Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Commemorating President Benito Juarez

Mexico annually celebrates the birth of Benito Pablo Juárez García, a great hero of the nation. Born March 21, 1806 in St. Paul Guelatao, Sierra de Ixtlan, Oaxaca, Benito was the son of peasant parents who was orphaned at the age of three years before living with his sister, Josefa, who served in the house of Don Antonio Maza. He studied at the Seminary of Santa Cruz, the only secondary school that existed in Oaxaca. Juarez could read texts in Latin, French and English in addition to know canon law and civil law.

On January 11, 1858 Benito Juarez took office in Guanajuato and with support from the liberal group, in July 1859 issued Reform Laws, which declared the independence of the State and Church, law on civil marriage and civil registry of cemeteries.

Benito Juarez is famous for his phrase "among individuals as among nations, respect for the law of others is peace” and for his defense of human liberties, an example to other Latin American countries proclaiming him "Father of the Americas".

El presidente Felipe Calderon y su administracion conmemoran el natalicio de Benito Pablo Juarez Garcia.


México anualmente celebra el natalicio de Benito Pablo Juárez García, un gran héroe de la nación. Nacido el 21 de marzo 1806 en St. Paul Guelatao, Sierra de Ixtlán, Oaxaca. Benito era un hijo de padres campesinos, se quedó huérfano a la edad de tres años antes de vivir con su hermana, Josefa, quien servía en la casa de don Antonio Maza. Estudió en el Seminario de Santa Cruz, la única escuela secundaria que existía en Oaxaca. Juárez sabía leer textos en latín, francés e Inglés, además de conocer el derecho canónico y derecho civil.

El 11 de enero 1858 Benito Juárez, asumió la presidencia en Guanajuato y con el apoyo del grupo liberal, en Julio de 1859 Leyes de Reforma, que declaraban la independencia de la ley del Estado y la Iglesia, el matrimonio civil, registro civil y los cementerios.

Benito Juárez es famoso por su frase "Como entre los individuos como entre las naciones, el respeto al derecho ajeno es la paz" y por su defensa de las libertades humanas, un ejemplo para otros países de América Latina proclamándolo "Benemérito de las Americas".

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


For the last month there has been a free hike, open for all, once a week. Usually Lance leads the hikes at 9 am on Wednesday morning. Notices of the destination, duration, and things to bring are posted on boards around town. The usual destinations are Las Cuevas which is a two hour hike south to a pristine sandy cove that is about 200 meters in length, and Caleta to the north an hour hike to a rocky beach. The weekly hikes will continue into March and will begin again next December.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010


It was a beautiful Christmas morning as we climbed the hill to the north west of Maralta. (high-sea) Maralta is the lake you see a little before coming to Chacala. There is a road which runs through Rancho Maralta before entering the jungle climbing over two ridges and then descending to La Caleta. (Four wheel drive is advised, close all gates to keep the cattle where they belong and ask permission to pass through the rancho if you see anyone there) Ellie, Susan and I had come to put up trail signs for the trail that begins at the corral on the north east corner of Chacala and ends at Caleta, a small rock strewn cove with palapas, camping, and a left hand break at Caleta point where surfers come in search of some thrills. The hike takes about an hour each way with a moderate ascent along a rocky trail that the ganado (cattle) use to get to the occasional area of grass in the jungle) Keep your eyes peeled for the occasional cow paddy lying in wait to mess with your shoes. Around half the people who have tried to make this hike have been lost and had to return. (Some have been stuck in the jungle when night had overcome them before they could make their way back to Chacala) Juan has been care taking Caleta for years…so if you take the hike consider bringing him some goodies since he and his four friendly dogs rarely get out to get provisions. The signs were placed at the most obvious places where hikers loose their way…However, it still won’t take much effort to lose your way and return without the sublime Caleta experience.


The Chacala Story
Is now in Print
Chacala, not only rich with perfect sand beaches and tropical abundance ... it
is also rich with legends, amazing tales and human history dating as far back as
23 centuries! All of this has been compiled into a small full color booklet in
both English and Spanish and is now on sale.

Priced at only 50 pesos we hope that you will pick up your copy which is
available at a number of local outlets around town including Chac Mool, Las
Brises, Casa Pacifica, Gordon and more. It's interesting and entertaining with
lots of pictures. Not only will you want a copy for yourself but for your
friends as well so they can see what Chacala is all about. We have tried keep
the price as low as possible in order to make the booklet available to as many
people as possible. Any profits from this booklet will be given to local
projects. For quantity orders a discount is available. Please contact Gordon
in Mexico at 327 219 4079
from the U.S… 248 562 2338 or 313 429 4765
Email: gpreston27@yahoo.com
Copies will become available in the U.S. and Canada. If you have an interest
please email Gordon.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Trying out a new look

We just changed the template color to blue from black. How do you like the new look?

