our first morning in chacala we went to the beach for breakfast and then on to the local market, video camera in hand. my son was my guide throughout this trip and did a wonderful job of navigating mexico complete with fun-facts and witty commentary. our first stop was a small souvenir shop where the guide in question purchased some flip flops. i had suggested as much while packing for the trip back in rochester, but mr middle school didn’t want to wear flip flops. we had settled on water shoes, luckily at hand from our lake house. however, in his haste to return to his psp, mr middle school had picked out 2 left shoes from the bunch – one was his own and one was his dad’s. since it is never advisable to have a guide with 2 left feet we decided to take care of that first.
we just strolled down the tiny bazaar. i bought some pottery. we tried authentic burritos, made on a stainless steel surface. they were good but would have been better if we had been allowed to try the sauces – my husband was at it again, making sure we only ate things that were steaming hot. after lunch we took it easy at casa monarca. my daughter spent several hours intermittently swimming in the pool and swinging in a hammock.
i had read on the web that chacala is always in need of school supplies, so i brought a bagful of school supplies and toys with me. kate told me to take them to mary ann day, co-founder of cambiando vidas (“changing lives”), a non-profit that provides academic support and social enrichment to the chacala community through a learning center, scholarships, computers and internet access, etc. mary ann lives on the top floor of casa aurora. my husband and i decided to walk there. we chatted with mary ann for quite a bit. she told us about the building boom beginning to take root in chacala, thanks to american developers looking to capitalize on chacala’s beach front potential. many of the bigger houses she told us belonged to americans. “i told the local people not to sell their land. i told them the gringos were coming – i ought to know, i’m a gringa!”. it will be a shame if chacala’s present way of life gets lost in the gated, shiny and greedy commerciality of big-ass hotel chains and resorts. mary ann believes it’s only a matter of time.
after some savory dinner (shrimp cooked with chunks of garlic – it had a definite kick) we got back home and began to pack up for our trip back to puerto vallarta the following day. i made the unpleasant acquaintance of a tiny gecko inside our house. it reminded me of pakistani lizards and i wasn’t too happy. thank god my husband is not afraid of anything and he took it out for me. the kids were very concerned for the gecko’s safety so the extradition process was a delicate affair.
we left for pv on thursday, which was perfect. thursday is farmers market day. en route we stopped at la penita mercado. what fun! the market was swarming with sellers. there were rugs, jewelry, pottery, wall hangings, paintings, and lots of fresh produce. i shopped to my heart’s content, trying to keep track of how much i would be able to squeeze into our suitcases. after the mercado we drove to pv, returned the car and took a cab to our hotel – the sheraton. my kids were visibly relieved by the sheer size and shininess of our new abode. the view from our room was stunning. the hotel was literally on the beach, just footsteps away from the sea. after escaping the hotel personnel (they were bent on making us all kinds of rich offers if we agreed to give them 1 1/2 hour of our vacation time to check out the hotel’s rental property) we had an excellent lunch at one of the many restaurants located within the resort. the kids were off on an explore. my son was soon remarkably well-versed in everything that had to do with the hotel – he had the lowdown on the sheraton.
later that evening, my husband’s cousin arrived. she was the reason we had made this trip. a frequent traveler to mexico and especially to pv, she was going to take us to town. we got into a cab and went to the apartment she had rented along with some friends. the apartment was built on top of a hill and looked deceptively like a big villa. it was in fact an entire building full of apartments that sprawled vertically along the slope of the hill and provided amazing views of the city at many different levels. the interior was beautifully decorated and replete with mexican craftwork. we were now ready to walk down the steps from the apartment, to the city of puerto vallarta!