Six Weeks in Sayulita, Mexico
Updated: Jan 13
Tales of a digital nomad physician astrologer .... continued!!
Alright! I'm finally taking flight on my second travel blog post! My first one was about my time in Nosara, Costa Rica. You can read that here on my website if you missed it!
So, quite a lot has happened since my last post. I spent 3 weeks in Santa Teresa, Costa Rica and then went back to Nosara for another 5-6 weeks. It was all wonderful! I probably will write a post about my "3 Weeks in Santa Teresa" next. I hated to leave Costa Rica, but it's only possible for tourists to secure a 3 month visa there without going thru immigration/residency procedures. I considered doing that, but ultimately I decided to pop over to Mexico for a bit and see what life was like over here.
It's pretty great, actually! I had a much stronger sense of community connection in Nosara, and I truly miss that (and very possibly will go back in 2022). BUT, Mexico is an easy acclimation since I've been coming here since my early 20s. Also, because I lived in SoCal and Tucson for years, I just really feel a familiarity with and affinity for the culture of Mexico.
To get here from Costa Rica I took a morning flight from San Jose to Mexico City. I had an all day layover in the airport and then flew from Mexico City to Puerto Vallerta in the evening. From PV I was met by a driver arranged by my hotel. I stayed at two different hotels when I first landed--1 in Punta Mita and 1 in Sayulita. I like to stay in hotels when I first arrive in a new place. It's nice to just be able to land somewhere and relax and be a tourist for moment. After a few days I'm usually ready to go into local mode, however. In this case, I stayed at hotels for 2 full weeks because I honestly wasn't sure if I was just going to turn right around and go back to Costa Rica. I'm definitely the kind of traveler/nomad and person who likes to preserve her flexibility for as long as possible.
The W Punta Mita was the first stop on my journey. It's pretty fancy and definitely beautiful. There is a surf break in front, and that's the main reason I stayed there. I surfed several days, and then I rented a car to run some errands in Puerto Vallarta (Macbook charger, health food store, sunglasses) and explore the nearby town of San Pancho. I had heard it was an artsy, charming little town--similar in vibe to Sayulita but much smaller. It was super cute. Highly recommend a visit if you are in the area.
I got a mango smoothie at a beachfront cafe in San Pancho. I don't actually recommend that. Mexico does not have the smoothie game that Costa Rica has. Lots of the smoothies seem to have extra sugar and I don't know what else in them. They just don't taste as healthful and vital as those I had in Costa Rica. I'm still on the lookout for the "best smoothie in Sayulita". So far this cafe called Yah Yah is the winner, but it wasn't a smoothie that repeatedly motivated me to walk all the way across town. There were several like that in Santa Teresa and Nosara!!
San Pancho has lots of colorful walls and alleys. Its cactus game makes up for the poor smoothie show. There are some nice bohemian boutiques (I got some of those handmade beaded earrings in one--I'm wearing them in the Frida picture above!!), and there is apparently a great vegetarian/vegan restaurant, too. I didn't find it, unfortunately! I didn't really have time for a full sit down meal, so I wasn't really looking very hard. They probably have a better smoothie there though!! They also have a circus school with a trampoline tumbling floor (!!!want to try!!!) and a weekly artisan/farmer's market in San Pancho. The market is on Tuesday, however. That's not when I was there.
After I returned the car, I moved over to the Hotel Villa Amor in Sayulita. The driver nearly had a panic attack getting there because my map app took us the back way thru all these windy dirt roads, and he didn't have 4x4. It was stressful. But, we made it. Villa Amor is a boutique hotel on the south side of town. It's a little more tranquil than being right in the middle of Sayulita, where there's quite a party vibe. It was still kinda noisy though. I had a room closer to the ocean, which also made it closer to the noise that traveled over the ocean from town. Oh well!! It helped me realize that I would want to move to the quieter north part of town if I chose to stay for a while.
I ultimately did decide to stay for a while, but l really didn't line it all up until a few days prior to moving in!
A bit of background....
I learned about Sayulita many years ago. Kind of like Nosara, it was just one of those places that I kept hearing about. Interesting people I knew were visiting and liking it. So, I made a mental note to look it up and try to visit at some point. In 2018, when I was living in San Diego, I decided to come down here and check it out. I stayed at 2 different resorts in Punta Mita and came to Sayulita on a day trip. It was a magical little town, like everyone said. Art, surfing, and a real bohemian vibe. I loved it!
It felt natural to want to come back for longer since it had made such a positive impression the first time. So, here I am! While researching my "possible" longer stay in Sayulita (back in Costa Rica) I discovered this great website called "Sayulita Life". You can rent condos and houses there without additional fees (such as what you might pay to VRBO or AirBnB for their listing/referral service). I found a great house and connected with the owner briefly on email. At that point my plans were totally speculative, so I didn't make a booking. But the house stood out and remained in my mind, and the landlord was American and super nice. So, when I wound up in a Sayulita hotel thinking "maybe I DO want to stay a bit longer", I decided to reach out to that landlord.
