Friday, June 15, 2018

Trace Turns 11!

Our "Trace-man" turns 11 today.  Feliz Cumpleaños amigo!  This last year Trace has become a "water kid" and runs off to the ocean almost daily.  It makes him happy and makes him even happier to be out there with friends.  He does great in school, speaks Spanish like a local and surfs like crazy. Te queremos mucho!

Trace turns 11.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Anthony Bourdain RIP....Remembering A Previous Post That Means So Much More Today

We originally posted this article back in May of 2013.  Wow!  I just read it again and it means more now than it ever did 5 years ago with the sad news of Bourdain's death this week, the current policies and attitudes of the United States government and just the fact that we are now more a part of Mexico.  Please take a moment to read Anthony's message as only he could have written it.

Americans love Mexican food. We consume nachos, tacos, burritos, tortas, enchiladas, tamales and anything resembling Mexican in enormous quantities. We love Mexican beverages, happily knocking back huge amounts of tequila, mezcal, and Mexican beer every year. We love Mexican people—we sure employ a lot of them. Despite our ridiculously hypocritical attitudes towards immigration, we demand that Mexicans cook a large percentage of the food we eat, grow the ingredients we need to make that food, clean our houses, mow our lawns, wash our dishes, and look after our children. As any chef will tell you, our entire service economy—the restaurant business as we know it—in most American cities, would collapse overnight without Mexican workers. Some, of course, like to claim that Mexicans are “stealing American jobs.” But in two decades as a chef and employer, I never had ONE American kid walk in my door and apply for a dishwashing job, a porter’s position—or even a job as a prep cook. Mexicans do much of the work in this country that Americans, probably, simply won’t do.

We love Mexican drugs. Maybe not you personally, but “we”, as a nation, certainly consume titanic amounts of them—and go to extraordinary lengths and expense to acquire them. We love Mexican music, Mexican beaches, Mexican architecture, interior design, Mexican films.

So, why don’t we love Mexico?

We throw up our hands and shrug at what happens and what is happening just across the border. Maybe we are embarrassed. Mexico, after all, has always been there for us, to service our darkest needs and desires. Whether it’s dress up like fools and get passed-out drunk and sunburned on spring break in Cancun, throw pesos at strippers in Tijuana, or get toasted on Mexican drugs, we are seldom on our best behavior in Mexico. They have seen many of us at our worst. They know our darkest desires.

In the service of our appetites, we spend billions and billions of dollars each year on Mexican drugs—while at the same time spending billions and billions more trying to prevent those drugs from reaching us. The effect on our society is everywhere to be seen. Whether it’s kids nodding off and overdosing in small town Vermont, gang violence in L.A., burned out neighborhoods in Detroit—it’s there to see. What we don’t see, however, haven’t really noticed, and don’t seem to much care about, is the 80,000 dead in Mexico, just in the past few years—mostly innocent victims. Eighty thousand families who’ve been touched directly by the so-called “War On Drugs”.

Mexico. Our brother from another mother. A country, with whom, like it or not, we are inexorably, deeply involved, in a close but often uncomfortable embrace. Look at it. It’s beautiful. It has some of the most ravishingly beautiful beaches on earth. Mountains, desert, jungle. Beautiful colonial architecture, a tragic, elegant, violent, ludicrous, heroic, lamentable, heartbreaking history. Mexican wine country rivals Tuscany for gorgeousness. Its archeological sites—the remnants of great empires, unrivaled anywhere. And as much as we think we know and love it, we have barely scratched the surface of what Mexican food really is. It is NOT melted cheese over tortilla chips. It is not simple, or easy. It is not simply “bro food” at halftime. It is in fact, old—older even than the great cuisines of Europe, and often deeply complex, refined, subtle, and sophisticated. A true mole sauce, for instance, can take DAYS to make, a balance of freshly (always fresh) ingredients painstakingly prepared by hand. It could be, should be, one of the most exciting cuisines on the planet, if we paid attention. The old school cooks of Oaxaca make some of the more difficult and nuanced sauces in gastronomy. And some of the new generation—many of whom have trained in the kitchens of America and Europe—have returned home to take Mexican food to new and thrilling heights.

