• sparkfireswan

Say Hello to Sayulita. 🏖 [Mexico: Part 1.]

Updated: Dec 30, 2019

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Intro: Mexico, all about that ‘hustle and grind’.

Right off the plane, the guy who helps you secure a taxi, also negotiates the taxi price for you, including a cut for himself to “get a hamburger” later on. The taxi driver then secures a new price with you (from the cut that’s left), higher than his boss allows him to charge, to also include a cut for himself. The taxi driver takes your money, hands you his own preset money (less the tip he negotiated in the new price with you), has you stop at his boss’s stand (to exit the airport), you tell his boss you’re paying the pre-set price, hand his boss the money you were given by the taxi driver, and then off you FINALLY go to your destination. Easy as pie.

Walking the streets, the beaches, restaurants (WHILE you are eating), … any public place at all, the vendors are there, ready to ask anyone around if they want to buy their product, their goods, food, jewelry, you name it. Literally, even jewelry with your name ON it.

On the beaches they even hustle lawn chairs and prime seating in the sand, sometimes also paired with drinks (or even weed or other ‘accessories’) to lure your sale at a “prime location”.

“Amigos, I’ve got you right here. Almost free” …

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They are working their asses off, for their family, for their life. Carrying product (and even their children) literally on their backs, and with them everywhere they go. They are always giving you a referral to another friend who can help you with something else later, even if you’re not buying their product now. Maybe you just casually mentioned to your friend that you were in search of a good snack, and now all the sudden you’re getting directions from Ricardo on how to find Maria with that “buenos tacos” stand down the street.

Even if you say “no gracias”, they will still give you their name for a product or service, just for “when you change your mind later”.

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I truly respect this hard working culture. Being here makes you really feel grateful for what you have at home, and how exactly you have it, but it also makes me extremely intrigued by a life lived another way. Of course I’m grateful for a effortless whatever-is-in-the-fridge dinner back home, but I’m also appreciative of the hustle and grind to put one on here. I’m appreciative of the stability in my life, but I’m longingly curious of “the beach is my office” free-flowing vibes here.

There is straight up business going on, all around you.

Recap: Was last week real life?

The first day is just a blur of emotions… minimal sleep, traveling out of the country, gaining 80+ degrees in one plane ride, exploring a new small city full of life, good food, and the ocean …. And then that MN Vikings football game!

We cheered, and cried, and cheered again, all from a small outdoor sports bar next to our Airbnb. There were no other Vikings fans in the bar at the time, but everyone became our comrade, rooting for us, and celebrating with us after. Afterwards, we walked the streets and people chanted with us in excitement from our victory! Not to mention, we came across the best damn street tacos you’ll ever have in your life! (No joke.) It truly was a perfect first day of escaping “reality”.

To top the night celebrations off, we also tried Mezcal, (a form of agave tequila that was the most delicious ever), at a swing bar in the middle of town square.

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Yes, eventually we went to sleep, and it was in a beautiful loft with open windows to the outdoors, and star lights (on the ceiling of our real palapa roof) to lull us to sleep.

The day was bliss. Absolute Sunday-Funday! It couldn’t have been a more perfect start to a week of exploring (and eating) my way through Mexico.

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Recap: Exploring Mother Nature’s Wonders

From the very start of the trip, we were hooked on finding this “Cave Beach”, known to be a hike out-of-town, but a secluded wonder you wouldn’t regret adventuring to. We heard about it through online travel videos, and did some (questionable) Google searching to provide us basic landmark directions to get there.

Through the “ritzy” part of town, through the Jurassic jungle, about 45 minute walk from the central beach we went. Further off our jungle-cliff-hike, we went to the largest secluded white sand beach yet, (and we were thinking we may have found a different beach all together) … But then there it was! A magical, frightening, hole in the rock to our left, with water rushing through it as the waves ebbed and flowed. You couldn’t see through to what was on the other side, you just had to take a chance. We watched the water level drain, hunkered down, and bolted through one by one. A rush of total exhilaration! We made it! And we couldn’t believe there wasn’t any people around in this beautiful area. What a gem!

