I always considered myself to be a city girl; I loved the idea of discovering new neighbourhoods or returning to old familiar ones, to that sweet corner cafe with the best homemade pumpkin pie and real whipped cream.....losing myself in a pleasant park for a day, or the debauchery of a wild night out on the town, loving the anonymity, the availability, the range of possibilities and contrasts. So what if I only went to a play once a year?
Having changed from our sweater, jeans and jackets into shorts, t-shirts and flip-flops, we left the last bit of Seattle behind and crossed the bridge into Sayulita. Bridges are like that - allowing us to cross from one land into another. Ready for a different kind of vacation, we had asked around for possible destinations. "You ought to check out Sayulita," our friend told us,
My first impressions of Chile, other than the way Chileans eat their Spanish and chop off the word endings - it´s so tame and orderly! People do what they´re supposed to and the cars even stop at crosswalks to allow pedestrians to pass! Quite a shock, coming from the craziness of driving in Mexico.
A cloud joined us for breakfast. Sitting on the second story balcony of our (and the only) hotel, eating pan dulce, we were surrounded by the thickest fog I have ever seen in Mexico. Having arrived at Isla Mexcaltitán the afternoon before, we were enjoying watching the orioles, egrets and herons in their early morning rituals and the fishermen, punting in long canoes over the shallow water of Lago Mexcaltitán.
Seeing our small duffle bags, the boat captain asked if we'd like to go straight to the hotel. The only hotel on Isla Mexcaltitán is on the far side of the tiny island, which appears to be floating in the remote mangrove swamps to the north of San Blas.
Walking the tree-lined, stone streets of Guanajuato, I felt immediately transported to Europe. Somehow, a drive of several hours from Sayulita had landed me and my husband in a city where I almost expected the language of choice to be French or Italian.
Word to the wise: Don't get a dog any bigger than you can pick up and carry. This was my mantra after our recent weekend excursion to Yelapa, Jalisco, a little south of Puerto Vallarta and only accessible by water taxi. Discovering our favorite lodging would accept our Labrador Retriever, the only hurdle was to be getting our sweet, three-legged pooch on and off the boat.
Winter in Montreal, Canada can be interminable. The sun rises at 7:45a.m. and sets at 4:24p.m. these days. The temperature right now is -17 C. The short, cold days too early become longer, colder nights. The husband and I disagree sometimes on what the future holds for us.
Sitting in the rows of white plastic chairs outside the immigration office, my husband, dog and I waited with other residents to conduct our business of the day. Sensing activity inside, we all arose and formed an orderly line, knowing exactly who had arrived before and after whom.
Two cats, one dog, one couple, one minivan, two countries, three time zones and 3,500 miles: the formula that transports us from the northern U.S. to our winter home in Sayulita. Not willing to be away from our pets for that amount of time or to trust their welfare to air travel, my husband and I have chosen the long road trip as our mode of travel.
As Dona Lety reminds me, I have to earn money in "El Norte" to put in my pocket to be able to return to Sayulita. I'm not as "snowy" as many snowbirds. Yes, my husband is retired, but I am still working - at least about 8 1/2 months out of the year. While I feel very lucky to be able to escape for the better part of each winter, I now find myself "champing at the bit" to get going and join our fellow snowbirds on the road and at our destination, the ever-lovely and enticing Sayulita. High season is in full swing, friends ask: "When are you coming?", and I note on Facebook that plans are starting to gel and reconnections are being made, without us at this point.
I look after the bookings for our guest house in Sayulita. Generally, I love my "job" and have made many long-distance friendly acquaintances purely through these emails, as we're not always in Sayulita when our guests are.
There's been so much talk online, in the press, all over the place, about safety in Mexico, including Sayulita. I feel so safe in Sayulita, it's ridiculous! Yes, we lock our doors. Yes, we have a safe in each unit. But no, we don't have bars on the windows. No, we don't have a guard dog. We don't sleep with a club, or anything else, by the bed. People near us surrounded their property with a wall that's about 10' high. Motion-detector lights have become all the rage. Nobody's put bars on windows yet but perhaps that day will soon come. I hope not.
Hello, Sayulita! I haven't written for a month or more because, frankly, I didn't think I had anything to say. When I was asked to write a series of articles for El Sayulero, they were meant to cover the joys and woes of running a business such as ours from a distance. That kind of fell by the wayside, as we were in Sayulita for the winter, looking after things ourselves, first-hand, and with the exception of a ruined garden, things went quite well.
We have two new additions to the family here in Sayulita. Twins, in fact. I would love to show you a photo but their mother is very protective, naturally so, and won't let me photograph them quite yet. The parents are locals, I believe, probably born and raised here themselves. They come from a once very large family but now there aren't that many of them, hence their sense of privacy and protection when it comes to their children. I'm speaking, of course, of the chachalacas.
When we first came to Sayulita just 10 years ago, there were hardly any two-storey buildings in the village. The buildings around the plaza were a mix of single-family homes and small businesses, catering mainly to the local Mexican population. The tortilla factory. The wonderful and totally illegal "gas station". The plaza and surrounding roads were mostly dirt, and mostly Mexican.
And more and more and more of them are in English only. In Sayulita, Mexico, where the vast majority of residents are Mexican, one can't go down any road in the centre of this beautiful village without seeing businesses with English-language names offering services spelled out solely in English. This troubles me. In my home province of Quebec, Canada, the population is overwhelmingly French. A problem existed though. While the majority of the population was French, increasingly the language of commerce was becoming English. So much so that the majority French population began to feel excluded and, worse, disenfranchised. I can see Sayulita headed in the same direction. Very, very quickly.
Since the beginning of time (I base the beginning of time as being 10 years ago, when we bought our land in Sayulita) we have been faced with a conundrum. To help or not to help? We have always prided ourselves on being willing (and able) to pitch in and at least try to tackle some very daunting tasks. I would never ask someone to do something that I was capable of doing myself. But when we came here, the rules changed. Of course, so did the jobs.
"Mexico is a loud country." Oh, how I wish I could remember in which guidebook I first read that. It's something I keep trying to impress upon our guests, without actually scaring them away! Most of the noise is fun, and short-lived. I consider it simply loud sounds, not noise. Roosters, dogs, car radios, the gas trucks - the many, many gas trucks - all contribute to the friendly cacophany that is Mexico. Church bells on a Sunday (actually, pretty much any day, I'm finding); fireworks, especially on a Saturday night, to celebrate a wedding or perhaps a christening. We're fortunate, in our guesthouse, to overlook the ballfield and the plaza in the distance, to bear witness to all that goes on in our little pueblo.