dawn Blevins’ famous potato salad – a novelty thoroughly enjoyed by all the families in attendance. Clothing was distributed, a care package from Vicky’s Dispensary was given to each family and “Santa Dan Milski” handed out gifts to all the children. They participated in the annual Christmas parties at El Divisidero, Puerto de la Lima, and most recently, Las Lomas.

Ken and Bea have accompanied Vicky on other goodwill missions to El Tonino, El Divisidero, Mesillas, Noriega, San Isidro, Las Piedras, Las Varas and other villages. One of their most memorable journeys was in the back of Brian and Dawn Blevins’ pickup truck to El Cora where Bea provided jackets and warm sweaters for the residents to stand them in good stead for their cool mountainous climate. A special treat was a visit to the waterfall and a swim in the clear waters below.

They enjoy the senior center (El Club de la Tercer Edad) in La Peñita. George Aceves does stellar work coordinating events and activities there. Bea says that it is not uncommon to see over 100 enthusiastic seniors in attendance. The local seniors enjoy participating in dancing, games, singing, feasting on good food and socializing. They are always well represented at local parades. Last year Bea attended an evening with the Mexican ladies as they celebrated International Women’s Day, and she said it was a good chance to practice her Spanish!

In the spring of this year, they volunteered time to help out with a community project initiated by George and Donna Steensma called “Project Angelina,” which involved building a brand new wheelchair-friendly house for a lovely young woman, Angelina, and her family to live in. Angelina has muscular dystrophy, and previously she and her family lived in a one room house with a dirt floor and no running water. Ken and Bea also made a donation through a church organization in Belleville, Ontario called CRUSH in order buy a refrigerator for this family.

You can read the 6 article series about Project Angelina here.

Energy to Spare

When Ken and Bea aren’t volunteering, they are probably bird watching or tramping the surrounding countryside, especially the plantations. They usually explore on foot, bicycle or via colectivo. They are avid bird watchers and nature lovers, and on every trip they take thousands of photos. Their photos are beautiful, and luckily for us, they enjoy sharing them with the community. Their bird photos are simply delightful!

Great Egret in the La Peñita rookery

View more of Ken & Bea’s bird photos and story about “Great Egrets, Boat-billed Herons and Citreoline Trogons” featured in our newsletter on August 21, 2012.

They love to get out and about, and have enjoyed visiting Tepic and the Jamurca hot springs near Las Varas with friends. Most recently they were able to visit the Monarch Butterfly wintering grounds at Chincua staying in the mountain town of Tlalpujahua. A visit to Santa Del Oro remains to be checked off their bucket list. They’ve been invited to visit ranchos by owners who see them on the road, and have written about these on Bea’s personal Blog and local forums.

Local vaqueros (cowboys) near La Piedra Bola

View Ken & Bea’s Mexican Cowboy photos and story featured in our newsletter on October 2, 2012. 

Culinary Explorations

Ken and Bea enjoy dining at small, local restaurants that are owned by Mexicans that serve traditional Mexican cuisine. They delight in buying fish and shrimp on the beach every Saturday morning. Both love homemade ice cream from Pedro and his family’s “Helados Elim” on the Avenida in la Peñita. Bea’s favorite flavor is coconut, but Ken is a chocolate chip or coffee kind of guy.

Bea enjoys cooking, and says “I think I am mastering the art of Mexican cuisine.” One dish she chooses not to tackle is Chiles Rellenos, so that is what she often orders when she dines out. Their favorite restaurants include Restaurant Pineda on the far south end of Guayabitos beach for the seafood, fajitas at Karla’s palapa beachfront restaurant in Guayabitos, Anahis Taqueria on the Avenida Sol Nuevo in Guayabitos, Irma’s in La Peñita, and of course, grabbing a bite at one of the local taco stands.

New and Lasting Friendships

Over the years, Ken and Bea have developed several local friendships, and they say that returning to Jaltemba Bay each year is almost like a “homecoming.” They adore mixing with local people, and have made many wonderful friends. They especially cherish the friendships that they have developed with the locals and NOTB visitors at the church in La Peñita. Bea says “the Mexican sun is eclipsed only by the warmth of the Mexican people.” So far they enjoyed staying in Guayabitos and in several different areas of La Peñita, and have found that each barrio has its own unique character. Perhaps next year they will choose to stay in Los Ayala!

About Ken and Bea

Originally from Winnipeg, they lived in Ottawa from 1980 to 2003, where Ken worked in the research division of Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. Bea worked as a medical technologist for 25 years before becoming a travel agent, a career she enjoyed for 7 years – especially the travel perks.

They now reside in Cobourg, Ontario a small town on Lake Ontario an hour east of Toronto, but they live in the Jaltemba Bay area, typically visiting in November and December, going home for Christmas, and returning for another visit in February or March. Twice a year, most years! A favorite time to visit is Easter, during Semana Santa. Unlike many folks, they find it invigorating!

They love to be in Jaltemba Bay area where they gear down, adjust their lifestyle and “chill.” Bea says life in Mexico is “a slow dance with its own sense of style and pace and they have learned to get in step, relax and go with the flow.” They live in the moment and enjoy the good life.

When Bea is in Ontario she stays busy by volunteering at Horizons of Friendship in Cobourg which, through monies from the Thrift Shop, supports Mexican and Central American initiatives. She also writes a nature column for Cobourg’s local newspaper.

Ken and Bea have been happily married for 42 years. If you’ve met them you would know it is a match made in heaven. They say that retirement is wonderful, but they still don’t have enough time to do everything they want to do! Well, I for one think they are doing a pretty good job of it at the moment.

Saludos Ken and Bea!

To read about other interesting folks, click on the “Meet Local Folks” link under categories.

About the Author: Christina Stobbs is a writer and photographer who lived in Los Ayala year round with her husband Robert. As a photographer, she feels fortunate to have lived in an area so rich in flora and fauna, and abundant in natural beauty. She enjoys landscape and wildlife photography, and has a fondness for pelicans. Most recently, she starting selling her photos with stock companies Dreamstime and Big Stock Photos. As a writer, she states that living in Mexico is perfect because each and every day is full of surprises.

This story was submitted by one of our regular contributors. If you want to join in and share information, stories and photos of Jaltemba Bay, Mexico, please email them to

When Romy Mora, was offered the opportunity to serve as “Juez of Los Ayala” (Judge) she decided within three minutes flat that her answer would be yes! She had no hesitation because she knew that she would be able to make a difference to the community of Los Ayala. She knew she could make a difference because she likes to see things get done, enjoys helping others and building community spirit.

And what a difference she has made! Accomplishments she is most proud of include Los Ayala’s Town Plaza, the paving of Coral Avenue with interlocking brick, and Los Ayala’s being awarded the PET (temporary employment program) for the fourth time. Because of the PET program, Los Ayala, has been able to employ 12-17 persons every summer to ensure that the estuary, streets and Los Ayala beach are kept clean.

Romy accepted the position of Juez of Los Ayala, just over two and a half years ago. She has just six months remaining in her term. When her term is finished she intends to run for the position of “Regidor” for a political party whose beliefs fit her perfectly; primarily, respect for humanity and ecology.

The primary role of the “Regidor” is to serve as a voice for the community and the municipality and to come forth with ideas and solutions. The position of Regidor also has a vote! If Romy succeeds in being elected as “Regidor” she will be serving the communities of Los Ayala, Rincón de Guayabitos, a portion of La Peñita de Jaltemba, and La Colonia. She says that one of her first goals will be to have the beaches in Jaltemba Bay certified as “Clean Beaches.” A goal that I am sure is shared, by everyone in the community of Jaltemba Bay!

Los Ayala is often described as “A small town, with a big heart,” but I suspect a more apt description is “Los Ayala is a small town who is blessed, with a Juez with a big heart.”

Fun “Romy” Facts

  • Born and raised in Tepic, the capital of Nayarit
  • She grew up playing on Los Ayala beach, as her family owned a vacation home in Los Ayala, forty-two years ago
  • She has lived in Los Ayala on a full-time basis for twelve years
  • She is married to a charming Canadian man, has two beautiful children and an adorable dog
  • She loves fashion, especially shoes but she will not reveal just how many pairs of shoes she owns
  • She is studying to be a Notario
  • Favorite Food: Mexican & Italian
  • Favorite Activities: Watching movies with the children
  • Favorite Movies: “The Notebook” and “The Last of the Mohicans” the latter which she has seen fifteen times and she still cries at the ending.

In the Fall of 2011, Romy was elected to the position of Regidora for Jaltemba Bay and she graduated with her degree in law in the summer of 2012. Miguel Sillas, is now serving as Juez of Los Ayala.

Congratulations to both!

This article was originally published January 1, 2011 on Magical Los Ayala.

Last hot, hot summer, Bruce and I took up on an invite from Lenor and Terry Coomber to join with Dawn and Brian Blevings for a trip to the swimming holes up El Monteón Creek. We had a nice day bobbing around in one of the many pools that people have scooped out of the gravel creek-bed. We gorged from coolers full of snacks and icy beverages. We napped on big sunny boulders and marveled at the variety of butterflies that came fluttering by us. This creek, running cool and clear through the thick, tropical forest seemed to invite further upstream exploration, but it would be several months before I returned.

Lately, I have been up this creek several times, showing it to other people. It seems like it is a little-known destination among the expats, but it is well known to the locals who pack family and friends into the series of pools to cool off in the summer.


Regrettably, it is hard to ignore the litter that is everywhere. A few days ago, Susan Schrandt and I were up this creek for a light hike and some photos. We talked about how we have become somewhat desensitized to the trash that seems omnipresent. We talked about how easy it has become to ignore in our urban environment. But up here, with such a rich natural beauty, the litter has a harsh and intentional presence.

For me, showing-off our area to first timers is one of the great joys of living here. Last week, friends from Montana that I had not seen for 30 years were here to scope out our area. I took them up El Monteón Creek and of course, they really enjoyed it. On the way back, just idling along in the Jeep, we stopped several times to watch and listen to the song birds in the fields. We noted a weird looking tree off in a pasture. It had big, gnarly branches, no leaves, and a few big puffy balls that looked like white cotton candy.

