Wednesday, January 17, 2018

New In 2018 - We Are On Instagram!

To keep in touch on a more regularly with friends and family, we started an Instagram account.  FOLLOW HERE!

I know.  What took us so long?

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Sayulita JR SUP Team Classic

Just before Christmas break the kid's SUP Team had their first inter-team competition.  They have a few of these during the year so the kids can test their skills and get a taste of what it would be like to compete in a real race.  The coaches set things up just like an actual competition.  When the kids went to the Pacific Paddle Games last September not much was a surprise to them.  Lots of credit goes to our coaches for preparing them for events away from our own beach.

The morning of the comp the conditions were BIG and the waves were serious.  I was totally fine with the race being called off.  The coaches cancelled the race for all the kids EXCEPT Trace and Alex' group.  Their group has the most experience and the coaches felt they could handle the conditions.  Many of the kids in the program are new to SUP so it just wasn't a good idea to send them out.

Alex and Trace ready themselves for the start.
The race began and all the kids were off with mountains of water coming at them.  Some kids were immediately knocked of their boards by the waves and some were able to continue on and begin to navigate the course around the buoys set up in the bay.  Trace made it through the waves and was in the lead to begin the race but Alex had to recover and lost some time.

Waves are part of the challenge of an SUP race
A beautiful morning for a race.
Both Alex and Trace had goals for this race.  Alex has consistently finished just out of the top spot with the small group of girls she trains with so she really wanted to do well.  Alex' paddling and endurance has gotten much stronger in the last year but she is working on some other things that will help her save time and compete at a higher level.  She knows that once she makes mistakes, she will not do as well as she hopes.  Buoy turns, breaking waves and surfing waves to the beach are all part of a race and she knows she needs to develop her skills a bit to get better.  Once she cleans those things up a bit she will see more the success she is hoping for.

Alex paddling in open water towards a buoy
Alex smiling as she finishes
Alex finished first today in her small group after finishing behind each of these girls in previous races.   She was grinning ear to ear and after she caught her breath she was literally bouncing up and down saying "I am so happy"!  She did great!!

Trace is a bit of a different story.  This kid is addicted to the ocean and paddling.  Most kids go to practice twice a week for one hour each session.  Trace attends both practices offered each day for a total of 8 hours a week after school.  Then he will go to a SUP class on the weekend and surf with his old man.  Sometimes he will just go the beach with a board and paddle on his own and surf for a couple hours.

Trace and his buddy, Kolbi, lead the pack
Trace had clear goals for this race.  He wanted to finish ahead of one of his good friends, Kaden.  I feel he also wanted the Team as a group to see him as one of the top dogs in the program.  All I can say is that I am so impressed with what Trace pulled accomplished.  He had a goal, dedicated himself, focused and put in the hours to achieve his goal and he was successful!  He finished ahead of his friend for the first time and finished second overall.  Plus, he was not far behind the fastest paddler in the program.

Trace riding the big surf to the beach.
Trace all smiles
Trace was not done yet.  There was a SUP surf competition yet to come.  He has seen several surf competitions but had yet to learn how it all worked and understand what the judges were looking for so it was a great experience.  He made some mistakes early on but passed through to the next and final round.  He learned from those mistakes and got some coaching from his dad having been in a couple competitions previously and was really happy about the way things turned out in his first comp.

Trace navigating some big surf paddling back out
Trace looking for space for his next trick
With dedication like this how can you not be proud.  We know that Trace has been surfing with less than optimal equipment but this has been totally fine for the last year or so as he learned.  Now it is time to get him some decent gear.  For Christmas he received an adjustable Quickblade Paddle that he can use for racing and surfing.  It is really nice and so much better than the "log" he has been using. Our next goal is a new SUP surfboard.  The board he is over a foot longer than he should be on and is a tank.  So much so it is hard to believe that he has done as well as he has.  Watching him from the beach during the comp you could just see that the gear he was using was big, heavy and slow compared to the other kids competing.  He managed the gear, the conditions and was super stoked to finish 4th and we are sure he is setting goals to do better than that next time.

