Escaping the Winter That Wasn’t
Are you old enough to have been tortured by your friends’ or relatives’ slide show from their recent road trip to Yosemite? Well here yah go with my thoughts from a recent Mexico trip to attend my son and daughter-in-law’s wedding. It seemed like a very good idea as one can always use a break from the Pacific Northwest rains and constant grey days of winter.
In a matter of hours we had landed and were wandering the Puerto Vallarta runways on our way to the terminal when the attendant came on the PA system and said to remain seated and buckled in. She then prattled on about how great we passengers were and that she felt we had become friends and because she loved singing to her friends she would like to entertain us on our way to the ramp. Suddenly she broke into one of her own compositions extolling the virtues of west jet patrons in the simpering voice of a primary school teacher. I thought I saw the air sheriff reach inside his jacket but he thought better of it, closed his eyes and settled back until finally hearing a smattering of applause. Good Lord!
Several delayed and on schedule flights had landed at the same time creating a maze to wander through like cattle to the slaughter. Finally we arrived at the desk of a woman who stamped our passports with the zeal of a whack-a-mole winner. Finally we marched through the gauntlet of time share salesmen to find our driver holding a placard in our name. (We used DeNiro this time) Jorge was an interesting character offering us a cold beer to start our 45 minute drive to Sayulita. We decided to forego shopping at the co-op store and instead had Jorge stop at the liquor store in downtown Sayulita. Having all necessary provisions we headed to our rental.
We made it to our rental house in the evening and were impressed as it was across the street from the beach, surrounded by flowers and had a pool. After the requisite number of cocktails we climbed into bed early to watch a storm come tumbling from the ocean to drop a torrential deluge sufficient enough to explode the electrical transformer down the street. Thankfully our power remained on which surprised me as the storm was getting stronger with palms bending and rain changing from vertical to horizontal in droplets the size of water balloons. The morning light presented another surprise when we went into the kitchen to make our morning coffee. The entire kitchen and all its contents needed to be cleaned! Not only did we find crusts of food but a gathering of rodent feces in cups, plates and bowls. We began to look at our casa differently.
The rains stayed with us for 2 days but didn’t dampen our spirits. Our only problem was a lack of food in the casa. Without having any clear idea where we were going we grabbed a beach umbrella and headed for downtown. The streets running down from the highlands were now rivers which made the walk to town quite the adventure. We started out by jumping over the deeper of puddles but soon were slogging along like Gene Kelly in Singing in the Rain.
Sayulita is made up of narrow one way streets where vehicles of every description drive in both directions. The town is also a Mecca for surfers. The surf beach is adjacent to downtown on the south end of the bay. This is where the action is – we stayed on the north end of the beach where there were only pelicans and the odd beach walker passing through.
There are a huge number of well behaved, healthy, street smart dogs wandering about. This is thanks in no small part to a group of dedicated animal lovers that spay and neuter strays and set up adoptions for gringos to return home with their new pups. The group was so efficient that the locals began putting collars on their pets to prevent them from being sent north.
The day before the wedding my son organized a boat trip for all the wedding boys on a catamaran to the Marieta islands. The islands had been used by as target practice during WW1 as they had the profile of large naval vessels. They hit them so many times that they blew holes right through portions of the island. Over the years they have become a destination because of the schools of colourful fish that thrive in the shallows.
So off we boys went on the booziest of cruises while the women folk spent the day at the spa attending to women things that I know little about. We encountered several whales, turtles, sea birds and schools of fish breaking the surface. Finally we arrived at the islands to find that several other tour boats had the same idea. There were people everywhere. The crew said that during the Christmas season there are about 5,000 people in the water! Interestingly I noticed that the crew didn’t count the numbers of people leaving our boat for the beach nor did they do a head count when they snorkeled back. When I mentioned it the crew said that indeed there are times when people are left behind but with all the boats in the area everyone finds their way back to port eventually!
Finally on the seventh day and with the wedding behind us I sensed an opportunity to be alone with no commitments other than reading a good book in the shade. Alas this was not to be as the entire wedding entourage had to check out of their respective rentals hours before their flights. It turned out that our place was centrally located so in no time our patio had more stacks of luggage than the local Sayulita Hotel. I mean these are great kids but for all that’s holy I just wanted some quiet time. As they are in general not brain dead, they recognized my desire and one by one wandered off to their favorite haunts for the last time. They are a wonderful group of kids and we honestly missed them after their departure.
For the first week in Sayulita all about me were suffering with loose stools and complaining about it in graphic detail. Why the need for such detail? I don’t get it , I ate everything and enjoyed perfect stools. And I mean perfect. (oops I didn’t mean to elaborate) It did make me feel somewhat superior to those without the flora and fauna necessary to enjoy food from foreign lands. Then day 8 came and with it a case of constipation. Oh my God!! I considered heading to the beach and getting one of those suspect fish on a stick skewers from one of the beach dwellers. That seemed to work for most. My friend had finally listened to my groaning lament long enough and suggested that I walk to the pharmacy and get a suppository as they work quickly and efficiently. Great idea!
I recognized the problem the moment I walked in. The only thing recognizable was the large display for Viagra pills. Not knowing a lick of Spanish meant I could only describe my dilemma in an embarrassing pantomime. I will save you the details but the lady behind the counter watched my act with a quizzical look on her face that morphed to surprise until, in a final understanding, outright laughter. She handed the suppositories to me and in perfect English said ‘We don’t get this request very often.’ It turns out that she was from Portland and just needed a good laugh. In no time I left my problems behind me and made plans for the next day.
The kids had moved into a ‘jungle’ house in the hills over the ocean and the bride wanted some time to herself so my son and grandson picked us up in a golf cart to explore the hidden beaches south of town. Wow, just beautiful and completely deserted. We had a great time then picked up the bride for dinner in one of the local restaurants. The food is good but it isn’t a bargain as I expected. By and large the prices we were paying were comparable to the costs at home but the ambience made the money well spent.
The restaurant was open air and perched over the town square. To accommodate children they had penned of a 12 by 12 foot corner by stretching bungy cords from floor to ceiling about 4 inches apart. They then filled the area with balls. Kids could squeeze in but the balls couldn’t get out. My grandson climbed in and had a riot running about kicking balls in all directions. A few minutes later a Mexican kid, maybe a year older than my grandson arrived and stood for a moment in front of him before blasting a ball off his forehead. Yahoo, let the wildest of dodge ball games begin! It all ended when they grappled with each other before wrestling to the ground in a sweaty boy mess. Exhausted they escaped the cage for a seat next to their respective moms and quietly ate their meals. I cancelled my call to the consulate.
The people of Sayulita are most wonderful. The way they treat their children and the affection they show for one another is commendable. In our 2 weeks in Sayulita I only saw 1 drunk Mexican, no mentally deficient and no homeless. But for the life of me I don’t understand why they can’t handle their sewage problems or collect the garbage from the overflowing containers at every beach access. All in all we had a great 2 weeks in Sayulita. It’s one of the safest, most laid back places we have ever been and is highly recommended for those escaping the winter blues.
Suddenly our time in Sayulita had come to an end. Jorge drove us to the airport in plenty of time to check in and get lunch before we boarded the plane. We landed in Victoria without musical accompaniment and made our way through Border Security. And there they were. Two rescued dogs from PV, about to meet their Canadian families. Oh the joy!
The next day our friends began to welcome us home and in every case expound on what wonderful weather they had in our absence. Sheesh.... I think I’ll put on a sweater and sit in the sun with a beer.
For more information check out Sayulta Life.
If you need a ride from PV airport to Sayulita contact Jorge.