Sam and I had a pretty dramatic entrance into Sayulita. Our GPS failed us. As we were driving into town, the GPS took us down a small cobblestone street where there just happened to be a farmers market. We do not have a “small cobblestone street vehicle” and after about a 100 feet we started taking out the umbrellas one by one that covered the produce stalls in the market. People were screaming “mas grande, mas grande!” As people screamed that we were too big I felt like yelling out the window “no shit!” (it gets very stressful during these moments and you are not always your best self). We looked behind us and realized we could not turn around because of a line of honking cars. We had to move forward, it was not our finest hour.
Finally, all the stall owners came out and lifted their umbrellas and the XP moved through. It was kind of romantic driving through all the raised umbrellas. I waved out the window awkwardly and hoped all the people would not recognize us later. Sometimes you are just the asshole with the big truck camper taking out a farmers market, we have come to terms with the fact that when driving, we do not blend in. Also, we have learned to always blame epic fails on the GPS, it keeps the peace between us.
Out first impressions of Sayulita were not great (aside from the farmers market drama) and we were not sure if we wanted to stay. It did not feel like a Mexican city, the gringos have definitely made their mark. After spending two days in sleepy undeveloped Chacala, where we were the only non Mexican visitors, it was so different and touristy feeling. However, it was “easy”. And we have learned during long term travel allowing yourself a few easy days helps keep the sanity. For us easy is a nice RV park, wifi, hot showers and real toilets. Also, our Brit friends Alan and Julea showed up and Rachel and George who we met in Baja were also camped there. It was a PanAm reunion of sorts, and we enjoyed our time with our new friends. We spent a great few days together, it was a guilty pleasure.
One night after leaving Sayulita, Sam and I were drinking beers and talking about the blog Stuff White People Like. We started naming things gringos liked when they were traveling in Mexico. Since we are gringos, and we like all these things, we felt it was fair game to make fun of ourselves and our fellow gringo travelers.
You can tell a town will be full of tourists in Mexico if you start to see the following things (these photos were all taken in Sayulita):
1. Yoga studios. If you see a bunch of signs for yoga, I guarantee there are gringos around.
2. Smoothie shops. Now, I know Mexicans like their fruit juices, I am not talking about a shop that has licuados. I am talking about shops with big smoothie signs in English and ingredients like ginger and green algae.
3. Bars with fancy cocktails. Sayulita has signs advertising 2X1 mojitos and margaritas specials everywhere. When you get to the Mexican tourist towns there are signs everywhere for Micheladas (salt rimmed beer with tomato juice and spice).
4. Fancy, overpriced bars with views. When you are on vacation, you might as well look at something pretty.
5. Coffee shops advertising organic coffee. Because everything is better when it is organic, right?
6. US and Canadian sports game playing in the bars. These places also often have BBQ (as inTexas style ribs, not carne asada).
7. Taking pictures of food (this is a special category that we seem to be taking the lead on).
8. Lots of shops selling “local” art. I am fairly sure a lot of the stuff is brought in from other states in Mexico (and China), but it does not make shopping for it any less fun.
9. Hipster hotels. These usually have a DJ, lots of candles that smell really nice, great lighting, a super cool pool and decor….. They suck you in.
10. Zip lining tours. Actually any tour with “adventure” in the name. Sam and I zip lined our way across costa Rica, it was super fun.
Since we are gringos, we liked Sayulita. It was fun, easy, charming in its own way and and we had friends there to hang out with. It is a good beach town for people who want to travel to Mexico who are still hoping for the familiar or want to learn to surf on some easy waves. Because believe me, there are some places we have been to recently that had none of the above amenities, and it is something we love but it is not for everyone.