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Eight straight years....and counting

semi-overcast 28 °C

We have our friends Joy and Oscar to thank for introducing us to Sayulita - they discovered it over a decade ago when their son and daughter-in-law were married here. About eight years ago when Stephen and I were wondering where to go for a ten-day escape from the winter rain, Sayulita, with its crescent surf beach, jungle vegetation, absence of all-inclusive resorts, and tiny taco stands promised to fit the bill.

For the past eight years, like lemmings, we have come back to the familiar and the much-loved. If we only had a week or 10 days, we didn't want to waste any time - get off the bus, check into Macondo Bungalows, and then check off the boxes - sun, beach, warm water, waiters who recognized us from one year to the next, restaurants that never changed from one year to the next, friends who also showed up each year - same time, same place. Instant holiday.

Stephen on Day 1 in Sayulita 2015, still looking a little ragged after 6 days on the road, but happy to be back at Panino's, one of our favourite haunts.


Sayulita, in 2009, was just on the cusp of appearing on the tourist radar. There were a much smaller number of restaurants back then - Fish Taco, Don Pedro's, Calypso, and Los Afortunados were popular. The latter was one of the very first restaurants we went to - run by a California couple who called themselves "The Lucky Ones" as they were able to split their lives between two beautiful spots. Just a couple of days ago, we walked by, to discover this sight.


Los Afortunados was locked up - after the lease expired this year, and rents skyrocketed, the owners decided to close up shop. The good new is the owners of the property are Mexican, so at least the locals are profiting from Sayulita's success. We hear the new venture will be a hostel.

To begin at the beginning - Sayulita acquired "Pueblo Magico" designation this year, which in Mexico is a ticket to print tourism money. The purpose of this designation is to allow already-well-endowed (in terms of geography, history, culture, natural surroundings) towns to improve with cash infusions. They are given five years to earn their final certification.


We have noticed a steady change in Sayulita over the years, but construction this year is at a fever pitch. To begin with, all power lines are being buried. How we long for the good old days when an event would come to town, and extension cords would dangle everywhere - near small children, pools of water - tripping and electrocution hazards. Soon to be a thing of the past.


New hotels and condos are springing up like mushrooms after a rainy season.



For years vacant lots have sat empty, either by design or lack of opportunity. This lot is slated for development - It is a block from the beach - we're curious to see what goes in here.


I love the defiant spirit of this property-owner. This is a very large plot of land, right on the north end of the beach, with a seemingly-uninhabited house, and clearly a very big payday, should they ever decide to sell. For as long as we have been coming to Sayulita, this sign (NOT FOR SALE) has been prominently displayed on the house. I would love to know the story here - it must be making would-be developers crazy.


Eight years ago, the main street into Sayulita was still being paved. Cement sidewalks went in that year - by hand. Our street (Macondo Bungalows) was only paved about five years ago. A number of streets still look like this:


Swank little dress shops, $4 coffees, live edge wood accents and restaurants that promise "artisan, fairly traded and locally sourced" food (sounds like a good taco to me) have moved into Sayulita in droves. Here are a few businesses that have cropped up in just one year or less:




El Ivan Pastor has been a fixture for years. A succulent hunk of pork skewered on a rotisserie. All the fixings on a side table. People lined up cheerfully to share communal tables, begging dogs and byobs. Well, El Ivan still exists, but its sprawling tables have been confined to a small space, as this brand new building, right next door, with specialty shops, edgy decor and bistro dining have reclaimed the street.


The grubby little liquor store around the corner from us has been taken over. Gone is the old curmudgeon, the bags of snacks, the dusty bottles. In its place is a brand new "selection of tequila, wine and spirits". They accept Visa - a rarity in cash-happy small-town Mexico.


Eight years ago, we overheard someone say that Sayulita had become too "gringo" - it was time to move on to less-discovered pastures. At that time, we were dumbfounded - the stray dogs! the roosters! the wild and crazy (and unhelmeted) vehicular madness! Too gringo? Slowly, each year,though, the infestation has happened. WE have done this. And it's not necessarily a bad thing. The beach is still democratic - open to all, and limited by height restrictions, so the blight of high-rises will (hopefully) never happen here. Many, many Mexicans are profiting - this is their time to become small business-owners. You can still eat one of the best tacos ever - for about a buck a pop.


You can still see a small child, play unattended, near rusty rebar, on a narrow bridge with a 6-foot drop.


You can still share your meal with one of Sayulita's many dogs. It is not always clear which ones are pets and which ones are strays.


You will still meet some of the loveliest, friendliest people, who incredibly remember you after just one meeting.


We are having a grand time with Dan on the lead-up to Christmas - just wanted to share our first impressions on a place that has meant so much to us, and like everything else in life, will change. I'll send out another post in a few days with our adventures so far.

Still lots to love - hopefully Sayulita can figure out how to bury the power lines, but not the charm.

Posted by millerburr 19:57 Archived in Mexico

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Wishing you both a very Merry Christmas!

by Aggie

Keep it coming! Love your photos & diary.

by Carol Martin

Stephen and Ginny--- thank you for sharing these wonderful pictures of Sayulita. We have had 23 straight days of rain here and we are VERY tired of it. The beautiful weather looks so inviting. We will be in Sayulita in the middle of February. I wish you great times on your journey!

by Dan McElhaney

How we wish we were as rich as the Mexicans and could afford to bury our hydro lines safe from the path of storm-felled trees and branches - they are so fortunate.

by Hawkson

Merry Christmas Ginny and Steve...a lovely post..but where is the blue sky? Wish we were there.

by Hawkson

Glad to hear there is still lots to love about Sayulita, in spite of the changes! Say "hi" to Danny for us and Merry Christmas to you all!

by Heather Scott

Wow, lots of changes. Showed your post to Dylan, he was
Impressed,, wishing we were with you, we had snow up at our place last night, and torrential rain today.
Wishing you all a very merry, sunny Christmas.


by Joy

Great to see you two in action again in Mexico and always enjoy pictures of Steve in restaraunts...
sorry we didn't speak before you left. Stay safe and Merry Christmas to the whole family

by Katz's

Sheila passed your blog address to me yesterday. I will be in Sayulita Jan. 10 to 31 near Maconda. Will you two still be around? Hasta Pronto y Feliz Navidad!

by Joyce Babula

Hi Joyce
No, we leave on Jan. 2. You're coming at a nice time - after the Christmas rush. I hope you enjoy your stay here.
Feliz Navidad!

by millerburr

Hope you and Steve had a good Christmas! We're loving your blog posts so far...looking forward to more as you take us on your adventures. Here's to a very Happy New year!

by Donna Deacon

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