One day per week we hop on a bus to go on a day trip and explore somewhere new. A sort of work/play day where we gather info and photos for our blog and other projects while also enjoying the sights and tastes of wherever we are. Last Friday we decided to go to Sayulita which is a little beach town about 20 miles north of Puerto Vallarta. Sayulita was “discovered” by surfers in the 60’s when the new highway was completed. It was then changed from a sleepy fishing village to a sleepy surf town frequented mainly by US west coasters looking for a secluded spot to relax and ride the waves. It remained fairly unknown to the masses until about a decade ago when it was “discovered” by more and more expats who saw it as a perfect place to set up a second or even first home. Now it is home to more than 4000 permanent residents, many of which are Canadians and Americans who have built a life here including many local businesses. As with many “discovered” tourist towns this can be viewed as a good thing or a bad thing depending on who you talk to.
We arrived at the edge of town after a 45 min bus ride from downtown Puerto Vallarta and took a few minutes to take in our surroundings. There seemed to be just one main road leading into town and it was lined with food carts and shops selling the standard sweets and drinks and Coco frios (fresh chilled young coconuts) along with the assortment of tourista trappings. Despite the familiar sights it was clear very quickly that it was quite different from Puerto Vallarta. It felt more relaxed and less “touristy” somehow despite the fact that there were a good amount of Gringos walking around and English seemed to be as prominent as Spanish. In fact many of the vendors calling out to us as we passed by were clearly fellow ex-pats. We followed Avenue Revolution deeper into the quaint little town in search of the Friday morning market we had read about and as we looked around I turned to Nathan and said “I could live here”.
The market was not quite what we had expected as 75% of the stalls were manned by ex-pats of varying degrees of “hippy-ness”. There was certainly some standard Mexican fare such as the fabulous assortment of Agua Fresca, delicious smelling tacos and empanadas and colorful bracelets of woven threads but there were also many items that would be more at home at our favorite Freemont Market in Seattle. Here we found ourselves browsing through an array of home-made vegan fare such as hummus and falafels, all-natural soaps and creams, North American styled jewelry and even home-made pickles and Thai peanut sauce. After surveying all of the tasty options we decided on a huge made to order sandwich from a tall young man with a slight German (I think) accent. He filled the large crusty roll with freshly roasted pork that he carved on the spot, two types of sausage and a sort of pickled cabbage. To wash it down we went an ice cold Agua Fresca which I think contained pineapple, guava and orange juice plus something else which I couldn’t translate as it was from one of the few Spanish speaking vendors. The market was certainly not traditional Mexico but it had a great vibe and energy, everyone was super friendly and welcoming and the food was fresh and delicious.
Leaving the market we headed for the beach which was fairly busy but by no means full. There were a few restaurants with chairs and tables in the sand or you could rent lounge chairs and umbrellas for about $15 US for the day. We decided to be frugal and lie out on our towels and go for a swim before committing to anything. Although this was considered a surfing beach the waves were fairly small on this day so rather than being full of surfers there were many of paddle boarders in the water. SUP’s are pretty popular in the Pacific North West so it was a familiar sight for us and something we had both always wanted to try…and so we did. For about $8US an hour we rented boards at a little surf shop and hauled them down to the shore try out our balancing skills. If you know us then you know that Nathan is the one with the aptitude for athletic pursuits while I have always struggled with a lack of balance and coordination…or so I thought. Turns out I was pretty good! After only falling once I gained my balance and was able to paddle out to sea. Nathan however had a few more spills before he got the hang of it. Sorry to rub it in babe but it’s so rare that I beat you at anything I’m gonna take this win and relish in it!! Ok to be fair I did have a bigger board which is apparently more stable…but like I said I’m gonna take it. The Mexican guy who had given us the boards knew it was my first time and had tried to reassure me in Spanish, I’m sure the big grin on my face when we returned didn’t need any translation.
Tired and thirsty we chose some chairs on the beach next to a couple playing Yahtzee and ordered some well earned cold cervesa’s. We soon started chatting with our neighbors Salem (from Michigan) and Staci (from Texas) and before long had a plan to get together that evening in Puerto Vallarta. Salem owns a Hostel in Mazatlán called the Funky Monkey and the two of them were tripping around Mexico for a few days during Staci’s visit. As much as we loved Sayulita I think this meet up was the highlight of our day as we ended up spending the whole weekend together exploring and eating and generally having a great time with our new Amigos.However before leaving Sayulita that evening Nathan and I explored the town a bit more. We enjoyed shrimp fajitas at Sayulita Fish Tacos (great view of the square and ocean beyond), browsed through some of the really great (but expensive) clothing boutiques and made note of some bars and restaurants that looked like a good choice for our next visit. By the end of our day I was certain of what I had said to Nathan that morning…I could live here. Granted it has a really strong ex-pat influence and therefore may not feel as authentic Mexico as some other small towns but for me a taste of familiarity, the cool relaxed hippy/surfer/artist vibe and the focus on health and wellness combined with the beauty of the Mexican Pacific coast, the friendly people (both local and ex-pat), and the great weather and fabulous food were a winning combination. We are nowhere near ready to settle down in one place for too long and maybe never will be but perhaps later in life we will be found selling home-made crafts at the market on Friday mornings before heading to the beach to paddle board and surf!
Anything is possible when you Live, Dream and Discover!!