Saturday, July 2, 2016

'Tis The Season - Adios Sayulita! This Time For Good?

It's that time of year.  Time for "goodbyes". Sayulita has been emptying out for the last couple months ahead of the heat, humidity and rain.  One asks the standard questions about what are they doing for the summer, whether or not they are headed out to avoid the heat or attempt to take advantage of the short school break.  Very often it is time to say goodbye for good.  Early summer marks the end of "Adventures" for many people who come to Sayulita.  Sometimes it is because it is time to adventure somewhere else, sometimes the departure date was always part of the plan, sometimes Sayulita just wasn't a good fit.  People leave and don't return.  This town has a short memory.  It has to.  People who you said "adios" to last week will be total strangers to someone who will come in to begin their own Adventure or new lives here in just a few months.

I've always lived in a place with that sort of life.  Starting in college, then a small Vermont resort town then Park City for close to two decades.  People come, people go.  That is just the way it was.  It might be dependent on the school year or seasons but the changing of faces was the constant.  Sayulita is no different.  I tend to notice and engage the people who are "here" more than those just passing through.  Those people who are more real to me.  Those who are making a difference, settling down, starting businesses, building homes, having children, building community.  Those who may see our family as similar to themselves in those respects.  Each year you can always pick out the fakers.  Those who say they are staying for the long haul, how they will "save Sayulita" or who try to be the "funnest"or "coolest" but who will always be burned out by spring break and be quickly forgotten.  The ones who try to reinvent themselves and be something they are not or can't live up to.  They always move on.  Though it isn't fair to those coming to Sayulita who are good people, I don't always have the emotional energy to build quality relationships and see those people off each year at this time.  I know it is a crappy attitude but it can be exhausting year after year.  If it happens, it happens.  If it doesn't then that is ok too.


It goes both ways sometimes.  I have been introduced to people who have recently arrived but have immediately not made their "social cut" just because of a group I may or may not be associated with.   They just don't have the time in their short adventure to venture outside a particular group they hope to be part of.  Kind of like speed dating I would guess.  That's ok.  I figure they will be gone soon anyway.  I remember being looked at that way when we first arrived too.  People thinking to themselves, "Short timer.  They'll be gone by the time it rains again."

In the last 5 years, I've seen some great people come and go in this town getting choked up to see many of them pack up and head out.  I am also happy to say that I have seen several great people/families stay, build businesses, homes and know that they will likely be around for the long term.  Creating some good community foundations and relationships for the future.  Everyone has their own way to try and make it work if they think this is for them.  Encouraging for sure.

This year has been different in a way too.  Yes, I've seen a lot of one or two year folks pick up and go but I've seen many of the people who were here before us pick up and go too.  People who I always considered "part" of this town.  No, not "best friends" but town is not necessarily better for them leaving either.  Life is like that though.  Opportunities elsewhere, change of plans, plans not working out etc.  Crazy to think that I counted about 20 people I know heading out this year for good.

Living in what some consider "Paradise" is not all that it is cracked up to be sometimes.  The "Paradise Paradox" as this article calls it.  It may be an article referring to ski towns but it could apply to places like Sayulita too.  To be here or anywhere like this long term you have to have a plan, thick skin, be able to roll with relationships coming and going, lots of failures and hopefully have some sort of support system(though not necessarily financial).  If not you can really get down on things and may be considering heading down the road earlier than you thought.  We are fortunate.  Ashely and I are accustomed to this sort of lifestyle and can roll with it easier than some.  The kid's social friends are stable and they hardly even notice the things that we do but understand the comings and goings all the same.

So, as we wrap up the school year we will sadly say "Adios" to more friends but in another few months there will be another influx of folks arriving and the return of those who are just away for the summer.  One constant for sure, Sayulita does attract some really good people.  As soon as you get down that friends have left, new people arrive.  Like I said, "Sayulita has a short memory".  It can attract some really freaky people too but that is what makes Sayulita continually interesting as well right?  "Keep Sayulita Strange" as they say.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Trace Turns 9.


Trace turned 9 this week so we thought we would hit El Itacate for some tacos and a few Pacificos.  We won't introduce him to Don Julio until he's at least 12.  Trace has spent more time on Mexican soil than in the USA and he tends to roll a bit more like a local than Alex does.  His buddies are mostly Spanish speaking nationals where Alex' best friends are predominately English speaking.  Because of this he is a just a bit more comfortable with using Spanish generally than his sister but both still rock the second language.  He is starting to develop an interest in surfing not that surfing is necessarily "Mexican"...finally!!!!  No soccer yet.  Still loves his Circus and Capoeira and next year he will be joining Alex upstairs with the big kids in Taller 2 at Escuela de Mundo.  He is a Gemini, his favorite color is red, his lucky number is eleven and he likes quiet nights at home playing Clash of Clans and Minecraft.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Celebrate The Beat 2016