From somewhere in the back of my mind, I remembered Mary Alice Ranta telling me about the kapok tree. Sure enough, this is what we were looking at (top photo).


We walked out in the pasture for a closer look. This tree has a thick, brutish, thorny trunk. All stages of the reproductive scheme are displayed at once: weird fruits or primitive flowers, big, heavy, woody seed pods, and the amazing clouds of fluff, drying in the hot sun and just waiting for a whiff of a breeze to carry the heavy black seeds to new ground. I gathered a few pod segments from under the tree and collected one whole pod that had not yet opened.

I kept the unripened pod on my desk for a few days (middle photo). Gradually, it started to split open and the five woody segments parted from each other, exposing the damp, tightly packed fluff inside. Within just a few hours, the fluff started to dry and expand. It was easy to imagine the mess I was going to have in my studio if I did not discard the whole works before it fluffed out completely.

I have the tip of one of these pod segments that I sawed off (right photo). I carry it around in my pocket. Rubbing it with my thumb brings out a nice, low luster. I enjoy looking at the patina on this pod. I might design it into a pendant or brooch.


A couple of days ago, I headed up El Monteón Creek again, this time by myself. I had a light day pack with some essentials, my little digital camera and a light-weight tripod. When I returned home, I had a few photos that I was pleased with. I published a few to my bulletin board and a few people commented. A person named Kim asked where I had been hiking and taking the photos.

I would like to respond to Kim, but first, let me talk just a bit about The Dump Road. There are so many different ways to get on this road from the north end, it would be best to learn about it first, by getting on at the south end where it joins Highway 200, north of El Monteón.

There can be a bit of danger if you are southbound on Highway 200 and want to get on the Dump Road. (There is a new interchange being built there right now, so this information will be obsolete soon.) For now, it is a bit dangerous to make a left turn off the highway.

Seasoned drivers in Mexico will know this dangerous scenario… In this case, you are southbound on a two lane highway with no shoulder. You know that you want to turn left onto a somewhat obscure road. The road you want to turn onto might not be apparent to following traffic. You slow down and turn on your left turn signal. If there is following traffic, they will either think you are planning to make a left turn (onto a road that they might not discern) or they will think that your turn signal is indicating to them that it okay with you for them to pass you on the left. For NOTB drivers, this can get hairy. In this scenario, if you know there is no oncoming traffic, it is best for you to move into the northbound lane, blocking anyone from passing you on the left while you slow down and eventually make your left turn.

Best remedy for this situation is to continue to a point where it is safe for you to pull off on the right, wait for traffic to clear and then come back northbound and make your exit to the right.

The Dump Road is a wonderful, short diversion that will get you and your friends into the countryside, into agricultural fields, see some birdlife and of course, see our dump. Except at our dump, nowhere will you see such a thick concentration of vultures. Mercifully, the breeze is almost always in the favor of the drive-by sightseers.

Between the Jaltemba Bay Area and the dump, you will probably encounter other vehicles, horseback riders and agricultural machinery. But south of the dump, I have never come across another vehicle. It is a very lightly traveled road. It is an excellent bike route.


Hia Kim…

Where was I hiking, you ask? Well, a couple of times, I was not 100% certain.

I am not the type to try to keep secret places, but I would like to say a few things about caution in the wilderness, before I encourage anyone to retrace my steps.

Some experts say, if you are hopelessly lost, stay put in one spot, start a fire and let your rescuers find you. Remember, I am not an expert, but I cannot see myself doing that.

If you get lost and walk persistently downhill you will find a stream. If you go with the flow and follow it downstream, there is an absolute dead certainty that this will eventually get you to the ocean. Most likely, you will find civilization, long before you reach the ocean.

Let someone know where you are headed, especially if you are hiking solo. Bring a cell phone. If you change your plan, phone someone and let them know.

Always bring a bottle of water, and a means to start a fire, and don’t eat all of your snacks. There are lots of other considerations and schools of thought, but the basic idea is to be prepared to be delayed finding your way back to your nice, cozy vehicle.

I am not an expert. Please do get expert advice before tramping off solo into the hills without trails.

In this Google Earth image, the edge of the village of El Monteón is on the far left near the top. Highway 200 is cutting across the top left corner. Intersecting Highway 200 is what I will call El Monteón Creek, (though I have come to know that the more accurate name is Rio Huanacaxtle) running diagonally from the bottom right towards El Monteón at the top left.

Just north of where the creek runs under Highway 200 you can see another road coming straight in from the east, ending at an acute angle with Highway 200. Actually, this is the old highway route, before 200 and what some now call The Dump Road. If you are in La Peñita and drive to the dump that is in the countryside to the east of La Peñita/Rincón de Guayabitos, and continue by the dump, you will come out at Highway 200, in this little triangular intersection, just north of where El Monteón Creek goes under the highway.

Got that? This intersection is near kilometer post 100 of Highway 200 and very near where there is something new being built on the east side of the highway: a new Pemex station, from what I hear.

I have driven several visitors on this dump road this winter. It is short and sweet with a chance to see some of our nice agricultural areas, quite a bit of bird life and some flora.

Also at this triangular intersection is a road that takes off from Highway 200 and runs parallel, on the north side of El Monteón Creek. (You can easily see the creek bed in the satellite image but you cannot see it from the road until you are way back in there.)

To turn off The Dump road onto this El Monteón Creek Road, you take a hard left just before you reach Highway 200. To turn onto this El Monteón Creek Road from the highway, you really have to be paying attention to following cars that might take your left turn signal to mean that they should pass you, and also watch for oncoming, northbound traffic. If you are unsure of yourself, best to continue south on the highway to the El Monteón turn off, turn around, and come back north.

The El Monteón Creek Road is a decent back country farm road and some regular passenger vehicles might be able to make it without bottoming out. I used the “Add a Path” feature on Google Earth to trace the road from the highway to the parking place and the trail beyond to the derelict mango orchard. After that, there is no trail.

Note that the road runs along north of the creek and bends south, towards the creek after passing the kapok pasture on your right. You will not see the creek until you are at the parking area. You will see a lot of trash where others have parked and partied and enjoyed the pools.

It is possible to ford the creek and drive a bit further but there really is no need and the road gets rough in a hurry. The walking is great, either up the creek bed or along the old roadbed. As you walk, you will now be on the south side of the creek. If you refer to the Google Earth image, you will see that not too far upstream, you will find yourself in an old mango grove.


Up until this point, the hike is mellow and easy. Now, from the mango orchard, no matter which way you go (except back) you will have a much tougher go of it. At this point, I turned almost due south and started walking up the steep ridge that runs along the west side of the creek. Very soon, the creek was way down in the valley. I could sometimes hear it and use it to keep my bearings.

I got caught in four very heavy rainfalls. When I got home, I was surprised to learn from Bruce that it had not rained at all in La Peñita.

There are no real trails up on these ridges. There are many cow trails that sometimes go off in a useful direction, then eventually peter out. If not for the cows, this country would be almost impenetrable. This area is heavily forested and there are vines criss-crossing everywhere. Many of the trees and bushes have thorns and spikes. The vines do not break away when you try to power through them. This is a sort of hiking that is totally unlike what this Montana boy is used to.

After living here full time for over two years, I am becoming more accustomed to tropical flora and fauna, but still, all these varieties of birds, trees and other plants seem so foreign, exotic, and exciting to me. Sitting and listening to the birds all around chirping, cooing, honking, twittering, whistling, and screeching is a real treat. A special treat was being mostly unobserved among two big flocks of green parrots. It would be fun to get a better look at them but they are very shy and hang mostly in the forest canopy.

Bird watchers would go nuts up there. If a person wanted to just sit in one spot, I am sure the many species I saw would come by, working their ways across the flanks of these ridges.

This was my first strenuous hike in Mexico as a new, non-smoker. I really felt good climbing higher and higher. Coming into one clearing, I was surprised to be high enough to see over the lower hills and get a view of Jaltemba Bay, our beloved island and the little island alongside.

I took my time and took lots of photos off my tripod. The combination of overcast skies, diffused light, and wet foliage enabled me to get some richly colored shots that I am pleased with.

At one point I stopped for a rest and leaned my tripod against a tree. The tree was hollow and the tripod hitting it made an empty-sounding thump. Almost right away, I heard a noise that seemed to be coming from far away or deep inside. Was it a buzzing noise? Was it more of a deep vibration? It grew louder as it seemed to grow closer. At one point I thought it might be a swarm of bees. The thought of being discovered by killer bees concerned me and I looked around for a good route to run off on. After a few seconds, the sound seemed more like a waterfall. I must say, I was freaky-frightened, mostly because I could not figure out what it was and it was growing louder by the second, like it was really coming at me. It turned out to be another ferocious rain shower, coming over the ridge. I have never heard rain coming from so far away, in such a quiet jungle/forest. That was a scary thrill.

Hiking without trails is not for everyone. The landscape and topography of this area is very different from what most of us are used to. I am more accustomed to the ridges, peaks and valleys of the Rocky Mountains, formed by glaciers, rivers and fault lines. In this part of Mexico, almost all of the geographical features were formed by volcanic actions. So much of what we see does not make sense to those who are used to tramping about in the wilderness up north. In these circumstances, even a short and casual afternoon hike can go bad if you lose your bearings.

Heading back downhill was the hardest part of my hike. I tried to retrace the route I took to go up, but I saw nothing that looked familiar on the way down and it seemed like there were far fewer good cow paths to go on. I fell a few times and ripped the butt out of my jeans. Although I could not “see out” for the last half of the trip down, I did manage to come out at the mango orchard again. Instead of hugging the creek bed, I went a bit higher and paralleled the creek. I overshot the place where my Jeep was parked but not by much.

I was pretty much totally soaked in sweat and rain and mud but a very happy hiker when it was all said and done. I have a new feel for what this terrain is like and I am anxious to get back out there and learn more about this particular area; very wild but also so close to us on Jaltemba Bay.


