Friday, September 15, 2017

A New Casa In 2017 - Quick Photo Update - September

Some photos from today's walk-thru.  September 15th, 2017.

This "pano" shot is of the back section of the house.  It is hard to tell but it is about 700 square feet. We have painfully watched this area go in all summer since it needed to be hand excavated and the front of the house where I am standing needed to be complete.  This way everything could be built at the right level and tie in seamlessly.

The walls to the left and to the back will get upper level windows to allow light and air but not a view.  The wall to the right will have lower windows for the kitchen and living areas.  We placed them a bit above the normal room height to give the neighbors some privacy in their backyard.  Hopefully if they feel like we are not peering into their lives everyday they won't build their wall up over our windows.  No set backs here on the sides of the property.  Set backs only to the front and to the back.  It is risk you take building like this so we have tried to focus designing the house to the interior vs designing to the exterior and a view that could be covered up by the neighbor at some point.

The house front has been pretty much the same for weeks as the back of the house catches up.

The four corners.

The interior courtyard corner.  Will be open to the sky but have some sort of polycarbonate roof structure to protect from rain and provide security.  There will be stair access to the rooftop as well.

The living area corner.

The kitchen corner.

The dining area corner.  This area was to be the living area but we had to bump the house in about 5 feet or so to protect the tree.  The wall being built actually does not sit on a footing but more of a reinforced beam to allow the tree roots to remain undisturbed.

View down the hall to what will be a large front window to allow air flow and bring in light.  Opening for stairs from front door.  At the end of the hall to the right will be the master bedroom.

Future view from kitchen/living area looking right.  Ashley loves the view of the rebar tree.  Very common here.

Ashley and I had considered pushing the project up to a 4th level if the price was right.  With the exchange rate having gone down and the cost of materials going up it wasn't and would be pushing some of the zoning rules so we decided against it.  What we did decide on was to someday create a rooftop patio using materials that are allowed per zoning.  A "temporary" roof trellis made from concrete posts and wood or metal support rafters to support another clear polycarbonate rooftop.  Many rooftop patios have this and it provide extra room, protection from the elements, is economical and is considered "temporary".  Our laundry room will also be on the 4th level and be the only real permanent structure up there.  Hopefully zoning will let is slide since it is a utility room and not living space.  The 4th level will be accessed from a stair case winding it's way up from the interior courtyard to this view.  Nice!  This why we bought this lot almost 11 years ago and be hard for the neighbor to block with any new construction...but you never know.

Our contractor says they will be prepping for forming up the roof by the end of the month and that some of the lower rooms will begin to be finished.  With the heavy rains we get this time of year it is hard to keep working on finishes with no real roof on.  Got to get out of this rental house by December 1.  Stress level rising.

For reference.  The living room and dining rooms are now switched.

Monday, September 11, 2017

A New Casa In 2017 - How Did We Get Here? Part 2

It is not possible to be brief about this.  How we got to this point is only something that could really be understood by someone who has been through it, sweat it out and felt it.  The journey is generally different now but some still live in the world I will describe.

Read Part 1 here since it will make this post more understandable.

During our next visit to Sayulita we decided to consider another lot purchase.  "The last one went so well let's consider this again" we told ourselves.  Real estate everywhere is going up, up, up and if we can buy another property maybe we can sell it down the road and pay off a significant portion of the purchase price from our original purchase.  Ok!  If we ever want to get rid of it we can just sell it right?  We are so smart!  Sayulita had gained some momentum as far as exposure was concerned.  Fonatur, the tourism engine in Mexico, was putting in a major tourism complex down the road only 15 minutes away.  Have you heard of "Cancun".  Fonatur, it's creator for better or worse is the ...

"mastermind the infrastructure behind modern tourism in Mexico by developing some prime coastal real estate and encouraging foreign investment in its projects.

