Friday, November 17, 2017

Sayulita Gets It's First Bank!

Things progress slowly here sometimes.  Especially when it comes to local services.  Sayulita has seen a boom the last few years and Intercam Banco has decided to set up a branch office right here in town.  The very first bank to do so!  Fortunately, we just happen to have all our accounts with Intercam so this is a big convenience for us.  The branch basically has all the same services that their other branches in Puerto Vallarta and Bucerias have but it is walking distance for us and has a secure ATM as well.

The bank will do very well I think since the visitor to town will trust a brick and mortar operation more for currency exchanges and ATM withdraws.  The communities north and south of here will be a client base to draw from as well.  The "in town" location is easy to get to from the transportation routes that go around Sayulita so banking will be easy for those who need to drive to the location.

First a gas station and now a bank.  We are getting so "civilized" here in our small, but growing, pueblo.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Sayulita Scenes - Trace And His "Sayulita Bros"

Trace and his two best friends headed out for a surf trip down the coast a ways via panga yesterday morning.  The panga was captained by Felipe Rodriguez Lorenzo, aka "Pipe", who has been giving the boys SUP surfing instruction this fall.  Pipe finished in the top 10 at the ISA SUP World Championships in Fiji in 2016. Stoked to have another coach for the kids who is also a world class competitor and athlete.  I am going to have to tag along with these groms sometime soon and learn some new things.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

The Sayulita JR SUP Team At The Pacific Paddle Games 2017 - Part 3

Part 3 of 3.  Read Part 2 HERE.

The last day of competition arrived and we woke up early to overcast skies.  It was actually pretty chilly as far as some of us were concerned though a nice break from the jungle heat and humidity.

Brrr.  Ozzy and Sonia, Habana's mom
The kids(and parents) were weary but were ready for their next challenge.  The "Long Distance" race.  The race would be 3 miles for the youth or so we thought.  The Pros and "Open" divisions would be paddling 6 miles so the kids had been training for that shorter distance at home.  Boards again were brought to the beach and the kids went off to attend the pre-race briefing.

Pre distance race
The race would be a staggered water start.  In other words, the race would start in the water and different divisions would start at different times.  The kids would be in the last group.  The important piece of information was that the kids would be racing 6 miles and not the original 3 miles they had trained for.  We are not sure why they changed this moments before the race but again, there were lots of kids looking around a bit shocked at the last moment new information.  Many of our kids decided not to paddle with or even bring water to race with since the race would be short.  We were now worried that they would get dehydrated going the extra distance.  The kids were just worried if they had the energy to complete the race.

Long Distance Race Map - 2 Laps
After the meeting the kids kind of stumbled around as they soaked in the announcement that they would go twice the distance that they thought they would.  Racers were called to the start line which would be along a jetty at one side of the venue.  There would be 400 racers out there waiting to begin the race

Trace and Ozzy contemplating the 6 mile effort coming up
With 400 paddlers all in the water it made the beach very quiet.  Once the kids paddled off to the starting area it quickly began to be impossible to follow them in such a crowd.  Once again, I failed to bring my binoculars so we were really only able to see the kids when they came close to the beach to make their first lap turn where we were looking for them cheering them on.

Can you pick out Trace and Alex?  We can't either.

Traffic Jam at the beginning of the "Open" division race
The Team had a pre-race strategy early on and stayed together for a while but broke off into smaller groups as the race developed.  Alex and Trace stayed close for most of the race.

Alex center with Trace just off her left shoulder.
During the second lap the wind and water chop began to get worse but the kids all pushed through and made it to the finish line.  The 6 mile race in a field of 400 paddlers was in the books.

Alex runs to the finish line.
Trace paddles to the beach
Just like that the kids had completed their competition.  Everyone got big hugs from family and coaches after making it to the beach and we listened to kid stories from their experiences in the water which was really fun too.  Our kids have never competed at an event of this scale and we think they handled it amazingly.

The rest of the last day we were able to watch all the Pros compete in the Technical Race Semi-finals and Finals.  The kids could finally switch off, kick back and just do kid's stuff.  Our group all sat together near the finish line and were able to see all the big name compete and come across the finish line.  There were awards giving to those who finished top three in their respective divisions.  During the awards the announcers and race director gave our program and coaches a big "Thank you" for making the effort to come from such distance to compete.  It felt good that we were noticed and I can tell you that we were most certainly heard during the weekend.  Let's just say people attending the race knew we were there and where we were from.