I moved in 2 days later.
The house, which is 1/3 enclosed (a/c in the bedroom) and 2/3 outdoors, was a dream come true! Beyond enchanted. It was like living in a tree house garden. An amazing mature tree grew pretty much into the living room!! The house was truly alive. I felt immediately at home and settled right into a happy relationship with the space. I took care of the plants, I made art, I did yoga, I cooked, I cleaned. I listened to Audible books at night while also listening to the insects and feeling the warm air on my skin. It was such a nice rhythm! It was really HOT though!!
I had been doing a lot of yoga in Costa Rica, and had missed that during my first two weeks in Mexico, so my first order of business in Sayulita was to find a yoga studio. Turns out there was one right around the corner from my house and another about a block and a half past that. Two yoga studios in about 3 blocks. Yessss!!!! The little organic grocery store, Terranal, unfortunately, was not as close. It wound up being a good 20 minute uphill hike (one way) in the sun to get there (because they were not open during the evening, and mornings are already hot). So, I didn't go there as often as I'd hoped. I wound up eating veggies sourced from little local corner tiendas (shops) and markets. It was not 100% organic, which was hard for me, but it just did not really seem possible to eat 100% organic in Sayulita, unfortunately. So, I ate a lot of healthy veggies in Sayulita, but many of them were not organic. Even the natural market only had a small selection of organic produce that quickly sold out. They told me that the one organic farm in the area is small (first of all) and (also) just cannot grow everything people would want in the summer because it's too hot. Interesting!
I was able to find some organic yogurt, grains, hummus, kombucha, dried fruit, etc. at the natural market though. The dried mangos were incredible!!! And cheap!! And the almond butter (locally made) was the best I've had in my entire life.
My routine in Sayulita tended to be
-Relax at the house in the morning
-Go to yoga a few days per week
-Work during the middle of the day (indoors)
-Spanish lessons in the late afternoon (live 1:1 lessons with a tutor on Thursdays)
-Go for a walk in nature, visit the beach, or shop/run errands after work
-Eat out or prepare food for dinner
-Listen to Audible in the outdoor living room
On Wednesday evenings I loved going to an Advanced Vinyasa class at the nearby studio. It was soooo hot though, even at 6 pm. (The sun sets around 9pm in the summer in Sayulita, so 6pm is still fully sunburnable.) Basically every yoga class in Sayulita was a Bikram style class. Lots of sweating and the struggle to stay hydrated was definitely real! I loved this class so much though and made lots of progress in my practice. The teacher was an Ashtangi--really disciplined and endearingly strict. At first I wasn't sure that would resonate with me, but I ended up enjoying it (hence the "endearing"). It helped me push my practice to places it had never been. I was doing balancing poses I started working on maybe 15 years ago (but never fully achieved). It felt amazing!!
Yoga means so much to me, and it really was a huge part of my experience in Sayulita. I practiced 3x/week with the same teacher and sometimes 1-2 additional times with other teachers. I'll always be grateful for how fabulous I felt during this time and how strong I was physically!
Post yoga, my routine was to get a smoothie around the corner at the boho chic San Benito hotel cafe. Sometimes, if I needed a change of scenery and it wasn't impossibly hot, I would work from there, too. I didn't do my 1:1 client Zoom sessions from cafes (for privacy reasons), but I did make some progress on my "other work" there. My "other work" includes writing for my 2 books (in progress) and creating social media posts and astrology memes. If you've seen my IG lately, you've maybe seen some of the memes I've been making . I started creating these in Costa Rica as a fun little experiment. People liked them, so I kept going. I called it a "little" experiment, but it actually takes multiple hours for each segment of the two part meme set. Every single slide I create requires thought and research, and making the slide itself is a graphic design adventure. All of it adds up to lots and lots of time!! But, I really do enjoy doing it, and people seem to enjoy reading them! My IG has definitely grown in the past 4 months since starting the meme habit, so I now just consider it "part of my work"!
One day maybe I'll be an IG micro-influencer in a health, astrology, or travel niche. At that point, my meme creation efforts may make financial sense. In the meantime, it's an entertaining way to exercise my creativity and connect with more people! I'm a "content creator" now!
Speaking of creativity, I did actually make some art while I was in Sayulita. It was Leo season, after all. So, of course I was feeling the artsy vibes percolating thru the cosmos. I had to make use of them!!