It’s a country I feel particularly attached to and grateful for. In nearly 30 years of cooking professionally, just about every time I walked into a new kitchen, it was a Mexican guy who looked after me, had my back, showed me what was what, and was there—and on the case—when the cooks like me, with backgrounds like mine, ran away to go skiing or surfing or simply flaked. I have been fortunate to track where some of those cooks come from, to go back home with them. To small towns populated mostly by women—where in the evening, families gather at the town’s phone kiosk, waiting for calls from their husbands, sons and brothers who have left to work in our kitchens in the cities of the North. I have been fortunate enough to see where that affinity for cooking comes from, to experience moms and grandmothers preparing many delicious things, with pride and real love, passing that food made by hand from their hands to mine.

In years of making television in Mexico, it’s one of the places we, as a crew, are happiest when the day’s work is over. We’ll gather around a street stall and order soft tacos with fresh, bright, delicious salsas, drink cold Mexican beer, sip smoky mezcals, and listen with moist eyes to sentimental songs from street musicians. We will look around and remark, for the hundredth time, what an extraordinary place this is.

Anthony Bourdain

Saturday, June 9, 2018

A New Casa In 2018 - June Construction Update

So here we are  in June of 2018 and we are STILL under construction.  We have watched so many projects begin and be completed around us and here we are.  Still building! What gives?  Well, the last two months have seen all our guys move up to the roof and complete an "add on" project.

Why an add on in this stage of the project?  Well, once we had the ceiling of our main living level in place we stood up there and saw the view.  The same exact view that we saw almost 12 years ago when we purchased the property.  The view that no one knows is there.  The view that was the one big reason we bought this steep narrow little lot in the first place.

We also knew we needed a few things that were not included in the area of the main house.  A laundry, additional storage space and a utilities(hot water, water pressure pump) location.  This 4th level location provide a place for all that.  So, we pitched the idea to our builder and he came back with a price.  NO price he came up with was going to be a good one at this point but we knew that this additional work would make a good house GREAT!  Plus, since we had open permits and a crew onsite we would be in a position to get the work done with a whole less hassle and cost than if we did the work down the road a couple years.

The addition is really four parts.  1. A perimeter wall around the open/interior courtyard that is open to the living level downstairs.  The wall will provide security and still allow for light and ventilation.  2. A laundry room/bodega space.  We needed a laundry and the bodega provided some securable storage space that would have some ventilation. 3. Utility space with an area for Ashley to work on whatever she can dream up.  The water pressure pump and hot water heater needed a dedicated space that would be out of the elements.  4. Outdoor terrace.  THE spot. Ocean view and sitting area and a location for a small bar/sink and future grill.

The perimeter wall is pretty much that.  Allow light and ventilation and provide security.  One side of the perimeter is a row of steel posts.  Sturdy enough to repel a zombie attack and cool looking as well.  At some point this courtyard will have a see through polycarbonate roof to allow light in and keep rain, debris and people out.  The roof will come down to the tips of those spikes.

Looking toward the front of the house from courtyard.  Window will be over bar/sink on the side.
Laundry/bodega door to the left, door to front terrace on right.  Living room below.
Courtyard wall towards neighbor's property line.  Pappelillo tree provides a canopy of sorts.
Steel spikes separating Ashley's work space and courtyard.  Doorway on left goes into courtyard.
Covered utility location.  No, not sexy but a great part of the add on.
600+ sq ft rooftop terrace with ocean view
Looking back toward terrace door and future bar/sink location.  Steel spikes visible.
From the street no one even knows the space exists and is totally unexpected when seeing the reaction of friends who have come by to take a look.  The terrace area certainly needs some seating and shade.  That will come someday in the future.  Plastic chairs and an umbrella for a while.  Some of these pics are a few weeks old but for the most part they are ready to finish floors, seal and paint walls.  The crew will then make their way to the lower house and out the front to finish exterior items.  We are told two more weeks.  We will see but we feel like we are soooooo close!  More soon.

