In Photos: It’s All About the People

We met lots of interesting people during our two weeks in Sayulita, many of whom were expats, some of whom were tourists, others still who were long-time visitors. But we didn’t meet everyone.

Some people I only caught glimpses of. These are the characters whose stories I don’t know.

Jewellery peddler on the beach, Sayulita, Mexico

Jewellery peddler on the beach.

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family on the beach

A local family gets together for an early evening picnic on the beach.

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peddler at mercado

A peddler of fabric sacks at the mercado pauses just long enough for me to take a photo.
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mexican cowboys

Mexican cowboys trot over the depleted Arroyo.

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band at the mercado

Servers from Italian Mangia Fuoco jam at the Sunday mercado.

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Tourists? Sayulita-fied locals?

Tourists? Sayulita-fied locals? Sayulita, Mexico

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A peddler picks his steps over a small stream, Sayulita, Mexico

A peddler picks his step over a small stream.

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The Moments I’ll Remember Most from Sayulita

The things I’ll never forget, and always think of when Sayulita comes to mind. (Click on the links to read the full story!)

  1. Trekking the jungle forest trail everyday in and out of town. Whether I loved it, hated it, was scared of it, or embraced it, I will never ever forget it.
  2. Jumping in the back of a pickup truck when offered a ride into town on our walk through the jungle at night.
  3. Very calmly letting Charlie know that I was pretty sure there was a scorpion in the bathroom while I was on the toilet in the middle of the night. And him promptly running in and slapping it to death with a flip-flop.
  4. Getting swept under a 2-meter wave that crashed down like the fountains at the Bellagio and genuinely fearing for my life.
  5. Rollie asking, Would you like a pancake? I’ll buy you one.
  6. Standing up on the surfboard on my second try and riding till I stopped. And upon surfacing immediately having my bottoms pulled down by a wave.
  7. Getting choked-up at cantante Alberto del Toro playing a rendition of “O Sole Mio” at our table at Rollie’s at Night.
  8. little burned scorpionNonchalantly mentioning to Charlie that there was a scorpion by my chair after his warning that there was one in the shower. And him promptly running out with a lighter and some spray and blow torching it to death. (Photo).
  9. Staring in disbelief at a humpback whale fully breaching less than a hundred meters from our boat.
  10. Scrambling over giant beach boulders coming back from Playa Escondida Restaurant in the dark, laughing my a** off, barefoot in a strapless dress with a headlamp on.

Everyday we did this walk, every day.

I had a love/hate relationship with what I now ominously call “the walk,” but the reality is that “the walk” will go down as the one of the things I remember most about Sayulita.

What is the walk? It’s the main walking path (though I use the term ‘main’ loosely) from Sayulita’s town center to the secluded Playa Carricitos, and since our rented bungalow was on the hill right over Carricitos, it was the walking path we took everyday to get to town.

Usually twice.

the jungle walk
The beginning of the walk down…

It started on a wide dirt path through a jungle of sorts, then ran down, down, down, until it reached the cemetery. After that it was an easy stroll along the gravel dirt seawall past the giant yellow Villa Amor, an adventure tour provider shack, and then finally, into the outskirts of town.

walking past the cemetary

It was a nice 20 minute wake me up walk in the morning, and a very sweaty 30 minute work out during the heat wave coming home after lunch; a quite enjoyable evening amble to town for dinner, and, well, something else entirely in the pitch-blackness on the way back.

The first time, we got lost. Even though we were warned to not take the first right but the second right, and shown specifically where, we of course took the first right, and not the second right… But you see, when everything is black and there’s only the light from two meandering headlamps, the first right isn’t a ‘right,’ it’s just the only road you can see.

Well, we hit a dead end after walking up a giant hill and had to traipse back all the way to the cemetery – a really appropriate landmark in the middle of the night.

villa amor in the distance

When we stopped getting lost, it became a great time to sing songs, learn to spot land crabs and spider eyes, and to get terrified of random sounds and giant wasp nests. So, not so bad, really.

Well, except for that last part walking up, the part where we knew we were rounding the last corner because all of a sudden our legs would give out and the incline felt like it increased by about 10 degrees. “Oh, we’re here.” We’d both say, dread in our voices.

But we were always rewarded at that point with the knowledge that we were close to home…and by the glowing eyes of the neighbor’s dog, staring at us from the darkness of the driveway, silently watching us as we passed.

Everyday we did this walk, every day.

can't see anything? yeah, neither could we.
Can’t see anything? Yeah, neither could we.

Let Casa Pacifica Take Your Worries Away

There’s nothing quite like a massage in the sunshine while the breeze caresses your skin and the ocean waves crash somewhere off in the distance…but that was life at Casa Pacifica.

The Casa

four post bed in the penthouse of casa pacificaCasa Pacifica is a multi-story thatched-roof house up on the hill on the outskirts of Sayulita set just above secluded Playa Carricitos in what feels like the middle of the jungle.

