17 November 2020
When we moved to Mexico, we didn’t plan on getting a vehicle right away. Part of the allure of Sayulita is that it is, in fact, a small, compact village, stretching less than a mile from end to end.
What we hadn’t accounted for in our move were the steep hills around town and that Noe’s school would be a twenty-minute walk along a hot, dusty road, and up a hill in the jungle.
Most of the homes we viewed were located on the top of hills accessed by steep, winding cobblestone streets, which would have made a walk into the village center or to the beach quite challenging with a two-year-old.
Fortunately, we ended up finding a home on the valley floor, so regularly climbing hills isn’t going to be a daily issue for us.
And really, Noe’s walks to school haven’t been that bad from where we’re staying. A week or two in, however, we’ve realized it is a tall order to have Noe walk twenty minutes back home in the heat, exhausted and tired from a full morning while pining after a big nap.
So, we went about the business of finding some wheels.
At first, I said, “Hey! Let’s all get bikes!” But that meant Riley would still need to be strapped into a bike seat, and Noe is nowhere near being able to ride his bike on a dirt road up a hill in the midday heat. So, he’d need a seat as well.
Initially, we were under the impression that both boys would be going to the same school by January, so that meant both Lori and I would have to ride them up to school and back every day.
Again, not a huge deal, but for the fact that in November, it’s still quite hot, rainy season will come eventually, and of course the issue of not being able to find used bikes and kid seats for a reasonable price that we like.
So, we buy a car, right? Well…being in Mexico on a tourist permit makes things complicated in that respect. We didn’t come with a car, and as of now, we’re still waiting to see whether Lori’s contract gets extended past December. And…if the travel industry recovers enough for the blog to start earning income again.
So, what’s left?
Well, most gringos here in Sayulita actually don’t get around with cars or bikes.
You see, Sayulita is a unique place with a bit of a reputation. And, some gnarly roads.
When you live in a compact beach town in Mexico with gnarly roads and steep hills and can’t legally purchase a car, what do you do?
You get a…
Or a 4-wheeler, or a Polaris ATV, or a dirt bike, or a side-by-side dune buggy. But those aren’t exactly practical with young kids (that’s not to say that we don’t pass a fair number of Noe’s classmates heading to school via such modes of transportation…we do!).
We opted to go the golf cart route for four main reasons: Safety (well, safer than the alternatives!), cost, practicality, and the environmental aspect.
Yep, since neither of us have ever owned an electric car or hybrid, this is our first “green” motorized vehicle. We’ll probably have a good chuckle in a couple of decades over that, but that just happens to be the case.
You can head down to Vallarta and drive a brand new golf cart off the lot for just under US$10,000. Yep, they’re kind of expensive, you know, for a golf cart.
We obviously didn’t want to shell out that kind of cash, especially not knowing how long we’d be here in Sayulita. We wanted a used cart. But the market isn’t exactly brimming with options. After considering a handful of other vehicles, this is the one we ultimately landed on, which we got for a pretty decent deal.
(For the golf cart aficionados out there…this one is a 2013 EZGO TXT 48v).
It may need some work in the future, but the price was low enough to offset that.
When we first saw the vehicle, we were initially disappointed by the lack of a rear seat. On further consideration, we realized we’d use the metal lock box on the back more than the rear seat, and the absence of 200 lbs. would increase the range and acceleration of the cart.
With the kids the ages they are, we have no problem all fitting on the one seat. Somewhere down the line, I’d like to get seatbelts, but will probably rig up the carseat for Riley somehow if I have to take him somewhere by himself. As for Noe, I guess he’ll just have to hold on like every other kid in town. It’ll be an interesting learning experience.
The color is also funny to us. It seems to be a color that follows us around…our Rodeo in Belize, the car we had for a month in South Africa, Lori’s parents car that we’ve borrowed off and on for the past four years, cars growing up, etc., etc.
And now, a golf cart.
Can’t wait to take this puppy on a spin around the retirement community!
Oops, wrong country.
How about a spin on some dirt roads in the jungle to go pick up our kid, instead!?
We showed up at Noe’s school to surprise him. I led him down the hill and up on to the golf cart while he was telling me about his day.
It took him a minute before he stopped to ask, “Daddy, who’s golf cart are we sitting on? They’re going to be mad!”
No Noe, it’s Mexico. It’s just what people do around here. Vamanos!
In other news, I’ve been hankering for some chilaquiles. I ordered my first plate at a hipster coffee shop. Not exactly what I had in mind, but very tasty.
Oh, and that’s cold brew. There are exactly 4.5 places here in town that do cold brew. I say 4.5 because one of the places I’m pretty sure is just a marked up iced Americano. No bueno.
Another sunset, another happy hour, another attempt at a sand castle with the boys (which always seems to end five minutes later with Riley plowing through our hard work).
Riley and I enjoyed our hike to Playa Carricitos so much, we decided to visit again with mommy and Noe a few days later.
This time, we drove most of the way and hiked the last little bit. Yay for wheels!
Riley opted for a quiet moment by himself to enjoy the sunset. And by moment, I mean about 15 seconds.
