Pause. This is My…South/Southwest.
Outside of a daytime visit across the border to TJ interspersed with a college trek to San Diego, Mexico had remained an uncharted territory for me thus far in life. I was a curious cat looking to explore.
You see, April in Seattle is not surprisingly marked by rain and overcast that accentuates the dreary colors of our ’70’s rooted architecture and bland downtown. Blah.
On the flipside, April in Mexico is bright. And warm. And colorful…and warm…and colorful.
The first night was a drop into Puerto Vallarta. If I lived in Puerto Vallarta, I would not sell candy or sing La Bamba to retired couples on the beach who have never stepped outside of a Sandals resort. No, no. Instead, I would own a tire shop. There is no way any car’s tires can possibly survive more than a month of pounding along those old cobblestone streets. I’m convinced tire guys are the real moneymakers in town. Not the guy who willingly spends 10 minutes pitching me on why I need a floral pink blanket the size of my apartment AND a bracelet with my name stitched on it AND a pipe to smoke weed. Tires. Game on.
PV is pretty. Cheesy and overrun with an odd mix of tourists, monster clubs (3 Senor Frogs, really?) and expected slices of Americana (I may or may not have happened to order up a dipped cone from Burger King to walk around with on the boardwalk…sue me), yes. But pretty. Even in black and white.
But, one night of PV was enough. The rest of the trip was dedicated to spending some time in and around Sayulita, a small, not-so-secret beach town about 30 minutes north of PV. Touches of tourist stuff? Yes, of course. But there were also lizards and scorpions scampering across mi casa each night as well as snakes and armadillos crossing my path along jungle hikes to surrounding towns.
There was a full day when the town simply decided to shut off all the water.
There was dirt, dust and cobblestone streets as well as open-air apartments that surround town square providing peeks into everyday life for the locals. There is the guy who shows up at 3 each afternoon with his truckbed full of perfectly-picked red juicy tomatoes. There is the lady who drops off her stacks of warm tortillas at the local market and the older man who spends the greater part of each afternoon on a minimally populated beach hoping to sell a few handfuls of nuts or jelly beans to hungry swimmers. There are looks of awe and soft smiles from ninos staring up at a 6’5 pasty white stranger strolling through their front yard which doubles as a porch for grandma and grandpa to sit all day while mom cooks up delicious tacos.
There is the truck that rolls through town with a random assortment of household goods ranging from coat hangers to toilet paper to…machetes. There is the group of five kids packed onto a 4-wheeler racing through town – a 6-year-old going on 24, at the wheel. There is the cafe that serves up the perfectly mashed mojito and the gringo surfers washing away a day of salt spray with a couple cold pacificos. There are beaches that stretch for miles, waves that never stop crashing, birds that gleefully chirp into the wee hours of the morning and sunsets that regularly paint the sky with an incredible mix of red, orange, yellow and pink.
In Sayulita, there is a beautiful place that quickly reminds you of how many others in this world do not schedule every minute of their day. How millions of others do not stare at computer screen for hours on end or spend five days a week racing from one perfectly cooled conference room to another while the outside world passes by.
Go. See the colors. Feel the sun. Eat the tacos. Drink the cervezas. Say hola and smile. Swim, lounge and repeat until your heart’s content.Viva Sayulita.