Trace receives his award for a 4th place finish with Coach Bicho Jimenez
Sayulita is the epicenter of all things SUP in Mexico and the coaching, existing talent and up and coming talent is high.  The kids are literally a 5 minute walk to the beach.  Even closer than he would have been to the World Class resorts near our house in Park City and they can carry their own gear to the beach!  We cannot wait to see what kind of water people they become in the next few years.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

A New Casa 2017 - Bio-Cell Construction

Early on in the construction design process we knew we had to make an effort to reduce the impact our new home would have on the town's infrastructure.  The lot is essentially north facing so the idea of solar to help offset our electrical use was not something we considered.  Off street parking to help traffic flow?  Yes, we have that covered.  Recycle?  Of course.  Water/sewer?  High efficiency toilets etc are a no brainer but what else can we do?  Perhaps we can help there.

A facebook page dedicated to Ecological sustainability solutions for Sayulita had been started about the time we began construction.  It had been discussing how even in a downtown setting there are things we can do to help wastewater contributions.  As ridiculous as it sounds, our new house will have 2 kitchens, 2 laundry rooms with utility sinks, a bar and 4 bathrooms. Granted the amount of water we will use and waste water we will generate won't be much more than we do currently, the potential contributions and usage are much higher with a full house and occasional renters/family/ friends in the apartment.  So, we decided to look up the folks who seemed to be in charge of designing a grey and black treatment system for our property.  What could we do on the lot in the space we had that would help reduce the impact we would have on an already overloaded water/sewer infrastructure.

Design by Budd Adams
Essentially, the house's plumbing needed to separate "grey water" from "black water".  Liquid waste water which comes from sinks and showers from solid waste which comes from toilets.  The solid waste, "black water", would be distributed into what is called a Bio-Digester.  This is essentially a large plastic tank(see the small round circle in white on plan above) that would be buried in the driveway.  In the bio-digester, solid waste would be broken down anaerobically as micro-organisms naturally took care of the decomposition of solids.  It would have to be emptied once in a while but it would prevent "black water" waste from most of the house from having to be treated by the facility in town.

The liquid waste, "grey water", would be filtered and sent to a garden in the front yard.  The light blue area of the diagram above shows the location.  Once filtered the grey water would slowly be treated by micro organisms, used by select garden plants and then recirculated again within the garden by a pump.

To pull this off we had to essentially plan three separate plumbing systems.  1.  The totally separate apartment system which will be tied into the the town's main sewer.  Why separate?  Honestly, we really wouldn't have any control over what occupants sent down the drain.  The concern was that some products occupants used may be damaging to the system rendering the treatment process less effective.  Something we could control in our living space upstairs  2. A system separating of all the main house(our house) toilets to distribute to the "black water" bio digester in the driveway.  3.  A system separating of all the "main house" showers, sinks and drains to distribute to a filter and then to the garden for treatment.

Design by Budd Adams
This all going on in the front yard of the small 330 square meter lot with a house on it.  Here is a photo of the front yard showing some of the formed up walls for the system.  The green section is the concrete slab to the right.  The blue section begins at what looks like a open box in the photo and the area by the plastic sheeting will actually be one more garden area that will act as a overflow should we see a big rain or something goes wrong with the system for some reason.  Excess water should infect be pumped up to the green section of the diagram to filter through the system again.  We are told the system does not smell and we are counting on that.  Our old neighbor used to water his garden with "grey water" from his house by hose and it did stink. If it does smell the system's designer has a few tricks to help with that but the system is mostly underground.  A similar system to this was actually supposed to go into a small hotel kitchen here in Sayulita to take care of grey water .  If it would work in the tight location with people eating and lodging then we hope we won't have a problem either.

The front yard Bio Cell taking shape.  The large wall to the right is just a separation wall from the neighbors's property.
So the question remains about what happens with the apartment waste water since we cannot hook into the main sewer system just yet.  Since the apartment has a single discharge line and does not mix with the Bio-cell, the only option is to collect it and have the collection container pumped out every few weeks as needed.  The collection container will be stored in a bodega(the smaller of the two green sections on the map) and hidden then removed when it is time to hook the apartment into the town system.

 Well, that is our solution for now anyway.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

A Conversation Between Mother And Daughter Living In The Jungle

Alex:  Mom, can I borrow your hairdryer?
Ashley:  Sure honey, but don't you have one?
Alex:  Yes, but I don't want to use it.
Ashley:  Why not?
Alex:  Well, a long time ago a cockroach crawled inside my hairdryer and died.  Now, when I turn it on pieces of the cockroach come flying out and hit me in the head.
Conversations like this barely get a second thought anymore.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Sayulita Scenes - Adios 2017!

Hola 2018!!  It's looking like 2018 will be just as eventful as 2017.  Feliz Año Nuevo!!!

