2016-17 Winter Trip Pt. 2: Sayulita

Sayulita is a charming oceanside village located in Mexico’s Pacific coast, specifically in the state of Nayarit, near the more popular destination: Puerto Vallarta. It is mainly visited by surfers or people who want to try surf, but lately it is becoming more popular. So much that Forbes called it the most visited national destination of 2016, though what they really mean is that Sayulita was the national destination with more tourism growth of the year.

This pueblo mágico is somewhat eclectic. You can find locals, Cora and Huichol people, Mexicans from other places and even foreign people that have decided to live there. There’s Mexican food and crafts, but there’s also these fancier boutique type restaurants and stores. Also, I wouldn’t say that Mexican tourists really outnumber foreign tourists.

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December 23, 2016.

We traveled by bus from Guadalajara. What was supposed to be an approximate 4 hour trip, ended up being a 6 (almost 7) hour journey. First recommendation: whatever you do, don’t travel with Autobuses Pacífico (Estrella Blanca group). We got on the old dirty-looking bus and all the bus had this stinky bathroom smell. The bus stopped wherever the driver could pick up more people and it took us about 2 hours just to get out of Guadalajara. When we were passing by the road entrance to Sayulita, the driver dropped us off there and we walked and then took a local bus.

Once we checked-in at our hostel, La Redonda Sayulita, we just wanted to eat something. We found a nice looking restaurant by the beach called El Break, which ended up being a really good restaurant. Not cheap, but not expensive considering that ugly restaurants and even some street vendors had similar prices. Then we had a walk on the beach (a super pretty beach with just 2 downsides: 2 stinky water streams that go directly into the ocean; sorry to ruin the romantic feeling), we saw kids releasing baby turtles (an activity by Campamento Tortuguero), and sat down to watch the sunset. Later we had dinner and walked around the plaza.

 

 

The next morning we went running on the beach and then came back to have breakfast at the hostel. We decided to take it slow and relax a moment. In the afternoon we went to El Break for the second time and then to the beach. Since I had nothing to lie or sit on, and I wanted to have one since I discovered them, I bought a petate. For those who don’t know what it is, it’s a kind of mat made of woven fibers of palm (palma de petate) where you can sleep on, even on hard surfaces. And we did, we slept on the beach. Then we had to buy some stuff for the Christmas dinner with the people at the hostel. We bought different cheeses, nuts, crackers, fruits and vegetables to make some tapas. The dinner was really cool, everyone sharing, enjoying and dancing. Even the owner and her family were there. I think we were lucky to find a good hostel, with a super friendly staff and guests. Hannah and I exchanged Christmas gifts later that night.

I woke up and went downstairs to have breakfast, only to discover a trail of chicken all the way from the fridge and lost upstairs. No one ever found out who was the artist. That day we tried surfing (my first time surfing!) but I was unable to stand up on the board. So I decided that I wanted to try again the following day. We ate at Tacos Mary’s (good fish tacos) and went back to the hostel to relax and draw for a while. At night we had a walk on the beach and went to Yambak Bar for some reggae dancing and drinks with Mezcal. The best one was the one with passion fruit.

On our fourth day there, we visited Mal Paso beach with some guests from the hostel and someone from the staff who was guiding us (hey there, Frank!). Then Frank had to go back to work and just a bit later Hannah started to feel sick, so we decided to go back. I bought some guava juice for Hannah and she went to sleep. I stayed with Frank drinking coconut water and chatting with him and some friends of him that were visiting (one of them was in jail at Puerto Vallarta before because he fell asleep on the street, drunk). Later, Hanna woke up and we went out for dinner (to El Break, again). Everything was cool and it unexpectedly got better when we paid. The owner was super happy and dancing (and probably drunk), and he offered us some Mezcal shots. He was celebrating something like 12 years of the opening of his restaurant and he even gave us a super long speech about love because he thought we make an amazing couple. Then he offered us another round of Mezcal with sal de gusano (worm salt), to our love. That night ended with a Cambio (a card game) tournament at the hostel and live salsa music at Don Pato.

