Noe’s Extreme Makeover (and Exploring a Bat Cave)

Now in March, the post-holiday lull is quickly coming to an end and the second peak season here in Sayulita is rapidly approaching.

We’ve started to see spring breakers from north of the border, but in not too long, it’ll be Semana Santa (Holy Week/ Easter Week), when the whole of Mexico flees their inland homes for the beach [again].

For some confounding and frustrating reason, Sayulita is hot this year. And I don’t mean the temperature, necessarily. It just feels like this is the IT place (which is the LAST thing we were looking for when we moved here).

the place for young people to go and escape Covid (or pretend like the pandemic doesn’t exist).

the place where Guadalajaran families want to spend way too much of their hard-earned money to cram ten people into a two bedroom villa and party til the wee hours.

the place where gringo families flee to so that their kids can have some semblance of a normal life.

I guess we could be placed in that last category, but it wasn’t exactly our intention. It just sort of happened that way.

After all, Sayulita has one of only a handful of Pre-K/Kinder schools that have actually been open this school year here in Mexico. Add in the beach location and you might imagine what the situation has become.

Honestly, if we knew in October what we know now, there’s no way we would have made the move to Sayulita in the time of Covid. We would’ve opted for some place inland and less hip and less attractive to Covid deniers and tourist masses.

So we’re keeping our eyes open for other options for the future.

It would be nice to find something a bit less under the radar. Or, at the very least, a bit less oblivious and Peter Pan about things.

No doubt, our kids have benefited enormously from having more or less a normal childhood since we’ve been here, something that countless other kids their age have been denied due to the pandemic.

But we also realize we’ve been very fortunate so far in terms of our health (though we do tend to take a lot more precautions than 99% of people here) and the low infection rate we’ve seen here.

It’s a fine line we walk and a lot of risk-benefit analysis, but that’s not something pandemic-specific for us.

In other news, we finally found shoes that fit Riley’s feet!

Al pastor looks suspiciously like doner kabab. If I were running this joint, I’d have a street taco stand on one side, shawarma stand on the other, and see if anyone notices the difference. Oh Mediterranean food, that’s something we don’t have in Sayulita. Seems like we have almost everything else, though.

Tired boys, back from the beach with mommy.

After-nap mud-hut builders time.

The ants are veracious here. That’s a fairly large piece of uncooked pasta those guys found on the floor. Thirty minutes after the boys go down each night, we get a long line of ants marching their way into the house looking for what the boys dropped on the floor during dinner time. An hour later, they’re gone and the floor is spotless. I used to sweep them out…until I realized the service they’re doing us.

We’ve been wanting to return to the tunnel Lori and I discovered a couple months back to check it out and see what’s on the other side. We thought it might be a fun adventure for the boys too. We also knew it was full of bats (we also didn’t tell the boys…does that make us evil parents?).

Of course, the second Noe saw the tunnel (and the bats) it made him want to explore it even more. I was actually pretty amazed. He walked right into the tunnel (leading the way) totally unfazed by the bats swooshing right over his head. He loved it.

Riley, on the other hand, was a bit apprehensive about the dark tunnel and the bats. It could have also been that he was closer to the action sitting up in the kid carrier.

Did any of the dozens of bats in the cave smack Riley in the face? Nah. Well, I don’t think so, it was pretty dark, after all. Did any come close. Haha, yeah, probably, but he handled it with gusto.

We didn’t find a lot on the other side, which was a bit of a disappointment. No obvious trails, just a seasonal creek that wound its way into dense jungle. Alright boys, guess we’re going back through the bat tunnel!

Our hike eventually spit us out at…you guessed it! Malpaso Beach!

Noe, intent on breaking his previous record.

Riley wanted to climb into brother’s bed after nap time and surprise him. Somehow he was too stealthy and Sleeping Beauty over there just kept snoozing. Riley thought it was hilarious.

White or yellow? Looks pretty darn white to me.

Pulled up here one morning to grab some breakfast up the street and a guy busts out of those double wooden doors on the left and starts screaming at us that he didn’t want us parking there. We pointed and told him the sidewalk is blanco and indeed we can, which seemed to agitate him even more. Amarillo! Amarillo! I pointed to the spot on the left (which was clearly yellow), then looked back at the spot we were in.

In the end, it just wasn’t worth it. We waved him off and moved on, circled Centro another time and finally found a spot several minutes later.

For a supposedly laid back surfer town, Sayulita rarely feels like it. A lot of angry, high strung long-timers here. I get it, paradise lost. But most of these people are business owners reaping the benefits of the current madness we call our daily lives. These are the same guys and gals who will complain endlessly when restrictions go into place and they aren’t getting any business.