Friday, November 12, 2010

FRIENDS from San Diego

Carol Isman, and freinds Dustin, Joy, Jessica, David and David, enjoying a meal on the beach at Las Brisas.

Carol is a member of the 'NICE GUYS', a San Diego charity, for folks in need, whose motto is 'Hand Up' 'Not hand out'. She recently bought at a 'charity auction' a week's stay for 6 at Casa Mañana, courtesy of owners, Mike and Kathy.

What a great idea for two great causes ----- Chacala and the Nice Guys

Thursday, November 11, 2010




B.K. turned 77 last week so KARLA announced that the season opener of
celebrate the old geezer's birthday.

Over thirty residents and visitors, a large crowd for this early in the season trod the four
flights of steps up to her roof top terrazzo.

One of the first to arrive was the towns oldest Gringo GORDON, carrying a
platter of cream cheese and crackers and that wonderful concoction of "Salsa
de Mango Granada y Chile Chipotle" from Costco.

DEBBIE of Tom and Debbie was a hit with her meat balls

TOBI home-made pizza

SUSANA deviled eggs

Potato Salad by Heather a visitor from Vancouver

BETT sin Bob now working in Iraq , brought a kings ransom of shrimp with a
delicious sauce (looking forward to one of their roof top parties)

ARTURO and EMILIA brought vino from their CHAC MOOL CAFE

cameo appearance by TANDY

HAL and STEPH’s nuts, dip and chips

PAUL and NIDIA’s cheese ball with crackers

PAUL AND MARCY shared delicious cookies

TRINI with her handsome date, GUSTAVO, her son

KARINA prepared one of her delicious cheesecakes for the birthday boy


Thursday, February 4, 2010

Uncontrolled Beach Privatization

The following article appeared in the weekly Mexican news magazine Proceso and is submitted to our English readers interested in current events in Chacala.

Proceso, Jan. 24, 2010 by Pedro Zamora Briseno

The projected tourist development in Compostela, Nayarit enjoys the support of state Governor Ney Gonzalez and the state police. Community representatives who have been evicted by force from their properties on the ocean complain that they have been threatened and even tortured to make them abandon their living quarters and small businesses from which they barely make a living . The former director of "Fideicomiso Bahia de Banderas (FIBBA)", Pedro Alvarez Hormache, says that all the destruction has been paid for and regrets any "excessive" police force.

Compostela, Nayarit. In the middle of the euphoria caused by tourism and its rewards Governor Ney Gonzalez Sanchez has headed up an accelerated process of privatization of the main beaches of this county that up until now have remained in practically virgin condition. Less than 3 years ago, an intense international marketing campaign was launched with the tourist slogan "Nayarit Riviera" in order to attract investors. At the same time the Nayarit state government started handing over large parcels of property to individual particular buyers and to the National Fund for Tourism (Fonatur) for the construction of luxury tourist centers.

Since 1995, the governor's office through FIBBA has seen that investors acquired beachfront properties expropriated from the ejidos of the region. The ejidos were paid between 130 and 140 pesos per square meter which once the land is developed will be worth as much as 3,000 pesos per square meter.

Back in November 1970, by decree of national President Gustavo Diaz Ordaz, eight ejidos from Bahia de Banderas and Compostela suffered the expropriation of 4,136 hectars of coastal lands for the purpose of development.

In the beginning, FIBBA was interested in focusing the attention of investors on Bahia de Banderas, and particularly Pto. Vallarta. However, recently they have focused tourist development on the Nayarit coast of the county of Compostela.

Last December 18th, in giving his fourth governor's report, Ney Gonzalez boasted that during 2009 Nayarit was in first place in the country in tourism investment, constituting 37% of the amount spent in the country, followed by Sinaloa, Baja California, Jalisco, and Tamalipas.

What he did not report is that his government has supported the investors with police force in the evictions of those people situated on the lands earmarked for development in the county of Compostela, where homes and small businesses have been burned and bulldozed by heavy equipment, in addition to approving the takeover of public roads and the blocking of access to the ocean.

Repression and Torture

Those inhabitants who have put up resistance to the evictions and the closings of roads have suffered threats, persecution, jailing, and even torture at the hands of the police, according to statements gathered by Proceso in the communities affected.

The most serious case was in the town El Monteon, where in May of last year, anti-riot police and elements of the Procuraduria General de Justicia del Estado (state police) attacked and overcame dozens of protestors with tear gas that tried to reach the Canalan beach.

In this case, businessmen R. M. Santa Cruz M. and J. C. Bremen V. acquired 25 hectars of land from the local ejido landowners including the original road to the sea. In exchange, they opened an alternate access through a swampy area.

S. Montes Virgen, a witness to the repression (a video of which can be found on the website YouTube), remembers that in the operation 12 men and 4 women were arrested and charged with, among other things, agression against the police.

