Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Sayulita June 2006

I’m free now! Now what do I do? Oh yeah, whatever I want. Yikes, this is scary. First things first, find a place to live where the other gringos haven’t been embalmed yet. I emailed Don Adams and asked him where the cool people were. He said to get to the beach. Ok, sounds good, what about the heat? Legendary heat for several months, depending who you are talking to—Canadians scowl and say 6 months of bad heat and Californians say a couple of months, no-see-ums, crowds of tourists, traffic, etc. I know that routine, question is, can I take the heat. Only one way to find out. . .go and check it out.

With the goal of having a major airport and town within an hour from where ever I choose to live, I started with maps and the Internet. Friends were useless, they just shrugged and said I was nuts to live in that kind of heat and I didn’t know what I was doing! They didn’t know me, didn’t know that nearly every vacation I’ve ever had included lots of ocean, seafood, and sweat.

Now to choose, which city did I want to be near, Puerto Vallarta or Mazatlan? Let's start with PV, it’s closer and I can always scoot back with my tail between my legs if I fail.

Having been to PV several times I decided to check out nearby beach towns starting south with Barra and Melaque since I knew one person there. Well, I didn’t really know him, just an internet friend who turned out to be a real life friend.

Continuing up the coast I found La Manzanilla and paradise. Only one problem, it’s two and a half hours from PV. A bit far to work or shop or run to the airport. Ok, lets get closer. . .oops, condos and marinas, too close! Ok, shoot back to Ajijic for more research.

Sayulita, I keep hearing that name. People rave about it. Sleepy, surfers, Mahi Mahi tacos, hmmm, sounds worth checking out. Desperate for a bit of adventure, I took the bus. The first-class bus was comfy and fun and hardly adventurous. Arriving in PV, I had to take a 2nd class bus back up the highway for an hour because the first class bus won’t stop on the highway.

This is where I got the Nazi bus driver from hell. He was gelled, crisp white long-sleeved shirted, knitted vest, and ray bans. It was 98 degrees outside of his bus with humidity of nearly 90%. The temp inside of the bus was a meat chilling 55 degrees. There were signs around saying where you could— and could not— put your feet and the windows were heavily blanketed. Definitely not a sightseeing bus.

Swaggering up and down the aisle, talking to his family who were apparently participating in a Take-Your-Family-To-Work day. He looked each passenger over, read the destination on their tickets, and acknowledged with a slightly scowling nod that I was bound for Sayulita. We pulled out and after the first 30 minutes we rocketed to 30mph. If that. Soon as the highway divided, we booked it. Yay! Sayulita to explore, San Pancho, Lo de Marcos, Chacala. . .the possibilities were endless. I was in heaven.

Now that we were moving at near-freeway speed, I was comfortable knowing adventure was right around the corner. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a banner saying Sayulita fly by. Shit, he’s the bus driver, he MUST know where he’s going. About that time I caught his eye in the rear view mirror as he slapped his forehead and cursed, I knew right then this was going to be worse for me than him. He pulled over and cursed again, waiting for a taxi or combi to happen by. None did, he started out without any explanation or discussion. It was then I noticed the final destination Tepic written on the windshield. NO! Not another 3 hours in the opposite direction! I meekly crawled to the front and asked him if I had to go all the way back to Tepic, I got the wagging index digit. I slunk back to my seat. Must be a written, or unwritten, law that buses can NEVER turn around and go back.

Finally a deal was made and I was discharged to the bus going south in the town of La Peñita. Back south again, each time the class of bus drops a notch. We’re rolling now, boy. It was packed, and with a sick child next to me vomiting I shared my M & Ms with an old lady seatmate. She hid them under her jacket and devoured each one, one by one. We talked.

Some 30 minutes later I was discharged to the side of the highway at the Sayulita entrance. Wasn’t there a taxi, I asked, oh yes, or a combi they said. Or they all nodded and laughed when I held up my thumb to hitch hike.

As I started the 2 mile hike into town I was aware of copious amounts of sweat rolling down my face and back. My eyebrows couldn’t stem the flow and my eyes stung with the salt of my own body fluids. About a mile in, I heard a car pull up behind me and a voice ask if I needed a taxi. YES! What a cute guy, he took me to a place with $25 a night bungalows, a nice Huichol family, iguanas, parrots, and I settled in. Victor gave me his card and said to call him if I needed him to take me anywhere.

After 4 days of exploring the area by Victor and his taxi, I decided to return and get my car because this was looking like a good area to start out in. On the way to the PV bus station for my ride back to Guadalajara, Victor divulged he had a house for rent that I could have for $300/month, plus once weekly English classes for he and his wife Alma. Since we were pulling into the bus station, and an hour away from the actual house, I agreed sight unseen. Dangerous thing to do in Mexico.

Arriving a month later with all my stuff, I looked at 2 casitas and chose the one a block from the plaza and 2 blocks from the beach. It was tiny but had a phone line, (and that’s huge), heavy-duty fans (huge also), and a view. If you can overlook a couple of tenacos, multiple roofs, and some rusty rebar. This will have to do for a little while, I was exhausted and feeling very old.

Victor and Alma Camacho became my best friends in Sayulita.

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