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We're Not Lost, We're Exploring

sunny 29 °C


Driving around Mexico without getting lost is no small challenge, and one that , frankly, we don't expect to meet. We have no GPS, and we really have no reliable map (unless you count the smart new National Geographic Map of Mexico we ordered online, that shows main highways, main cities and towns, and little else). Based on our experience driving south from Nogales to Sayulita, we are here to tell you that it is possible to drive through Mexico with Google Maps and virtually no Spanish. That is our plan for the rest of our travels, although we would kill to get our hands on a current Guia Roji, an atlas of detailed Mexican road maps; readily available from Amazon in Canada as interesting reading material, and rarer than hen's teeth in Mexico, where it is actually useful. Before we left, we did read in numerous forums and articles that Mexico has a curious dearth of road maps - a helpful piece of advice we chose to ignore.

No map is necessary in Sayulita, and while we walk everywhere, it has been great fun to watch how the locals get around. Let's start with Volkswagen - 10 million cars have rolled off the assembly line in Puebla, a large city near Mexico City - the second largest car manufacturer in the world. Our 2008 VW Rabbit has "hecho in Mexico" stamped on its engine, and needless to say, parts are readily available and mechanics are familiar with its quirks - very reassuring as we drive through the country.

While our little car is quite dusty, it has so far (with the exception of a burned-out rear turn indicator light that cost $6 to replace), behaved well.


Our car

We've seen a couple of VW's for sale - like this ubiquitous old van that can be found in driveways and garages all over North America, just waiting for the next road trip.


Fred MacDonald - this one's for you

Then there was this one, with dollar signs $ on two windows, that just begged the question , "Are you kidding me?" I'd love to find out more, but I suspect it has been parked on the street with a hidden camera as some sort of performance art (with me being the unwitting performer.)


So, back to Sayulita. We've discovered that helmets are not only not required by law, but they are the very rare exception. The odd person who drives by on a motorcycle with helmet and jacket looks overly cautious. This doesn't just apply to this small town. We saw people riding on the highway with their helmets swinging jauntily from the handlebars.

When these two ladies and their children rode by, it got me thinking. a) Mexicans love their children and want to protect them, b) there can't be that many bad accidents, or this practice would cease and c) where do these tiny kids get their enviable balance?


This father and son rode by at a slower pace, not a helmet or knee pad in sight...


And then there was this father and son, tearing around town. This little boy is hunkered down in a box, secured with bungie cords, which at first glance looks sort of safe. Neither the parents nor the children seem fussed, so this is my cue to stop worrying about other people's children. Who's to say our approach is better?


Business in Sayulita is conducted very efficiently, by a fascinating and inventive variety of conveyances. Each year we come here, we wait for the music of SoniGas - bellowing from the speakers of a large truck as it drives up one street and down the other, loaded down with gas canisters. I try to imagine how this works, as a consumer. You are home in your pyjamas, drinking coffee, when you hear the distinctive song from a distance. You rush to throw on a coat and make it out the door in time to flag down the truck. It seems like such an arbitrary and whimsical way to sell an essential service, somehow.


Trucks selling everything from produce to ice cream to shrimp to mattresses operate the same way - funny little songs playing from tinny speakers at full volume.


Trucks bring in fresh produce from nearby farms


Coconuts and sugar cane


Getting the message out

Delivery service in Sayulita is executed by bike, motorcycle, and trucks of all sizes. We even saw surf boards being delivered to the beach by golf cart.





Of course, as tourists, we get to play.


Dan horseback riding in the jungle


Surfing - part of what makes this town so popular

Walking and hiking. Steve and I have walked over most of Sayulita, and some of our walks have become "accidental hikes", as was the case with this one. We started off intending to walk a short distance, take some photos, and then cut down to the beach. Instead, we walked up a steep hill to see a place we rented one year,and then just kept walking. We climbed and climbed, high up into the rarified air of gringo villas, and came upon this newly constructed sentry box (currently unoccupied, but a definite reflection of the increasing wealth in Sayulita and the need (or perceived need) to protect it.


Then, we found ourselves in the ridiculous position of after having spent 30 sweaty minutes on the ThighMaster, we hit a dead end. Our only way down was to backtrack or follow a sign that indicated "La Playa" with an arrow. We took that path, then found ourselves on very steep and crumbling brick steps, surrounded by barbed wire and torn yellow caution tape. I was wearing flip flops, so the going was a bit tentative, but we made it. We trespassed across someone's driveway, and found ourselves back on a street.


Finally, the last stretch - a steep and cobbled street that led to the beach. Great adventure and some much-needed exercise.


Dona, do you recognize this street? We ended up on Calle Chachalaca - the street you stayed on at Christmas!

Posted by millerburr 12:08 Archived in Mexico

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You did not show any Pictures of the Cerveza Tuck
After all that walking you would probably need some, or Perhaps "Vino".

by David

Hey Ginny, i remember taking a picture in Baja of a very decrepit 'abandoned' Volkswagen beetle, no windows, layers of dust and to my utter amazement someone hopped in and drove off. This one looks quite serviceable :-) Enjoying your post!

by Siki

I sure do recognize Calle Chachalaca! I think you're just about to go by our "Casa Verde" in the photo. Those cobbled streets were interesting to navigate!
I've really enjoyed your photos and commentary, Ginny! Can't believe we were there all at the same time, and didn't really ever get together for an evening. But, as you said, holidays take on a life of their own, especially when families are all together.
Have fun!

by Dona Bradley

I think the two of you have just earned an extra dessert after all the walking!

by Heather Scott

We are enjoying your adventure. Thanks

by LeeAnn & Ted

I have so enjoyed receiving your updates. Keep them coming! Cheryl

by Cheryl Brake

Keep exploring...and reporting.

by Ron Davis

I recall running out on to the street thinking it was the truck delivering gas only to find it was the knife sharpener! I liked that they used donkeys to deliver soil and firewood.
You bring back great memories.

by Nicola Ross

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