This weekend, we took our first out-of-town trip since our shopping trip to Nueva Vallarta (it’s been a few weeks) and visited exciting Bucerias!
We’ve read that if you squint, Bucerias gives you a sense of what Puerto Vallarta was like 50 years ago.
Apparently you have to squint a bit harder than I can.
Still, it’s an interesting town. The beach left much to be desired coming from Sayulita, with its steep slope into the sea and vast majority of real estate taken up by chairs and palapas.
But the town, itself, seems appealing enough, particularly if we were to return in the evening when all of the restaurants and shops are actually open.
While walking the beach, we received notifications on our phones that the U.S. has a new president-elect. I used to give Lori a bit of a hard time about Georgia when she was going to grad school there. I won’t anymore.
Back in Sayulita, we heard our neighbor was DJing at the town’s hip and swanky beach club and decided to go check it out. Cause that’s what neighbors do in Sayulita.
I could seriously get on board with a ride like this. Hopefully that one didn’t go over your head.
Another lovely evening, a bit farther up the beach than we usually make it, because we can do that sort of thing now with a carrito.
Today, I’m taking Noe on a little hike through the jungle to a beach. Yep, something we never do around here. Ever.
Noe’s becoming quite the hiker. Another two-mile jungle hike in the books. No problem.
Playa Malpaso (again)!
Time to head back.
A lot of paving around here is done with cobblestone, like the road above. Owners of private residences seem to go to great lengths when it comes to constructing access to their beach villas.
This road here runs for about half a mile through the middle of the jungle, from the main highway to a single, upmarket beach rental. It is far from alone, in that respect.
The boys visit the main park in town a couple of times each week. It’s nice to have access to a park again after spending most of the boys’ lives only having access to indoor coffeeshop play areas.
Phnom Penh had a couple of nice outdoor playgrounds, but they were shuttered in March when the pandemic hit and remained that way until we left in August.
Noe’s SECOND Covid test.
A couple of Noe’s classmates’ parents recently tested positive, so the school closed for ten days and a doctor from a nearby town came up to Sayulita to provide testing.
Just sort of how things roll here.
Initially, we thought we were in a bit over our heads with the lack of attention regarding Covid here in Sayulita.
Now, with additional measures in place across Nayarit, including fines for not wearing a mask in public (which is rarely enforced, but got a lot more people to start wearing them), we feel like we’re treading a reasonable balance between the two camps of extremes that seem to define the culture north of the border.
Along similar lines as Cambodia, we like living in a place where the pandemic and health concerns aren’t so heavily politicized and don’t define you like they do in the U.S.
We’re happy to wear our masks when we feel circumstances demand it. But nobody’s going to give us a hard time about it, and nobody’s going to give us a hard time if we choose not to wear our masks while hanging out on a public beach 20 meters from the next group of people.
Obviously, the situation here benefits tremendously from the warm climate year-round, which allows us to spend 90% of our waking hours out in the open air and not cooped up inside.
I strongly doubt that the Sayulita approach to Covid would translate well to a mainstream routine in northern climes in the midst of winter.
Noe’s results came back negative, by the way. Which means no quarantining for now. Yay!
And…that he gets to spend the better part of the following week doing fun stuff with daddy (and mommy and Riley too, but mostly daddy).
For being such a brave boy who didn’t so much as fuss during his test (knowing fully what to expect this time around, nonetheless), I thought a treat might be in order.
No better place than Chocobanana in town for that. We initially tried for a blueberry muffin, but they were fresh out. If you aren’t going for a full-on chocobanana at Chocobanana, a slice or two of banana bread might be the next best thing!
Followed by some quality time with his ABCs.
Papel picado strewn across Slap Street, the famous little drag that connects the central plaza to the beach.
Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe Sayulita, the church on the central plaza.
From the far west end of town on a clear day, it’s possible to see five beaches stretching up the coastline. From right to left: Playa Central (central beach), Playa Norte (North Beach), Playa Las Cuevas (Caves Beach), Playa Malpaso, and Playa San Pancho, barely visible in the distance.
Coffee shop work time.
Entrance into town from the main highway. Riley calls it, ¡El Tunel!
Yep, that’s nearly 1 liter of Pacifico there. A common sight in the hands of tourists walking the streets in Sayulita.
A couple weeks back, we set up a star chart for Noe to acknowledge his good decision making. Today, he finally reached the number of stars he needed for his big surprise.
He wanted nothing more than this construction worker set he saw hanging in a shop every time we walked passed it on the way to town. But, the day he earned enough stickers, they had run out. Fortunately, Lori had seen the same kit hanging in the stationary store.
Noe was quite proud of himself and very excited to get down to work fixing a number of issues (he had amassed quite the list in his head of things needing fixing).
Family hike time. Lori’s been wanting to know what’s at the top of Nanzal hill, which happens to be the highest point in town. Today, she finally got her wish.
View of the Pacific from 400-feet above sea level. The way up was a long, meandering slog. The route back down, on the other hand, is one of the steepest residential roads we’ve ever seen. And mostly cobblestone. A surprisingly harrowing little adventure for a little stroll around a neighborhood.
Back at the park.
And, another idyllic sunset to mark the end of another day in Sayulita.