A marked up plan.  The only one I could find.  Ocean view to the bottom of drawing.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Commentary - 3+ Months Living On Sayulita's Calle Libertad

Over three months have passed and we are still living in the apartment level of our new house.  We still do not have hot water, real water pressure or a working kitchen.  Each day at 8am the workers get here and they mix, grind, stack, carry and trowel their way through the day.  Progress is being made but we are ready for a change.  We like our guys.  They are polite and courteous and they work hard.  I kiddingly refer to them as the "Tios", the "uncles" since if feels like they are part of the family at this point.   Most, if not all, of them have been here a full year so they are very familiar faces and personalities to us.  They still consider Ashley and I "the clients" so not much is said but hey are always quick with a smile and a "hola".

I have listened to and watched our crew the last couple months and after a year of construction they have developed a relationship with the neighbors.  Partly because our contractor rents a bathroom from one resident rather than renting a "porta potty" and partly because some of our guys like to mix it up a bit and be friendly with the local residents and receive ribbing in good spirits when work gets messy.  It has been interesting listening to them with the local kids especially.  Always having fun it seems with the little ones.

Casa Pono is taking shape 
Saturday is occasionally "fight night".  Our neighbor across from us is a breeder of fighting roosters.  There must be 20+ cages up the hillside each with a prize rooster. From the street you wouldn't even know they are there unless you lived with the view at our newly constructed house. Men, no women, arrive with beers in hand and the roosters are brought out for inspection and a bit of sparring to show potential clients their potential for future matches at various locations in the area including down the street a couple blocks.  I have been to the rooster fights just once and that was enough.

We have been under construction for a long time now with deliveries, noise, trucks etc.  Now that we are living here, our neighbors seem a bit perplexed having someone looking back at them for the first time ever.  Our lot had been empty and essentially a place for people to throw trash, old appliances and for dogs to do their business.  Suddenly there are lights, windows, activity and people looking back at them across the street.  We have become the focus of their attention in a way as they sit on their doorstep.  That said our neighbors have been extremely nice and are always pleasant.  Some of our neighbors have lived on the street for 30+ years so I am sure to have a family of outsiders suddenly appear has been an adjustment for them as well.  Much of the street's residents are an extended family so they are always moving between houses and yelling to someone a few doors down.  We had always heard that the street was noisy and it was not an easy place to live.  The street is certainly not quiet but the previous place we lived for 3.5 years was much, much noisier with a large neighborhood behind it.  It was mostly festive noise.  People having fun or celebrating but certainly noisier than our new home.

View from the apartment terrace
Speaking with a couple of the neighbors I think they are satisfied that something nice is being built and have received no complaints.  Though tall it is essentially a family home with kids.  There have been 6 remodels and new builds on our street in the last year so the face of the street is changing.  What was once a street to only consider as a "cut through" street where the "fish monger" lived is now getting a new image.  Our neighbor across the street actually put a "se vende"(for sale) sign up for a few weeks but removed it knowing that once the construction settles down in a few more years and road is improved he can sell his aging parents place for a better price.  Is that a good thing?  The face of Sayulita is changing for better and worse.  Prices are up driving many locals out but locals who have their property they know that they are in a good position if they choose to sell if they choose to someday.  We saw the same in Park City.  Prices up, locals out.  We will see how this situation shapes our street in the years to come but we really hope not much changes from the way it is now...other than road improvements.

Thursday is choir practice and Sunday morning are services next door.  Roosters crowing joined with voices raised in song are a combination that won't hit the Top 40 playlist anytime soon but it is certainly better than someone cranking music at 8am on a Sunday.  Our concrete wall is in contact with their concrete wall so we hear everything next door.  The church has been very patient with our project.  Debris constantly rains down into the church's back yard and they have allowed us to hook into their sewer line until sewage permits are issued once the sewer plant work it completed...when that will happen is anyone's guess.

Stuck in our own driveway for two hours.  I do not care if you were late for church.  NO Parking!!
I get out to exercise in the mornings.  With my paddle and SUP I walk down to the beach in board shorts and flip flops and have become a regular sight with the folks who are up early and beginning their day between our house and the beach.  I say a regular "sight" since I pass many people dressed in multiple layers shivering while I walk shirtless looking to actually get in the ocean.  I get noticed for sure and it is not for my 6 pack abs.  I get looks and brief comments asking me if I am cold or if I am crazy.  Living close, 5 minutes, from the beach has been great!  It takes minimal effort grab gear and go and be back to begin the day.  Trace heads out to the beach each day like he was going to the park for a pick up game of basketball or something.  It is so very easy and the kids come and go to school, friend's houses or activities without having to drive them.

