Visiting Gringos In Paradise
21 November 2014 | 20 52.206'N:105 26.665'W, Sayulita, Mexico
We woke up this morning ready to pull the boat out of the marina, even if it was cheaper to stay here another 3 days rather than leave today. As I mentioned in our last blog post, this living in a marina in "resort-ville", although comfortable, was kiling us with the lack of culture and over abundance of size large tourists.
As we had our morning coffee and contemplated another day in "Paradise" I suggested that we jump on the bus and head to Sayulita for the day. We had missed Sayulita on our last trip here, which could be forgiven because Sayulita hardly existed then in the Gringo mindset back then. Of course, the town existed, but back in 2005 it wasn't the bohemian hideaway that it is now. In fact, back then it was only a dusty fishing village that a few surfers had discovered, but were keeping relatively quiet. Then, in 2006 Barry Golson published a book "Gringo's in Paradise" which helped let the cat out of the bag. Now, Sayulita is still a dusty fishing village with atrocious rutted roads, still has it's surfers, but also has a whole lot of rich gringos, stunning hillside houses, a dozen or more yoga studios, wholistic health clinics, home made everything, and more. In short, minus the surfers, Sayulita now feels a lot like Ganges on Saltspring Island. It still has great charm, but has definitely moved well upscale.
The bus ride there was one step above a chicken bus. Of course, there was first class air conditioned transportation available, but we like the travel the way the locals do. For only 35 pesos, about $3, we enjoyed an hour long ride, driven by Mario Andretti's younger brother, through incredibly narrow, twisty jungle roads. Up the mountain, down the mountain, and around the blind curves our bus might have looked like it was going to fall apart, but the engine was obviously in great condition! Considering that every seat was filled, plus fifteen more standing in the aisle, I was amazed that we stayed on our wheels. Eventually we arrived at the outskirts of town where we were allowed to disembark. We were all glad to step off the bus and I felt like kissing the Virgin of Guadalupe statue that stood beside the steering wheel in thanks for arriving alive.
Walking into town we were absolutely amazed at the number of small restaurants, taco shops, and stores. It was far busier than we had imagined. Of course, the gringo to national ratio was way up, hence all the stores. Half way to the beach we stumbled across a street market. However, this was not like any other mexican market we have seen. This is where we really saw that Sayulita had made the big time. Yes, you could buy soap, but only hand made soap, made with organic goat cheese from virgin goats. Coffee was available as well, but only hand picked, organic coffee, harvested in an eco-friendly, environmentally responsible, sustainable way. Those ubiquitous Mexican wool blankets were also available, but again, these ones had to be very special.
Even though money had found Sayulita, don't get me wrong, we still loved it. For some inexplicable reason, the charm hasn't - yet - been squeezed out of the town like it has been in so many other places. There are no large hotels, no tall buildings, no new buildings, no chain stores, and no fast food. Sayulita has done a wonderful job of managing their success.
Walking down the beach was fantastic! The waves were just big enough for the novice surfers and the water was a gorgeous aqua-marine. The shore was lined with palapa restaurants, none to busy, none to empty. Then, we were quite surprised to come across Dave & Lynn Sutherland and Vicki Ulibarri sitting in one of the palapas enjoying a bucket of cold beers. Paul Ulibarri was there as well, but was out fishing. Dave & Lynn had joined us for a drink at the marina a couple of days ago so it was good to see them again - especially since they had a bucket of beer. You can guess how we spent the rest of the afternoon!
After a great afternoon, and walk through the graveyard to Playa los Muertos, literally beach of the dead, we jumped the bus and returned to the boat.
After a tentative start to the day, we have learned once again that all we need for a great day is a little adventure, and a few friends, to make the day worthwhile.
p.s. While Dave was driving along the beach in his golf cart we recorded a 4 minute video.