Mr. Montes, a brother of one of the victims, exposed that when they would not confess or name the leader of the group, the arrestees were tortured by agents of the state police. In the weeks following, they were released on bail but a date has not yet been set by the court.

In this pueblo, where the land sales to investors took place through the ejido of La Penita de Jaltemba, a group of ejido representatives, including Flavio Gomez Covarrubias, condemns the operation as having been illegally done. He claims it violates the law 557/2007, regulation ejido land sales processes. According to his complaint, he charges that some directing members misappropriated the sale to their own benefit.

This reporter recently took a tour of the beaches of Chacala, Boca del Naranjo, Canalan, Punta Raza, Las Cuevitas, and El Playon, all located in the county of Compostela. I confirmed that the majority of the entrances to the beaches are currently guarded by elements of the state police and private security companies who control access by tourists and locals.

Hundreds of meters before you arrive at Boca del Naranjo, you come to part of the lands sold to Fonatur for the construction of the tourist center El Capomo. There is a barricade there where elements of the state police stop all traffic. They interrogate whoever tries to enter and register their name, place of origin, and reason for the visit. On the seashore, one of the police patrols on an ATV.

On the beach's federal zone, there still remain in the sand traces of the palapas of the small restaurants that were evicted last year. Not all have received compensation.

Ma.R.Camacho Pena, a resident of La Lima de Abajo, was the last one to leave. She exposed that, in response to her resistance to leaving the business that supported her family, her palapa was burned while some Canadian tourists were eating there.

There is a gate that is partly closed and under guard of the state police at the access to the beach of Las Cuevitas. The police mission is to take note of every vehicle that enters. A large sign warns that this is private property and, among many other conditions, access to the beach is restricted to 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.

"They robbed us," says Juan Franco, representative of an ejido. FIBBA paid his ejido for the 304 hectars of their land in El Capomo that the state expropriated. This works out to 110,000 pesos per hectar, hardly 11 pesos per square meter.

Nevertheless, consistent with the signed receipts from the ejido, each one of the 303 ejido landowners received about 190,000 pesos.

Juan Franco agrees that each one of these payments was discounted somewhat to pay for about 25 hectars for the displaced campesinos whose land was expropriated in the zone of Las Cuevitas. But since there's no accounting for this money, they take the position the 25 hectars still belongs to the ejido.

Detective story paradise

In an improvised camp with palapas, two state police agents permanently guard the entrance to El Playon and block the passage of vehicles with large boulders.

Here one finds the polygon El Playon de Llano where, according to a registered document obtained by this reporter, FIBBA plans to build a beach club with an investment of 50 million pesos.

J. Torres Landa, president of the tennants' association of El Playon, also accuses FIBBA of harmful damage in the neighborhood of Paraiso Escondido caused by the demolition of hydraulic and sanitary infrastructure.

Until now, in various judicial proceedings, FIBBA has attempted to minimize what has occurred and, despite the fact the property is registered in its name, denies putting up any fences, putting guards in place, or conducting any demolition work.

Nevertheless, Torres Landa has secured a notary who would testify that Christian Cardona, the appropriate person in charge of the state police, has said that he was given orders by FIBBA.

In the intersection of Tonino, one early morning in December 2007, police dressed in black entered the house where Cesar O.Valle Robles lived with his wife and two little daughters. His house was ejido property inherited from his father. His brother Alejandro says that the agents had the family leave the house while they removed all the furnishings and took them to a public service truck. Thereupon, heavy equipment workers demolished the house.

The next day, Cesar, Alejandro, a nephew, and a brother in law, together with an attorney, went to see where the house had been. Elements of the state police arrested them and brought them to Tepic. They were freed 12 hours later through the intervention of Senator F.J. Castellon Fonseca.

Alejandro Valle indicates that the land in question comprises 16 hectars and that FIBBA claims it's part of the expropriated land of the La Penita de Jaltremba ejido. He adds "My father died in 1973 and we don't know that they ever paid him anything, and they certainly didn't pay us."

Up until now, the only project that has been initiated in the area is the residential tourist development Punta Raza, located on the beach with the same name. It has an area of 293 hectars apropriated from the La Penita de Jaltemba ejido and with an investment of around 118 million dollars.

The Punta Raza project is promoted by the business group C&C Capital, whose principal members are Hector Cardenas and Carlos Brockmann. Flavio Gomez accuses Punta Raza of taking over around 2.5 kilometers of a road constructed by the ejido in the federal zone.

Last October the Instituto de Derecho Ambiental A.C. presented a complaint before the state delegation of the Procuraduria Federal de Proteccion al Ambiente (national environmental agency known as Profepa).

The irregularities do not stop. In Chacala, FIBBA sold a polygon of 38 hectars to the business Promotora Chacala S.A. de C.V., headed up by Guadalajara businessman Jose Alvaro Martinez de la Pena. As a result of this transaction, chainlink fences were put into place on a road that has been used since colonial times and an extension of the main street of the town leading to two of the oldest hotels in the community.