Ashley and I like to sit on the apartment patio and be outside and be part of the street but not necessarily be "part" of the street.  The neighbors have their lives and it has been interesting to be sitting there watching it.  We can see so much of the town drive carts, cars and walk by too.  People look at the house, some stop, some yell up to try to sell something, say hello and others are too interested in their devices to care about anything else.  It is so much busier than anywhere we have live yet we like this location the most and feel like we are more a part of town than we have been in the past.

Concrete dust is bad but mostly it is the dust from the street that is everywhere.  Not surprising this time of year as we all forget when it rained the last time to make the dust bowl around here go away for a handful of months.  It gets everywhere.  Our car is parked on the street and if it does not get moved every two or three days it gets so dusty that it looks abandoned.  The neighbors, and us now, try to rinse the car off every couple days.  I even watered my first street the other other day just like a true local.  We totally now understand what we once considered a big waste of water.

We finally got internet! It is not news that Sayulita has outgrown it's phone/internet network.  There are other options available but we could not connect to any in our location.  So, we had our name on the phone company's waitlist.  I was pouring pesos into our portable "hot spot" router and my phone to keep connected and get anything done online.  I felt totally helpless and so disconnected from the family and the world.  Wouldn't have said that 10 years ago.  Then one day a friend spoke with a guy who he saw running cable line down the street.  He let him know about us and our hopes for getting hooked up with internet.  The next day with a few messages and a whole bunch of pesos later we had our internet!  Contracts and everything.  There is the "waitlist" and then there is they guy on the street who kinda sorta works for the phone company and can hook you up for a price. Connections to the right people and cash will go far.  Phone/internet lines are gold here without a doubt since new construction always needs hook ups that do not exist.

After 3 months without internet...we are hooked up!!
We really do not know when the house will be done.  We added a bit of work that we feel will make a good house a great house plus save us some pesos in the long run to do the work now.  The added work has taken close to six weeks and every bit of material needs to be lifted 4 stories up by hand or electric winch to the roof so the pace is extremely slow and painful to watch.  Once the rooftop is done then they crew will start making their way down through the house detailing and taking care of items not yet completed.  So now we sit and continue to wait for the rest of the house to be made ready for our move upstairs at some future date.  I will try to post some updated photos soon.

That is about it for now from Calle Libertad.  Hopefully, the frequency of updates will increase as remaining items get taken care of.

Friday, May 25, 2018

It's Okay - A Music Video By Rebecca White - Ashley's Niece!

Ashley's niece!  Such a talent!!  We were lucky to have Rebecca and her family here in Sayulita last year and hear a few private sessions.  Have a listen.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Sayulita Scenes - A Day In The Life Of Trace

No, not really an uncommon sight in our pueblo but an awesome shot just the same.  Trace, on right, strolling down the cobblestone streets of Sayulita after a surf session with his best buddies.  This is pretty much how T-Man rolls.  He comes home from school, checks in with his amigos and heads to the beach for stand up paddle board racing practice or grabs his SUP surfboard and paddle to find some waves.
Photo by Kevin

Saturday, May 12, 2018

A Month In Sayulita-March 2011: Is Sayulita "All That Great"? A Look Back.

We posted this back in 2011 when we returned from our month long trial run here in Sayulita.  Seven years later, yes seven, the post still rings true and sometimes we need to remind ourselves where we are, where we came from and what we have experienced during that time.  Anyway, a fun look back and a bit of wisdom too from back in the day.  Link below.

A Month In Sayulita-March 2011: Is Sayulita "All That Great"?: The quick answer to that question is "No". If you go to Sayulita with a certain image in your head I think you might be a bit di...

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Festival Sayulita 2018

Festival Sayulita 2018 has come and gone already.  Always a great party for town with movies, activities and of course the big concert closing the Festival on the last evening of the event.  We always go to the opening in the Plaza the first night and hit a movie or two on the beach for kid's night.  This year it was "Paranorman" and the director was there during the showing.  Always fun to see a drive-in sized screen sitting on the sand in beach chairs watching a flick with the surf breaking behind you.

