Holiday High Season

We’re learning that living in a popular beach town is a very different experience than what we’ve become accustomed to over the years living in Southeast Asia capital cities.

Lori and I knew going into this that Sayulita had changed a lot in recent years and was no longer the quiet, boho surfer paradise we had heard so much about not so long ago.

Moving here in October, after a rough year of upheaval linked to the pandemic, we hoped we’d be able to finally leverage the pandemic in our favor, taking advantage of our location-independence and the travel industry downturn.

After reading for months about suddenly-sleepy Mexican beach destinations like Sayulita, we were more or less expecting to arrive in Sayulita and have the place to ourselves.

As our dumb luck would have it, Mexico loosened restrictions in a big way a week before our arrival.

And, as the rest of the world was headed into a second wave (and second lockdown), Mexico kept its doors open.

Given Sayulita’s long-standing reputation for hedonistic, anything goes, do as you want beach getaway, we suddenly found ourselves in an interesting and unwelcome situation here.

If you’ve been following our updates for the past few months, it’s clear by now that Sayulita definitely has a lot going for it. On the surface, it’s a little slice of paradise. And we’re fortunate to be able to take advantage of the beautiful weather, picturesque beaches, and great hiking within a stone’s throw of our home base.

But to move to a new place in the midst of a pandemic, to a country with a real Covid problem (Mexico has the third highest number of deaths overall in the entire world, irrespective of population), and a town like Sayulita, where everyone around us (particularly gringos) is happy to pretend that it’s 2019 and all is well, is tough.

Elsewhere in Mexico, they seem to be taking a more measured approach to it all, taking the risk more seriously than a great many north of the border. But Sayulita’s just a bit different.

We plan on staying here a while so we don’t want to seem unfriendly, rude, or judgmental to those around us in this small community.

But we’d also rather not catch Covid; not at this point, after dodging bullets left and right for eleven months across three countries; not with two little boys at challenging ages who depend on us each and every waking hour that we’re around them; and not here in Mexico where hospital beds in some areas are maxed out and care in rural areas like Sayulita isn’t always up to snuff.

And now, the holidays are upon us. Which means that on top of the foreign visitors from north of the border (the ones who are tired of being cooped up and want to head to Mexico – one of the only affordable beach destinations on the planet that isn’t heavily restricted) – we’ve also got a huge influx of domestic travelers expected to arrive from hotspots like Mexico City and Guadalajara.

Even without Covid in the mix, moving to Sayulita has been an adjustment.

We left the bustle of Phnom Penh hoping to sink into a very chill lifestyle. After having lived here a few months, I’ll never call Sayulita chill (even though it can be quite agreeable in the town center before 9am on a weekday).

We’ll see what Christmas and New Years ultimately bring. I know the local businesses here are yearning for a good showing. For our health and sanity, however, we’re hoping for a reasonably tame season.

Judging by the already packed central beaches, packed coffee shops, and ear bleeding music blaring at all hours from every cardinal direction around our house, I think we have a good idea what we’re in for.

In the midst of all of it, daily life continues. Here are some highlights from a pretty relaxed week as we gear up for the madness ahead.

I ordered a seatbelt kit from the U.S. and installed it on our cart. The boys were super excited to try it out…until they realized they couldn’t get out. We’ll see how long that lasts.

My backyard office. The weather is starting to get surprisingly chilly in the mornings and evenings, but is just about perfect during the day right now.

One of our tires on the cart has been giving us grief. We were hoping this guy would be able to do a quick and dirty patch job and nip it in the bud. Unfortunately, it sounds like the issue is a bit more complicated. Either way, Noe looks forward to our visits to the llanteria.

We don’t have a TV (well, not one that’s hooked up to anything), but occasionally the boys get to watch a little bit of YouTube, mostly building and construction videos.

Noe’s really in to these “primitive building” videos where one or two guys in Cambodia build something crazy out of local materials using traditional building methods.

