On a motorcycle those are are special words that hold the promise of a journey with no need for final destination.
Everyone said I absolutely have to go to Sayulita, so of course I crossed it off my list. But the enchanting roads hemmed in by lush tropical jungle put me in a mood to stop for any excuse and I decide to slow down and check it out. The little town is as cute as its name, tourism has made it a comfortable little cove and the rocky coastline cliffs limit the real estate enough that it hasn’t been able to grow out of control. A local tells me that there are almost empty beaches a few kilometers to the south, so I go exploring down the highway in search of hidden treasure.
I follow a mostly dry riverbed to a beach and am not disappointed – I’m the only one I can see.
Still, there are signs that the coastal rush has made it here. An opulent beachfront home caps the North tip of the beach, and a large building that can only be a resort hotel, barely a mirage at the south end. But in between is nothing but sand and sea, I walk along the line where they meet no different than if I had come out of the jungle a hundred years ago.
The sand is hard packed and it occurs to me I might be able to ride it…
A smile wide as the horizon says it all, the salty air whips and curls through my hair, the bike deftly maneuvering along the narrow margin of rideable sand packed between the soggy sea and soft beach. A couple of waves come up high and remind me not to get too confident as I struggle to keep Lost from being swamped. At the South end I discover construction competing with the hardy beach vines. Flowers adorn the concrete carcass and invite me to come take a closer look. Poking around I actually discover a few almost finished rooms with mattresses and everything.
I’m tempted to consider it a temporary home, but mistrust the thick moldy smell. This vagabond has health standards. From the roof I can see that there is a large finished hotel attached, complete with security – who looks right at me and starts running.
This is always my favorite part.
I’ve been planning for the fastest way out the whole way in. A hop here, a slide there, and I have the bike started before security is anything more than bootsteps echoing closer through the cavernous abandonment. People who say they’re too old to play tag are just too old for life in general.
Roaring back to the riverbed leading to the highway, the strip of rideable beachway is narrowed and treacherous, I barely make it back and realize I got lucky the guard prompted my exodus before the tide came too far to make leaving an option.
I head back to Sayulita for some food where I meet Eduardo, the closest to a gourmet taco purveyor I’ve met. Fresh and creative salsas, delicious and varied fillings… the prices aren’t the cheapest but I don’t regret it; I’ll even it out tomorrow. He introduces me to Damien and Eve, a couple from San Francisco who are about to open their resto-bar here to join the expat community. They’re cool people and convince me that tomorrow, Halloween, is the day to be in Sayulita. It’s a love-hate thing I’ve got going with these gringified towns. On the one hand, they encourage oversterilized and watered down attractions so that tourists of all stripes will enjoy. On the other hand, places like these attract the types who believe that sharing the best parts of their adopted home is a great business model, and you get a cultural incubator of sorts that attracts musicians and artisans who bring their crafts to trade and share. Sayulita seems to lean in favour of the latter, and I am intrigued.
Every time I see the stereotypical revolutionary icons, I think of the university professor I met in Chihuahua city who expressed her disgust to me against the system of hero-creation that has seen mercenaries and thugs branded as heroes in retrospect to promote nationalism.
The next day I buy a big loaf of bread then set to wander and make friends, learning about the gringo invasion, ecstasy-fueled maritime cuddle-puddles, and what it’s like having to import real butter. There’s marlin tacos… but I’ve already blown the food budget and decide I can imagine real hard how good they are while eating my bread.
At night I meet up with Damien and Eve again, and as he’s professed to be a rum connoisseur I bust out the big guns – a flask of 23 year old Zacapa Centenario, from my beautiful Guatemala. I’ll refill it down there, but there’s a long way to go and a tall shot is all I spare. There’s still lots of people who need to be introduced to this magnificent hooch. Wandering about I meet up with characters from all over, and park myself a while by a songstress from France with a voice that leaves many frozen midstride, not caring where they were just going. The town is surprisingly lively for its size and the tourists have certainly outdone themselves for being stuck in a beach town – almost everyone is in costume. I’m dressed as a modern Magellan…
I meet a girl stealing a horse, and decide to store the chains and saddle she’s removing at the place I’m hanging my hammock. Her sense of responsibility goes as far as removing those before setting it “free” on the street. We go play on the beach a while, and sure enough when we get back there are people waiting for her. The horse, or course, returned to its owner as soon as it was left to its own devices. When her friends saw the horse she “borrowed” from the drunken local who was making the poor thing dance for tourists all night, they noticed the missing hardware and assumed the worst. The owner, well he claimed to be worried about her. Fortunately I was the only one who could speak both languages, so my version of events where I rescued his gear and talked her out of riding the horse away goes uncontested and he thanks me while everyone berates the girl for being irresponsible. We share a good laugh when everyone disperses, and I decide Sayulita has been a success; tomorrow I will leave on a high note to see the Day of the Dead celebrations in Janitzio, where supposedly the most elaborate celebrations take place.