Dirty Heads Sayulita
Ostrowskis with Dirty Heads!!  So stoked to meet these guys!
For a second time, Dirty Heads was headlining the concert line up.  We have become Dirty Heads fans the past few years and when they played two years ago I did not take the kids since tickets were a bit pricey and they were a bit younger so I went by myself.  VERY unpopular decision on my part not to take them so this time we made the concert a family event.  Kids 12 and under were able to attend the concert free.  Security at the entrance did not believe that Alex was only 12 years old and even brought out a supervisor to check her ID.  Yep, Alex was carded at the show since she was believed to be too old to enter for free.

Nortec Collective.  Yes, that is a tuba.  So freaking good!
The kids have seen some larger concerts in Sayulita on the beach but not one that has a stage set up like a Festival Sayulita concert.  There is more room for the show out on a nearby ranch and the music line up is a tier or two higher than those we have seen previously so the expectation for sound, stage and lights is higher as well.

Alex in front of the VIP section.
We walked in and the warm up bands were already playing and Ashley and I hit the beer tent.  We walked around the venue and we could tell that Trace was already uncomfortable with the level of noise, light and size of things.  He eventually got more comfortable and we heard over the sound system that our favorite band, Dirty Heads, would be holding a meet and greet in 5 minutes in a tent just behind us.  One of our friends was in charge of the tent and we were first in line to meet the band.

Trace in the front row.
Trace digging the show.
We were told we had two minutes and we stumbled in to say hello.  The lead singer, "Dirty Jay", looked so amused to see this mostly blonde gringo family in Mexico walk in and he just smiled appearing bewildered...or maybe just stoned.  Such a funny look.  They do this kind of thing everywhere so it was business as usual for them but for us it was pretty damn cool.  Fortunately, our friend Michelle was nearby and was able to take a great photo of us with the band.

We left the band all pumped up from our introductions and the Nortec Collective took the stage complete with trumpet, tuba, video gear, accordion and mixing boards.  They are a very popular Mexican techno band and they were absolutely amazing!!  Even Trace and Alex were dancing the whole time.  They really could have headlined considering the show was in Mexico and they had the crowd on their feet for their set.  I never thought a tuba could be so cool!

Dirty Heads came on and the crowd thinned a bit as it got closer to midnight.  Trace and I made our way up to the very front against the crowd control railing with Alex and Ashley just behind us.  The great part of this show was that the kids got a front row seat and knew about 90% of the songs they played.  The songs we did not know are now in our usual Dirty Heads music rotation.

Yes, Ozzy and Ashley had some fun too!
That about sums up Festival Sayulita 2018.  We will look forward to what the organizers have planned for Festival Sayulita 2019.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Our SUP Surfer - Trace!

Our friend and professional photographer, Anne Menke, shot these fantastic photos of Trace during his school's Surf-a-Thon last weekend. So cool!!!!

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Big Day For Alex - No Braces!!!!!

After a year and a half Alex had her braces removed this week.  Retainer yet to be fit but we think the results are AWESOME!!!!!!  Happy girl!

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Adventures In Our Own Backyard - Playa La Lancha

As the two week Semana Santa spring break came to a close we decided to stretch our legs and revisit a beach that we had not seen for a while.  Playa la Lancha beach is about a 20 minute drive away followed by an easy 10 minute jungle hike from the parking area.

Family day
Ashley and Alex
We loaded up the boards and paddles and headed out looking for waves and to be away from our busy pueblo and the construction site we have been living in the last two months.  We found out that La Lancha is now a very popular day spot.  The amount of cars in the parking area is not a good indication of how many folks may be on the beach.  There is a retail area near the trailhead with a surf school and the public bus now drops off/picks up right there as well.  Needless to say a lot more people were having a beach day complete with umbrellas, coolers and even chairs than we expected.  Just as it should be on a Sunday during spring break.

Gathering tee pee supplies
The surf was pretty flat so the activity of the day turned into walking the beach, Tee Pee building and people watching.  Not a thrilling day but fantastic to get out and do something as a family and go see a place we had not been to in a while.