In our area, because of our climate, it is not always comfortable to wear a lot of clothing. But on this hike, it was a dark and cool day. I wore heavy jeans, socks and ankle-high hiking boots and a T shirt. At one point early in my hike, I did notice that I had attracted a pretty good cloud of tiny, airborne pests. I took a break to spray down with Autan. Autan works well for mosquitos and black gnats (jejenes). I did not know at the time that I was also being assaulted by chiggers. It takes a day or two before the red itchy welts appear. Some people are driven nearly insane from the intense itching. Even though I had hundreds of the welts occur on my arms and legs, I was able to control the itching by taking a shower and occasionally using calamine lotion.

The next time I go off crashing through heavy brush for a few hours, I am going to try spraying my clothing very heavily with Autan. If this doesn’t at least limit the bites, then the chiggers might win this war. I am guessing that their advantage would be greatly decreased by sticking to paths, trails, roadways and dry creek beds.

About the Author: Tom Plattenberger and his partner Bruce are full-time residents of La Peñita. Tom founded Jaltemba Bay Folk in 2000 and retired from that pursuit in 2010. Art, design, photography, biking and writing are the blurry focus of Tom’s life of leisure. He sometimes escapes his cluttered home studio in his Jeep, exploring the backroads inland of Highway 200.

This story was originally published February 2010 on Magical Los Ayala under “Jaltemba Bay Articles of Interest.”

If you want to join in the fun and share your stories and photos of Jaltemba Bay, Mexico, please email them to

Rincón de Guayabitos is a small colorful beach resort tucked up in a corner (rincón) of Jaltemba Bay, a stretch of the Pacific Coast of Mexico known for it’s wide sandy beach and waves that lap more often than they lunge. Everyone heads for the water in Guayabitos with no fear of being pummeled or drug out to sea. They romp around with giant inflatable dinosaurs and lobsters, eat barbeque shrimp on a stick, bury each other in sand piles flourished with anatomically enhanced body parts, and generally enjoy being with family in a tropical paradise free from city pressures.

It never fails. If I start making conversation with a cab driver in Guadalajara or a shopkeeper in Mexico City and mention where I live, I always get a similar response.

“Aaaay. Guaya-beeeee-tos” A smile. Then a faraway look in the eyes, unmistakable, even in a rearview mirror. An explanation usually follows:

“Conocí a mi esposa en Guayabitos. Alli en la playa.” I met my wife in Guayabitos – right there on the beach.

“Ay! Pasamos la luna de miel en Guayabitos.” We spent our honeymoon in Guayabitos.

“Muy tranquilo, Guayabitos.” Yes. Guayabitos IS muy tranquilo. Very quiet indeed.

Except after ten o’clock on weekends and any time during holidays, like Semana Santa, the raucous anything-but-reverent “Holy Week” that precedes Easter. Or from December 11 to January 6, which starts with the Virgin of Guadalupe and ends up with the Three Kings. Or the first two weeks in May when locals celebrate mothers, children, the Virgin of Talpa, carpenters and victory over the French, with varying degrees of fireworks, flags and trumpets. Or the motorcycle extravaganza in June. Or the Volkswagen convergence that seems to pop up as erratically as bugs are wont to do. And there’s always July and August when most Mexicans take a summer vacation and head for the beach.

Perhaps it is a function of climate that outdoor concerts begin promptly at the moment most gringos are moving into that profoundly deep sleep that comes after a long day of sun-soaked recreation and a heavier evening meal than any Mexican would ever consider. It’s usually just before midnight that the frenzied, dissonant strains (in every sense of the word) crash up and out into the tropical night, usually punctuated by a prolonged and exuberant aaaaaaayeeeeeeee! Lie back and enjoy it, or get some earplugs.

After all, by three o’clock usually everything quiets down. By six o’clock, depending on the season, the sunrise, and the tide, you can be out with the rest of the world taking a morning constitutional along the thoroughfare of hard sand that stretches from the boat launch near Latitude 21 on the south northward to the banks of the stream that separates Guayabitos from the market town of La Peñita. That’s where the Virgin of Guadalupe keeps watch, her painted concrete image set up at the end of a short jetty which defines the entrance to the river. If, by chance, you live next to that river entrance (as I do), and if by chance you finally fell asleep by three o’clock when the banda music stopped, you just might be awakened by the fishing boats that usually leave at that early hour. You’ll recognize the sound of revving engines, building up the speed to make it over the sand bar, accompanied by shouts of victory when the task is accomplished. The inscription on the base of the Virgin’s statue blesses all the “nabegantes” (a phonetic rendering of navegantes) who set to sea from the river mouth. I’m grateful her blessing on them is constant. Some times mine isn’t.

But a sunrise walk on the beach, or through the cobblestone streets of the Zona Residential or out along the smooth brick surface of Avenida Sol Nuevo will usually dissipate any early morning grumpiness. In Mexico, some tree is always making a spectacle of itself, whether it’s the delicate pale pink of rosa morada, the bright lemon yellow of the primavera, the deep purple of jacaranda, or the fiery passionate orange of the tabachine. All of them parade their colors against a many-hued green background of palms, vines, figs and towering huanacaxtle trees.

The Municipal Ecological Park stretches along one side of Sol Nuevo. It’s a popular place to walk, run or jog in the morning. There you can greet neighbors and vacationing visitors, as well as professionals from La Peñita, usually clad in stylish running suits, ear buds firmly in place,. You can tell when the temperature drops below 70 F/20 C. The locals don gloves, breathe into their palms to warm their faces, and pull up their hoodies. Smile and say buenos dias. It is as expected as the sunrise, even with wires in your ears.

Not everyone on Sol Nuevo is there for recreation. The Bridge of Life was constructed by residents of the Zona Residential as a response to the large number of accidents resulting in injuries and deaths experienced by the people in La Peñita who go each day to jobs in Guayabitos. Before the Bridge of Life, the only way to get from one town to the other was by the highway. Now every day maids, gardeners, kitchen help, construction workers, maintenance crews and vendors cross the wood-planked suspension bridge anchored on each shore of the river that runs between the two towns. La Peñita and Guayabitos are one symbiotic economic unit; each needs the other, and the Bridge of Life is the pedestrian artery that holds them together.

The artery works for tourists, as well. Visitors to Guayabitos often need services offered only in La Peñita. That’s where you can get keys made, buy hardware, find clothing that isn’t beachwear, go to the dentist. Go to the market! No trip to Guayabitos would be complete without a visit to the Thursday morning tianguis in the main square of the market town across the river. Crossing the Bridge of Life, Avenida Sol Nuevo becomes Bahia Banderas in La Peñita. Following it will eventually lead you to the main avenue of the market town. Turn left and head toward the ocean. Another left at the head of the Avenida (in front of the restaurant of the same name) will take you right into the action.

The Bridge of Life is NOT supported by any governmental agency. While its construction was a gift to the community, its maintenance is a community effort. So on Thursday mornings during high season as you cross the bridge, put some coins – or bills – into the cup held out by a volunteer. Better yet, if you’re staying for a few months, or even a few weeks, find out how you can volunteer in some way. There are myriad ways to become part of the community. It will only make you appreciate the beauties of Guaya-beee-tos even more.

About the Author: Susan J. Cobb has toured extensively throughout the United States and Mexico, speaking on practical spirituality and the role of women in religion. Also a well-known author of inspirational articles, Cobb makes her first foray into books with Virgin Territory. She lives with her husband in Mexico.

Susan J. Cobb is the author of “Virgin Territory: How I Found My Inner Guadalupe” and founder of “Writers Who Love Mexico“. Click here for more information and/or to purchase Virgin Territory: How I Found My Inner Guadalupe.

This article was originally published July 1, 2010 on Magical Los Ayala under “Jaltemba Bay Articles of Interest.” Photos by Christina Stobbs.

If you want to join in the fun and share your stories and photos of Jaltemba Bay, Mexico, please email them to

The rainy season has arrived. The dusty palms are washed. The jungle and orchards display their splendor of color and fruit. All is fresh again.

The large potholes provide the adventure of driving through to find their bottom. So far they all have one.

The rainy season has arrived. With it comes the jungle sounds, First soft morning rain, the sound of birds, The warm humid air. We all perspire and glow.

The rainy season has arrived. The soaring birds sailing over jungle and ocean in an effortless glide seeking updrafts. Pelicans, buzzards and the magnificent frigate bird. An amazement to watch and to dream.

The rainy season has arrived. The pacific sky, clear, then the puffy clouds, the storm clouds with their display of light and noise that blend with and touch the ocean.

The majestic sunsets. Each a spectacle of awe and beauty. as the bright golden sun sinks on the horizon as it travels further westward.

The rainy season has arrived. At night an orchestra of the most unusual sounds. A continuous shrill whistle as that of a boiling kettle.

The tooting of a toy horn in perfect cadence. One toot after another. Toot, toot, toot, toot.

The sound of the cranking of an old car. It never starts. Late into the night. Late into the night. The rainy season has arrived.

Written by BK Barringer, Casa Carolina, Chacala

About the Author: BK Barringer is a retired professional Civil Engineer, who enjoys working with the locals in Chacala on numerous projects. Presently, he is working with locals to complete the Stadium portion and the landscaping and irrigation of the new Chacala Park.

Recently, he helped Jose Enrique de Valle, President of the Citizens Action Committee in Chacala and owner of the Mahajua Resort and Spa, with the Clean Beach Certification project for Chacala. Chacala was Nationally Certified as a clean beach in August of 2011 and is now working on a recreational park! BK states that a lot of the credit goes to Jose for heading up these projects, and that Jose somehow always gets him involved.

BK is also highly involved in the Rotary Clubs projects, to improve the schools in La Peñita, Chacala and Zacualpan. He states that somehow, he always stays busy.

BK tells people that “I get up in the morning with nothing to do and when I go to bed at night, I only got half of it done!”

This poem was originally published September 1, 2011 on Magical Los Ayala under “Jaltemba Bay Articles of Interest.”

Most people, who enjoy a “Place in the Sun” in the tropical paradise of the community of Jaltemba Bay, are part-time residents who typically return home for the months of April through November. As this time period covers the hot and humid, rainy season there are several important factors to consider in the care of your home and property. These factors include, but are not limited to; security, heat, humidity, rain, insects, grounds and pool maintenance.