In July 2008, the chainlink fence was installed and evictions took place by means of paying diverse amounts of indemnification to about 20 inhabitants and owners of small restaurants situated in front of the beach. As soon as they left, the structures were demolished with heavy equipment.

Leobardo Munoz, a fisherman who has lived more than 30 years on part of this ground, is unique in that he's still living there. He managed to persuade a judge not to allow him, his wife, his 8 children (two of whom are married), and their respective chidren to be evicted. He's been offered money several times but he refuses to take it. He's been warned that if he doesn't take it, he'll be evicted anyway without indemnification.

Currently, two private security guards control the passage of people and cars into the zone.

Bilingual jobs

While the beaches of Compostela remain semi-deserted, under police control, and the coastal populations resent the damage to the local economies caused by these measures, the governor paints a different picture. He sees an idyllic panorama whereby state citizens will not have to go to the U.S. to earn a living but instead will be able to thrive on the Nayarit coast. "They just have to learn English," he says.

According to official statistics, 105 million pesos were spent in just the last year alone in the promotion of the Nayarit Riviera. In December, Ney Gonzalez declared: "We aren't on sale. We want investors who will respect the environment, who will build low density, and who will offer quality employment. That's the golden rule."

Nevertheless, the results of the promotion of tourist development up until now have not been so encouraging.

In November 2008, the environmental organization Greenpeace denounced Nayarit as "the victim of predatory tourism." Through a press release, it said:

"The tourist destinations of Bahia de Banderas, Rincon de Guayabitos and San Blas, in Nayarit, present serious problems of contamination, irregular growth, a lack of basic services, an invasion of arroyos through irregular settlements, alterations of the habitat for flora and fauna, the burning of solid waste in open dumps, contamination of bodies of water and closed accesses to the sea."

Laura del Valle y Limes, president of the Allianza para la Proteccion y Desarrollo de la Costa de Chila, says that the state government's strategy of developing the beaches of Compostela "has been done in the style of 'slash and burn.' We haven't seen an inclusive process; the people have not been taken into account. On the contrary, the people in general have been seriously run over "

She opines that the arrival of the new investors into the tourist sector is a "new conquest, yet another process of colonization, in that things are being done through threats and force."

"The venture capitalists are constructing their developments over lands that once belonged to the campesinos. They have to be included in the process and not just as waiters or servants earning minimum wage. They need to be respected as businesspeople who live here and who deserve their own space and position that they earn," says Laura del Valle.

For his part, Pedro Alvarez Hormaeche, director of FIBBA until December 16th of last year and now the magistrate of the Nayarit Supreme Tribunal of Justice approves the actions of FIBBA and the state government with regard to some of the beaches like Punta Raza, Boca del Naranjo, and Chacala. They participated in negotiations with the ejidos and the backers of the tourist industry for the purpose of securing evictions which would be legally binding for the benefit of investors.

He denies that there was any pressure, threats, or intimidation against the people whose lands near the federal zone of the beaches were confiscated, saying that they took part in "free and open negotiations, respectful and voluntary" and "the agreements were negotiated and people were paid."

With respect to the non-conformity of the amounts that have been paid for the expropriated lands, he says that 21 campesinos from the ejido of La Penita de Jaltemba went to court. The rest together with those from Las Varas and El Capomo have already received complete financial settlement.

"It's a shame," he said in a telephone interview, "that some who received money from FIBBA or the government, now argue that they have been deprived or violated in their individual guarantees or in judicial certainty, but we can't keep people from saying these things to try to win some extra benefit."

He accuses the ejido representative Flavio Gomez, of El Monteon, and a "very small group of ejido representatives" of introducing "anxiety into the zone, this constant voice of uncertainty even though we have shown countless times that this view is not correct."

"The resistance was illegitimate, but also the police action was bad. In my judgment I feel it was a mistake. But I am not the chief of police nor the procurator. I would not want to be the judge (of this). I would not want to judge anyone," he concluded.

(Thanks to Emilia Robinson and Garrett Olney for the translation)

Sunday, March 8, 2009


                                                SOFIA ABIGAIL GONZALES RIVAS

Sofia in 2008

We are so sad to tell you that last weekend, Sofia, one of our brightest stars in the scholarship program was killed in a terrible car accident. Sofia, just 18, was going to Tepic with a carload of people to have an ultrasound, having learned that she was two months pregnant. An overloaded sugar cane truck veered into their land and crushed 2 cars head on.

Sofia was the youngest of the three daughters of Chela and Leo, owners of Kokobongos Restaurant. She had been married to her childhood sweetheart, Oscar, for three years. Oscar was in the car, but uninjured. Sofia and Oscar were both attending High School at La Prepa Saturday Adult Education Program, and she worked in a local resort as well as the family restaurant.