Our weekend was not quiet done yet.  We still had the challenge of getting from LAX back to Mexico.  Once we were on the plane, Ashley would be leaving us to head back Atlanta.  We left Dana Point super early to avoid LA traffic and had no idea if we would even make the flight in time.  Not only did we make it but we succeeded in getting on the flight flying "standby" and ended up sitting first class on the way home.  A great way to end a most awesome weekend!  

Alex, Trace and Coach Bicho on their devices in LAX
Was the travel, time and expense worth it?  Absolutely!  The kids and the families involved will talk about this one for a while.  We all want to return next year and do it all over again.  We want more kids to attend if possible so fundraising and applications for travel documents will begin early.  This first experience will help us plan for future trips to this event.  The coaches even mentioned a trip someday to the east coast USA to compete in a similar event to the Pacific Paddle Games.  For now, it is back to practice as usual and push to be better each week and welcome new paddlers to the program. Looking forward to the kid's first inter-team contest next month.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

The Sayulita JR SUP Team At The Pacific Paddle Games 2017 - Part 2

This is Part 2 of 3.  Read Part 1 here.

We got up the next day, had breakfast at the hotel and headed out for practice #2.  It was obvious when the kids hit the water they were getting accustomed to their borrowed equipment for the competition.  The kids train on 11' SUP race boards here in Sayulita.  They were required to race on 12'6" boards for the competition.  Not an easy task to be on a totally different piece of equipment and then asked to compete.  Some of the kids were actually liking the new boards since they actually were a bit lighter and faster than their training SUPs.

SUP Parents at practice
By this time some of the competitors were beginning to show up and you could see the number of boards in the water start to grow.  There is a local SUP racing program, The Paddle Academy, that also had a team of kids the same age as our group.  With more kid aged competitors in the water and you could see them starting to look over their shoulders a bit checking on the competition.  To the kid's surprise there was a little bit of "smack" talking in the water as the local youth members of The Paddle Academy paddled in the waves along side our Team. "There is always that one kid" Trace likes to say and he is right. This took our kids a little off guard since they envisioned their American counterparts as comrades of sorts and not rivals.  They had never competed against anyone but their friends back in Mexico and did not expect this different kind of reception.  I grew up playing team sports and now surf so there is always a little of this so I guess I should not have surprised.

Coach Shelby with "Baby on Board"...get it?
Saturday arrived and the first day of competition was here.  The kids would be competing in what is called a "Technical" race.  This involves paddling around a course and making turns around inflatable buoys.  The kids would be competing in two different age groups so we would be able to see them race at different times.  We signed in early and the kids received their competitor numbers, racer jerseys, and a big bag full of swag.  It was like Christmas SUP style.  They were pretty stoked about that.

Shortly after sign in we got together and brought the boards to the beach.  On the way, we ran into the same group of local kids from The Paddle Academy who said a few words to our group in the water the previous day. Fortunately, our coaches and their coach are friends and this was the perfect time for the two groups to introduce themselves to each other.  After introductions and some laughs they did some warm ups  and stretching as a one large group.  This was absolutely great and one of my favorite moments of the weekend.  The kids should be making connections with kids just like them with a similar passion.  I know this meet up with The Paddle Academy made our kids more comfortable knowing that this group was just a bunch of kids just like them.  Several of them were at their first competition too and just as nervous as our kids.  Truth be told we would really like to host members of this group to come down and paddle with our Team here in Sayulita.  Their coach was already talking about the idea.  It would be super fun I think.

The Sayulita JR SUP Team meets The Paddle Academy kids.
The time came for all the kids to get their pre-race briefing and the kids went over to listen to the Race Director.  Fortunately the inter-squad competitions the kids raced in back in Sayulita were very similar to what they would experience here.  Our coaches are former pros so they set things up for the kid's race events in a similar format.

This was the time our team received their first bit of unsettling news.  Every competitor was required to race with a helmet on.  We all looked at each other saying "WTF"?  How come we did not know?  Did we miss something?  It became clear just by looking around that around 2/3 of the the kids and parents attending the pre-race meeting were saying the same thing we were.  The kids had to race on unfamiliar equipment and now would be wearing protective headgear that they had never used before.  The first heat was quickly outfitted with helmets and sent off and then next group begged, borrowed and stole any helmet they could find.  Fortunately, many kids who had come with helmets were willing to share.  We, and many others, were not happy about the unexpected requirement for the racers.  We could have come prepared had we known and it gave our kids one more thing to think about moments before their first competition.