It was that time of year again, Celebrate The Beat time!  Earlier in the year we didn't think Alex was going to have a group to dance with like she has the last two years.  She always danced with a group in San Pancho since she went to school there.  This year, there were no groups funded in San Pancho.  Bummer!  Costa Verde School and the Sayulita Public Elementary School were funded and set to be on stage this year.  Then, an email came from local program coordinator, dance instructor, choreographer and force of nature, Colleen Macomber.  Colleen knew that Alex was the only dancer from the previous year's San Pancho group who lived in Sayulita.  Not to mention our girl has SKILLS!  By special invitation, Alex was asked to join what was called the "Grupo de Excellencia".  This was a mix of kids from different schools and ages.  She was absolutely thrilled to be dancing with Colleen again and even better two of her best friends were also in the group.

Each color T-shirt represented a different performing group.  Usually by age group and school.

Not in the photo are the hundreds of parents and friends in attendance watching.

Grupo de Excellencia.  Can you find the blonde pony tail?



I've said it before but this is one of my favorite events and Sayulita seems to have the biggest and most vocal crowd to applaud the kid's efforts.  Alex just loves it and I really wish there was more dance available for her.  One of the unexpected things that happened was that during dress rehearsals where all the groups were present for practice Alex crossed paths with several of the kids who she went to the public kindergarten with her first year in Mexico.  She has grown so much since then but it was good to hear that the kids recognized each other still.  Such a great program for the kids I just wish it could last all year.

Celebrate the Beat is a non-profit and are always looking for help to bring the program to the kids each year.


Thursday, May 26, 2016

Regalos Para La Familia.


It there was something in town that resembled UBER services I think it would be our family.  We go to San Pancho everyday several times and we have been giving rides to kids and parents to and from school or Entre Amigos activities for years.  The texts and calls start about 7:30am when people find that their car won't start, their transportation arrangement for that day fell through or they literally just don't have their shit together to get to where they need to be on time.  Contact Ozzy.  The text and calls start up again around 1:30pm just before school lets out.  We are the "go to" solution for transportation.  Even as I am sitting in Entre Amigos in San Pancho waiting for our kids people I don't even really know will come to me and ask me for a ride back to Sayulita.  It appears my reputation has grown over the years.  Yes, UBER at your service.  We don't ask for anything in return, sometimes it really isn't convenient but as long as people make it mostly easy to open the door, hop in and go we try to help whenever we are asked.



For about a year I gave rides to school to a family here in Sayulita.  The mom, Laura, is one of the many jewelry makers you will see set up on the street with her creations set out on a small table under an umbrella.  Almost always smiling, Laura never asked me for a ride but I would see them on the road each morning hoping to grab a ride with anyone who may be headed to school that day.  So, with no commitment or even communication, each morning I would pick up her two kids and along with Alex and Trace I would deliver them to Escuela del Mundo.  This went on for about one school year until around the middle of this year she was able to purchase a van from a local teacher and was able to give her kids and a few others a ride to school each day.

One day she came up to me and presented me with a gift for helping her out for so long.  I opened it and there were four matching necklaces decorated with a twisted metal wire tree, possibly a Higuera Blanca.  They were beautiful and I was blown away by the gesture.  Absolutely stunning!  I wear mine constantly and proudly show it to Laura when I see her to be sure she knows that it was very appreciated.  Laura and some other artisans have set up shop and have an actual store front on the north end of town just across the bridge.  Right across from Z Galeria.  I knew I was going to do this post so I got her email just in case someone out there would like Laura to create something similar for them.

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/lauraedith.ortegazopena?fref=ts
Email:  yaretziehecatl@gmail.com




Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Biking In Sayulita


One of the things the kids were just starting to get into before we left the mountains for the beach is mountain biking.  Trace was only 4 at the time and killing it on his balance bike.  Alex was 6 but she was already starting to climb and ride single track even back then.  Biking here is not as easy.  Cobblestone streets, tight roads and tourist traffic don't always make for good biking and the miles and miles of single track that Park City offered is rare here.  So, we are slowly making our biking comeback on some of the back roads in and around Sayulita.

Alex cruising the jungle road.
Having been "flat landers" for the better part of five years, they both ride with the belief that the ride should be and will be downhill... both ways.  The determination to grind, climb and complete uphill sections is just not in their blood.  For now we will happily cruise the jungle back roads until we hook up with some single track.  From what I hear, there is a community of mountain bikers here and some single track cut but I have yet to go asking around for these people to get the full scoop.  Hopefully we will find them and Alex and Trace can get a taste of what they left up north in Park City.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

PlayaSola, Boca


Last weekend we drove two hours south to a town called Boca for a weekend getaway with five other families.  And to say the least, it was amazing!!  Our beautiful house was beachfront.  Actually it was the only house on the beach because it had its own private beach. And the only way to travel to and from the house was by boat.  Just imagine, quiet, secluded, no traffic, no noise except for the laughter of us and our very happy children.  It could not have been any better except that it did get better.  We had our own cooks that cooked breakfast, lunch and dinner and bartenders that served us the meals and drinks all day. And the food was wonderful, and oh so much of it. And we didn't have to cook or clean all weekend!