If Fonatur is eyeing the area for a major development then maybe we are on the early track to get in on this area plus we really like it.  Double bonus!  So, we hooked up with a local Realtor and she showed us a property that had just hit the market.  It was in an established nicer neighborhood with "pica boo" views of the coast going north.  It was even a better asking price than our first purchase.  Perfect!!  Our Presta Nombre was happy to put her name of the papers and suddenly we were proud owners of two lots in Sayulita.

A little time passes and we thought we were so cool.  (Ok, maybe it was just me who thought we were cool).  We have two quality lots in Sayulita, Mexico!  In a location that we pegged as a great up and coming destination.  International investors.  Welcome the global financial crisis of 2007/2008.  This totally washed all those dreams of having a house in Mexico down the drain along with everything else.  Real Estate in Sayulita came to a stand still.  We listed both lots immediately but no one wanted to even discuss the idea of a jungle covered lot with no title.  If you have cash to make a purchase for a lot, odds are you have cash to buy a fire sale lot in a kick ass location or a house with a title with an owner eager to sell.  Casas were selling cheap at bargain prices all over town as second home owners were looking to ditch their investments in Mexico.  We were pretty much stuck with something that no one wanted.  We were fucked.

Again, time passes and we were stuck paying on this money borrowed from ourselves every month.  The process of titling our lots was finally available in 2010.  Perhaps if we had lots available with "title" the appeal to buyers would be better and we could sell and lighten our financial burden a bit.  So, to be clear, the process for foreigners requires that the titling process from "ejido land" is completed in a Mexican national's name first.  The result being that the Mexican national would have the property listed as his or her property on the title deed at the beginning of the process.  After that, the title can be transferred to the foreigner in the form of a "Bank Trust".   This is a legal classification to allow foreign investors to legally own property in Mexico a certain distance to the coastline.  The twist on all this is that, for some reason, we needed new Presta Nombres to carry this process through.  In other words, our original Presta Nombre said she was unable(or unwilling) to put her name on the title for the lots.  This posed a problem since we did not know many people in town who we would trust to put their names on the documents even temporarily.  We ended up tracking down a former baby sitter of the kids whose family worked for lots of people we knew.  She was barely 18 at the time but if we trusted her with our children hopefully we could trust her(with the right arrangement) with representing one of our properties.  We needed a totally separate and second "Mexican national" to help us to represent our second lot.  We just did not know any more people in town so the attorney who was completing the titling process for us recommended his brother as the stand in "Presta Nombre" for the titling process.

Ok, so where does that leave us?  Our original Presta Nombre had to step aside.  We now have two new Presta Nombres.  One who we have used for a baby sitter twice.  One we have never met or even talked to.  What the hell did we get ourselves in to?  Tune in to Part 3.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Mud Season

Having done some of my growing up in Vermont there was always a 5th season each year.  Spring, summer, fall, winter, and MUD season.  To state the obvious, the seasons here in Sayulita are much milder.  So much so that it is sometimes difficult to tell which season it actually is.  One season that is easily identifiable is MUD season.

All summer the rains try and try to come and water the plants and wash the jungle clean again.  When the rain does come the thirsty earth just drinks it all in until one day the earth decides it will drink no more.  The rain starts to come more often and in greater amounts and the town turns into a sloppy mess.  Side roads that are not cobble stoned turn into deeply rutted, gooey avenues of mud and only get worse as traffic tries to use these pathways.

Trace getting ride with our neighbor Pepe's ATV

Cars here are just not equipped to handle this kind of terrain for the most part.  Many of them do not have great tires or perhaps are rear wheel drive.  Few 4x4s.  I tried my luck with our little Ford SUV after I saw another car almost get to the top of this hill and have to back all the way down to the next muddy intersection.  It took me two tries but I made it.  I have to admit I missed my little Mazda truck today.