Lori and I have been discussing Noe’s hair lately. We all really like it. And all of Noe’s friends at his school have long hair. It seems like the Sayulita thing to do in this surfer community.

And yet… we’re still talking about it. Noe’s asked us for a haircut a couple of times. He’s tired of it blowing in in his face and eyes every time we take the golf cart anywhere, and any time we go to the beach.

We’re kind of tired of not ever being able to get his hair free of sand, no matter how much we wash it.

That might not be such a big deal if he didn’t sleep in our bed during nap time and for the first few hours at night before we transfer him to Noe and Riley’s shared room.

We’ve learned to live with sleeping in a sandbox. Just the price of living in a beach town.

But still… the discussions continue. We’ll see.

It seems we’re constantly finding strange and mysterious things on Patzcuarito Beach. Our best guess is that this one is the remnants of some sort of a romantic beach dinner set up by one of the nearby luxury villas the night before.

Patzcuarito is also a favorite with the local horse riding companies here in Sayulita, of which there are several. Sayulita is well known for its stables and horse riding along the beach seems to be a signature experience.

I was the first to buckle, getting a haircut a few days ago. I was getting tired of dealing with having to “style” my hair each morning (I really don’t like having to do anything with my hair if I can help it — if I can get a haircut that looks ok straight after the shower, then all the better).

This seemed to get the wheels in Noe’s mind turning again. He wanted a daddy haircut. Lori and I still weren’t convinced. We still weren’t quite ready to say goodbye to his long blonde locks.

But Noe was. It’s his head and he’s old enough to have a strong say in these things, so a haircut it is.

But before that, he wants to get some braids done. He was inspired by a classmate of his. And, every time we go to the beach lately, he sees the woman come around with the sign.

He’s been talking about it nonstop for a week (which is, like, forever, in four-year-old time).

Usually, we are inundated with braid ladies coming around asking if we want braids. But of course on the day we actually want one to come around, there are none to be found. Anywhere.

Lori finds one of the ladies at the far end of the beach and leads her back to Noe.

But now, Noe’s not sure he wants them anymore.

But that’s all you’ve been talking about, Noe?

Nope. He changed his mind. Doesn’t want them. Nope. Nope. Nope.

But of course, we can’t leave it at that. Lori made the woman walk half a mile in the midday sun. So, we start to remind Noe why he wanted them in the first place and try to steer him towards a particular style.

He reluctantly agrees. Then, as the woman starts going about her work, he starts crying.

I feel horrible about the whole thing. I wasn’t crazy about the braids in the first place. They just aren’t my thing, plus knowing that he’ll only have them for one night before getting his hair cut tomorrow doesn’t help matters.

Add to that, the fact that Noe genuinely doesn’t seem to want them anymore and I’m not feeling the braid thing at all.

“How much for these?” I ask Lori.


“How cheap?”

“Oh, I don’t know. Not much.”

“W…wait. You didn’t settle on a price?”

In the end, Noe came around to his new look, if ever so temporary. He was actually pretty happy with the result.

I was not so happy about the cost, however (300 pesos, which is around US$15). Lori and I both gave an audible gasp on that one when the lady said it.

But we were stuck. There isn’t a lot of haggling you can do after the fact, especially when you made the lady walk so far.

We asked some local friends about the going price for braids on the beach and they confirmed it was around that. You may be able to get it down to 200, but obviously that would be pre-negotiated.

Still, $10 for beach braids. Sheesh. And the crazy thing is these ladies are BUSY! We seem to see someone getting braids on the beach at any moment of the day.

Of course, Riley just thought the whole thing was hilarious.

The next day, after Noe got to show them off at school, I sat with him in the waiting area of the salon, pulling the rubber bands out of each of those same stupid braids, one-by-one, just before Noe’s haircut.

Noe hasn’t had a “short” haircut since he was very young, so we’re kind of curious what he looks like under all that.

The anticipation was almost too much for his brother.

And…the finished product…

They even gelled it, Mexico style.

Not too shabby, Noe!

3 thoughts on “Noe’s Extreme Makeover (and Exploring a Bat Cave)”

  1. Very cute and looks older…but loved that long hair too! It will grow! Happy Summer!
    Bill and Ann

  2. From braids to a young man overnight what a change and a very good one I might add.
    Daddy and son with good looking haircuts, what a good sight. Little brother doesn’t look bad at all he’s also a keeper but Gramps could be prejudiced!

  3. Love that new look on Noe—his blue eyes really stand out!! And Dave, your cut looks great, too!


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