Sofia was very bright and extremely motivated. She was taking English classes four mornings a week and participating in EBACH, the scholarship student's club. She was to graduate in 2010 and planned to go on to University and get a degree in psychology or law.

Alicia, another young woman from our village, the daugher of Gloria of the restaurant Tres Hermanas, was killed also, as well as her 3- year-old daughter. Gloria's mother, who was also in the car, died in the hospital several days later. Chacala has been devastated from these deaths, and we all have been in mourning since the accident.

It was heartbreaking to watch the three caskets being carried into the church on the day of the funeral mass. People overflowed into the church yard and the surrounding streets. When the funeral procession passed through Las Varas on the way to the cemetary, people were lined up on the streets there to join the procession. Both young women and the child were known and loved by so many.

This family has had more than its share of tragedy. Chela and Leo are pillars of strength. Carolina, Sofia's oldest sister, was home from University for the week, Karina and her husband, Orlando and their baby are here, as well as Mario and Hector, her younger brothers. Rosaries are being held at the family restaurant twice a day for nine days, as is the tradition here.


Last Friday, a fundraising dinner was held at Casa Pacifica. Mary Jane Rintelman and Ben Laird, of Marina Chacala, have taken the reins of a new fundraising committee, and gathered about 30 people from Marina Chacala at the dinner to hear about Cambiando Vidas and our programs. They heard mostly, of course, about our need for donations and scholarships sponsors. Mariana told the group that we currently have 3 students who have lost their donors due to the economic conditions in North America, and we have 9 more on the waiting list. Some of them have been participating in EBACH and working in the community service program for over a year. The delicious Italian dinner was prepared by volunteers Serena and Richard Laskin, Karina Shecter, and Marcel, visitors to Chacala and supporters of Cambiando Vidas.

Amazingly, Chela and Leo, Sophia's parents, and Carolina, her sister, and Mario, her brother, arrived after dinner to speak to the group in Sophia's honor about the importance of the program to their family. Alonso and Gaby, other star students, also spoke about their experiences in the program.

The dinner was a huge success and we are hoping for many donations.

Alonso, past president of EBACH with Mario, Chela, and Carolina, family of Sophia


The cost to sponsor a student is $720 a year. You can share a student for $360. Please see more details about this on our website at www.cambiandovidaschacala.com. We are grateful, of course, for donations of any size.

You can make a contribution by mailing a check to Cambiando Vidas, 245 Mt. Hermon Rd., PMB 312, Scotts Valley, Ca. 95066 OR by using PayPal on our web site, www.chacala.org. THANKS!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

My experience in Chacala & the Petroglyphs of Altavista

A few days ago I visited Chacala for the first time. With friends, I am basking in the warm sun and enjoying the soothing ocean before returning to Alaska and the cold days of December, January and February. --from Marilyn C.

We loved the town of Chacala. People are friendly; the scenery is beautiful; and of course, the ocean beaches are mesmerizing. And ooooh, the espresso cappuccino!

Cappuccino made with organic locally grown coffee at the new terrace cafe Chac Mool

Leaving from La Penita in the morning, we were in search of a fine day of exploration. Our group of four would rent kayaks and take a beachside lunch wherever our whim found us; however, our day’s goal was to locate and see the renowned, but elusive, petroglyphs.

Several people had “heard” of them; few ever had actually been there. Upon sketchy directions, we embarked from Chacala to the main highway.

If you should wish to go, here is the “word map.”

Upon leaving Chacala, and meeting highway 200, turn south. Travel 7.3 Km and take a left, toward Alta Vista. Go 1.6 Km and you will turn left again on a dirt track. This is the tricky spot, easy to miss. A helpful ranchman aided us. There really is no special landmark here. Another 0.8 Km will bring you to a place where you must leave your car parked -- unless you are 4WD equipped. From here on, it’s rough. Captial R on rough! Take the sharp right-hand road and proceed carefully, whether afoot or bouncing along in your 4WD. At times you’ll believe the road is going to vanish, but then it picks up again, always tending more or less to the right. Eventually, you will ford the stream. Shortly after that, you will arrive at a cul de sac. This is the Petroglyph trailhead. It is 1.6 Km from were you left your vehicle. A 15-peso donation to the gentleman at the gate will allow you to enter.

Corn Man at Altavista, 8 km from Chacala

Wear shoes capable of carrying you over rocky ground with poor footing. Sometimes you’ll be walking on river-worn rocks, observing the ‘glyphs to your left and right. Keep a sharp eye. They are many, but they are subtle. If you stay tuned, you’ll “feel” their sacred, ancient power – too sacred for photographs, it would seem, as my usually dependable camera malfunctioned just before this trek. Nevertheless, I shall take home vivid mental images and the satisfaction of having been in the presence of Huichol Indian mythic power.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Chacala Community Meeting with Nayarit Tourism Board

A community meeting with the Nayarit Tourism board, concerning recent developments on the beach, was held at Mar de Jade on November 29th at 10:00 am.

