January Birthday

With the pandemic and cooler sea temps, we kept things pretty low key for Lori’s special day this year. But that’s generally the way we like it anyway.

One thing was certain. We knew we wanted to take full advantage of the blue skies, perfect daytime weather, and Lori’s light work schedule. With chilly water temps and no car, that means staying close and probably hiking.

More hiking?

We’ve both lived in the tropics long enough to know that the optimal hiking window can be short-lived, before the heat, humidity, and ultimately, the rain, start to hamper our treks through the jungle.

Plus, after two months, there’s still more to explore!

But first, a small home improvement project.

Right now, the rooftop of our place isn’t all that functional. No shade cover makes it pretty toasty by day, and no lighting makes it impractical after sunset.

I want to change at least one of those. It would be nice to do turn this into a more functional space for relaxing and barbecuing after the boys go to sleep. With the sun setting pretty early, that means light.

After a trip down to Nuevo Vallarta and a visit to the electrical shop here (which is just the garage of a guy’s home), I decided it would be best to order my lights online and have them delivered.

Yes, we can actually do that here. A big difference from Laos and Cambodia. At least for us mere mortals who don’t have diplomatic connections.

Conveniently, the roof had existing metal poles at each of the four corners. All I had to do was get my hands on two 50-foot strands of cafe lights and hang them.

But that proved a challenge without a ladder. The neighbor’s ladder wasn’t high enough and I didn’t feel like buying yet another ladder in another country just for one project.

So I rigged up this stick-on-a-broom contraption which worked pretty well.

Because of the lack of a ladder, I also put the lights on a rigging to raise and lower them as needed. Initially, the lights looked great, but I was concerned about the amount of tension on the cord. I had hoped I wouldn’t have to run steel cables and hang the lines from those, but I knew that this wasn’t going to hold up to a strong storm.

So, I took it all down and ran 1/4″-thick black rope along the rigging instead (with the lights attached by zip ties). Best of all, I found a way to connect the lights to a light bulb socket connected to a light switch.

We’ll see how it all stands up.

The paramotors are out in full force lately. We see 1-2 each evening. With the evenings we’ve been having lately, I can’t say I’m not a bit envious. The boys absolutely freak any time they think they hear a paramotor. Sometimes, when there isn’t one, I’ve been known to yell, “PARAMOTOR!” just to see Riley go nuts.

For the birthday girl’s special day, we lucked out. It landed on a weekday this year and Lori and I didn’t have much going on (things are generally pretty slow at the beginning of the year with remote work). Noe was spending the morning in his Pre-K school and Riley was with Jasmine, the nice lady who looks after him on weekday mornings. Which meant, Lori and I actually had some time during daylight hours to hang out together.

For us, the allure of remote consulting work and an online business is flexibility, location independence, and meeting our financial goals. With kids and Covid, it’s been a bit trickier, but we hope we’ll be able to sink into a nice work-life balance moving forward.

The main hangup we see with maintaining the level of balance we hoped for here is that there’s lots of demand right now for Lori’s assistance, and the travel market is finally rebounding and AwayGoWe’s traffic and revenue are growing in leaps and bounds. Certainly not bad things, but things that make closing the laptop and saying no to more hours hard.

Moving forward, one of the big challenges will be reconciling our feeling of obligation to take advantage of the income opportunities available right now with our primary objective we had moving here, which is to scale back working hours and devote more time to life outside of work, with and without the boys.

Regardless, today is a day off, and we’re kid-less this morning. The weather is great for hiking, so let’s hit it!

But first…a hearty birthday breakfast at Tropical House.

For Lori’s birthday, we wanted to do a different sort of hike. Something a bit more rigorous and adventurous than we normally do with the kids.

The maps around here for hiking weren’t great when we arrived, but we noticed there are a ton of inland trails we haven’t explored. So, we set out to see where they go, and were well rewarded for our efforts.

Along the way, we ran into a guy harvesting palm fronds who told us we should check out a bat tunnel in the eastern reaches of the jungle if we’re headed that way. We filed the info in the back of our minds and continued on our way.

There are a number of small trails heading uphill that lead to various hidden viewpoints. The remnants of camp fire rings leads us to believe we’re not the first to discover these. But I don’t suspect many visitors to Sayulita make it up here.

I hadn’t told Lori about the discovery Riley and I found on our hike through here a few days ago. I wanted to see Lori’s reaction and thought it would make for a fun visit on her birthday.

“What the heck is this place?” was her first reaction. It’s the Jungle Temple, of course!

After visiting the Jungle Temple, we decided to continue on the path, then take a smaller path leading downhill that we hadn’t been on. A short while later, we spotted it.

The Bat Tunnel!

This tunnel leads under the highway to a swath of undeveloped jungle ten times larger than the portion we’re exploring now. Having no idea what lay on the other side and running down the clock on our morning together, we decided to save that adventure for another day.

We took a peek inside, marked it on my map for future explorations, and started to make our way back to civilization.

But not before a climb up to another viewpoint on the backside of Nanzal Hill.

There are some interesting vacation homes and villas up in these parts. And some insanely steep streets.

“To the Beach.” Sounds good to me.

The path led to an old cut through that easily predates all of the houses around here. We stumble upon a lot of these “ruins” and can’t help but wonder what their stories are. No doubt, these remnants of a different time have seen a lot of changes. It’s amazing that so many remain.

Back on the beach, it’s already 1pm. Time for a birthday beverage.

After naps, we returned to the beach for happy hour birthday beverages and another incredible sunset.

This is my go-to drink at Miramar Bar. The Pirate Riot. With a Serrano pepper for a kick. Good stuff.

For most of Lori’s life, she’s gotten the short end of the stick, weather-wise, with a January birthday. With six of her last eight birthdays spent in the tropics (and in the northern hemisphere’s dry season, at that), I think we’ve managed to make up for it for a bit.

There are a number of downsides to living a nomadic sort of lifestyle, but there are a lot of upsides too. The benefits far outweigh the costs for us (or else we wouldn’t continue to do it).

One of the things we love about our situation is that we never have to work very hard to have a memorable birthday. Regardless of our actual feelings on the places we find ourselves on special occasions, whether we love them or hate them, we know we can still do something low key and will remember the day several years down the line, simply because of where we were at that time (which is usually different from the previous year).

No need to book a trip somewhere, because we’re already there (though we do like to do that from time to time, because at the heart of it, we’re travelers and explorers at heart). Lori wanted to spend her special day out and about, exploring an uncharted jungle instead of on a shopping trip in Vallarta or a spa day at a fancy resort.

For those reasons (and many, many more) I’m still crazy about this crazy birthday girl, after another trip around the sun together. Happy birthday, Lori!

2 thoughts on “January Birthday”

  1. Happy birthday, Lori! And may your adventures never end..

  2. Shirley Northcraft

    Very thoughtful posting. Thank you!


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