02 December 2009

Sayulita







Two days ago I wrote how it had been drizzling all day. That evening, however, is when the downpour started. It was an actual tropical rain storm and apparently that never happens.

The following morning I took an early walk on the beach and sat down to drink coffee at yet another place. The guys were busy trying to mop up from the night before when the water had come right up to the foundation walls of the restaurant. It looked to me that if there had been a stronger storm than that, the water would have entered the inside seating area. I sat at a beach table and although the tide was going out, it got mighty close to my feet.

I’ve read that there are a lot of ‘hot spots’ on Olas Altas St, and was sure that was what I had been walking down on various trips on my way to the beach. It turns out I was one block off.

It was close to 10am when I did actually happen upon the legendary area. Very cute, it was, with the outdoor tables of little caf├ęs lining the sidewalks. All were packed with foreigners munching their breakfast. I went back in the afternoon and sat at one; now mostly empty of customers. I hear the area turns from dining to night club atmosphere in the evening.

I kept thinking about it later and wondered why something so seemingly cozy made me feel like I never wanted to return. It’s that tourist thing. One would never know one was in Mexico on those few blocks. With that in mind, I decided to finally head out to Sayulita, a small fishing village just north of Puerto Vallarta.

On the plane ride down here, two people had told me that it was a really cool place, although it was starting to turn into a foreign residence locale. I thought that maybe it would be a place I would go to next time, rather than PV.

The ladies at the front desk told me how to get there and that it should take about an hour. I popped on the local bus which took me to the far end of PV, and got off in front of Walmart. From there I got on a really comfy bus with big padded seats and we were on our way.

The bus got fairly crowded but I was not concerned about missing my stop since I assumed it was the end of the line. We’d been travelling around 40 minutes when we pulled up to a stop in a place that look like nothing much. The driver said, “Sayulita”, so I got up and squished through everyone to get off.

Looking around, I thought maybe I would have to cross the street and head down a few blocks to get to the beach. Nothing looked very appealing where I was. I walked into the nearest shop to ask for directions and found out I was in Bucerias, and that Sayulita was up the road “about 10 minutes”. I think the driver must have been telling someone that he was going to Sayulita, not that we were there.

Fifteen minutes later I got on another bus. The seat across the aisle was occupied by an Indian woman and her darling little boy who was sound asleep. I made sure I asked her if I was on the right bus. The 10 minute ride was closer to 20 minutes and it required that we drive up a hill on a narrow bit of roadway, then fly back down the other side of it. I knew then and there I could never possibly stay in Sayulita because I couldn’t handle this bus trip again.

My life of travel on buses in foreign countries, on steep mountain sides has always been, thankfully, uneventful. That doesn’t mean that I haven’t feared for my life imagining that the bus would soon join others off the side of a mountain. This wasn’t the most terrifying of trips but it evoked memories of much more frightening ones.

We arrived safely and everyone got off. I followed them towards the beach area. Right away I could see why people like this town. It was very cute, with small streets lined with palm trees, bougainvillea, and lots of greenery. It had a quiet, tranquil feel to it.

Approaching the beach I noticed the woman and little boy who were on the bus with me. They were setting up their wares to sell on the beach. I would stop by later and get something from her.

I stopped at the first beach restaurant to use the facilities and get something to drink. I sat at a table and had a good view of the small cove of a beach, lined with surf shops and eateries. I could have been in San Diego, what with all the foreign surfer dudes and gals and aging hippies.

The woman from the bus walked by, her arms laden with masses of necklaces. I called her over and bought a necklace made of cut coconut shell. I was short 5 pesos because she didn’t have change for the large bill I had, and I said I would catch up to her later. This would have been impossible in PV, but you can basically see the whole beach there and I was certain I would be able to find her later.

I spent the next hour walking up and down the streets and admit that there is a nice feel to the place. But I wouldn’t want to stay there more than a few hours. Too many Americans. I reflected that this was what I had said about PV – except that in PV, I can easily escape the tourists, and in Sayulita, that wouldn’t be a possibility.

I found a quiet beach restaurant and had some fish and shrimp tacos. The prices are still higher than in California, and I just can’t seem to get a really good Mexican meal. I had them wrap up the taco I couldn’t eat and went to look for my sales lady, which took all of 10 minutes. I paid her my balance, and gave the taco to her little boy. We talked a bit and then I was off to the bus stop for the return journey.

I like bus trips through the countryside but towards the end was getting a bit restless. But it did get me realize that I can easily take little day trips like this to other areas either south or inland. I have another planned for later in the week.

Kate