People interested in Chacala and its growth were invited, although prior notice was brief and many people did not know about the meeting. However, about 50 people did attend the meeting and everyone had a chance to speak. A promise was made that the next meeting will be widely publicized to all with lots of advance notice.

The Nayarit Tourism Board is composed of 40 members, teachers, engineers, a lawyer, people from Las Varas, Zacualpan , Tepic, and Compostella. The purpose of the board is to represent the Nayarit people and their rights to the federal government.

Summary of the meeting:

1. A history of land development since the 1970’s was presented. It seems the federal government’s power supersedes any municipalities. The issues of Ejido land, federal land, and Foreign and Mexican national investors have led to the creation of developments that do not respect the environment nor the rights of the local population. The Mexican government believes and promotes that all North Americans are looking for high rises, hotels, private beaches, golf courses, and lots of shopping. The government wants to make the Nayarit Riviera another Cancun! We of Chacala think differently. It was expressed that many North Americans are interested in nature trails, tranquil beaches, and interaction with the Mexican people. Foreign visitors and residents seek out the peace and tranquility of the Nayarit coast. There will always be the Puerta Vallartas of the world. There is only one Nayarit coast.

2. The different government speakers acknowledged that there is much corruption in the government but emphasized, with persistence and pressure by the people, change can be made. According to committee members, good will from the government can occur when pressure from the local people is applied. We must not let up on the pressure. It is a long road but necessary and necessary to follow the rules of protest. The committee acknowledged that many laws have already been broken by the developers who were identified as the Padillas’, one of the original developers of Chacalilla. One of the major laws broken was the closure of the beach road. Alas, the law says it is too late to rectify quickly.

3. The President of the Municipal Committee says regulations pertaining to development will be honored. He cited some of the regulations pertain to (1) access to beach (2) 15% of land will be given to community and (3)no to the marina.


Many locals at the meeting remain skeptical. They have pledged to continue the fight and ask that ALL interested, Foreigners and Mexicans, join them in this journey to protect Chacala and regularize growth. Citizens can demand transparency. The local, state and national protection agencies will set up a meeting with the county, state and federal government agencies. It is the goal of this meeting that all concerned will have the opportunity to convince the government agencies that it is not be in anyone’s best interest to build 1960 type resorts along the pristine Nayarit coast. Stay posted for more details.


Saturday, November 15, 2008

Important Update - Cambiando Vidas

In the next few weeks, part-time residents of Chacala will be arriving to spend the winter and, due to arrive around November 27th, is Mariana Day, President of Cambiando Vidas. Mariana is Chacala's number one fund raise - her efforts have afforded some of Chacala's brightest children the chance of a better future through Cambiando Vidas' Scholarship Program.

Less than 10 years ago Chacala was still a sleepy fishing village that came alive around Christmas/New Year, Easter and several Mexican holidays. In 1996, Dale Reinhardt a Rotarian from No. Carolina enlisted his club and Rotary International to build a library right here in the village.

(Kids on the steps to the Learning Center taking a break from their painting.)

Over the subsequent years, many volunteers have contributed their time, energy and cash to expand the library and bring educational opportunities to the children of Chacala. Most importantly among those are Chacala residents Ana Getzoff and Susana Escobido. To read about the whole history of how the Chacala library grew into the computerized Learning Center it is today, please go to www.chacala.org and click on "History of Rotary in Chacala".

Antonelly leading the monthly EBACH (Scholarship kids) meeting.

Cambiando Vidas (Changing Lives) is the nonprofit organization working in Chacala to give children educational opportunities through a Scholarship Program and providing support for the Learning Center which includes the Book Library, Computer Lab with high-speed Internet access, After-school Enrichment and Head Start programs, School Hot Lunch Program, and a Tool Lending Library.

This year Cambiando Vidas faces a difficult time financially. Due to the financial meltdown in the USA and elsewhere, fund-raising efforts have been seriously affected. Their donors are naturally concerned about their declining retirement funds, and some have dropped out of the program, leaving some students without sponsors. Each year Mariana has tried to expand the scholarship program but this year CV will not be able to take on any new students, as their first priority will be to find funds to support the students that are already in the program. Cutbacks in scholarship support may also be necessary in order to meet the budget.

We are especially challenged now as our first students graduate from high school—most the first in their family to do so—and go on to University. Each and every donation made is vital to their success. Because of our donors, the children are able to pursue their education as well as use and enjoy the Dale Reinhardt Learning Center every day. Together we are indeed changing lives, Cambiando Vidas - we hope you will visit us soon to witness the miracles created by your loving generosity.

