Chacala Charm

Little side note to the Chacala post.  We couldn’t help but take a picture of one of the signs that lines the trail from the anchorage to the beach.  It’s completely random and we can’t figure out if there was a problem with people on the trail or if they were climbing the chain-link fence to do their…ahem…business.


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Yep…it says what you think it says.

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Cha Cha Chacala

We heard good things about Chacala. A lot of good things.  But we couldn’t help but wonder, could it be as good as everyone says it is??  Well, small town, perfect beach, good food, cheap beers and nice people…We couldn’t ask for anything better!

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Palm-lined trail from the anchorage to the beach (L); Stone-paved roads and colorfully painted homes throughout the town add to Chacala’s charm.

Chacala is a bit of a rolly anchorage, so everyone puts out a bow and stern anchor (for non-sailors this means one anchor pulling from the front and another anchor pulling from the back in order to keep the boat in one direction, with bow into the swells/waves, instead of spinning around).  This was the first time I’d been on board for putting out the stern anchor.  Basically, we dropped the bow anchor like normal and then we quickly put our dinghy into the water and Dave pulled our stern anchor out by rowing the dinghy backwards from Camanoe.  It was a little more complicated than this, but it’s hard to explain.  It’s hard enough figuring out a good place for just the one normal anchor, but to figure out where to put a second anchor is like a puzzle.  You don’t want either anchor to be on top of some one else’s or in a place where another boat is going to have to cross one of your anchor lines in order to pull theirs up.  Basically, you talk/shout to/radio the boats around you and get a consensus of how much chain/rode people have put out and where they have dropped their anchors…which is always a guestimate, since it’s not like you can see EXACTLY where your anchor is once it’s down.  And it’s hard to remember exactly where you may have dropped your anchor if it’s been a few days.  Everything ended up working well for us, but there was someone in the anchorage that dragged while we were there, which can be very scary.  And for some reason, always seems to happen in the middle of the night.  Silly anchors.

OK, back to the town of Chacala. There’s not much there.  In fact, the first time we went ashore we ran into Patrick and Dawn from s/v Deep Playa (HaHa-ers) and they suggested one of the small tiendas (spanish for store) for some fruits/veggies and possibly some cough medicine for poor Dave.  It didn’t take us long to find the shop since there’s only one main road and it’s only a few blocks long.  Deep Playa had warned us that the produce might not be fresh and that the trick is to come back each day until they get something fresh in…or take the bus to the next town over, Las Veras.  We went into the store and quickly realized that it wasn’t a particularly fresh produce day, but they did have tortilla chips, which we desperately needed (you have no idea how fast we go through tortilla chips).  So we walked around hoping to figure out where the Las Veras bus picks up.  We asked a local and he said it was back down near the tienda we had just come from.  As we were walking back, we saw a blue van and we hailed the driver; he said HE was the Las Veras bus and that he could take us now and it would be 12 pesos (less than a $1 USD).  We piled in and then he proceeded to go up and down a couple of Chacala streets honking randomly.  We guess he was letting people know he was leaving for Las Veras because after honking a couple of times, a couple of people came out of their houses and hopped in.  Nice system.  I wish MUNI in SF would honk and wait outside my door for me when it’s time for the bus to go.  LOL

Anyway, it was about a ten minute ride into the next town and the van/bus driver gave us info on how to find the produce market.  We wandered around, found Dave some cough syrup, which was pretty easy, since you only have to cough to get your point across to the pharmacist/shopkeeper. What was harder was trying to explain that we also wanted cough drops.  Finally I saw some Halls lozenges and asked the cashier, “Come se dice?”, thinking she’d tell me how to say ‘cough drops’ in Spanish, but instead she just smiled and said, “Halls.”  I felt kind of stupid and just shut up.

Anyway, more wandering and eventually we found the produce market.  The only clue was that there were boxes of fresh produce lining the sidewalk outside this little hole in the wall. Looks are deceiving, because this was some of the freshest stuff we’d seen in a while. Especially the oranges, which, by the way people in California, do you realize how lucky we are to have Naval Oranges??  It’s a pain to peel and de-seed the oranges from Mexico.  Seeds???  Totally ruins the oranges.

Sorry, fruit tangent.

I picked up some fresh avocados, apples, tomatoes and finally got up the nerve to try some of the Mexican squash we keep seeing.  It made a lovely addition to the veggie curry I made that night for dinner and there was still plenty leftover to add to spaghetti the following night.  I think I’m addicted to Mexican squash now.

Heading back to Chacala was a bit of an adventure.  The driver had told us to wait at the OXXO (their version of 7-11) store. So Dave and I hung outside until we saw the blue van and flagged it down.  He stopped, but sort of laughingly said, “No, you have to wait on the bench over there.” while pointing to a bench on a side street NEXT to the OXXO.  We saw a couple of the people that had ridden into Las Veras with us sitting on the bench.  Oops. Totally missed that clue.

We headed to the bench and about 10 minutes later the driver came around.  This time, completely packed with kids just getting out of school.  The van is large, but really only meant for about 10 passengers and the driver.  Dave and I had to squeeze into the last row of seats along with a rather large, elderly lady and a teenager carrying a tray of BBQed coconut treats.  In all there were 19 people in the van.  All the kids were yelling and laughing and teasing each other while Dave and I tried not to fall onto the tray of coconut.

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Bussing back from La Veras; 19  people in a van!

Chacala was also the first place, if you can believe it, that Dave and I had an official beach day.  Nothing to do but just relax in the sand, soak up some sun and play a little frisbee.  Navigo joined us after awhile and we all bought some hammocks from beach vendors.  The guy came around earlier in the day when Dave and I got to the beach and we ended up buying one for 500 pesos after the vendor originally wanted 950 pesos.  We felt pretty good about that deal until Bob on Navigo talked one of the guys down to 400 pesos for a hammock!  Good dealing Bob!  The hammocks are SUPER nice and are made in Acapulco.  Large enough for two and fits on our bow when we have the dinghy in the water, making for a great place to relax and enjoy the sunshine from Camanoe.

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Bob from Navigo relaxing in his new hammock (L), Dave shuffling up the Uno cards on our beach day (R).

We thought we’d relax longer in Chacala, but we’re suddenly realizing that we’re running out of time on this Mexican adventure.  Hurricane seasons starts in May, but if Dave is going to jump somewhere, he’ll need to do it before April.  If we keep going south, what do we do with the boat after May??  Too many options and too many things to still see and dwindling bank accounts.  It’s quite a conundrum.

Anyway, we’re pushing south into Bandares Bay and seeing what happens from there…more to come!