Photo by Derrick Lundy

Thursday, December 28, 2017


As I have said before we are just one family who decided to move to Mexico from where we were before.  There are lots of people like us here though to many we seem unique or adventurous.  We decided to "just do it" and after that we learned and adapted the best we could in our new country.

We have been here 6 years so we have been here longer than some and not as long as many.  What is unique about this particular year is that the kids are at a new school, Costa Verde International School (CVIS).  We are a new family to the school yet we know most of the kids and families enrolled there and we have had 6 years of living in Sayulita experience.  Much more Mexico living experience than many of the first year families at school.

Through this blog, some fortunate chance meetings and introductions along the way we have met many "first year" families who arrived this year and also have their children in CVIS.  I kiddingly refer to them at "Freshman".  We are kind of like the 25 year old who has decided to go back to school for a second major in something totally different than the first time around.  We already know our way around campus, know many of the upper classmen and faculty and where things are.  We have a big head start on the Freshman and getting settled the first year can be overwhelming at times with new faces and new surroundings.

That said, it has been great to meet these new people and see their enthusiasm as many of them start their own adventure.  It's great to listen and learn from their experiences compared to our own and how they handled certain things and who they have met along the way.  We really like the people who we have met but everyone has their own timeline as far as how long they will be in Sayulita.  I've seen some come only for one school year and they are still here years later and have no intention of ever leaving Mexico.  I've also seen some folks arrive intending on staying permanently only to see them burn out, pack up and move on.  Sayulita is not for everybody and The Vortex is at work constantly.  Kind of a downer knowing that there is a chance many of the new people we enjoy hanging with now might be down the road by the beginning of the next school year when the new "Freshman" arrive.  Such is the way of things in Sayulita.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

A New Casa in 2017 - December Update - A Big Bump In The Road

I wrote previously about the sewer work that has been going on in our pueblo.  This got a lot more real this last week as the sewer work relates to our building project.

Our builder, Leo, has been trying to get a sewer hook up for the house since last spring.  He visits the water office here in town and is told the same answer.  "No hook ups available".  I never realized that we never had the permits to hook up to the sewer line that runs down our street.  He only had permits to hook up to the water supply.  One of those many important details I missed when looking at the paper work and having discussions in Spanish.

Lots of exterior finishing going on
So, he suggested as the property owner to go in and speak with the office staff at the water department.  The answer was still the same.  "No".  Until the sewer line improvements are complete there will be no new sewer line hook ups.  See related post HERE.  Approvals for permits may come available in January or February or even later.  SHIT!!  We have a house that has water, electricity but we cannot go to the bathroom or take a shower for who really knows how long?

Well, just as I was leaving the water department wondering what the hell we were going to do when we moved in to the first floor of the house at the end of the month my phone "dings" letting me know I had an email.  It was our landlord.  SHIT!  Expecting only bad news.  The last I heard from him he was planning on coming down over the holidays and setting up some work to be done on the house we rent from him.  I got some good news in that email.  He let me know that he was going to be busy with business until the end of January and if we would like to stay in the house one more month we were welcome to do so.

With no windows, no doors, no stairs and no sewer connection we were happy to take him up on his offer and be sure we were in a good place until the end of January.  Whew.  We were all disappointed not to be moving into our new place but it was the best option considering all the things that still needed to be done.

Apartment built in bed
Trace's room subfloor
 Work on the apartment level continues and it has been primed.  The built in couches, bed and kitchen have bee, installed, cushions ordered and we still wait for the final concrete coat for the floor.  The upper level walls are finished and ready for paint and several of the rooms are receiving their 4cm thick concrete subfloors.

The front yard has been busy this week with lots of excavation and the beginnings of the garden, bodegas and the front spiral stairs.  Lots going outside but not much really on the inside.

Future bodega

Front garden and stairs taking shape
We are certainly thankful that the crew isn't taking an extended holiday as Christmas time approaches.  It isn't out of the ordinary for construction crews to be scarce for a couple weeks.  Not the case with our crew.  They will keep moving forward for the most part.

What to do about the sewer situation?  We have some solutions but will get into those in another post.  We have essentially 6 weeks to figure it out.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Where Are The Holiday Lights?

Up north there were all kinds of trees to put strings of lights on.  It was always a festive way to decorate your landscape and yard especially during the holidays.  Here in Sayulita we just don't see the same amount of lights as we would this time of year in Utah.  For the most part we have lots of palm trees to decorate but why don't we see more lights?

Well, now we know.

Friday, December 8, 2017