Calle Libertad is slicker than snot
This is the top of the road we are building our house on.  There has been talk for years about the possibility of cobble stoning it.  We hope that this year is the year the rumors become truth and we see a totally improved roadway as it is an important connector out of town for many people.  With improvement the road will get busier but at least we will be able to use it.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Support the SAYULITA JR SUP TEAM's First International Competition!

The SAYULITA JR SUP TEAM is going north of the border to California and could use your support!

The SAYULITA JR SUP TEAM's "elite squad" is gearing up to take their first international trip to compete and represent Mexico on the worlds biggest racing stage at the Pacific Paddle Games (PPG) 2017 in Southern California at the end of September of this year. This event has been the game-changer of countless athletes, but to these kids it would be an experience that will change their lives forever.

Trace and Alex have been invited to help represent the team in their respective age groups and we are making sure our kids and their teammates can go experience this awesome event.  Help the team with any donation so our team can compete at the end of September!  

Donate today at this Go Fund Me Page! 

Monday, August 21, 2017

First Day of School At CVIS - August 2017

Today the kids went off to their new school, Costa Verde International School.  It is a private school here in Sayulita.  They will attend class for a half day in English and half the day in Spanish.  It will be a much more demanding curriculum for the kids and totally different socially with a lot more kids to interact with at all grade levels.  They both spent 5 years at Escuela del Mundo and the campus, staff and kids were all very comfortable for them. It will be all new this year but they do know many of the kids, some of the staff and will be able to find their way around the small campus with ease by the end of the week.  Saw lots of friendly parent faces this morning too welcoming us to our new school.  A new world for them and us.

Sorry my phone's camera is so bad.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Trace - "The Surfer"

This post marks the day when we saw Trace become a "Surfer".  Not just a kid who plays in the waves but a "Surfer".  He has been showing a growing interest in SUP surfing in the last year and we have been going out early almost everyday this summer.  He has two friends who are brothers who also have been developing the same passion for the sport.  I been trying to coach them a little on safety and surf etiquette in the main break and it has gone well to this point since the waves have been smaller and the crowds have been less aggressive in the mornings.  Technique is all self taught by the boys themselves and by some cross over from their SUP Paddleboard Race Team experience.

Yesterday, with the surf building, the boys had a taste of larger and better waves in the morning and they decided they wanted to go out in the afternoon as well.  Afternoon or Happy Hour surf time is usually a very local time to surf and the the caliber of surfers can be much higher than in the mornings.  The waves were bigger, the surfers were faster, the action was hectic and I sat nervously on the beach with the other boy's dad and watched.

All the boys did great!!  They rode waves that were theirs and got off waves that were not.  They dropped into waves well over their heads at a time of day that I totally avoid altogether just based on the who is generally out there at the time.  They acted like they belonged there and they did.  We were so impressed with these new surfers!  One of the best parts was having a local SUP Pro, Felipe Rodriguez Lorenzo (aka "Pipe"), take them under his wing while they were out there.  He would have them sit down and huddle up and he would tell them where to catch the best waves and other tips.  Really?  This guy finished 8th in the 2016 World Championships in Fiji and he takes time out of his training to coach the kids.  The best SUP surfer in Mexico.  Just AWESOME!  He totally has a bunch of new fans in these boys and their dads who watched this go down.

"Sayulita Bros" 

Anyway, it looks like this is a real interest of Trace's and we think that is great.  We have been waiting for either of the kids to really show some interest in the ocean and it has now officially begun.  Looks like we need to find a way for Trace to get his board down to the beach on his own too.  His 10 year old arms just can't handle his board yet for very far.  We will have to work on that.


Thursday, August 10, 2017

Sayulita Scenes - Gully Washer

The first real "gully washer" storm hit the other night.  People soon realized that their roofs may not have been as water proofed as they thought they were.  These kind of storms wash out the dirt side roads sending debris, gravel and lots of other items into the main streets that lead to the river and out to ocean.  Needless to say the beach becomes a place to avoid after such storms as the ocean kicks a lot of it back onto the beach.  The pueblo ends up muddy, wet with sewer systems overloaded due to so many roof drains hooked up to the main sewer lines rather than storm drains.  Anyway, things eventually get cleaned up but it is a big mess for a while and we need the water.