The effects of the rains and humidity are the primary concerns for the care of your home and property during the rainy season. Primarily, cue to these two factors, I recommend that one have a reliable person who can be counted on to check their premises, twice and preferably three times per week. One needs to be sure that they can rely on this person, or they may return to their “Place in the Sun” to find that it has been reclaimed by the jungle or adversely affected by the forces of nature.

The Basics

Your home should be aired out completely, for at least eight hours, a minimum of two times per week; and ideally three times a week, in order to prevent the growth of mold and mildew. Before you depart it is advised that any articles of clothing, and items such as linens and towels be spread out in your closet; leaving the closet doors and dresser open especially if they do not have ventilation built in. While you can use products such as DRY RID, it has been my experience that these, recommended to last forty five days or more, do in fact require replacing within one week of installation. I find also that a well placed fan, directed into cloths closets and used twice per week provides excellent protection.

Mold and mildew will also grow in kitchen cupboards where dishes and pots & pans are stored and for this reason it is also recommended to keep cupboard doors open. No perishable food should be left in your home under any circumstances. Dried foods such as flour, cereal, sugar, and spices, if left at all, should be stored in airtight containers. Before you depart, wash refrigerators and freezers with chlorine and water; and leave empty. Disconnect the power and leave doors propped open. Do not store any items in plastic bags or closed plastic bins as they encourage growth of mold and mildew. Similarly, it is not recommended to use cardboard and paper boxes to store items as they attract insects.

Throughout the rainy season, most patios and terraces need to be power washed every three weeks to prevent mold and mildew growth. If left unattended, patios and terraces will eventually turn black with mold and this can be very difficult to remove. Some tiles are more resistant to mold and mildew growth, but in general I find that cement patios and patios tiled with those beautiful but porous Mexican tiles are very susceptible to mold and mildew. Sealing the tiles on your patio will help minimize this.

If your home is to be vacant for extended periods of time, close all valves which allow water into your toilets, showers and sinks. It may be a good idea to close the primary valve that allows water into your house if you have one. In addition, remember cut off the flow of gas to your house at the tank. Only your electricity should be functioning during your absence so as to provide security, lighting and power in case of emergencies.

In regards to security, any articles of value left behind should be locked away or hidden well out of sight to discourage opportunists. Ideally one will invest in a timed lighting system, to help give your home a lived in look. The grounds surrounding your home should be swept clear of plant foliage, coconuts and palm fronds, dead insects and what not, on a weekly basis, and mail boxes emptied on a regular basis.

Pools and Water Features

Small water features should be drained and left dry, and preferably covered to prevent rain water from accumulating and providing a breeding ground for mosquitoes.

Swimming pools, in my opinion should be left with water in them, vacuumed and treated two to three times per week to maintain water quality and prevent those pesky mosquitoes, land crabs and frogs from taking up residence as they do so often in standing water.

If you decide to leave your pool empty, there are some points that you should be aware of and they are as follows:

  1. Left empty during periods of very heavy rains, the water table may rise; and if an in ground pool, the pressure may crack the pool foundation.
  2. The tiles in your pool may be affected by periods of high temperatures and excessive sun, resulting in tiles popping out of the pool walls and floor.
  3. Covering an empty pool is not recommended as eventually rain water will end up in the bottom of your pool and stagnate there. This will lead to algae growth and if left unattended too long will destroy the grout between your tiles. Overall the cost of pool maintenance during your absence will be far less than the cost of repairs to a damaged pool.

Preventing Water Damage

Roof drains and eves should be cleaned of debris before you depart and checked on a monthly basis until the rainy season begins in earnest. Once the rainy season begins, it is best to have your property visually inspected for leaks and possible water damage, at least once per week.

Gardens and Grounds

As for your beloved Gardens, you should arrange to have all plants watered two to three times per week before the rainy season begins and again when it ends. Be sure to have all your plants cut back around the second week in June as when the rains begin these will experience phenomenal growth leading to the “Dreaded Abandoned House” appearance.

In addition, any plants that are close to the walls of your house, will give off moisture and oxygen, which resulting in mold and bacteria growth on the walls. You may have seen this as black spotty patches on walls directly behind leafy plants. While this can sometimes be washed off with bleach and water, more often than not it is necessary to scrub and repaint the wall.

During the rainy season, most trees and plants need to be trimmed on a monthly basis. Grounds and planters should be weeded on a regular basis, and if you have a mango or other fruit trees, the ripened fruit needs will need to be cleared from patios and grounds. Coconut palms are in a class of their own and home owners should be aware that the heavy palm fronds and coconuts can damage a home if not tended to on a regular basis.

Insect Infestations

Along with the advent of the rainy season arrive many different and unusual insects and bugs that are not normally in evidence during the dry season. At the beginning of the rainy season, swarms of dying termites and big bottomed ants are typical, as are an abundance of ants and pill bugs – all with a knack of finding their way into your home. For this reason I would recommend that you arrange to have your property fumigated once a month outside and once every three months inside.

Geckos are cute but their droppings are not, so be sure to cover all furniture and bedding with old sheets and drop clothes to avoid staining by gecko droppings. On a similar topic, leave lights on in dark alcoves and overhangs to prevent bat droppings accumulating. In my experience the outside surrounding grounds and doorways need to be swept clear of insects, etc a minimum of two times a week to prevent. Window sills also need to be cleaned and cleared of insects and droppings on a regular basis.


Caring for your home in the rainy season is far more challenging then during the dry season, and no doubt may seem a bit daunting to some of you, but it can be easily accomplished by having those two or three regular weekly visits to your property either by a well trusted friend, or better by a reputable property management company, recommended by your friends or neighbors. Ideally we would all have a caretaker living on site, or a reliable house sitter to care for their homes on a daily basis. However, if this is not the case, consider using the services of a property management company to care for your home and property during your absence. Generally you will have better results from a property management company, because you are paying them for their services and they will have an interest in your satisfaction, recommendation and repeat business.

Written by Robert Stobbs

About the Author: Robert Stobbs owns and operates TMH Property Management, serving homes in Jaltemba Bay including Los Ayala, Rincón de Guayabitos and La Peñita. For more information or a consultation, visit the TMH Property Management website.

This article was originally published September 1, 2010 on Magical Los Ayala under “Jaltemba Bay Articles of Interest.” Photos by Christina Stobbs.

Allyson and I are both delighted to say… Its official, Magical Los Ayala has merged with Jaltemba Bay Life!

As part of the merge, Jaltemba Bay Life will be uploading all the special stories, photos, history, and important information from Magical Los Ayala onto their web site. Yes, Local Folks, Magical Moments, Past Event Photos, and a Step Back in Time along with Los Ayala’s Photo History will be preserved! They have also created a special section especially for Los Ayala which will feature information from Magical Los Ayala exclusively.

I chose to merge Magical Los Ayala with Jaltemba Bay Life, because maintaining the website was consuming all of my time and I had no time or energy left to pursue my original goal of “Writing My First Book” and my new found passion, photography.

I think highly of the Jaltemba Bay Life website, and I believe that it is a perfect fit with Magical Los Ayala. I have every confidence that the merge is for the good of Los Ayala as well as the greater community of Jaltemba Bay! Each of the towns in Jaltemba Bay, is unique and special in their own way, but in the bigger picture the four towns form one community, supporting each other.

I am also delighted to announce that as part of the merge, I will be joining the Jaltemba Bay Life Team on a very part time basis, as a contributor. As such I will continue to share stories about Local Folks and photos representing Magical Moments, in the Jaltemba Bay Life newsletter. Of course, now, they will be known as “Meet Local Folks,” and “Photo of the Week” which will represent a Magical, or perhaps enchanting, Moments in Jaltemba Bay.

In terms of Magical Los Ayala, please be assured that the website will be up and running until February 2013. However, all the new information and news will be posted on Jaltemba Bay Life from here on in.

All current ads on Magical Los Ayala will remain there until February 2013. These ads will also be featured on the larger Jaltemba Bay Life site and newsletter at no cost, and will run until their expiration date on Magical Los Ayala. These advertisers will also have an opportunity to renew their ads with Jaltemba Bay Life at a special rate.

Thank you for supporting Magical Los Ayala. Please give Jaltemba Bay Life your full support, and continue to share news and photos from Los Ayala with us! On that note, I’m seeking “Photos of the Week” and people to interview for Meet Local Folks! If you would like to share a photo and/or your story please send me an email at

Christina Stobbs

Authors Note

Sad Farewells…
It has been a wonderful experience creating the website and sharing all the community information and events; Local Folks, and featuring photos of Magical Moments in Los Ayala. It has truly been a privilege to work with Romy Mora, Regidora, Jaltemba Bay and Miguel Sillas, Juez of Los Ayala, and being part of making a difference in the community of Los Ayala.

On that note, I hope everyone enjoys my contributions to Jaltemba Bay Life, and I hope to hear from lots of folks interested in sharing their stories and photos! Thanks a bunch.

I took this photo of this beautiful horse, ten minutes south of Los Ayala while on a horseback riding excursion to a nearby waterfall for a swim.

Photo by Christopher Morse, an avid photographer from Fairbanks, Alaska who enjoys vacationing in Jaltemba Bay.

This photo represents a “Magical Moment” in Los Ayala, Nayarit, Mexico.

Brown Pelican landing on Los Ayala Beach, with panache! I love trying to capture the grace, beauty, and often comical antics, of pelicans in action!

Originally published in “Magical Moments” on Magical Los Ayala.

At the time of publication, Teresa Garcia was 83 years of age. Teresa attributes her good health to a healthy diet consisting primarily of fish, fresh fruits and vegetables; daily walks and regular vacations in Los Ayala.

Teresa is from Guadaljara, Jalisco and has enjoyed the luxury of owning a vacation home in Los Ayala, Nayarit for the past twenty two years. She is quick to confirm that the slow paced leisurely lifestyle here is probably major factor in her good health and youthful looks!

Teresa Garcia purchased a vacation home in Los Ayala primarily because of the beach. She loves Los Ayala beach because the ocean waters are shallow, tranquil and safe for non-swimmers and children, and the fact that the waves are rarely large. She also enjoys Los Ayala because it is quiet and not too, crowded. Teresa has nine children, 30 to 58 years of age at the time of writing; four girls and five boys. Her children also enjoy regular vacations in Los Ayala but they prefer to stay at one of the beachfront hotels.

