Monday, February 6, 2017

A New Casa in 2017- Building A Place Of Our Own

We are now into year 6 renting in Sayulita.  I don't think a single person who comes here to live would question just how difficult and expensive it can be to find housing.  We are a family of 4 who is growing up and it is time for our kids , 9 and 11 years old, to have their own personal space.  Even for a fairly well connected family here year round finding a decent 3 bedroom, 2 bath home for long term rental is hard.

We spent three years in a great house on the north end until our landlord decided to remodel and rent the unit we were in nightly.  We are now in our third year on the south end of town and our landlord has also decided he wants to fix up and sell or rent the house nightly.  Such is the way of things.  There is money to be made with vacation rentals.  Less so with long term tenants.  Nearby towns like San Pancho and Higuera Blanca are the same scenario.

It is a very familiar story coming from a high end ski town up north.  A destination sees an increase in popularity and visitation.  Real estate prices go up, rents go up and the ability to find full time housing goes down driving people to find housing elsewhere or leave.

So what is a family to do?  We have a life here now.  We want to stay.  Do we take our chances every season trying to find a place to live?  No.  We build a place of our own.

2017 will be the year when we will break ground on our own house here in Sayulita.

...details to come.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Support Our Team!!! Sayulita JR SUP Team

Please support our Team!  Click on this LINK and you will be taken to the the page set up for raising funds for this great local team.  There you can read all about the details about the program and specifically what they are raising money for.

Briefly, some of the equipment and donation needs are:

1) 20 SUP boards to cover each training group - $8000.00
2) paddles for each board (20) - $500.00
3) 20 PFD’s (portable flotation devices) - $200.00
4) Scholarship funds for low income youth $3000.00
3) Team Uniforms-$300.00​

Program needs are ongoing as the Team grows.  Any and all donations are appreciated!  Gracias!

Monday, January 2, 2017

Sayulita Scenes - A Visitor

The vacationers next door came to our house asking if they could see our pet iguana.  I looked at them puzzled and they said they saw an iguana go into our house.  I laughed and said yes, there are iguanas in the trees around us, on the roof etc and wouldn't be surprised if one had walked through the house.  We've even seen one run through our house who was being chased by a cat.

About an hour later I looked into our bedroom to see this critter walking from our bathroom to along side our bed.  Those are 13" x 13" tiles it is sitting on just to get an idea of how large he is.  He seems very much at home.  Hopefully he decides to go back outside before he needs to go to the bathroom.  Good looking critter for sure.  Not the biggest we've seen.  Just another day living in the jungle.

Hunting iguana under the bed

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Mom Has Finally Completed Her Jedi Training!

The "Force" finally runs in the whole family!  One of our goals during the school break was to go see the new Star Wars movie, "Rogue One".  We figured we would go sometime after Ashley went north to go back to work.  Why would we wait until she left?  Well, Ashley was never trained in the ways of the Force when she was young.  She had never seen a single Star Wars movie...not one...and she did not want to???!!!

When we got an unplanned call from our friends, The Cawrses, to go see it, Ashley actually wanted to go!!!!  We were sooo stoked!  The movie stands by itself pretty well but with some brief information to bring her up to speed on who the bad guys were, who the good guys were and a few other details she came out having really enjoyed the movie.  So much so that she actually sat down and watched the original Star Wars movie I grew up on the next night.  Though the 70's camera work, haircuts and action were dated a bit she, again, really enjoyed it.  Imagine that!  Ozzy was right!  It happens.  Ok, the kids were right too.

The gang waiting for the beginning of Rogue One
Next up on Ashley's movie list is The Empire Strikes Back.  The Force, thankfully, runs through the entire family now.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

"Hey Trace, I Don't Think We Are In Sayulita Anymore"

The kids are on school break and we were looking for things to do so we ventured into the Puerto Vallarta area for a day.  We caught a movie (more on that later) and visited a recently completed pedestrian mall called "La Isla".  Many of the shops were still empty or being finished for new retail tenants but we decided to walk around just to see it.  The place will carry many of the brands you would see north of the border like Calvin Klein, Sunglass Hut and Tommy Hilfiger.  It has underground parking, a small amphitheater, water features, lots of places to sit and relax and the walk ways twist and turn so that even if you wanted to leave you might not find your way out.