Hosted/owned/managed by Sharon and Mike, a couple from San Diego, it consists of a penthouse, the main suite, a bungalow, and a casita. While Sharon and Mike were living in the main suite that season, Charlie and I managed to stay in all the rest of the suites during our two week stay.

The Suites

The penthouse was first, and it took my breath away. It was immaculate and spacious, and tropical without being kitschy. It was made up of one main room inside that had a living space, a four post bed, and a bathroom area, while the kitchen and dining area (and the patio of course), were all outside. The patio got lots of sunshine and was fantastic for sunbathing or staring out at the ocean, and, like the whole house, was surrounded by jungle and so was completely private.

the outside living room of the bungalow

Because the penthouse wasn’t available for the full week, we opted to stay in their bungalow as well. Like the penthouse, it felt very lush, but was cozier without compromising space. The terrace that spanned the whole length of the bungalow made up the living and dining areas as well as the bathroom, while the room running alongside it held the bedroom and kitchen. (This is where I realized I never wanted to leave).

from the patio through the casita and out to the outside bathroom

And because the rental place we had booked for the second week of our trip looked and felt completely uninviting after the paradise we had just lived in, Sharon and Mike managed to fit us into their casita as well, a separate one room dwelling just down a couple of steps from the main house. This one room just had a bed against one wall and a sink/fridge/desk along the other and connected the 5m2 patio at the entrance of the casita to the outside shower/toilet/sink on the other side. It only really had room to walk through but since we spent most of our time on the patio anyway, we didn’t actually mind. (Oh, and this is where the massages usually take place – 100 pesos ($10US)/hr – and are reservable at the gate to the main suite).

 A Word About Our Hosts

Sharon and Mike were absolutely wonderful, helpful and extremely accommodating in their dealings with us from our first email to our last goodbye. On our first day, Sharon gave us a quick tour of what’s best in town (groceries, breakfasts, fish market), made sure we knew how to get back to the house (we got lost anyway) and even took our groceries back so that we could hang out in town for a while. Throughout the next week, they offered to drive us into town a few times, helped us with our move to the other rental, and made room for us in the casita when said rental just didn’t compare.

Keep in Mind

I will honestly never say anything bad about my experience at Café Pacifica, however, just so this isn’t a totally biased review, I will pinpoint a couple of things that might turn others off.

First, the internet was a wee bit wonky but Sharon and Mike were getting it fixed as we were there so this should be solved by now.

Second, “the walk” to and from the town is really a bit of a trek, and while I wouldn’t trade it for anything, it might not be a welcome effort to anyone who prefers to be right in town, or doesn’t feel like trekking up and down hills everyday.

Oh yeah, and then there were the scorpions…but I didn’t say that.

The penthouse patio at Casa Pacifica, Sayulita, Mexico

Casa Pacifica honestly (honestly) made our trip. With the beach and the walk and the views (and the scorpion episodes), it really made the whole thing more of an experience than just a place to sleep at night. That’s why this post is tagged “you need to do this” and not “you need to sleep here.” Definitely coming back.

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For more information, Sharon and Mike have all the details and more photos of their amazing Casa Pacifica here.

*This isn’t a paid review – I actually just really loved this place.

How to Get to Playa Escondida Barefoot

Well, Moreno and I had the grand idea of ‘going all out’ one night during our time in Sayulita, Mexico, and we kept hearing about a restaurant just outside of town (1.5 kms) called Playa Escondida (meaning ‘Hidden Beach’ – something we didn’t know until we couldn’t find it).

The restaurant was part of a private jungle-beach hideaway resort of the same name and so was only reachable via the highway by local taxis (because non-locals, or locals who weren’t taxi drivers, didn’t stand a chance). Alternatively, we were told, we could get there by following the beach just over the rocks at Playa Carricitos.

That’s when Moreno and I had the grand idea of following the beach just over the rocks at Playa Carricitos. (See map below. For story, keep reading).

directions to playa escondida

…So, when I say rocks, I mean boulders.

The flip flops went flying. Dresses got hiked, sleeves were rolled and hands got dirty. But not too dirty. Most rocks only called for simple traversing, a few required lunge-steps, but some, well, those demanded near full body scrambles. So kind of dirty.

After more traipsing than I actually recall, we made it over the boulders and arrived on the next beach. Technically, this was already the actual ‘playa’ of Playa Escondida, but you’d never know it. With no restaurant in sight, we stomped on up the hill (the beach was on a slant, you see), passed a few random lounge chairs under a brush canopy, and finally stumbled onto something of an earthy resort.

We were saved!

me & charlie at playa escondida

Looking like crazy people that have just come out of the bush (which, in a way we were), we straightened up, dusted off, put our flip flops back on, and entered the inside of the outdoor restaurant.

It was a perfect evening – us behaving like proper lady and gentleman, Playa Escondida delivering what a night going ‘all out’ should entail (bill included) – all that was left was the trek home.

Well, the flip flops went flying again, the ocean was rising. Moreno had some grand idea and blinded me with his headlamp. He’s scaling boulders; I’m falling over myself laughing. Every beach is a hidden beach when it’s pitch black outside, and now we were on the way back to ours.