While enjoying vacation in Los Ayala, Teresa enjoys shopping in La Penita and she especially likes to visit Guayabitos to shop and to spend some time at the beach. She loves Jaltemba Bay area primarily because of all the beautiful beaches, and she especially likes to spend the day at the Punta Raza and Boca de Narjanja Beaches.

Teresa Garcia loves to cook and enjoys making dishes with the abundance of fresh fruit, vegies and fish so plentiful in Jaltemba Bay. Her favourite restaurant in Los Ayala is ” Boca del Rio” on Los Ayala beach. Her favourite dish at Boca del Rio, is Pescado Zarandeado, a traditional grilled fish dish found in this area of Pacific Mexico.

Teresa was married for fifty years to the love of her life “Roberto Lopez” who passed away. Tersea and Roberto celebrated both their silver (25 years) and golden (50 years) anniversary by getting renewing their vows on both occasions. Teresa advised me that renewing your wedding vows at both 25 and 50 year milestone, with a special ceremony is a special Mexican tradition. Roberto Lopez is sadly missed by Teresa and family, but they enjoy many special, memories which they are fond of sharing when they visit Los Ayala on vacation.

Teresa owns and operates the vacation home “Casa La Palapa,” a charming, three bedroom vacation home located just two short blocks from Los Ayala beach.

Senora Guadalupe Teresa Pena Garcia
Los Ayala, Nayarit, Mexico

This story was originally published in “Local Folks” on Magical Los Ayala.

Lone Palm Set Off by a Simply Stunning Los Ayala Sky.

Photo by Heidi Banks, an avid photographer and fan of Los Ayala. Heidi and her family enjoy vacation and spending some time in Los Ayala every winter. Originally published in “Magical Moments” on Magical Los Ayala.

On Wednesday, January 11, 2011 a community meeting was held in Los Ayala’s Town Plaza to discuss the the plan, to raise the funds needed to replace the existing sewage piping, for the transfer of waste from Los Ayala to the pumping station located in the area of Vista Guayabitos.

The meeting was called by Romy Mora, Regidor of Jaltemba Bay and Miguel Sillas, Juez of Los Ayala to express the importance and the urgent need for the piping to be replaced before Semana Santa 2012. In attendance to explain the details were Julio Gonzales, Head of Siapa, Julio Gonzales, Gabriel Meza, Boss of Siapa Jaltemba Bay, and several members of the Siapa team who drove here from the city of Compostela.

Gabriel Meza explained that existing eight inch sewer pipe of R26 thickness installed in Los Ayala in 2000 needs to be replaced with a 12 inch pipe of R32 thickness. Los Ayala has been growing at a rate of ~ 30% a year versus an ~ average of 6% in the neighbouring towns of Jaltemba Bay. The existing piping is in poor condition, and can no longer accommodate the needs of our small, but growing town, especially during busy holiday periods. In addition, the tree roots running down the center median of Bahia de Banderas are penetrating the existing too, thin piping, resulting in leaks and breaks in the pipes are occurring more and more, frequently. Julio Gonzelas explained that because of the current state of the piping the repairs rendered by Siapa are about as effective as treating the pipes with aspirin. Frankly, the piping need to be replaced, at an estimated cost of ~ 1,200,000 pesos. (versus the $1,000,000 pesos reported in the February Los Ayala News)

In summary, the community of Los Ayala needs to raise ~ $250,000 pesos which is approximately 25% of the projected cost. The monies we raise will be matched from the Mexican Governments “3 for 1 Program.” The federal government will cover 25% of the cost; the state (Nayarit) government will cover 25% of the cost; the municipal government will cover 25% of the cost. As with the “3 for 1 Program,” that resulted in Los Ayala’s Town Plaza, if we raise $250,000 pesos the “3 for 1 Program” will match the funds we raise, translating into $1,000,000 pesos for the community of Los Ayala!

Property owners in Los Ayala will be assessed with a one time tax (expected to be around $2,300 pesos); and hotels and bungalows will likely be serviced with an additional tax based on the number of rooms. The assessment amount will be announced this Friday, in the Town Plaza at the Three Kings Day Celebration which starts at 6 p.m.

A few attendees expressed concerns about the roads not being done first, and Romy Mora explained that replacing the existing piping has taken priority over the road improvement project in Los Ayala. She also explained that it does not make fiscal sense to pave the roads in Los Ayala with interlocking brick, only to have to tear them up again to install new piping. A couple of bungalow owners expressed their concern with being assessed, primarily because they do not the means to pay an assessment.

As I know that Los Ayala will be asking the community of Jaltemba Bay to support the Mexican Fiesta we will be hosting to raise funds for the project, I asked what the future plans were to improve and repair the aging infrastructure in the neighbouring towns of Jaltemba Bay, and was advised by members of the Siappa team that at $10,000,000 peso project is in the works, for which a request will be put forth to the Federal Government for funding. Gabriel Meza, also advised (See Los Ayala News 2012) that all twelve pumping stations in Jaltemba Bay will be replaced.

Towards the end of the meeting, Romy Mora explained to attendees that replacing the existing infrastructure, is not a matter of choice; the monies needed to be raised; and that this project is essential. She asked everyone for their full support and advised attendees that, nothing will be done, until we raise our share of the monies needed.

The proposed tax assessments on Property Owners in Los Ayala will be not sufficient to raise $250,000 pesos, and for that reason, Romy (our Regidor) and Miguel (our new Juez) will be hosting a Mexican Fiesta on January 27th at 6 p.m. at El Delfines Bungalows and RV Park, in a quest to raise sufficient funds for the infrastructure project. The cost for the event will $350 pesos, including dinner and one drink. The entertainment line-up includes Marachi, Folkloric Dancers and a Traditional Charro – Mexican Horseman Show.

Romy reminded everyone, that the 3 for 1 program was how the Town Plaza in Los Ayala was financed, and resulted in the beautiful Town Plaza we enjoy today. I would like to add, that property taxes for home owners in Mexico are negligible, and clearly insufficient to fund street and infrastructure improvements, and on that basis ask everyone to support Romy and Miguel, and the community of Los Ayala by contributing what ever they can afford; and by attending the Mexican Fiesta on January 27th. You can make a difference, and contribute to enhancing the quality of life in Los Ayala.

Images of the overflow at the pumping station by the estuary in Los Ayala, Christmas 2011. Photos courtesy of Harry Brown.

Update from Romy Mora, Regidor Jaltemba Bay

February 15, 2012

The Infrastructure Assessment for Property Owners/Business in Los Ayala will be 2300 pesos per home or property.

Hotels and Bungalows will be assessed an additional 50-70 pesos per room (some bungalows have as many as 50 rooms); and hotels and bungalows who have the financial means to contribute more, will be asked to do so.

Work on the replacing the Infrastructure is expected to start the week of February 20th.

Copy of the $65,000 peso deposit made to the designated “3 for 1 Account”

This article was originally published on Magical Los Ayala.

Manuel and Maria first visited Los Ayala on vacation, twenty years ago. They were immediately smitten with the abundance of nature, the tranquility, the very pretty beach and welcoming small town feel. Shortly thereafter they moved to Los Ayala from Guadalajara. They have live here for twenty years now, and have one child and three grandchildren.

Manuel is 79 years of age, and Maria advises that her age is a secret. They have been happily married for 53 years, and looking forward to many more years. Manuel is retired but Maria still works. During the day Maria sells “Corn on the Cob” on Los Ayala beach and in the evenings she serves up her “Corn on the Cob” from a kiosk on the southeast corner of Madre Perla and Bahia de Banderas. The corn is grilled Mexican style and spiced up with ground chilies and lime juice.

Manuel and Maria enjoy walking and swimming at Los Ayala beach, and their favourite restaurant is Erikas on the beach. Fave dishes at Erika’s are the fish and shrimp entrees.

Manuel Cardenas Sr. & Maria de Jesus Soyz Cardnias
Los Ayala, Nayarit, Mexico

This story was originally published in “Local Folks” on Magical Los Ayala.

Robin and Henry Fremont purchased their Los Ayala vacation home in 2006, and have been enjoying their winters here ever since, along with their seventeen year old faithful dog, Bear. Summers are spent at McPhee Lake in north-central Saskatchewan where they enjoy visiting with friends and family, including four children, and two grandchildren.

Robin and Henry chose Los Ayala as their winter vacation escape for many reasons. They say that they were captivated by the friendly people, the relaxed lifestyle; the warm, sunny climate and the consistently idyllic temperatures of the winter and spring season; the beautiful swimming beach, with its’ quaint palapa restaurants; the surrounding ridiculously luxuriant scenery in Los Ayala, framed by the foothills of the majestic Sierra Vallejo Mountains.

One of their favourite restaurants in Los Ayala is Pikiko’s and one of their favorite times in Los Ayala are (believe it or not) Christmas and Easter! They love the crowds of people strolling about, the big family gatherings on the beach, and the roaming musicians.

The Fremont’s can be seen during the early morning hours walking their dog, Bear, in and around Los Ayala. Henry enjoys golfing twice a week, while Robin enjoys taking classes in stained glass and Spanish lessons. Both Robin and Henry, appreciate how close Los Ayala is to both Guayabitos and La Penita, saying it is very handy, especially since they try to shop locally as much as possible.

Having visited many different areas in Mexico, Robin and Henry are thrilled to be able to call Los Ayala, home!

How Robin & Henry ended up owning a Vacation Home in Los Ayala…

For twenty some some years Robin and Henry, declared a strong desire to retire to Mexico. Friends of theirs from Saskatchewan, Bob and Linda Gibbs, own a vacation rental property called “Casita de la Penita” where Henry & Robin were married seven years ago!

During their stay in La Penita they fell in love with the area, and returned the following year and stayed in Rincon de Guaybitos. During their stay they started seriously looking for property in the Jaltemba Bay area. Their main criteria for their place in the sun, was that their vacation home needed to have at least 2 bedrooms and 1 1/2 bathrooms, with a basic price point in mind.

When Robin and Henry came across their Los Ayala home, they liked its location, the price was right, and since it had 2 bedrooms and 2 1/2 bathrooms, they considered it a bonus!