CAMBIANDO VIDAS is a charitable organization with United States Internal Revenue Service 501 (c) 3 tax -exempt status. EIN 73-166898 You can make a donation thru our PayPal tab on our website or send a check to Cambiando Vidas, 245 Mt. Hermon Rd., PMB 312, Scotts Valley, Ca. 95066 www.chacala.org

Friday, November 7, 2008

It's all about teeth

"Its like taking a free vacation" was the way Donna from Vancouver Island described her visit to Chacala last winter. She and husband John, regular vacationers to Mexico have discovered, like many others, that killing two birds for with one stone is not a bad idea.

Unrelated photo of a rodeo in a town near Chacala.

The cost of medicine in the U.S. has sky-rocketed in recent years and while most people would not be coming to Mexico for medical treatment, not yet anyway, getting your teeth fixed is another matter.

Hundreds if not thousands of visitors from both the U.S. and Canada are now taking advantage of the low cost dentistry available in Mexico.

Chacala does not have any dentists but Las Varas, six miles away, does. What Chacala has are lots of nice places to stay, some good restaurants and a beautiful beach.

According to the 2007 book on medical tourism, 'Patients Beyond Borders', dentures cost about $2,400 in the U.S. compared to about $1,500 in Mexico and crowns that cost $800 in the U.S. are about $375 in Mexico, and in Las Varas even less.

Picking a dentist is a personal, however we would be happy to share our experience with others on request.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

A visit to Chacalilla: Paradise Behind the Gate

Ten years ago a visit to Chacalilla would involve walking around the point past the lighthouse, or entering through the old gate, the original entrance now closed, was located at the west end of Chacala's main street, or you could trek through the jungle. Or you could go by boat, you still can.

One of the cobbled roads put in by the development

Back then it was mostly all jungle; inhabitants were gone and only one family remained soon to be gone. There were no cobbled roads that now connect all parts of the peninsular, only a primitive road that connected the gate to the beach and the lighthouse, and several footpaths. One path connected the lighthouse to the beach and another originated at the beach, meandered past the now filled in lagoon and came out at a place, close to where the main entrance to Chacalilla is now located.

Ten years later a trip to Chacalilla is a trip worth taking. No its not open to the public at large, it is, after all a gated community, but if you get a chance to visit, do. See its pristine beach, it lovely homes, some with views of the Pacific Ocean and the Chacala Bay. Its tennis courts and other recreational facilities are first class, everything is well done.

Chacalilla, was it good for the people of Chacala? Most have never been allowed past the gate, and the beach off limit except by boat. Promises made by the developer have not been kept.

In a future blog we will publish a list of those un fulfilled promises.

It is true that just a few Chacala residents are employed in Chacalilla as housekeepers, cooks and gardeners, Some residents do support the town, but others avoid the town entirely, some would get lost in down town Chacala.

Now there's a new develoment in Chacala's future... Will things it be any different, will the town and its people be part of this new plan. or just shut out again. On the outside looking in.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Chacala Informa: Start the Press!

Yesterday, we sent to the printer the final layout and copy of the first edition of the Chacala Informa.

The Informa is just that: a new regular newsletter printed in Spanish and later on in English as well, with news items of interest for the people of the town of Chacala and to promote for visitors.
Some of the Informa Contributors with the first edition. Thank you to all who were involved.

The first edition is fully sponsored by Chacala businesses and produced by a small group of local residents, all volunteers. It will interesting to see how the project develops, given that there are some on the team who envisage a glossy, up market version which may suit the way the town is heading. The Informa is still a team effort, however, and we welcome ideas from all kinds of sources.

Some if not all of its content can be read in English on the Chacalalife blog. If you would like to contribute to the newsletter, or the blog, or you have any comments, send them to chacalalife@hotmail.com

Get informed!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The New Development Uncovered: The Municipal President Reveals Project Planned for the Palm Grove Area

Due to the enormous outcry and opposition that the sale, relocation and fencing has generated as well as the closure of the Historic Camino Real, the Municipal President, Hector Lopez Santiago, conducted a community meeting in Chacala on October 16th of this year to inform the residents and answer questions from the community. The following is a summary of what he said.
The Palm Grove Area 'El Palmar', as it currently stands

In spite of the worldwide financial crisis, the Riviera Nayarit project is still on course and includes the entire Pacific coast of Nayarit. With reference to the town of Chacala, the Municipal President held talks with the group of investors: two US citizens and one Mexican citizen from Guadalajara. They presented a pre-project including the construction of 3 hotels with 80 rooms each, a golf course, a residential area and a marina. According to the investors, the town of Chacala will be the beneficiary of a new sewer system, road improvements, employment opportunities as well as a water treatment plant.

As high season nears, the town demanded that a parking area be built for buses and cars, as well as public bathrooms, a recreation area as well as over the long term, green areas, and an area for athletics, etc.

View from the Road between Chacala and the Highway

It is worth mentioning that two days after the Municipal President’s visit, construction began for a parking area on land that is designated as a reserve under the municipal land that belongs to the town of Chacala. Construction also began on a new road that will provide additional public access to the town from the paved road.