Photo by la Rustica

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Blogger Glitches

For some reason this area of Mexico, including Guadalajara, has not had Blogger service for a few weeks.  Anyway, we are still here and will be updating soon.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

A New Casa In 2017 - Photo Update

Not much progress from the front to see.  Lots of prep work going on in the back to get ready for the next level and materials.  Yes, it's going to be tall.  Not necessarily "big" but "tall".  Contractor bought a new electric hoist for materials and concrete.  Ceiling going on in the next couple weeks we hope.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Sayulita Scenes - Murals

La Esperanza. The mural outside this restaurant is one reason I love Sayulita.  The bold, fantastic and artistic designs found outside so many businesses create a very cool atmosphere.  I cannot say that we have eaten there in this location but what Jose and Lucy have created in the pueblo has become a steady, year round eatery.

La Esperanza at night with music
In the restaurant's own words: La Esperanza is a health food cafe that creates and serves conscious and nutritious food for the health of our community. Our intention is to educate individuals about nutrition and sustainability. At La Esperanza we serve a variety of organic super foods

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

The Future Of Sayulita - When Will Chain Stores Become The Norm?

We visited Sayulita from Park City, Utah in 2006 and saw many comparisons between the two towns. In 2006, the shine of The 2002 Olympic Games was still fresh and the world now knew a lot more about The Greatest Snow On Earth.  In 2006 Sayulita was not necessarily off the beaten path any longer but it was still a long way from what Park City had become.

Time passes and Park City becomes "Big Time".  There is no "offseason" any longer.  Every weekend is a festival or some kind of event.  Real estate prices go up with more homes being used as vacation homes.  Nightly and monthly rental prices go up.  Locals, seasonal employees and lower wage earners have a difficult time finding housing.  Commercial space rates also see an increase.  Long time local shops hope to survive but many cannot afford the going rate for operating a business.  Who can afford it?  Bigger, more established chain stores can.  North Face, Starbucks, Patagonia, LL Bean, Lululemon etc.  When I first arrived in Park City it was full of locally owned stores and businesses and because of this it had it's own character, it's own color and charm.  This has changed over the years.  I can't say if it is good or bad but Park City is certainly a bit less unique than it once was.

I feel like we are seeing Sayulita travel the same path.

Real estate prices are rising.  Inventory is down.  Monthly rentals are very limited and rent is high.  When you can rent a 2 bedroom one bath house nightly for a minimum of about $100 USD and there are bills to pay it is hard to offer it up to local seasonal workers or a young family at $350 USD per month.  There is money to be made and landlords are getting premium rates.  Our landlord could get over $1200 USD or more for the place we rent and he has asked us to move on for just that reason.  It is impossible to afford that when you earn less than $50 per day.  Locals, seasonal employees and lower wage earners have a very difficult time finding housing.  Sound familiar?  Yes, it does.

We have already seen the arrive of two chain convenience stores.  There are lots of arguments about whether they are good or bad for town.  Prices for commercial space are high too, inventory is limited and small bodega store spaces are popping up everywhere.  I wonder when we will see the chain stores become a bigger presence in the pueblo.  I do not think it will be long.  My guess is that it will be a surfing related chain.  Slowly but surely the chain stores will happen as Sayulita continues on it's current path.  More exposure, more popularity etc.

Again, I am only a visitor and cannot say this is good or bad.  What I can say is that we have seen the progression before.  Sayulita is following the same path as Park City as well as many other cool places in the world.

This is an article from the local Park City paper that talks about the possibility of limiting chain stores in it's historic downtown district.  Might Sayulita do something like this?  Does town have that kind of vision?  I am guessing not but we will be here to see.  I hope to be proved wrong.

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