The fact that their home had never been lived in gave them the opportunity to choose colors and furnishings, to their taste. Since then, they have added on a carport, an upper deck and bodega, and lots of flora and fauna in their yard, which they enjoy immensely.

Robin and Henry Fremont
Los Ayala, Nayarit, Mexico

Their dog Bear enjoys the good life, too!

This story was originally published in “Local Folks” on Magical Los Ayala.

Getting married in Los Ayala surrounded by family and friends was a magical dream come true. The new Mr. & Mrs James & Jaleen Shier will always have a home for Los Ayala in their hearts.

Photo by Karla Benitez, a Wedding Photographer from Puerto Vallarta. Originally published in “Magical Moments” on Magical Los Ayala.

Gorgeous grandiose view of Los Ayala.

Photo by Doug Spivak. Originally published in “Magical Moments” on Magical Los Ayala.

Garry and I started vacationing in Puerto Vallarta about ten years ago. We fell in love with Mexico, and especially the people that we have met over the years. We have thoroughly enjoyed every moment spent exploring the coastline of Pacific Mexico, especially the Riviera Nayarit which is truly a paradise for beach lovers!

In December of 2009, Garry’s cousin, Mick, graciously invited Garry to spend a week with him at his beachfront condo at Villas Marena in Los Ayala. It did not take much time for Mick to persuade Garry to join him! During his stay Garry was impressed with what he saw. The staff was helpful, friendly and professional, and the condominium complex with its beach front locale was truly exceptional!

Frankly, at that time we had no intention of buying property, but a unit was for sale. The unit was not one of the newly built or renovated condo suites, but an area that used to serve as a hotel kitchen, before it was converted to a condominium complex. The location of the unit was ideal, because it was located on the first floor, mere steps from the pool and the beach. However, it required a complete overhaul!

When Garry returned home, he was smitten with Los Ayala and the idea of owning a beachfront condo at Villas Marena! Arrangements were made so that I could come for a visit in February with Garry, and we would make a decision then. Unfortunately, due to family issues we were unable to go, so we had to make a quick decision. We did not want to leave the sellers hanging, and since I have always trusted Garry’s instincts we decided to go for it. We bought the unit!

Garry and I went to Los Ayala in April of 2010 to arrange for a contractor, and for me to see our condo for the first time. On first sight, I decided that it truly was a piece of paradise. The scenic views and the beautiful beach were truly impressive. The Villas Marena condominium complex was striking, and the beachfront locale won my heart. However, when I walked into our condo, all I saw were concrete walls and floors; tiny rooms and windows; very little natural light; and absolutely no potential. I actually cried! I just could not envision the finished product.

We had a week to find a contractor in order to meet our December deadline. We were very fortunate in that we found Indalecio Munoz, a Civil Engineer and Contractor who came highly recommended to us as a builder. Indalecio met with us at the condo, and walked us through absolutely everything. I left Los Ayala, feeling very comfortable that Garry and I had made the right choices.

Throughout the entire renovation process, Indalecio and his right hand man, “Junior” were there for us, providing help and guidance. Indalecio, walked us through every step of the renovation process. He determined our needs and preferences, and shared his ideas and vision with us. His vision and excellent craftsmanship made our condo what it is today. Gorgeous!

Indalecio makes you feel totally at ease in his company. His entire crew were polite and hardworking. Indalecio and Junior went above and beyond the call of duty. They even drove us into Puerto Vallarta to purchase furniture, and stored it for us until our condo was finished. I think we have made lasting friendships with both of these men.

Garry and I are still working so we can’t spend all winter in Los Ayala, yet, but we are working towards it! In the meantime we are happy to spend 3 or 4 weeks in our little piece of paradise; “El Sueno de Los Ayala” which means “The Dream of Los Ayala.” When we are here, we revel in the amazing views, the warm sunny weather, and especially the warm hearts of the people who call Los Ayala home and make this such a wonderful community to be a part of. Garry and I, feel very fortunate that we followed our dream to Los Ayala! We truly appreciate how very lucky we are!

We love to take walks on the tranquil beach, collecting seashells and talking to the local fishermen. We take grea pleasure in buying the local catch of the day, which always makes for a scrumptious supper. We adore relaxing on our poolside patio and listening to the roar of the ocean. We especially like sitting at Las Ranas, one of the local beachfront restaurants, taking the time to relax, chat and people watch. Other restaurants that we are particularily fond of are Vista Guayabitos for the incredible view and dining; Piña Loca in Guayabitos for the great service and excellent Mexican food; and Soley’s in La Penita to satisfy our cravings for a taste of Italy.

I am so glad that we took this leap of faith! We have met many, wonderful, sincere people in the community of Los Ayala that we are proud to call friends. Many of these folks helped us along the way, and we are very grateful. I have always dreamed of an island paradise and I still can’t believe that a prairie couple like us, own a vacation home, just steps from the ocean. Mi casa es su casa!

This story was originally published in “Local Folks” on Magical Los Ayala.

Photo: Terri & Garry Kurchirka on vacation in Venice. They had a marvelous time and advise that the intrigue and romance of Venice is a lot like Los Ayala. A mystical place to enjoy life!

Beautiful vista of Los Ayala and Jaltemba Bay as seen from Villas del Tropico.

Photo by Beatriz Noguez. Originally published in “Magical Moments” on Magical Los Ayala. To view more of Beatriz’s beautiful photos, visit Beatriz Noguez Fotographia.

Natures Wonders.

Originally published in “Magical Moments” on Magical Los Ayala.

Our home base is on one of the Gulf Islands off the coast of British Columbia. Our activities there include boating, fishing, gardening, yoga (for Margaret) and lots of walking with our beloved dog Jake. We can enjoy our outdoor activities for about six months of the year but in the winter months, grey skies, rain and chilly weather prevail. For many years we escaped winter for a few weeks, traveling and vacationing in Hawaii, Mexico, and other tropical destinations. We often dreamed of owning a vacation home somewhere warm. Unfortunately, most places that were attractive to us were rather expensive and given the relatively small amount of time that we planned to holiday, we resolved to rent rather than to own.

That all changed three years ago when our travels took us to Los Ayala for a two week holiday! A year earlier friends of ours had bought a lot and were building a vacation home. We had tracked their progress, listened to their stories and decided to see for ourselves this charming fishing village, where they planned to spend a good part of the year. We got off the plane vowing to each other that, even though we were very curious about their project, we were only there for a holiday and would not even look at property!

Within a week, we found ourselves signing papers at the notary’s office and becoming the owners of a ‘fixer upper’ a block away from our friends. The magic of Mexico and Los Ayala had caught us in its spell! Thus began a nine month building odyssey, during which our tiny casita was transformed into a casa, complete with perimeter walls, a pool, palapa, carport and lots of tropical plantings. The contractor behind all of this was Norman Lutgen of Viking Construction. His reliability, due diligence, guidance and ideas, along with the excellent work from his capable craftsmen, quickly transformed our little ‘ugly duckling’ into a beautiful swan we call ‘Casa Margarita‘. Last winter was our first here and we look forward to many more!

While we find the climate and the natural beauty of the area entrancing, it is also the strong sense of community here in Los Ayala which appeals to us. At the many cultural events celebrated in the region and often centered in our village square, we have been welcomed as friends and asked to join in the festivities. The warmth and smiles from the locals and the many foreigners, mostly also Canadian, are rarely found elsewhere. We are pleased that many of the foreigners here respect the rich Mexican culture and have found ways to improve the lives of the locals, with projects to help the environment, schools and animals, to name but a few.

We love Los Ayala’s beautiful beach and surrounding tropical jungle. We are charmed by the flocks of tiny green parrots which zoom by in tight formation. In the evenings, the air is filled with that sweet jungle scent and the sounds of cicadas (plus barking dogs and confused roosters!). Often we hear singing, brass bands and music played in the surrounding homes and streets. We are delighted that music plays such an important role in the local culture.

The nearby towns of Rincon de Guayabitos and La Penita offer a great selection of interesting things to see and do, including visiting the colourful weekly markets where we buy fresh produce, prawns, or some handcrafted work of art to adorn our casa. There are many affordable restaurants offering good food and many shops for the must-have items on our list. Every couple of weeks we make a trip to the big box stores outside Puerta Vallarta to round out our provisions.

We enjoy day trips and hiking to other nearby towns such as El Monteon, Sayulita, Lo de Marcos, Chacala and many others. There are lots of interesting things to see and experience, as well as wonderful photo opportunities. The many sandy beaches nearby stretch for miles in all directions, offering lots of scenic walking and swimming. We have traveled further north from our village to San Blas, to experience the wonderful mangrove swamps that house some of the most beautiful birds and wildlife that one could imagine, where crocodiles prowl the waters and jaguars periodically emerge from the jungle forest.

We plan to spend three or four months of the year in this enchanted village. We feel that this is a unique place and we hope it will not become overly developed or over exposed to tourism, for with that there is the distinct possibility that the warmth and charm that now exists may disappear. In the meantime, we will work on our Spanish, savour our new home away from home and enjoy the company of our many new friends and neighbours.

Hasta Luego!
Margaret Davidson and Boswell (Bos) Malcolm

Bos is a super photographer!

The gallery below features Bos’s photos from the Christmas Posadas in Los Ayala’s Town Plaza – December 2010.  Note how perfectly he captures the light; and the soulful eyes of the children.

This story was originally published in “Local Folks” on Magical Los Ayala.

Photo by Christina Stobbs. Originally published in “Magical Moments” on Magical Los Ayala.

Many people have the dream of owning a home on the beach in a tropical paradise. That dream began for Elaine and I in the early 1970s when we flew down to Tepic, Mexico with a business associate who shared our love of Mexico.

At that time the road system in this part of Mexico was quite primitive. There was no road from Puerto Vallarta to Los Ayala, so we flew into Tepic and hired a taxi to come to Los Ayala via San Blas and Las Varas. Taxis were very cheap then.