Lastly, the Municipal president mentioned that the priority of the Governor of Nayarit will be progress for tourism that supports the people of Nayarit with complete adherence to the ecological regulations with minimal impact to the ecosystems, local traditions, customs and rights of the town and its people. As we again face this type of project, we hope that this time promises to the town are kept.
Diggers working on new parking lot on Municipal land, funded, we believe by the new developers.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Town Priorities: a Fancy Plaza or a working Clinic?

At a recent meeting, it was revealed by a local builder that he was attempting to raise funds to be used to build a plaza at a location by the beach. Around 25 people attended the meeting. Most thought the idea had some merit, not at the suggested location but at another also by the beach. The plaza needs to be where it belongs, next to the Church said someone, others agreed. The meeting ended on a positive note. But some are now having second thoughts.

Here's one:

'The idea of building a plaza on the beach may sound like a good idea, but in truth Chacala has far greater needs. Here are just a few. First on my list, would be to complete our new CLINIC, located on the badly-in-need-of-repair road to Chacalilla. The clinic, built with funds supplied by Rotary International, needs a sidewalk, a small garden with stepping stones, benches for people to sit on and public lighting. A request has been made to a U.S Rotary Club for furniture.

Chacala's Medical Clinic: Soon to be opened

Our town has been a leader in the recycling of plastic thanks to our children of EBACH, who in their spare time collect tons of plastic, which is then stored at our recycling center for pick up. We intend to expand our recycling efforts to include glass, paper and cardboard but we need to build a roof over the center to keep things dry.

Of course, we need a place to hang out, that is attractive to tourists and locals alike, but all projects do not necessarily come from good intentions, money should not be wasted. We can't build a plaza in a strategic place that will
become a public bar, when we still have unfinished projects like garbage and health.

Signed Viky Robelo.

Correction to 'Lifeguards in Action'

Please note.
We wish to correct an error in the previous story.It seems that Edwardo WAS
able to get the life-saving torpedo from the storage box.This according to Karla the Las Brisas Restaurant manager.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Lifeguards in Action - Eduardo's lunchtime rescue

Monday is usually a slow day in Chacala. Eduardo, the senior lifeguard, was off duty. The newly formed lifeguard program hasn’t been able to raise enough funds to pay for a guard seven days a week, but Eduardo was visiting Las Brisas anyway.

Around four o’clock in the afternoon, a cry for help came from the north end of the beach, Eduardo sprung into action, dishes flying everywhere, and without any life saving torpedo, (locked up in storage) he swam out to save the lives of an American/Mexican couple, who were camping on the beach. Assisting in the lifesaving was Adam, a cook from Las Brisas.

Turns out that earlier in the day, about noon, Eduardo pulled from the sea three girls ranging in age from 12 to 18. Their father tried but was unable to swim and watched as Eduardo brought them ashore.

Its ironic that the day we posted our story on the blog regarding the lifeguard program that these events happened.

Along with this story is the picture of Eduardo, center, with the lucky couple. Wanda Valandra of Rapid City S. Dakota and husband Emilio Jimenez Davila of Guadalajara.

More than 50 people have been rescued from drowning at Chacala this summer. Several however have been lost.

Chacala is normally a safe beach for swimmers, but the recent storms and climate change have had a negative effect on the ocean.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Lifeguards - Here to Stay?

The annual loss of life due to drowning at the beach has resulted in the formation of a new organization: The Chacala Beach Lifeguard program.

Organizers have opened a bank account in Las Varas and are in the process of collecting donations to be used solely for lifeguards salaries.

You may have seen these lifeguards operating from a raised platform directly in front of Acela's Restaurant.

Day-to-day operations of providing lifeguards for the beach have been conducted solely by Karla of the Las Brisas Restaurant. She has arranged the schedule, has fed the guards along with other restaurants and has collected from most of the bay restaurants to meet payroll. She has even advanced her own money to keep the program going.

The fundraisers hope to be more involved with Karla in the entire lifeguard program; after all, she does have a business to run.

We have thankfully received private donations, from $5 to $50 USD, from local people and even from Chacalilla and La Penita. All local businesses are being encouraged to give monthly donations to keep and improve the current system. Donors are being presented with a certificate of their participation for posting in their places of business. Look out for these in the local shops, restaurants and other business that you patronise.

Donations of any size will be accepted and can be given straight to Concha from Casa Concha who is the treasurer of the organization. We are also planning to set up donation boxes at several locations including Las Brisas. For any further information, please feel free to contact the following addresses:

Gordon Preston: gpreston27@yahoo.com
Concha Velasquez: guanahani_234@hotmail.com
Emilia & Arturo: chacmoolcafe@hotmail.com

We all want our beach to be safe so let's make sure everyone from local business people, residents and visitors all pull together to keep lifeguards on our beach.

Viva Chacala