Mexico is one of the classic vacation destinations for Canadians looking to get away from the cold and wet Northern climes we find ourselves in over the winter. The promise of warm weather, cheap tacos/cervezas and consistent surf was too much, and with a cousin getting married in Santa Barbara the added cost of the Mexico leg of the trip was so insignificant that it would be ludicrous not to! The cast of characters on this adventure included both new and old friends with a beautiful setting at Rancho Zen, tucked away up on Gringo Hill in sunny Sayulita, just north of Puerto Vallarta on the Pacific coast.
The downside to my ambitious travel schedule was the abrupt departure after the wedding… a night of party and dancing (Mazel tov!) blurred into a 6am bus ride from SB down the coast to LAX and a snarl of traffic caused by a relatively minor earthquake. This delay, combined with a bus drop at the wrong terminal, a haggard run across the length of the airport, and a massive line of people at the correct terminal, resulted in a missed flight and a new, moderately-priced ticket connecting through Guadalajara. Regardless, Aeromexico totally saved the day and I managed to fall out of the sky into PV a mere 6 hours after I was originally scheduled. From there it was a casual bus ride up to Sayulita, where I stepped off into a juxtaposed world of chaos and simplicity where I didn’t have to ride in a vehicle again until the end of the trip. The freedom of living somewhere that doesn’t require vehicles is euphoric! Wake up, board shorts on, grab zinc and surfboard/paipo, wander down to the beach for the day, eat cheap tacos and drink cheaper beer, aaaaaaaaand repeat. This is a good life.
The town itself is an idyllic little fishing community along the Pacific coast, just south of the southern tip of the Baja peninsula and known for a reasonably consistent longboard wave and a super chilled-out vibe. We spent the majority of the trip capitalizing on both of these attributes, as well as exploring some of the more remote hike-in beaches and hole-in-the-wall/sidewalk taquerias. The primary method of transportation, for those who feel that walking is insufficient, is either beefed-up, off-road golf carts or motorbikes, with just enough American-licence-plated SUVs to keep you on your toes. Ambient noise can be a concern, with the Z Gas jingle (zetta, zetta, zetta gas) blaring over loudspeakers as the drivers slowly creeps up and down the steep alleys selling propane, the fresh fruit truck delivering tasty papayos like ice cream, or the velociraptor-like cries of some strange bird-creature in the jungle/forest/yard below the Rancho sending icy shivers of terror up your spine. Fortunately, these concerns all drift away under a blissful cloud of the pervasive warmth, siestas fueled by 50 cent cervezas and >$10 bottles of tequila, and relaxation that comes from a true holiday.
However, the trip was not all fun in the sun. Amidst the excitement of my first Sayulita surf session, a larger set wave pushed my friend Anastasia back and directly into me. Unfortunately, her finger took the brunt of the impact and was crushed between the wide rail of her surfboard and the thin rail of my Paipo, resulting in a smashed up finger and a ride to the local clinic then hospital for surgery. There are likely lessons here, and lessons that have been taught innumerable times – never underestimate the power of the ocean, the hardness of wood or the value of travel insurance! Sorry Anastasia, but I hope the healing is clean, and that we can get back into some warm ocean water again, just not as close as last time…
It’s actually quite amazing how quickly a week of doing nothing will pass you by – it seemed that I had barely arrived before people were packing bags and making their way back to the airport. My flight arrived back in Seattle at 11pm on a Sunday night and some battery issues delayed out return to Vancouver until sometime in the wee hours of the morning. Like any good travel story this one had some bumps and breaks, but the overall experience was one of relaxation and fun times with friends that I can’t wait to recreate!
Salud, and many thanks to Tim for the ridiculously fast and sexy piece of cedar!
PS – for a completely different yet mostly the same version of events, check out Evan’s blog post!