Jack Wortendyke, my friend from Boise, Idaho, told me that he knew of two houses on a beautiful beach near Puerto Vallarta that were for sale. They were indeed beachfront homes situated on an idyllic beach in a very small place named Los Ayala which resembled the tropical paradise we had been dreaming of for years. However, it was very primitive; the only road in town followed the mountain around what is now Villas del Tropico into the area where our property is located. There were no streets, electricity, potable water, or telephones.

Even worse, both homes were located on Ejido land and at that time it was against the law for foreigners to own property within 50 kilometers of the coast. Elaine and I went home completely dejected, although my friend Jack Wortendyke eventually bought one of the homes using a “Presto Nombre;” in which a Mexican friend held the legal title to the property he purchased. (Ejido land and the use of a Presto Nombre to purchase a home in Mexico is fraught with risks which include the loss of your property.)

Over the next twenty years we occasionally came down to the Wortendykes for vacations and would watch our place, hoping it would be for sale. Many years later, in 1994, we received a call from the Wortendykes letting us know that the house we had looked at in the 70s had just been remodeled and the owner needed to sell it! The property had also been regularized which meant we could get title to it.

Elaine and I were scheduled to retire in early 1995. So the timing was right for us to consider making our earlier dream come true. We purchased the property in April of 1995. Of course, the house was not finished and the property had been vacant for years, so we put a lot of money and time into it. We retired shortly thereafter and began living in Los Ayala, Mexico for six months each year. We have been living our dream for the past seventeen years.

After we began living in Los Ayala we quickly became involved in helping poor families and with the primary school there. Early on my wife Elaine, began something which we hope has enriched the lives of young people in this area, as much as it has enriched our lives. She started a “Learning Center” on our kitchen table, with children who were running on the beach and not in school. It started with one little guy who came to our door on three different days, asking for a tooth brush and paste just like the ones she gave out in school to the other children. She asked why he was not in school, and also his brother, and he said his mother would not let him go. Elaine took the boy home and talked to his mother and she said they would not let him in school and they did not have money for uniforms and school supplies. Elaine went and spoke to the teacher and she said she could not let them into the school because they could not read and she did not have the time. She also advised the teacher that she would give her one of her paintings if she would let them in school, even if they just sat in school all morning. The teacher agreed with the stipulation that Elaine had to commit to tutoring the children in the afternoons; to which she happily said, “Yes!”

Elaine and I began tutoring the boys in the afternoon, and soon after all kinds of children came and joined in. The Learning Center soon moved from our kitchen table to the big tables we had outside. Every single one of these children became good readers!

Elaine also established a relationship with several schools in the area with the dream of making a difference to the children in our community and since that time has provided them with supplemental books and materials on a regular basis over the years. One interesting sidelight is that the primary school in Los Ayala, at the time of our first visit in the 1970s, was just a small square cleared in the jungle with a chicken wire fence enclosing a few desks for the students.

Since that time, Elaine has established a very successful Learning Center and Library in Los Ayala. Both programs are free to children in the Jaltemba Bay area. Over the years participation in the program increased to the point that they could not accommodate all the kids in their house, even with the use of the outside area.

So Elaine and her daughter bought a new building and park for the children. The new Learning Center is impressive! It includes a craft room which is stocked with a large supply of crafts and games, a delightful playground with swings; a basketball court and a spacious grass play area for the children to enjoy. Approximately 45 children were enrolled in the Learning Center for 2010/2011 season. They come in the afternoons to study for an hour and after the study period they are allowed to play in the Park area. Today the Learning Center also has a dedicated staff of 7 teachers, some of whom have been teaching the children for 15 or more years, and the library contains more than 5,000 books mostly in Spanish.

Italia Winters started helping Elaine with the program fifteen years ago. She speaks several languages and has taught school for thirty two years. Many of the the volunteers at the Learning Center are retired teachers who provide one-on-one tutoring where it is needed, and that is alot! However not all of the volunteers are former teachers. Mary Alice Snyder one of our most dedicated volunteers worked for the airlines for 28 years and she is an invaluable part of the team because of her fluency in Spanish.

Elaine’s goal is to make everyone in our community recognize the importance of reading and writing and getting an education these days, so they can compete in this rapidly changing world. She says that it is the only way they can raise above the poverty and they are doing a great job, compared to years ago! When the parents want to pay her or give her a gift, she tells them to just study and learn all you can, that is her pay and after eighteen years she sure has been rewarded!

Morris Smith
Los Ayala, Nayarit, Mexico

About Elaine & Morris Smith, Founders of Los Ayala’s Learning Center…

Elaine and Morris return faithfully every year from November through April. Elaine says, “The most rewarding part of the Learning Center has been the relationships she has developed with the families and children.” Some of the relationships are with families who lived here 20 or 30 years ago.

Especially gratifying is when one of the children who have participated in the Learning Center program returns for a visit; and it is very apparent that the Learning Center made a difference. They have many success stories! One of their first students was one of the top students at the Tepic University, graduated valedictorian and two years later received his degree in Law. He now lives in La Penita de Jaltemba. Most recently she was paid a visit by another of her first students who is now a lawyer.

Elaine is especially proud of the fact that the children who attend the Learning Center are excelling at school, achieving the highest grades in their class!

Elaine and Morris love this area and especially the families in the three communities, along with those in La Joya, all of whom have made them part of their lives and who made them so welcome and truly appreciated their attempts to help them change the future and the lives of their children.

Elaine and Morris are working on the third generation now. They feel that it has been a truly gratifying experience to be a part of the change!

These are Local Folks, who have really made a huge difference and truly deserve our respect and recognition. Exceptionally well done by two unbelievably special people. Many thanks Elaine and Morris!

This story was originally published in “Local Folks” on Magical Los Ayala.

Photo by Bea Rauch. Originally published in “Magical Moments” on Magical Los Ayala.

Photo of a shy baby green iguana peeking over the edge of a roof top.

Originally published in “Magical Moments” on Magical Los Ayala.

Lori lives in the small town of Sicamous, which is known as the “Houseboat Capital of Canada.” Sicamous is located in British Columbia, Canada and sits on two stunningly beautiful and pristine lakes; Mara Lake and Shuswap Lake.

Sicamous, like Los Ayala is a tourist town and from the end of June to early September the population triples. Winter months bring the sledders, heli skiing, cross country skiers and snow shoeing aficionados to the area. The town, like Los Ayala is surrounded by mountains and during the winter the snow falls are non stop. Lori says her love for Los Ayala is because it reminds her of what she thought of Sicamous thirty-one years ago – a play ground.

In Sicamous one is just minutes away from creeks, rivers, lakes, trail heads – any kind of outdoor sport you want. The same can be said of Los Ayala. Lori calls Los Ayala ” A little jewel.” She is enamoured of Los Ayala because of the people she has met, the community’s heart, the slow pace of life (qualified by the statement that each year she visits her goal is to slow down but that she has truly and sincerely failed to achieve this goal, each and every year) and of course the sun, beach and ocean.

Lori advises that her real attraction to Los Ayala is because it has not lost its’ roots to foreign tourism, and she hopes it never does. She feels that Los Ayala offers a “True Mexico Feel” that makes for a unique experience each and every time she visits and for anyone that has the honour of finding this beautiful little community – tucked away from the world. Mind you, this year Lori was horrified to receive French fries on her plate at a local restaurant rather than the customary beans she received last year, and every year before. She says that her heart sank as she thought to herself, “Here it starts… the switch over.”

Los Ayala is extra special to Lori because of the abundant hiking trails allowing her to explore to her hearts content. Next year, Lori plans to get a trail blitz going and open up some very overgrown trails leading to Punta Raza and to provide many more loop trails to accommodate all levels of hikers. She advises that they do this in Sicamous – Shuswap area and that it is simply amazing what a few people can do in a few hours.

Los Ayala came into her life in 2007 when a friend from her teens called up with his wife (Tony and Rhonda Swanson – Local Folks) after reading an article in the Kamloops newspaper about Bungalows Las Iguanas. Lori had vacationed in Hawaii with her husband the previous year together with Tony and Rhonda, and they had made a pack to try to travel south each year. Tony and Rhonda, had vacationed in Rincon de Guayabitos years prior and loved it. It did not take much to convince Lori and her husband to join them.

During vacation Lori and her husband fell in love with the Jaltemba Bay area, in particular Los Ayala and before they returned to Canada – they left a deposit on a small lot in Los Ayala, along with part of their hearts.

Lori says that it has been a grand adventure ever since their first trip here. She has made seven trips to Los Ayala since that first trip. Each time she visits she arrives with all her summer attire, hiking gear and a binder full of things to do, in preparation to build their dream home on the lot they purchased in Los Ayala. This year she collected the finalized compatibility and environmental study; the architect plans; and she is happy to say that she is finally ready for building permits. A huge accomplishment, that she feels she would not have been able to do; given the challenges one comes across as a woman doing business in Mexico; with extremely limited Spanish – if it had not been for the help of Los Ayala’s Jewel Romy Mora – Juez.

Lori loves all the restaurants in Los Ayala but says, “One Meal that Shines”, each and every time she visits, is the Shrimp Tacos at Rosita 1 on Los Ayala beach. She has never been disappointed in her seven trips. Most recently she has stayed at both Las Iguanas and Charlies Bungalows in Los Ayala, and advises that both are wonderful, affordable options for accommodations in Los Ayala.

Lori Schneider Wood, Los Ayala’s Pippi Longstocking
Los Ayala, Nayarit, Mexico

Lori on a snack break on Punta Raza beach (left). Lori during a hike in Sicamous, BC, Canada (right).

About Lori Schneider Wood…

Lori is an avid hiker and shares her passion for the outdoors with others by hosting numerous hikes; both day trips and back country over night hikes, as a hobby. Her longest back country hikes have been up to eight days.

In May of each year, Lori volunteers to host a hike up the Enderby Cliffs with the Shuswap Trail Alliance – a fundraiser for Shuswap Hospice in Salmon Arm. She also leads four of these hikes in the Fall of each year. Today these hikes serve as the hospice’s second largest annual revenue generators. (This May 1st was a success with 39 hikers hiking 14.24 km.)

Lori also sits on the Columbia Shuswap Regional District – Area E parks commission. She is the Shuswap Trail Alliance Area E Rep; sits on the Board of Directors; and acts as a trail steward for Area E with British Columbia Parks.

