Saturday, February 20, 2010


OK, we admit we have become a bit boat-weary, after more than 6 months' voyaging. So, to shake things up a bit, we decided to take a day trip to the nearby town of Sayulita. We were curious because we had read a book called Gringos In Paradise, and because Corvallis friends had spent a holiday there several years ago. So we boarded the bus for Bucerias, where we had to change for Sayulita. Buses in Mexico are cheap and plentiful, but they do inspire a somewhat fatalistic attitude! At the front of one bus it read "Lord, if this is my last trip, I will be with you in heaven." You want to say to the driver: "OK, nice sentiment, but personally I hope this is NOT your last trip! And hey, could you slow down for this curve!"

A short stroll along the streets of downtown Sayulita revealed a curious mix of an old sleepy village, and a yuppified boutique tourist town. Dogs slept in the street outside chi-chi cafes; high-end jewelry stores for the glitterati stood next to squeaky tortillerias and dusty ferreterias. Most ominous were the many "realty" signs and condo brochures on cafe tables.

We decided to have breakfast at Rollie's, immortalized in the book and locally famous for large portions. We split a breakfast burrito and an enormous smoothie, and asked where we could find Casa Gala, the building of which was the subject of the book.

It seemed to be at some distance from the restaurant, so we headed for the beach instead, where we immediately ran into the crew of Mulan, the boat tied up next to us back in La Cruz. They came here to surf, and had decided to spend a few days here. We thought, hmmm, not a bad idea, what's the rush? And before we knew it, we had booked a modest "bungalow" (just a room, actually), unpacked our meager belongings (swimsuits, rain jackets and umbrellas, due to the last several days of unstable weather), and decided what else we might need for an overnighter (toothbrush and soap will do).

Afterwards we headed off to find Casa Gala. It turned out to be only a block or so from our bungalow!

As we tried to peer in around the gate, an older gentleman waved at us from a nearby palapa. We soon found ourselves deep in conversation with "Eagle George," a 40-year resident and a principal supporting character in the book. He opened his shirt to show us how he got his name - there's an enormous eagle tattooed on his chest. He also invited us to look around the lovely home he built here. Obviously fame hasn't turned his head!

Meeting Eagle George was certainly the high point of our visit, but the beach soon beckoned. Surprisingly, while it's a nice surf break, it's not an easy beach for swimming. We met another local, Tom, who told us that he personally rescued several hundred tourists last year, and is trying to establish a lifeguard service. When we met him he was posting red flags along one section of beach with a particularly vicious undertow.

We met several other locals at the beach, including an ex-cruiser who lost his boat on the rocks in Hawaii, and the chef and owners of the restaurant that had been recommended to us for dinner. Sayulita is one of those places where long-term travelers seem to settle down and put out roots.

Dinner was a nice change of pace from the usual fare, but we could have had street tacos for a week for what we paid!

The rest of the evening was far easier on the wallet, however. Booths were being set up all the way around the soccer field, which was itself covered with carnival rides and booths. Attracted by the sound of loud thumps, breaking glass, and raucous laughter, I soon located my favorite booths, where you pay 20 pesos to heave rocks at shelves lined with empty bottles. If you manage to break a bottle, you get a beer. Something to inspire the inner hooligan in all of us!

After a good sleep (our first time off the boat in over 3 months) and another smashing breakfast, we boarded the bus back to La Cruz. So ended our vacation from our vacation! It feels good to be back home on the boat!

1 comment:

jules said...

Aww I love it! You guys are such the adventurers! So much fun!