We turned a corner and this particular view made me stop in my tracks.  Standing in a mall, with a high rise backdrop is such a huge departure from our daily lives in Sayulita.  Our busy, dusty, little surfing pueblo has very few buildings that are over 3 stories.  It gives the pedestrian/visitor a totally different experience than what I saw here.  The hope is to keep this kind of development or anything close to it out of Sayulita but we will see how that goes now that town has become a significant destination for visitors world wide.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Sayulita Scenes - Working Three Stories Up

I was walking home today from downtown and looked up to see these two guys perched 3 stories above the street level.  Yes, they appear to have harnesses on.  The are working on, from what I am told, a new boutique hotel on the south end of town.  It has been going up for a long, long time and it has been a huge project for the tight quarters of this area of town.  Not sure when they hope to be done but the street and neighbors could certainly use some relief from the months of constant construction.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Sayulita JR. SUP. Race #2

The Sayulita JR. SUP Team had their second race and I was in town for it. YEAH!!  Ozzy has seen one already so it was super exciting for me. I love this program!  The coaching, support and camaraderie are so amazing for all of the kids involved. On this second event an extra lap was added, so Trace's age group had three laps and Alex's had four.  We figured each lap was probably 1/2 mile. So they paddle one lap come into the beach and run a small lap then head back out to the ocean, repeat. The waves were big at times but that didn't seem to bother the kids, though they will totally affect the outcome of a race.

Pre race jitters

Trace, 2nd from right, and his group are off!

Trace digging in

Trace's running lap.  They have to run with their paddle and finish the race with it.

As they come onto the beach between laps they are able to get a cup of water as they keep running and try to get some in their mouths.  Teammates are on hand to give out the water.

Assistants are in the water to help. As the racers come into the beach they unleash jump off the board and have to run the beach portion, so someone has to grab the board turn it around get the leash ready to put back on the racer as seen above. Local pro surfer "Papas" helps Trace out with his leash.

Trace's race to the finish line.

Alex on hand to support Trace.  He did a great job even though he had been sick the week before and was nursing an ear infection.

Trace and Alex's teacher Carlos and another teacher from school, Diego, came over on the bus from San Pancho to support the kids.  It meant so much to Alex and Trace!

And Alex is off

Alex in front and her bestie Ava.

Alex running the beach portion with her coach Shelby cheering her on.

Alex after her race getting support from Trace and local dad, Jose Luis.  She did amazing.  She led the race the whole time but fell coming onto the beach the final lap so she ended up in third. It was a tight race the whole time.  Alex hasn't really learned how to surf yet and you can't control the sets so you have to deal with what the ocean is giving you at the time. She also received the Team's "Most Improved Award".  Go girl!

Alex and Ava after the race.  Barf?

Maestro Carlos, Alex and Trace

Trace's groups awards ceremony.  Trace is far left

Alex's groups awards ceremony

What a great event.  All of the kids gave it their all!!

Friday, November 18, 2016

Circo 2016 - How Did We Forget?

March 2016!  Months ago and we just found this set of photos.  We have posted about the kid's Circo de los Niños program in San Pancho before and the big performance that is produced each year.  We lost track of this post and but figured we'd put it out there since the photos were so fantastic.(Looking at our blog's "draft" file, we have lost track of several posts along the way)  The performances were done on three stages and the audience was asked to move to three separate sets to enjoy the show.  A unique setting to say the least but once again the professional production, costumes and colorful sets(including a pirate ship hanging from the ceiling) were amazing!  Their second full year in the program, the kids were a little more involved as far as stage time this year so that was fun for us.  It is a challenge to sometimes pick out our own kids in full costume or any of the many kids we know from San Pancho and Sayulita.  Lots of dedication, time and training is given to this program so it is a  "all in" type of activity.  If you cannot commit to the program then there will most likely be someone who wants in.  Again, another fantastic program in small town Mexico.