Lori operates her own own business doing small business tax, consulting, management and bookkeeping and accounting. She has twenty-two clients that keep her very busy all year round.

Lori was born in Kelowna, B.C. and raised in Kamloops prior to discovering Sicamous. She is the proud mother of two amazing and wonderful children, Brianne 28 and Rylan 24. She is yet to become a granny… but looking forward to the day!

Lori is a strong supporter of community events in Los Ayala, and the absolute BEST 50/50 Raffle ticket sales person! Her hobbies include canoeing, kayaking and getting on a trail, any trail, any season, anywhere!

One of Pippi’s Many Adventures

“Los Ayala’s Pippi Longstocking” is an apt description for Lori, since adventure always seems to find her wherever she goes – whether she seeks it or not! The last adventure story I heard about Lori was the day she ended up stuck in a bull pen. How in the world?

Chelsea (Tony and Rhonda’s 13 year old daughter) wanted to have a closer look at a young bull (that appeared to be stuck in a room of an old casita), to feed it a carrot through the door which had a make shift gate. So Lori took a jug of water over for it. The trough was on the other side of the doorway just under a boarded up window. So she went around the building had climbed up to stand on the window sill to reach the trough and as she was leaning over to pick up the water jug which was at the time nicely balanced on the window sill between her feet, as she had needed both hands to balance her own body while climbing onto the ledge.

Here is where the tale really gets interesting. What Lori affectionately calls her four keys for King Kong’s wall of defense (Charlie’s Economical Bungalows) where she was staying, which she kept on a lanyard around her neck were dangling and swaying. Toby, (that is the name the tourists gave this young bull) had eaten the carrot Chelsea gave him and without anyone noticing, the hungry beast turned around and came over to where Lori was still precariously perched and mistaking her keys for another treat, grabbed onto them pulling, and toppling Laurie and all the boards into it’s poop filled pen. Laurie jumped up quickly as she felt bad about all the boards getting ripped down and quickly put them back back in place as best she could, not stopping to see why she was bleeding.

Lori tried to get Chelsea to help open the make shift gate at the door as she could not open it from inside; as she tried to get out, Toby thought her cute little buttocks might be tasty and took a nip there, before going for her shirt. At this final indignation, Laurie gave up trying to get out that way, twisted around and struck the bull on the nose causing it to let go of her clothes. Racing to the other end of the pen, she yanked the recently replaced boards down once again and escaped through the window, as fast as she could.

Once safe outside she could not help but notice that her companion, Chelsea was laughing so hard that she could not speak. Needless to say, that ended the feeding and watering as far as Lori was concerned. One suspects that in the future it may be best to confine the act of offering sustenance to penned animals to those found in such places as Petting Zoos? However, somehow I think that this advice will fall on deaf ears, and that we have not heard the last of the” Adventures of “Pippy Long Stockings”!

I first met Lori on Punta Raza beach where she was enjoying a picnic with some friends and this year I joined Lori for a hike to El Monteon. We spotted a wild boar that quickly ran off into the jungle; and she actually asked me if I wanted to go after the boar with her, presuming that I would want to seize the photo opportunity. No doubt but on that particular day I was not up to risks of cornering a wild boar. Perhaps next year.

This story was originally published in “Local Folks” on Magical Los Ayala.

Photo by Boswell Malcolm. Originally published in “Magical Moments” on Magical Los Ayala.

The very special wedding of Cristina & Martin at Sagrado Corazon (Sacred Heart) Church in Los Ayala on May 7, 2011.

Originally published in “Magical Moments” on Magical Los Ayala.

Heerman’s Gull on Los Ayala Beach.

Originally published in “Magical Moments” on Magical Los Ayala.

We want to thank everyone who helped to make this years Dessert Buffet/Elementary School 2011 fundraiser a great success. Thank you to all who brought all the fabulous desserts, and all who tirelessly served the desserts, and all who came to eat all the delicious desserts.

Thank you to Christina Stobbs for all the advertising. Thank you’s to Elaine, Martin Torres, Nt and Wayne Ramage who took the money at the door. Thank you Kevin and Myrna Field for donating all the coffee, tea and fixings, and for making the coffee and serving. Thanks to Joanne Gadd for selling all the 50/50 tickets. Thanks you to those who helped set up and take down the tables and chairs. Without all your help we couldn’t have done this fundraiser for the children in Los Ayala, never mind making it a great success.

Thanks you once again to our anonymous donor who so kindly donated another air conditioner this year for the fourth classroom, now giving all of the children relief doing the hot and humid summer months. This very generous donation is so appreciated.

Thank you to everyone who supported the 50/50 Draw and also those who gave further donations.

The Work

Los Ayala’s Elementary School Lunchroom, about to be transformed (with photo above). Work commenced on Monday March 7th.

We so appreciate those who helped in any way to make our Annual Dessert Buffet/Elementary School Fundraiser 2011 a success. With each year’s fundraiser we are helping to make the Los Ayala Elementary School a better place for the children to learn and for the whole community to have pride in their school and community.

The Fundraiser Net Profit of $23,110.35 pesos will be used to continue with construction of the lunchroom. Plumbing and electricity will be installed. The existing counter will be altered, allowing for the placement of a sink, stove and a refrigerator. Permanent tables and chairs will be built out of cement, allowing for enough seating for the current enrollment of 78 children and 3 teachers. We will install ceiling fans and an enclosure around the lunchroom for security measures.

As many of you already know, the government does not provide funding for improvements or maintenance beyond the initial construction of the buildings themselves. With your help we have been assisting the community and the school in these matters. We thank you!

Linda, Orlando, Romy and Mario

This article was originally published on Magical Los Ayala.

Mexico has been our favourite winter holiday destination for many years. Three years ago Walter and I came to visit friends who were vacationing in Rincon de Guayabitos. As we had been considering building a home in Bucerias or near there, during our visit we casually looked at several homes in Jaltemba Bay to get some ideas and during this time we fell in love with Los Ayala.

We fell in love with Los Ayala because it was quieter and friendlier than some of the other locations we had looked at, and EVERYONE, including the children, said good morning, or good afternoon, or good evening if they passed you on the street.

Los Ayala’s beautiful beach was a another attraction, as were the several small restaurants offering tasty meals and snacks. We also met several other Canadians that called Los Ayala home for at least part of the year, and even some that live here year-round. During our casual look-see we found a charming Mexican style house that was partially constructed and decided we could work with it and make it our own. This is our second winter in our own home and we love it!

Chiquita our most adorable Mexican dog joined us in January 2011 at just four weeks old and she has been a wonderful addition to our household. She loves meeting new people, and she especially loves children.

It is always a little sad when we have to say goodbye to friends here and return to Canada when the season is over, but we do have family there and the grandchildren want to see us. Luckily, because we own a home in Los Ayala, we are able to share our little piece of paradise with our family and grandchildren who will be visiting us here for many years to come! Truly we are fortunate to be able to enjoy life in Canada and Mexico!

Judy Jean, Walter Schroeder and Chiquita
Los Ayala, Nayarit, Mexico

The Story of Chiquita

I was on my way to Tianguis; the market in La Penita, on a beautiful sunny day in January 2011 with my friend Daphne who spotted a tiny white puppy in the arms of a young woman. Of course, we had to stop to see the puppy. It was the cutest little thing, really just a ball of white fluff; and only four weeks old!

Daphne speaks broken Spanish a little better than I do, and during her conversation with the young woman she learned that the dog, really just a puppy was being taken to the market to be sold! I did not want to let that happen, and even though I knew it would be a life changing decision, I asked the young lady to accompany the veterinarian in La Penita. The veterinarian assured me that the little puppy was was healthy and would be okay, once we eliminated a parasite infection. Yup, I bought the puppy even though I have never been a pet-owner type.

After several trips back to the vet to clean up all the parasites, Chiquita took over our household.

This story was originally published in “Local Folks” on Magical Los Ayala.

The “Shaving Brush Tree” is native to Mexico and a large deciduous tree which is coveted for its unique brush-like flowers which bloom just once a year, usually in February or March. The leaves are also very unique.

by Christina Stobbs (originally published in “Magical Moments” on Magical Los Ayala)

View more plants in bloom under the Flora & Fauna category.

This story was submitted by one of our regular contributors. To learn more about the author/photographer, click on the “Contributors” tab near the top of the page. If you want to join in and share information, stories and photos of Jaltemba Bay, Mexico, please email them to

A short story about our love for Los Ayala…

Our first trip to Mexico was on Valentines Day in February 2006. We were on our way to Lake Chapala which we heard was ” A little piece of heaven on earth.” However, we first searched for Los Ayala, to visit our friend Pierre L’Allier who had just bought a house there.

We loved the place… and stayed for three weeks at Villas Coronas on Los Ayala beach, instead of our intended three days!

We came back the following year, twice… We were lucky enough to find Villas Marena… we were caught! We bought a condominium and now we are true snowbirds. We live our winters in Los Ayala, Nayarit and love the warm climate, seemingly endless sunny days, and of course, the wonderful beach.

We truly enjoy the peaceful lifestyle and the genuine happiness of the local people, as well as the spirit of vacation and fiesta exploding from the tourists at each and every fund-raising event!

We have met many new friends… We are learning the language and a different way of living… We are now known in Los Ayala as “Papa Palomo” & “Mama Panchita”, and we just love it!

Palomo is from the bird Pigeon in Spanish. Some people say it is a Palomo. Panchita comes from Pancho: Francisco

We hope to be spending our winters in Los Ayala, for many more years and see our small village grow the way it has started; keeping its’ heart wide open to visitors…

FranCine Turcot Pigeon
Los Ayala, Nayarit, Mexico

About FranCine Turcot Pigeon & Claude Pigeon…

They come from Lake Labelle, located in the Laurentians, close to Mont Tremblant, in the province of Quebec. Claude is a retired fireman from Montreal, and FranCine worked in the jewelery and gardening businesses.

They have two sons, and are grandparents to five children. They hope to share their dream of living in Los Ayala with their sons and grandchildren; and eventually all their nieces and nephews!

This story was originally published in “Local Folks” on Magical Los Ayala.


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