The first thing I did was create a playful little watercolor doodle. (Seen with me in the image above.) No planning. I just painted, and that's what came out. Then I took some photos of it and got onto Canva (the graphic design website I use). I used my new found graphic design skills to create a collage composed of snippets of various different watercolor paintings I'd made and uploaded into Canva over the past 2 years. The result is the image below. The base image is the new watercolor, and layered onto that are other scraps of my art. It's "a lot", I know!! Haha. Super busy, super bright, super colorful. Lots of energy. But also really a lot of love and positivity. I love collages and mosaics, so I was kind of amazing it hadn't occurred to me to do this before!!
I've really gotten into watercolor painting the past 2 years, primarily because it's portable! I was able to bring a few brushes, some paper, and some paint with me on my journey! I miss making bead and string art projects (you can see some of those under the Art heading of my page or of this blog), but those require more supplies, so they (and I) will have to wait!
Another cool thing I did while I was in Sayulita is co-facilitate a New Moon Astro-Yoga Ceremony on 8.8.21. I met this wonderful yogi named Fernanda at one of the yoga classes I tried around town. She talked to me a bit after class, and when she learned I was an astrologer, she invited me to collaborate on a new moon event she was planning. She would teach the yoga, and I could talk about astrology (and anything else I wanted to offer). I ended up planning a little heart-opening, intention-setting ritual + a "Lion's Gate" astrology discussion. Fer led yoga under the stars. We held the event at a beautiful open-air pavilion called "My Sister's House". It was a really lovely night and event. Such a sweet memory. I was honored to get to show up and share in that way!
In addition to yoga, another one of my favorite things about Sayulita was the trail system on the north end of town. About a 15 minute walk from my house it was possible to enter a jungle path that wove its way thru bits of jungle, crossed streams, and exited out onto different patches of beach. The further you hiked in the jungle, the quieter and more remote the beach became. I hiked quite far to a remote patch of beach when I first arrived. It was magnificent! But generally, I stayed a bit closer to the trailhead, maybe venturing in 20 - 40 minutes. This was a perfect after-work activity. I could do some barefoot hiking (so calming and stress-relieving) followed by sunset yoga on the beach. It was so nice!!
After sunset, it would get a bit dark in the jungle, so I would walk home on the beach. There was a beachside food truck where I could get an amazing mango + arugula salad on my way home. I really miss this part of my Sayulita life!
Interestingly, despite being rather obsessed with surfing, I didn't surf a single time in the six weeks I was in Sayulita. I went down to watch the surfers a few times, and I even went as far as paddling out to the break once. I tried for two waves, didn't catch either of them, and came in. I was pretty intimidated by all the rocks that were on the left-handed break. The more crowded right-breaking wave had less rocks, but it was full of people obstacles! I ultimately opted for the left wave because I'm a goofy-footed surfer (going left is better for us), but I caught no waves, so the whole thing was a flop.
I was a little bummed by my lack of surfing comfort or progress during my six weeks, so I started to think about how I was going to improve the situation. I ended up hearing about a nearby break in Punta Mita (with the rather unbecoming name "Stinkys") that had a really nice, peeling longboard wave, "perfect for beginners". I'm not a total beginner, but I was not quite intermediate at that point. So, that wave sounded really wonderful. I looked into it, and I found a condo directly in front of the surf break that was available for a month. After thinking about it for a week or so, I decided my surf goals were calling. I hired a cab and moved myself to the surf spot.
Now I'm here, writing this post from that condo. I can hear the waves outside, and during daylight (it's night right now) I can watch them, too! The break is everything it was promised to be, but it was additionally 1) extremely crowded (possibly even more crowded than Sayulita!!!) and 2) only surfable sometimes. Much of the time there is no wave at all! This I was not expecting!! When I arrived there was a big swell for about 4 days. The place was packed, and like 5 people shared every wave. I didn't make too much progress those first few days. But when the swell started to die down, it was less crowded, and I was able to make some progress over the course of 2 epic days. I really seemed to cross the hump from "advanced beginner" into "low intermediate" territory. So psyched!! I am catching bigger waves (for me, anyway) and riding across the face! I can steer and avoid "obstacles" (people), though I still need to work on cutting back on the wave to get closer to where it is breaking. That's a true intermediate level skill.
Unfortunately, there hasn't been another swell in about 8 days, so I have just been waiting and waiting. It feels very much like it did when I lived in Telluride, Colorado. We would wait and wait for that next big (snow) storm. This is a little worse because you can still ski even when it's not a powder day! I guess if you had a kayak or paddle board, you could still enjoy getting out on the ocean, but no one is renting those right here. So.. I have just been trying to find other ways to occupy my time... like writing this post!
Hopefully a swell is coming this weekend (there may even be surfable waves tomorrow). I would love to get a few more great days in here, and then probably I'm going to go back to Sayulita for another month. I miss it!! Stay tuned on my Instagram if you want to follow along with exactly what's happening and how it's going! Thanks so much for reading!! Hope you enjoyed this peek into my life in Mexico!!
It's been enchanting ....
Hasta luego!! 👋