The waves were so powerful here, scary even. Mother Nature instantly makes you realize how miniscule you really are. They crash into the rocks, ripping up the sand, and dragging it back out again. There isn’t any escaping or leisurely swimming on this part of the coast. Here you just take it all in. The sand, the salt, the sounds, the beauty! This is true tranquility.

The culture, the community, the town of Sayulita, was far more than I had even hoped it would be. We could walk everywhere we could even want to go, and we ate, and ate, and ate all the most delicious authentic food (after light research on YouTube on where to go and what to get). There was also plenty of variety in tequila everywhere!

What more could you ask for?

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My advice to you: Don’t stay in a resort next time you go somewhere exotic.

Try staying right in the heart of it all! (Do your research of course, and make sure where you are going is safe enough to support your adventures.) Don’t take the easy way out, the comfortable way, staying in an “Americanized locked community”, with shitty food and fake experience. Be bold, and experience new things! You won’t regret it. It’s so exhilarating to be in another country, out of your comfort bubble, learning new things with all FIVE of your senses.

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We said goodbye to this adorable pueblo, after what I feel was the best social-adventure of all we experienced in Sayulita. We were hanging out in the (outdoor) sports bar next to where we were staying, surrounded by casually drunk people our age. Everyone was chatting, chanting, and drinking, and there were sports on all the TV’s. Within time, a group of new drunk friends wandered to our table, curious to learn more about us. Eventually, they pulled up tables and chairs and joined us, for a few (many, way too many) rounds of Corona and Pacific, and we stumbled through the many languages and experiences that separated us, yet still tied us all together.

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Our new friends were all French Canadians, from Quebec, on quite an interesting journey of their own. They didn’t even all know each other originally, or start this trip at the same time. Through an interesting web of connections, they were now conquering parts of lower North America together, and truly living the best life.

Moments like these, meeting people in another country, and learning about them, where they are from, and how they got to where we are now, is my absolute favorite thing about Travel. Nothing sparks my love and curiosity for life more than these experiences. We barely had one whole language in common from our group of four to theirs, and yet we connected so much that night.

Sayulita, you’ve won my heart.

Cheers. Salud. Adios. Buenos Noches. Hasta Luego. Until next time….

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In case you ACTUALLY wanted tips … Where we’re from: Minnesota, USA. Living just outside of Saint Paul, in Woodbury (and Hugo for my friends). How we got there: We flew into Puerto Vallarta with no pre-arranged mode of transportation to Sayulita. It is about 1 hour drive to Sayulita from Puerto Vallarta airport. Once our friends arrived to meet us (traveling in from a Wedding they attended near Riviera Maya) we decided to hail a taxi out the front door of the airport. We negotiated travel to Sayulita for $60 American cash. (About 1,140 pesos) Where we stayed: We choose to use Airbnb for our sleeping accommodations, and found ourselves right downtown, on a main passage, close to the beach, restaurants, bars, street food, night life, town square, and all in between. The street we stayed on was a main one, called Av Revolucian, and we were just west of Town Square. (If you want to connect on further details, that’s no problem, just let me know!)

If you’re staying in the ‘downtown’ area of Sayulita, you have to be accepting to the wild life that also calls this area home. Roosters, chickens, and dogs walk freely along the streets and the crowds, and you will definitely hear them in the mornings! We stayed in an apartment that had open windows to the outside, so the noises were amplified. If this isn’t your type of thing you’ll want to research options a little further out-of-town.

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The rooster is the true mascot of Sayulita. Only the rooster sings the song of its people, all-night-long. …. The noises really didn’t bother me much, and each morning I was excited to get up and tackle the day anyway, but it’s definitely not for everyone. The second bedroom in our group was in a closed off space, but they could still hear the rooster songs too…