No smiles before the race.  Game faces.

Alex would be up first and competing with her two teammates, Ava and Habana.  There were many 12-14 year old girls including a fierce team from Spain.

Alex getting ready.  Center of photo.
On the starting line.  Alex in white helmet to the right of the photo.
Trace was up next.  He was fitted with a red helmet that barely fit him and we didn't have time to even adjust it properly.  He was in the same group as one of his best friends, Kolbi.  A kid who was racing right next to him paddled with The Paddle Academy and was at his first competition.  He was so nervous he looked like he might throw up.  His parents introduced him to Trace since Trace looked pretty calm about the whole thing hoping it would help their son calm down a bit.

Trace in the center with red helmet starts strong with buddy, Kolbi, in the green helmet.
Trace in the red helmet
Trace was involved in one of the more exciting finishes of the youth division as he and another paddler got to the beach at the same time and raced up the sand to the finish line.  The other racer beat him by a few hundredths of a second.

Race a couple miles, paddle to the beach, jump off your board and still run to the finish line.
All the kids were smiling at the end of the morning and they were able to relax and enjoy some of the Pro races watching many of the athletes we met just two days before.  The Team was taking a group photo after their races were over and Candice Appleby recognized our group from the awards event and jumped in to join the shot.

Candice Appleby joins the photo.
The end of day one concluded with hamburgers in the park and adult beverages served secretly out of the RV Headquarters.  Everyone was happy, full and tired.  Another day of competition the next day.  Part 3 soon.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

The Sayulita JR SUP Team At The Pacific Paddle Games 2017 - Part 1

This post is Part I.

About a year ago the kids joined a local youth team.  The Sayulita JR SUP Team.  Local kids of all ability levels and ages come twice per week to receive coaching and get some paddle time with former pro SUP racers, Shelby Rose Taylor-Jiménez and Bicho Jimenez Lorenzo.

The program has helped Alex and Trace turn into water people.  Had we stayed in Park City they would most certainly be mountain kids but the ocean is literally down the street and a constant source of fun and challenge.

Just one month before the start of The Pacific Paddle Games some of the Team parents and coaches decided to see what kind of interest there might be for some of the kids to travel up to Dana Point, California to compete for the first time against kids from other programs.  The call was answered by 9 kids.  Fund raising began and the Team departed September 27 for one of the biggest competitions in SUP racing.  The kids had never raced against anyone other than their own teammates so we were not really sure what was going to happen or how they would stack up to kids in their own age categories.

Coach Bicho at the PV airport with some of the Team
The team all got to Dana Point anyway the could and several of us met the first day at a local surfboard builder and retail shop called Brawner Boards.  This shop had enough gear to outfit all the kids with SUP race boards.  These guys made our ability to race possible and we are so appreciative.  Brawner Boards also supplied boards to several members of Team Mexico who competed recently at the 2017 ISA SUP and Paddleboard World Championships.  The kids train on 11' SUP boards but they would be expected to race on 12'6" length boards.  A big departure from the boards the kids were use to maneuvering through a technical course and surfing to the beach when there were waves.  Fortunately we arrived in time for 2 days of training before the actual race to give the kids a chance to get accustomed to their new gear to compete on.

Team photo just before the first practice

The Team stayed locally in various locations.  We stayed basically across the street from the beach so we could run back to our hotel room if we needed something or just needed to get out of the sun for a while.  Our friends and parents of another SUP competitor have been outfitting a RV since last summer and they had it stored a short drive away.  They were able to bring it to the event and it became the Team HQ and we loaded boards on top of the rig at the end of each afternoon.

Team HQ
The evening of the first practice there was a sponseor, SUP The Mag, organized award's ceremony and we showed up again not knowing what to expect.  All we knew was that there was going to be pizza and a complimentary bar set up.  Most of us parents were in just for that.