Boca
Arriving via panga boat to our house
This is how we arrived.  No pier.  Just get the boat onto the beach as much as possible and off load.  This is how everyone and everything is brought to the house.
Pool time with our welcome margaritas
Life doesn't suck about right now
Alex with her blue hair enjoying the view 
Alex and Trace had no complaints
For some reason the kids liked to hang out in the stairwell and play games
Pre dinner drinks
In the kitchen while dinner was being prepped.  I am with Luis, our night bartender.  He and I became close.
Dinner with the kids at their own table

We did manage to do some activities. The house had a tennis court, basketball court, volleyball court and gym so those were utilized a bit, mainly the tennis court.  There was also snorkeling and sea kayaking that we all did.
The kids took a banana boat ride which was loved by all
Banana boat
Ozzy snoozing, he also played a lot of tennis

Sunrise from our casita over the house's sports center.

Trace and I took a walk on the beach
Four of us took a little hike on the donkey trail to the next town
and of course we had to get a boat to take us home
Our taxi assistant
Part of the group
These land crabs came out by the thousands on our second night.  We had to walk a little bit to our rooms and they were everywhere and hard to avoid.  Alex lost it and just froze, bawling refusing to move so the next night we were prepared with sticks to sweep them away.
Group photo before we head home

Boating home, or at least to our cars
It was such a great weekend with super nice, mellow friends.  None of us wanted to leave,  mainly because of the cooks and bartenders.  We all like our jobs and where we live so going home wasn't an issue.  If only we could have brought Luis and his team.


Thursday, May 5, 2016

Athleta

If your latest issue of Athleta has arrived for Summer 2016 then you are looking at Sayulita and some of it's locals.  This video accompanies the catalog cover telling a brief story about some of the surfing friendships these women have here.  Cool to see Sayulita represented.




Saturday, April 30, 2016

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Oaxaca


Easter week in Mexico lasts two weeks and it is called Semana Santa. The coastal towns become very busy with city folk from the interior, so we coastal folk head to the interior. This year was our first of such trips and it will not be the last as we want to travel more around Mexico and Semana Santa is the perfect time to do it

Oaxaca City bound.  We travelled with friends John, Amy and Ava for 8 days. We drove two hours to Tepic, spent the night and caught an early flight out on Tar Airlines. Arrived early afternoon and got to our fantastic Airbnb rental, La Callera, an old Limestone factory. There were 7-8 rooms or apartments to rent. Amy and John had one, we had one and the three amigos had their own, which they thought was pretty awesome. They all had kitchens so we could eat a home a bit but not too much as Oaxaca has wonderful food and is known for its Mole sauces. John told the kids that for each new food they tried they would get a trinket. Trace was all in, he certainly does not have the taste buds of an eight year old.

Oaxaca has many excursions in and around the city, anywhere from 20 minutes to two hours. Many times we just hopped on the bus two blocks away and others we either took a cab or got a fantastic driver named Diego.

One of our many bus experiences

Day 1:
We visited a famous Oaxaca church called Santa Domingo de Guzmán which is near the Zócalo and ate a great lunch full of Oaxacan food along with the first taste test...chapulines!!! That would be crickets to us. These were cooked and kind of shredded so you weren't eating a whole cricket. And guess who loved them? The Trace man!!

Santa Domingo de Guzman

Alex looking out the window


Day 2: Big day!!
We had a lot we wanted to see so we started at the furthest point and worked our way back to the city. Diego drove us two hours away to Hierve el Agua,  beautiful,  natural and very cold springs in the mountains.

One of the pools



We then we went to John's (different John than the one we are traveling with) beautiful and state of the art  Mazcal factory that he is building.  John lives at La Callera and met Amy and some friends in Tequila a while back.  Awesome guy with a life full of travel and experiences and the stories to boot.   Beside John's new factory is a small factory, if you can call it that, that makes Mezcal the traditional way so we were able to see the process.

Cooking the Agave leaves in an open fire pit
Next the cooked leaves are smashed with this stone wheel pulled in circles by Mules
It is then placed in large barrels, etc
Trace eating one of the cooked agaves.
Los tres amigos


Next we went to a rug maker, Bulmaro Perez Mendozo, in the town of Teotitlañ. We learned how the colors are made using local fruit, limestone and limes, how the wool is dyed and even how they hand make the rugs, which can take months. Now I know why the quality rugs are so expensive!







