Settling Into Sayulita

Anytime we move into a new home in a new country (which has been averaging about every ten months lately), we quickly amass a sizable To Do list to help us get settled.

Fortunately, the list seems to get smaller and more manageable with each move.

I’d like to say it’s because we’ve become pros at this whole international moving thing, or that we’ve become that much more minimalist and are able to get by with less as the years go on.

But really, it probably has more to do with the varying levels of support and certainty surrounding our moves, which seemed to peak when we moved to Laos in 2016 and diminish with each subsequent relocation.

In 2016, our housing and much of our furnishing expenses were covered through Lori’s employer. Her contract was initially for two years, and the lease of our house was written as such, with the ability to break the lease after 12 months.

Knowing we’d almost certainly be in the same house for two or more years, we set about making it our own.

The second-hand market in Laos and Cambodia was also quite good for buying and selling quality used things, so we knew that if we found what we were looking for, we’d likely be able to sell it pretty easily to someone else for close to what we paid.

Three more moves and four years later and we’re just not terribly interested in acquiring anything we don’t absolutely need.

We’re paying for everything out of pocket at this point, have no idea how long we’ll be here, and the used market here in Sayulita (and even Puerto Vallarta) is abysmal (likely because you can buy so many things for cheap at Walmart or online here).

The good news is that this house came fairly well stocked. Not crazy-well-stocked, but good enough to get by for an indeterminate period of time.

No going out and buying crazy luxuries like a rice cooker, electric kettle, or crockpot this time around. We plan to do simple meals and eat as many street taco dinners as our stomachs can handle.

In the next week or two, we’re looking at trying to get a functional washing machine, necessary housewares such as a floor fan, clothes drying rack, high chair, etc.

I would like to get a small barbecue, and Lori would like a yoga mat.

Oh, and we’ll start the hunt for some sort of vehicle (motorized or pedal-powered) for ferrying Noe back and forth from his jungle school.

Getting all of that isn’t going to be easy. For Mexicans and expats with cars, it’s a quick 20 minute drive down the highway to Walmart, Home Depot, and other big box stores. Here in Sayulita, we’ll be lucky if we can find a can opener.

We know people order stuff online as well, but have no idea yet if that’s on Amazon Mexico or somewhere else, whether we can make purchases without a Mexican credit card or bank account, and whether they’ll deliver to our address.

We’re already realizing it’s going to be a bit of an adjustment living in a town of 2,500 without a car, fresh on the heels of living in two capital cities in Asia.

Sure, you’d be hard-pressed to find things like a camp tent or hiking poles in Vientiane. But you could easily buy a can opener.

Riley’s quite the multitasker these days. More folding, less brushing, kiddo!

In addition to crossing off things on our settling-in To Do list this week, we’re enjoying exploring this quirky little beach town.

Noe’s been really enjoying watching the surfers and the roving musicians (anything from Mariachi bands to Gringo hippie ukulele players).

Riley’s been enjoying some extra time with daddy these days, as Lori plays catch-up with her remote work. And we’re both having fun trying out new cafes and beach spots.

Riley’s nap is generally about an hour less than Noe’s (Noe gets up earlier in the morning and comes home from school exhausted). Today, he’s very happy to do some water play in the backyard on a hot and humid afternoon.

Sunset happy hour time on North Beach. This beach is the closest to us and a lot less crowded than central beach, so we find ourselves here often. Almost every evening around sunset.

Grabbing pizza with the boys on the main drag, and trying some pretty darn good IPA brewed right here in Sayulita.

Impromptu dinner entertainment. In this part of town, there seems to be a steady stream of entertainers throughout the evening, from fire dancers to drummers to unicyclists.

Early in the week, we were able to land a trusted and well-referenced nanny to look after Riley a few hours a day moving forward. On Wednesday morning, with Riley in good hands, we take a quick trip down to Nuevo Vallarta to stock up on some home essentials that we can’t get in Sayulita.

Taxis are expensive and Uber only works for the return trip (there generally aren’t Uber drivers hanging out in little ol’ Sayulita). So, we won’t be doing this trip much.

I’m pretty sure this was the longest time we’ve ever spent in a Walmart, but it’s the place around here to get what you need. And we ended up finding about 70% of what’s on our list, which might be a new record overseas.

But they sure didn’t make it easy for us. They just happened to be rearranging the entire store during our visit.

We’d find something like laundry baskets or food containers, only to return ten minutes later and find that they had been moved eight aisles down. Tons of fun when you have a list a mile long and a short amount of time to find it all.

We made it back to Sayulita with all of our booty barely in the nick of time to fetch Noe at school.

What we didn’t find at Walmart, it looks like we might be able to order through Mercado Libre (the Mexican equivalent of Amazon) via our property manager. We’ll see how that all pans out.

Back in Sayulita, it’s that time of the day!

Enjoying sundowners and a bit of earth moving at Bar La Isla.

Another hot and sunny late-October day here in Sayulita.

Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) is one of Mexico’s most significant holidays and just around the corner.

We’ve been encountering a number of altars and memorials to the dead, which is common this time of year.

But this year’s Day of the Dead has taken on a special significance due to Mexico’s disproportionate number of Covid-related deaths (official numbers are around 90,000, but many believe the count is much higher).

We expected to see altars remembering family members and ancestors who had died many years ago. But the vast majority we’ve been encountering are commemorating people who have died very recently ⎼ poignant reminders of the incredible toll this pandemic continues to take, against the backdrop of a vacation destination where Gringos and out-of-towners continue to gather in large groups for weddings, retreats, and other events and party like it’s 2019.

Another excellent craft beer from the region. I’m getting used to this. There goes my Southeast Asia beer diet of relatively low-cal pilsners and American adjunct lagers.

With Dia de los Muertos fast approaching, we decide it’s an appropriate time to head back to Playa de los Muertos.

Thanks to the full moon today, the conditions are even better than a week ago, with a pronounced low tide and gentle surf in the morning.

It’s only 11am, but Lori and I can’t help ourselves. We’re at the beach and we’ve had a successful week of getting settled into our new home. In Mexico, Saturdays on the beach call for one drink in particular: a Michelada.

A Sayulita Michelada generally has Modelo Especial, Clamato (tomato and clam juice), lime, Huichol picante sauce, and soy sauce, rimmed with Tajin (seasoning powder containing chili peppers, lime, and salt).

And this one is huge, spicy, and simply awesome.

What better way to finish off the week (and the month of October) than roadside wood fire pizza (not pictured in these pre-meal snaps, unfortunately).

And, to our happy surprise, some of the best (and cheapest) we’ve had anywhere.

4 thoughts on “Settling Into Sayulita”

  1. Looks like a beautiful place to live!!

  2. Sue Nell Phillips

    I’m only like majorly jealous.

  3. Shirley Northcraft

    What a paradise you have found. Thanks for sharing through pictures and narratives. Wish we were there!

  4. Good beer and good pizza living the good life on the good side of the border wall you guys have it made!
    Thanks for the photos and the update miss you all


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