Monday, November 24, 2008

Oakway Center, Chapala, hauntings?

In the little town of Oakway Center there is an alley between the main square with its venerable oak trees and the large asphalt blacktop where cars are parked.
In the alley a group of people have set out booths, tables, and chairs. On the walls electric candle lamps shed soft light. This alley, called Chapala Restaurante Mexicano, is a very pretty and soothing place to have a meal or a drink.
Here, they serve Mexican food. Perhaps the food is meant to be inspired by Jalisco where lake Chapala lies, or, perhaps the alley is meant to feel a bit like an alley in the city of Guadalajara located near lake Chapala.

I ordered a chicken enchilada and a chicken taco. Nestled beside them were "ranchero" beans, and a little brown sauce too.
I don't know their source, although they did have that distinctive Costco flavor. It all sat in a big yellow fiesta plate.
What does the food tell me about the place?
It tells me that the "owners" had access to rice, beans, chicken, iceburg lettuce, tomato, and chips. It tells me that as a customer I didn't need to know where it came from and maybe there is a reason I am not supposed to know.
But the dining environment could not be more peaceful...

There are a few things you should know about this alley and this town.
The alley closes every night; it is very regulated. There are only two entrances and nobody can come in who is not going to eat at the tables. The main town square with the oak trees is owned by the McKay Investment Company and regulated as well. Filled with the excitement of having found a little town like Oakway in Eugene, OR, I called up Oak Leaf Property Management and explained how great their public space is. I was told, "The important thing to remember is that it is not really public space. It's owned. A lot people think it's public and it's not... Most of the businesses are open from 10am-6pm although most of the national [chain stores] stay open until 9... We don't allow panhandlers." They are having a Christmas tree lighting on Sunday and they provide music in the summer. Yet still, even the owners don't live there. There is no castle nestled in the Center where the McKay family lives. The kind and polite people who staff the tables and kitchen in Chapala don't live there either.

In fact, nobody lives in the town of Oakway. In the festive alley of Chapala there are windows on the walls of the alley, even images of people looking out of those windows. Closer analysis, however, will reveal that these are only drawings of people. In fact, behind the windows there is nothing but empty wall. Empty.
The town clears out at night, and it seems there is some reason that nobody lives in town. Is it a haunted place? The owners have created laws that keep certain people away and regulate visitors. Why? Is it to protect them from ghosts, zombies, or those similarly afflicted?

Perhaps there are answers to these questions tied into the stories of places all around this place near the Williamette river. Perhaps, by peering into the shadows of places like Oakway, I can find the ghosts and zombies that the McKay Company and so many others are afraid of...

1 comment:

sophie said...

oh my god! you updated your blog! i miss you... i should really call you.