Alex and Trace

Trace getting ready

Trace on the right
Alex on the left and Summer

Poor Trace was so exaughsted each night when he got home.  He just collapsed on the kitchen floor and tried to eat his dinner.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016


Alex entered a Catrina contest in San Pancho for Dia De Los Muertos.  She worked very hard applying her own makeup to resemble her idea of Catrina.  We think she did a pretty awesome job.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Summer 2016 Adventures - The Big Round Up

Here we are in October and the memories of summer are starting to fade just slightly. Honestly it was a blur.  Since our family flies on Ashley's employee benefits, we only get a seat when there is an extra one.  Once school ended we settled into summer break with a general schedule in mind about where we were going and when.  This year I would be accompanying the kids to visit each of the grandparent's houses.  My first trip back to the States in about two years.  That caused me anxiety enough let alone flying "stand-by" for each of 8 flights we would have to take.  In other words, we could get stuck anywhere for any reason.  The passed two summers the kids have been successful with their summer airline travels so I could only keep my fingers crossed again this year that luck would be with us.

(My apologies for the formatting)

The first stop would be St. Augustine, Florida.  About 5 days before our "scheduled" departure from Mexico we looked at the flights leaving Puerto Vallarta to Atlanta and our adrenalin started to build.  It was clear that if we didn't get out of Mexico the very next day we might not get out at all until some future date. If this happened it would totally screw up the only leg of the trip that really had specific dates attached since my father and step-mother, aka Gram-O and Gramp-O, were headed out to British Columbia for a previously scheduled trip.  Fortunately we were able to get out of Mexico, meet up with Ashley for a night in Atlanta and the grandparent's schedule was loose enough to welcome us 4 days early.

Trace's twin is found at Ripley's Believe It Or Not

This was my first visit to their house since they moved to Florida so it was good to see where they have called home these many years after leaving Vermont. They endured another round of playing tour guide around historic St. Augustine and we ventured as far north as Jacksonville to see some fun things as well as the Kennedy Space Center and some time for golf (of course). Each pair of the kid's grandparents has a particular style. My parents in St. Augustine love to dine out so where to eat along the day's adventure was considered in advance. That is what they do and it's fun to go places that don't necessarily do tacos. Since I was the one not doing the cooking the kids were super psyched to read a menu and order what they wanted for each meal.

The Space Shuttle Atlantis - Amazing!

After five years in Mexico I go through "sticker shock" when in the States or paying for anything in US dollars.  What?  A $30 dollar bill for ice cream at Ben and Jerry's?  You have to be kidding!  At the exchange rate right now $30 is about $570 pesos.  Our grocery bill for the week is not much more than this when Ashley is up north.  Ashley always laughs and shakes her head when I don't want to spend a few extra pesos since as far as she is concerned almost everything(with a few exceptions) we buy down here is a bargain.
Old Town St. Austine with it's very own Ben and Jerry's.  So "Colonial Spanish".
Since our visit Hurricane Mathew came through and up the east coast and put many of the places in these photos of downtown St. Augustine under water and destroyed some of the places we had meals at.  The grandparents skipped town for a few days to avoid the storm and for the most part their place a little farther inland received only minor roof damage.

A stroll through Historic St. Augustine

Our next stop was up in Columbia, South Carolina to visit Ashley's parents. As with most of the trip, we arrived a day or two earlier than expected. We had just a little difficulty flying into Columbia and had to take a different flight from Atlanta up to Charlotte which is only about an hour or so north. Ashley's dad, "Grampy", came up to get us and the kids and I were grateful we didn't get stuck in Atlanta for the night or longer. Fortunately, Ashley was available behind the scenes looking at flights to get us on a flight that had seats. I also learned a good lesson flying "stand-by. You NEVER give up on a flight until the doors close to the jetway. If you are waiting for a seat there still may be a chance until the gate agent closes that door. 

As always "Grammy and Grampy" were and always are exceptional hosts. The AC was on, the pool was refreshing, the refrigerator was full and "Grampy" made sure my vodka tonic was delivered each day at 5pm and remained full until it was time to go to bed. Ashley joined us two days after our arrival so we were able to take care of a lot of things like shopping for the kids and hang out as a family for a bit. We were also able to attend an organized mini high school reunion of many of her closest friends. We had a blast with them and it was great to put faces to names from the stories I have heard. I have to admit, I was a bit of a curiosity to many of them and everyone came over to chat it up for a bit. "What kind of guy would marry Ashley"? A really good time was had by all and it felt good to be brought into the fold for a few hours. I hope I passed inspection.

