Having traveled to Mexico for over 20 years and having talked about moving to Mexico for almost as many years, my husband Robert, likely because he was tiring of the same conversation, finally came up with a plan. Here is exactly what he said to me, “Alright, here is the deal, we will take one month off from work and rent a home in Mexico and see how you like it after that time!”
He said, “Your job is to find us a small home to rent in a dirty little Mexican town!” Furthermore, he reminded me that this was not going to be a beach vacation, nor for that matter, any kind of vacation at all. We were to shop and live like the locals did and that meant that we would not be frequenting a lot of restaurants, or taking many tours on this trip.
“Sure,” I said. What else could I say? I was determined that we were going to go for it, and as I happened to be the travel agent and the computer whiz in our family, I would be booking the accommodation. This meant that I would have control over just how real and dirty, this little town would be.
A few days later, I booked our flights and rented what appeared to be a little gem of a house, located less than a hundred feet from the beach in a small Mexican beach town called La Peñita de Jaltemba. La Peñita was a place that I had never heard of and for which there was not much information. I found the gem listed on-line with Vacation Rentals by Owner. It was a traditional Mexican style two bedroom, one bathroom home with a front porch. It was located just steps from the beach and and I was totally smitten by the photos of the banana trees and tropical flowers in the back yard, and the rent was very reasonable. The town also met Robert’s definition of a small Mexican town.
Paradise here we come!
Upon arrival we were delighted to discover that it was indeed a charming home, with a lovely front porch that we would come to thoroughly enjoy sitting out on. The back yard as promised was full of giant banana trees and an abundance of tropical flowers. Being a city gal, I was totally enamored of the flora and fauna.
During our one month stay we became accustomed to being awakened by the sounds of barking dogs, howling cats in full combat, roosters crowing and on occasion, a hammer hard at work somewhere within ear shot.
We were constantly engaged, and sometimes entertained by the local children, who we first met on the morning of the day after Halloween. At 6am several adorable children were lined up at the gate to our front porch, hollering “Olowain! Olowain!” With a little help from the children, we learned that they were attempting to say “Halloween” and then the intent was clear! Even though Halloween had passed and we had no candies to distribute, Robert gave them some change from his pocket, and thereby began the following ritual.
Every day thereafter mobs of cute little children swarmed our house on their way to and again from school. Therefore, our first shopping foray involved an expedition in La Peñita in quest of a candy store.
The local children became part of our daily lives and they frequently offered to carry our grocery bags, no doubt hoping for a generous tip in candies. I often sat out on the porch watching the children play, admiring the fact that even though the children did not have much in the way of material goods they played with great enthusiasm. They typically hit the beach, dressed in full uniform before school to play ball and race the little crabs they dug up in the sand. After school, they hit the beach once again and it was not uncommon to observe several little boys sharing one surfboard or a boogie board amongst themselves. They amused themselves for hours on end by playing with old tires, sticks and tin cans they found lying in the street. No television, iPhones or Game Boys necessary. They also frequently played in the nearby estuary with no fear of the local six foot crocodile who resided there. We ourselves thoroughly enjoyed playing volleyball on the beach with the children, using an old beach ball and a line drawn in the sand to serve as the net!
We bought prawns and fish from the fishermen in the early morning hours when they offloaded their catch on the beach. Prawns sold for just $80 pesos a kilo and five medium size fish, typically Mahi Mahi or Dorado cost just $30 pesos. We were enjoying the good life! We relished our morning walks into town via the beach for breakfast at Hinde y Jaime’s, and afternoons spent swimming and frolicking in the waves at the beach. The ocean waters on La Peñita beach were warm, crystal clear and always inviting!
During the remainder of our stay, Robert and I came to adore waking up to the call of the local roosters, the melodies of the local birds, and the sound of the surf crashing on the shore. Being from Vancouver, we were amazed to wake up to sunshine and blue skies each and every morning. We learned to live with the new daily tasks, which included sweeping our home on a daily basis. Even though as a habit, we always removed our shoes before entering the house, we managed to trek unseemly amounts of sand into the house whenever we returned from our daily forays to the beach. We came to realize that local dogs guarding the ramshackle homes that lined the street and barked at us whenever we walked by, were docile and completely harmless.
One day we ran out of water and were wondering… what in the world? The caretakers Alicia and Pancho, who resided next door, explained that water needed to be bought, and as Pancho also happened to own and operate a “Pipa” (water truck); they would be delighted to supply our needs! Indeed they seemed to find it highly amusing that two people were capable of using so much water.
We were enchanted by the house and La Peñita! It was our first experience living in a house, in Mexico. Trucks loaded with wonderfully fresh produce would often come by selling their goods. We learned that in Mexico, if you wait long enough, everything comes to your door! On occasion riders on horseback would pass by and for a time there was a beautiful horse tethered daily directly across the street from our temporary home.
I was delighted by all the plants, especially the banana and papaya trees in the back yard… “Free fruit!” Beautiful white Egrets flew overhead regularly as we sat on the front porch, and watched life go by. All the children in the neighborhood continued to visit us and we began to form relationships with the people who passed by on a daily basis. Everyone was exceptionally friendly. We were made to feel welcome in the little paradise that I now refer to as enchanting La Peñita.
For us this was indeed, “a special little house” and the time spent in that house played a large role in our decision to return to Jaltemba Bay, in search of our own place in the sun.
Written by Christina & Robert Stobbs
About the Authors: 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. To view more of Christina’s work, click here.
This story is the fifth in a 6-part series. Click here to read “Enchanting Little House in La Peñita: The Intro” to learn how this story came to fruition, along with other stories in this series.
This story was submitted by one of our regular contributors. If you want to join in the fun and share your stories and photos of Jaltemba Bay, Mexico, please email them to Tosia@JaltembaBayLife.com