Lately I've been reflecting on the wonderfully supportive and practical culture that we live in, where many a kid grows up next to their working parents - under a desk, in a shop, behind the counter of a restaurant as mom or dad run the business or attend to customers.
With the heat rising, our house has been keeping cool with refreshing homemade aguas frescas. A traditional Mexican drink made from fresh fruits, grains, or flowers and fresh water, aguas frescas can be a healthy alternative to sugary sodas and juices - if you make your own and limit the amount of sugar.
A day at the Vallarta Zoo is a fun and uniquely Mexican experience. Nestled in the lush jungle of the "El Eden" area of Mismaloya, the Zoológico Vallarta is home to hundreds of species of birds, mammals and reptiles. The privately owned zoo, which receives no public subsidies or funding, offers visitors a high level of interaction with exotic animals in a beautiful setting.
You've all heard me wax poetic about what a great family town Sayulita is - whether to vacation or to live - but it's been a little while so I thought I'd wax from a different perspective. Apart from my most important job of being Maximo's Mama, and my (of course) very important responsibility of writing a certain column, my job that pays the bills is my wedding planning business. I feel pretty lucky about almost everything I have the good fortune to do in Sayulita (reference above, for starters), and planning weddings is no exception.
It's 4 a.m. and there is a full brass band blaring outside of my window. Actually, they are probably a good two blocks away but it sounds like they are in my bedroom. There are many Mexican customs I might never completely assimilate, but this one is starting to grow on me (a little). As utterly annoying as it is to everyone still sleeping in a 10-block radius, there is something sweet and at the same time mischievous about the tradition of waking up your beloved on the dawn (ahem, pre-dawn) of their birthday with a top-volume serenade of "Las Mañanitas."
With so many amazing and beautiful women to celebrate, it's pretty awesome that we get two consecutive Mothers' Days this weekend, with the American holiday on Sunday the 9th and Mexican Mothers' Day on Monday the 10th.
Where I used to think of Mothers' Day purely as a time to celebrate and honor my own Mothers and Grandmothers, I now see it as that and so much more. Of course, being a Mother myself, it is a special holiday for me - a time to be pampered a bit sure, but also a time to reflect on the joys of being a mommy; the incredible love that I have for and receive from my son; the growth and change that comes with Motherhood.
Today is "Children's Day" in Mexico, a day to celebrate and honor children everywhere. Children's Day is celebrated around the world on different dates, the idea being first established in 1925 at the World Conference for the Well-being of Children in Geneva.
Maximo and I recently returned from a vacation in good ol' Kentuckiana. We had a great visit with Grammie Karen (my mom), Papa Mark (my stepdad), and Uncle Zachy (my little bro), and Maximo got to meet a whole heap of family that he instantly charmed the pants off of.
With Semana Santa in full effect, there is no shortage of family fun to be had in Sayulita these days, from lounging on the beach with the hundreds of other families, to our very own Lucha Libre on Friday night, to general people-watching on our busy streets, and our first Farmers' Market on Friday. As you're planning out your social calendar for the coming week, be sure to save Thursday night for the "Fiesta del Mundo" - a fundraising party for San Pancho's Escuela del Mundo, being held right here in Sayulita. The benefit will take place Thursday, April 8, from 6:00-11 :00 PM, at Medusa Garden Grill in front of the baseball field on Avenida del Palmar.
One of my favorite field trips from Sayulita is the La Peñita market, which happens every Thursday. Market shopping is such a rich and interactive experience, so different from the sanitized supermarkets that we are all so familiar with. It's so refreshing - and such an important experience for children - to break out of the routine of Mega and Walmart, and buy the week's provisions from real, local folks selling products that they had a hand in making or growing. The La Peñita market in particular embodies a wonderful duality, as a showcase for Artisans and handicrafts, and as a functional market selling tons of things that we all need: from hardware to spices to produce to clothes hangers.
I'm pretty aware of how awesome our life is here in Sayulita, but if ever I forget how good I really have it, my dear friend KT is quick to remind me. Her latest musing centered what she calls our "pretend life," because it seems that when we get an idea about something we want to do, we just go out and do it, regardless of the standard requisite training that might otherwise be involved in the "real world." Write a column for the local paper? Why not!? Design and build a house? Sure. Be a guest-teacher at the local school? I can do that! Actually, Gabbi is doing that one, which is what started this discussion, as he just kicked off his 3-week tenure as a substitute art teacher at Costa Verde International School. (Go Sr. Gabbi! You are my hero!)
If you're pregnant or thinking about having a baby in or near Sayulita, then you need to meet Ocatoli Faskowicz. San Pancho resident and business-owner Ocatoli is an apprentice Midwife, a Doula, a childbirth educator, and a gem of a resource for our communities. A few weeks ago, I sat down with Ocatoli to chat about giving birth at home and hear her thoughts and visions for our community of mothers.
This is one of those weeks that make me really appreciate the other 51 weeks of my year. Not to say that this one is bad, just busy and full and demanding and challenging - surely all good things in the context of work and the culmination of a complex project that's been in planning for months. In my fleeting moments (and they are fleeting, so I will make this brief) of self-reflection, I find myself thinking of how weeks like this help to put life in perspective.
I love an excuse to celebrate my favorite town - especially when it involves a carnival - so I'm always excited when Sayulita Days rolls around. I mean, who doesn't love a carnival, a parade, and cock fights? Oh wait, cock fights are bad. We don't like cock fights at all! But carnival rides + games + junk food = good times. In addition to the usual slides, ball pits, and carousels, our Sayulita carnival offers some not-to-be-missed Mexican twists: everyone's favorite game of throwing rocks at beer bottles to win - what else? - more beer; a Ferris wheel powered by what appears to be the chassis of some old car; and a bar around every corner (if you'd rather skip the rock throwing and go straight to paying market value for your booze). All in all, plenty of fun to be had for the whole family!
When you think about the criteria that define a "family town," proximity to a good school ranks pretty high. Back in the day when my man and I were just dreaming of moving to Sayulita, education was still a big unknown - but being carefree kid-free newlyweds, we figured we had some time before it was a real issue. Lucky for us, a group of parents was already hard at work establishing Costa Verde International School, Mexico's first sustainable, accredited independent school, right here in Sayulita.
All of this unseasonably wet winter weather has me craving soups and tea and wanting to cuddle up on the couch with a good book. Though surely a bummer for the vacation set, it's a refreshing change for us who live here, and for the plantlife. It's been nice to burrow into the house and enjoy the cool weather and gray days (says the chica who's work is all on the computer this week, and who doesn't have to go outside much...).
As awesome as Sayulita is, and as much as many of us never want to leave, it's always nice to stretch out, explore a little, and breathe some different air in a neighboring pueblo. Luckily, Sayulita is surrounded by other charming towns and lovely beaches to explore. So gather the troops and head out for a Family Field Trip!
With high season in full swing, I've been thinking a lot about work/life balance. Some things are constant, I suppose. Having left behind the workaday life of 6 day weeks, 14 hour days, and hour-long commutes, I never forget how good I have it working from home in sweet Sayulita, where the rest of the world comes to spend their 2 weeks of vacation a year.