He likes to try out the techniques he’s learned when we visit the beach and he’s getting quite handy with sticks and mud.

The crowds have swelled at of our usual happy hour beach spots, pushing us ever farther north along North Beach. In our desperation one day we stumbled upon this hidden public access path down to a section of beach that is largely empty…for now.

There are a lot of reasons why we love having a golf cart here. Being able to zip up to the northern reaches of the beach in town with our kids, then zip back home in time for dinner is one of the biggest advantages.

We don’t mind walking, but I reckon we save about 40 minutes using the cart over walking to this access point, which means 40 more minutes enjoying the beach (and being able to stay for sunset).

The view back towards the bustling center of town and Sayulita point at sunset.

Breakfast at El Break, one of my favorite spots in the town center and one of the few places (the only place?) in town where you can have breakfast with your toes in the sand.

Their breakfast burritos are pretty incredible too.

All geared up. The countdown begins.

Anything strike you as just a bit…different…in this photo?

How about now?

Yep, that’s a VW bus elevator. When this place opens, that’s how residents will access their units. Only in Sayulita.

Central Beach.

Backyard story time.

At the bus station. Riley wanted to have a close up look at the festive Mary.

Lori and I realized it had been a while since we at dinner out with the boys, so we headed over to Don Juan’s, a place out along the highway popular with Mexican tourists.

I was in a Michelada mood, so that’s what I ordered. What they brought me was this⏤

⏤an entire liter of Clamato (clam-tomato juice), soy sauce, hot sauce, lime, and Tajin salt (the beer you add as you go).

A coronary in a glass mug.

But delicious, nonetheless, and much needed after what our boys put us through at the restaurant.

In the morning (Sunday), we headed up to San Pancho.

Devouring amazing French sandwiches at Casa Gourmet, one of our favorite places in San Pancho.

The lagoon in San Pancho.

Not sure who constructed this little shelter, but it looks like it could actually be some gringo hippie’s residence here (which isn’t out of the ordinary in San Pancho). Noe was fascinated by the structure and really wanted to explore inside. Call me crazy, but I didn’t think that was the wisest course of action in this particular situation.

I spotted this little guy on our backyard fence. We’ve been getting a lot of colorful birds and iguanas lately in our backyard.

Riley’s been obsessed with tea parties. He’s setting one up for the two of us. He insisted on the garden because it had better ambience I guess.

Noe’s morning independent play time with his special box in his alcove.

Noe’s got the next couple of weeks off for the holidays. This morning, I asked him what he wanted to do together. Without hesitation, he announced that he wanted to go on a big hike. He should know better than to say that to this daddy. Alright Noe, you want a big hike? I think we can arrange that.

Playa Patzcuaro is about 3 miles from where we live, but we were able to take the golf cart to the end of town and start our hike from there.

This particular beach has a ton of debris that has washed ashore. Perfect for Noe to further hone his primitive building skills.

In all, we covered about 4.5 miles with about 200 feet of elevation gain. Not a huge hike by most standards, but one of Noe’s longest to date.

No complaints from the Mister, but he did inform me at one point that he was getting a bit tired walking up a steep hill on the way back. I carried him for about two minutes before he insisted on climbing the remaining portion of the hill and walking the rest of the way back.

When we got back to the golf cart, he was a very proud little hiker. Needless to say, daddy was proud too.

Today’s Noe’s half-birthday, so we thought we’d do something special to mark the occasion. We left Riley with a sitter and took Noe on a special outing for a rare treat: Gelato.

I’m pretty sure this was Noe’s first time having an entire “ice cream” for himself. The moment was not lost on him.

Christmas is just around the corner, which of course in our house means we’ve been crazy busy buying and wrapping gifts, decorating the house, and searching for the perfect Christmas Tree.

Whoo. Mission accomplished!

1 thought on “Holiday High Season”

  1. So happy to see this in my inbox!! Love hearing about your adventures–and seeingt he pictures of your family!


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