Ashley's brother also made a trip for a night with his daughter so it was great to keep the cousins connected. Sadly we don't have any photos of our time in South Carolina. I usually take lots of photos to send to Ashely but since she was there with us the camera never came out. Ashley's mom has the most amazing photos all over the house especially in the kitchen where every available space is dedicated to the five grandkids. A shame not to add to her collection from this trip. 

We flew out of Columbia to Atlanta all together and the kids and I left Ashley in Atlanta while we flew north to Philadelphia to meet up with my mother and stepfather. By the time we arrived at "Bee-Bah" and "Grandpa Art's" house I think we were partly delirious. We had been on the road for two weeks, eating and drinking our way up the east coast. My mother had her itinerary ready and we were going to have to be ready to move. My mother is really good that way. She researches and organizes great things for the kids to do while visiting complete with back up plans. Many of the things are also things that her and Grandpa Art would like to see or do as well which makes it fun for everyone.

The area of Pennsylvania my mother lives in is horse country. Lots of rolling hills and open fields. Stunning. We met up with my brother, "Uncle Greg", at a day of Polo matches just a few miles from my parents place. Always good to meet up with my brother but Polo lost it's appeal after a few hours so playing some frisbee with Uncle Greg was much more fun. This led to a return to one of the kid's favorite activities from last year's trip. Disc golf. I had never played before but it was a blast and it was good to talk trash with my brother and head for an ice cream and a micro brew in Kennet Square afterwards.

Hitting the local minor league park was a treat too with seats down on the first base line. Irish Heritage Night was in full swing complete with Irish music playing in-between innings. Oh, and Fat Tire Amber on tap! A day into Philadelphia was also in order for a visit to the Franklin Institute for a day. One of those places that really needs multiple days to get the most out of it but it kept the kids totally stimulated for the day plus we got to enjoy some good old fashioned city traffic on the way home.

One of the big surprises was a night out for the kids with my mother. They went to a dinner theater and were given full permission to sneak out during the intermission if it wasn't all that interesting for them. Whether it was really something they liked or they just didn't want to miss dessert at the end of the show is still a mystery but the kids willingly stayed for the whole show and had a really good time. Loved seeing them all "dressed up" with their grandmother for the evening. With the kids and Bee-Bah out for the evening, Grandpa Art and I went down the road to a popular little pub and had great soup, burgers and thick beers just for the boys. The evening was enjoyed by all and yes, Alex is now officially taller than her grandmother.

During our time in Pennsylvania Delta Airlines had a system wide computer glitch which really screwed up summer travel everywhere. Since 1000s of flights were cancelled while things were being figured out anyone and everyone was scrambling for any airline seats they could find...anywhere. Which meant that anyone flying "stand-by" like us on empty seats was out of luck since those seats were being filled with people who's flights had been cancelled days earlier. Fortunately, we were scheduled to stay in Pennsylvania for a while still so when it came time to leave much of the airline chaos that was created had been cleared up. We picked our day to head back to Atlanta to meet up with Ashley again to head back to Mexico. Our flight looked good as far as getting on it so we said our goodbyes and then we started to stress.  The day of the flight things started to really deteriorate. Once empty seats were bought up and folks like us flying on benefits began to stack up. We had to wait three flights to get out of Phili and when we scored seats and left there were close to 70 "stand-by" people just hoping to get on a flight out. Wow!  We finally met up with Ashley as a family again and we were happy to have First Class seats back to Mexico.

That about sums up our travels from the summer.  I am sure I missed lots of things but I can only write and remember so much.  We are very lucky that our families are so welcoming and generous when it comes to heading to the USA for a visit.  It always stresses me out but the kids are good travelers so Ashley and I don't have to worry about them too much so that we can keep an eye on flights and be sure we get to where we need to be.  Who knows what next summer's travels hold in store for us but this one was fantastic so a big "Gracias" to all the family who took care of us along the way!