Our final stop was Santa María del Tule, the thickest tree in the world, where an adorable local girl walked us around the tree with a green laser and pointed out characters in the tree such as an elephant, deer, an angry face, JLo's butt and something to do with Monica Lewenski.




Day 3:
We really wanted to see true, local markets. We found them, filled with lots and lots of local food, breads, meat, chocolate, vegetables and textiles. A great way to indulge your senses and test your patience. I love markets like that but for a short time and with only myself or just a few other people. We had 10. But I had a great meal of fried Chile Relleno smothered in mole sauce. So good that I got one more for myself and one for Trace. His plain quesadilla all of a sudden wasn't very good when he tried my food.
Trace digging into a delicious fried Chile Relleno covered in Mole
Can you pick out the gringos?  I felt like we were on display
Fresh Tortas 
Fresh bread everywhere
Freshly fondled meat
Beautiful fresh vegetables
Chapulines aka crickets
Alex is thinking HELL NO while Trace is thinking OH YEAH
Trace once again digging into the goods
Alex, Kaila and Ava waiting for lunch
Ozzy navigating the market? Or running for the exit?

Day 4:
Zona Arqueologica de Monte Alban, local ruins.  They are all over in Mexico.


La Familia

Had to get a selfie

Day 5:
Day to Chill

La Calera, our Airbnb complex also hosts events and while we were there they were hosting the Mexico National Rubix Cube contest for two days. Wow! These people were fast! We were able to hang out and watch. The kids were intrigued. John bought them each a Rubix Cube. Trace was really into it and is very proud of his timing getting one side done.



La Calera was such a cool place to stay, so many neat areas to hang out, and many great photo ops.  Each of the apartments and any other design on the property was recycled and built using only materials that were found on the property, so it was very industrial but in a modern, earthy way.

Alex and Trace at a sitting area
Three of the apartments
Inside the factory




The table in the background was our social area.  Drinking and many games of Catan were played here.  We also got shushed here during the Rubix Cube contest while they were competing blindfolded.
More apartments
A section of the kids apartment

Day 6:
On Easter, the kids along with friends that were also in town enjoyed searching for candy that the Easter Bunny brought for them. La Calera is a fantastic place for hiding candy.

In line ready to hunt

 Easter evening we went on a wild goose chase on local buses to a place far away to watch Licha Libre, i.e. Mexican Wrestling. Completely entertaining and a highlight of the trip. We were the only gringos there and definitely got many looks.









Day 7:
Last day, booo

We had Diego again for the day and hit the last two places on our list. We quickly stopped in to San Bartolo Coyotepec where the famous black pottery is made.


And finally we went to the place that the girls wanted to go all week. Nothing like making them wait huh?  San Martin Tilcajete!  aka the town where Alebrijes, aka wooden painted figures, are made.

This is an Alebrije

These are awesome!   I could not believe how much work and time went into making one.  Like the rugs!  They also make their own paint using vegetables, lime and limestone.  There are about five different processes and at least one or more years that go into making one Alebrije.  And the size can range anywhere from a finger to a life sized bull and costing anywhere to $10 USD to well over $20,000+USD.  Each group of people specialized in a particular part of the process.


The carvers:

Carving the Alebrije

The process begins carving your piece out of wood.  Then comes sanding, soaking in gasoline to prevent termite infestations, drying which could take a year, fixing cracks, sanding again, etc.


The fixers:

These guys were fixing the places where the wood cracked by wedging a piece of wood into the cracks, and more sanding.




And the painters:

The intricate details of the painting was amazing.  The painters start off as apprentices working on small Alebrijes and then they become Master Painters.

Master painters at work

A master painter finishing an Alebrije.

The grounds of this particular workshop were just beautiful!
There was even an area where you could buy Mescal and it just so happened to be Ozzy's birthday so shots were on the house.
Alex ran into Tanya, her art teacher from school 
The kids each were able to paint their own Alebrije which is why they wanted to go so badly.
And while they were painting we were able to relax in the beautiful gardens.
And shop.  I bought this guy.  I had to have him!
Trace being Trace!
The kids showing their personalized Alebrijes at lunch
Trace chowing down again

And then we came home.

This was such a sensually and emotionally filling trip.  The senses where so alive the entire time with beauty, vibrant colors, and the sights, the taste buds were exploding, as well as the nose with the aromas of the food everywhere.  And then there were the usual sounds of Mexico which I love but the best was the sounds of my children laughing, playing and being so happy.
The emotion came from watching the kids so comfortable in their surroundings, taking care of themselves and their own apartment, eager to see, do, try and learn, navigate, grow.  And of course just being with them and getting hugs and kisses whenever I wanted.  I love seeing the people they are becoming and it really shows when we are traveling.