Sayulita JR SUP Team
The Team's "RED CARPET" photo was featured the next day on the SUP The Mag's website..RAD!
What we found was the coolest assembly of SUP athletes in the World.  Virtually all the big names were there.  We knew many of the faces from watching the ISA SUP World Championships online over the years and from Youtube.  When the World Championships came to Sayulita in 2015 we saw many of these athletes up close as well.  Ashley and I had just enough cocktails before the event that we started asking many of the athletes for a quick photo with the kids.  The athletes were absolutely fantastic!  We did not get a single "No", "Maybe later" or "I can't right now".  Our Team was the only "Grom"(kid) presence at the event so we stuck out as a group and were even were featured on SUP The Mag's website recap of the event the following day.

We have so many great photos of the evening.  Trace met one of his favorite SUP surfers, Sean Poynter.  He won the gold medal at the World Championships here in Sayulita.

Pacific Paddle Games
Sean Poynter
Alex really enjoyed meeting Candice Appleby who had some great words of encouragement for Alex and her friend, Ava.  Candice is another ISA 2015 gold medalist.  Alex, Ashley and I also had a great talk with Izzy Gomez.  She also won gold in Sayulita in SUP surfing.  She loves Sayulita and we spoke to her for quite a few minutes and hope to see her return to Mexico someday.  Both of these women are SUP powerhouses.

Pacific Paddle Games
Ava, Candice Appleby and Alex
Pacific Paddle Games
Izzy Gomez and Alex
I think Ashleys favorite part of the evening was when we spotted Chuck Patterson in the corner of the venue.  We had seen Chuck attend the Punta Sayulita SUP and Longboard Classic that was held here several years ago. Ashley went over to him and asked him for a photo with the kids and he was super happy to do it.  By the look on Ashley's face in the below photo I think she was equally as happy about it.  The funny part was that we noticed that Chuck and I were dressed almost exactly alike wearing the same shirt and pants and got a good laugh over it.  I admit he pulled the style off much better than I did.  The SUP The Mag photographer loved the photo opportunity too.

Sayulita JR SUP Team
Good fun with Chuck Patterson
We pretty much closed the place down and went back to the hotel to get ready for another day of practice in the morning.  We met tons of other people like Mo Freitas, Conner Baxter, Casper Steinfath, Fiona Wylde, Zane Schweitzer and others. When the PROs associated our coaches together with the kid's Team from Mexico then everyone was even more excited to give us a few moment of their time.  Sayulita's own Fernando Stalla was there as well and helped coach the kids during their training leading up to the event.

Sayulita JR SUP Team
Bicho, Shelby(with baby on board), Zane and Fernando with the Team
...and that was only day one.  Part II will follow soon.

A few more pictures just for the heck of it and no, you probably won't know who any of these people are unless you SUP.

Sayulita JR SUP Team
Conner Baxter
Casper Steinfath from Denmark
Fiona Wylde and Sonni Hönscheid
Mo Freitas and Chris Bertish(This guy paddled across the Atlantic Ocean...really!!!!
Ok, I will stop there but it was such and awesome first day for the kids and parents I just couldn't stop.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Our Lives As Sayulita Bros

Trace and a couple of his amigos put out their first video about living in Sayulita.  Kind of fun to watch and a good job for their first project.  This is episode 1.  More episodes coming!  Got to turn the volume WAY up to hear them but they are figuring that out for the next video.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Sayulita Scenes - Nik West Cover

"World's COOLEST Beach Town?"?  Well, I am not sure about that but it is still a great magazine cover shot of Sayulita by our friend Nik West.  Check out Nik's photography at Nik West Photography and click on the Beachbrake link to check out some of his local ocean/surf related photography as well as his two surf books featuring Sayulita.

Speaking of Nik West, he just sent me some cool shots that he found in the collection of gazillions of photos he has.  They are from 2015 and did not make the cut for his surf book but how cool are these?  Gracias Nik!

Friday, October 6, 2017

6 Years In The Jungle

6 years ago we landed in Sayulita for our new lives in the jungle!  Lots of action in 2017 and it is not over yet.  Going to be an exciting last three months of the year with house completion, continued settling in with the new school, SUP Team, more surfing and who knows what else.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Pacific Paddle Games 2017!

Watch out Dana Point USA, Sayulita is coming!!!  BIG GRACIAS to those who made a donation to the team and made this trip possible for the chicos!  It will be an amazing experience for them...and the parents will have lots of fun too!

Saturday, September 23, 2017