 

 

The last day we decided to lose our pre-paid Autobuses Pacífico ticket and travel with Vallarta Plus instead. We visited the beach one last time to say goodbye to the Pacific Ocean and that was mainly it. If you want to go from Guadalajara to Sayulita (and you don’t have a car), I really recommend Vallarta Plus.

 

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The Recap

Day 1:

  • Bus from Guadalajara
  • Walking on the main beach
  • Campamento Tortuguero releasing baby turtles at sunset
  • Walking around the plaza at night

Day 2:

  • Running on the beach
  • Relaxing at the hostel
  • Eating at El Break for the second time
  • Relaxing at the beach
  • Christmas dinner

Day 3:

  • Surfing
  • Eating at Tacos Mary’s
  • Relaxing at the hostel
  • Night walk on the beach
  • Mezcal drinks at Yambak Bar

Day 4:

  • Mal Paso Beach
  • Relaxing at the hostel
  • Salsa Night at Don Pato

Day 5:

  • Getting tickets to Guadalajara
  • Main Beach
  • Trip back to Guadalajara
  • Checking in at Hostal de María
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2016-17 Winter Trip Pt. 1: Chihuahua, MX

Chihuahua is located at the north of Mexico. It is the largest state in the country and it is mostly popular for The Chihuahuan Desert, the largest desert in North America. Though this extraordinary and biologically diverse desert is called The Chihuahuan Desert, it extends to other Mexican states such as Coahuila and Durango, and even the states of New Mexico, Arizona and Texas in the US.

This state is also popular for The Sierra Tarahumara (the Tarahumara mountain range), home of the Tarahumaras (or Rarámuris), who are well known for their crafts and their 2-day long-distance running. The Rarámuri language is still spoken and people are conscious about the importance of preserving it, we even spotted a café at Creel where you get a discount for making your order in Rarámuri. The famous Barrancas del Cobre (or Copper Canyon) and the Basaseachic Falls are located in this mountain range.

Chihuahua is also home of the largest group of Mennonites in Mexico. This Christian group of people is mainly known for their farm products, specifically: their cheese.

Oh, and Chihuahua is also popular for the people’s accent. Where, unlike where I live and most of the country, they pronounce the “ch” as “sh”. Bienvenidos a Shihuahua!

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December 18, 2016.

Hannah, Marc and I arrived to Chihuahua super early; at around 5:00 AM after taking a night bus from Saltillo. We went directly to the airport by taxi (should’ve used Uber, because that was one expensive taxi), where we waited at a restaurant until Herz was open to pick up the car we rented. The initial plan was to take the train called Chepe, but since we had little time and it was cheaper and more comfortable to rent a car, we did so.

After an express visit to downtown Chihuahua and eating a “montado” (which is just like a normal burrito but with cheese), we hit the road in the little silver Chevrolet Spark.

Halfway to Creel we made an emergency stop because Hannah was too tired to keep driving. Marc didn’t have a driver’s license and I was worried I fucked up because I don’t drive standard (I know, shame on me). So Hannah slept 20 minutes in the car while Marc and I explored the area near the road. All the landscapes you can admire on the way from Chihuahua to Creel are beautiful, so don’t worry you won’t get bored.

The staff at Hotel Posada Santa Cruz was nice, the rooms are good, you can have a hot shower and at a reasonable price (200MXN per person per night in a room for 3). There’s a kind of chimney on the hall that keeps the hotel warm (though it looks a little bit dangerous from the back of the place). Also, they have parking space for 2 cars.

After checking-in we decided to go to the viewpoint where there’s a statue of Christ (yes, there’s one here too) to watch the sunset. That night we dined pizza and corn at a lovely hut.

 

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The next day we had breakfast at a little stall on the main street that sells gorditas, quesadillas and that kind of food. We headed to Barrancas del Cobre, where we did everything. There’s a 2.5 km ZipRider (a sitting zipline), 7 ziplines (one of them is a tandem zipline and there’s 2 hanging bridges on the way) and the vía ferrata (which includes rappel, climbing, a crazy jump and hanging bridges). We paid 1,300MXN through someone who supposedly would be our guide and had a great price, but it was weird because we paid him and then we went with him to the ticket office. The website says the price is 1,500MXN so I hope we didn’t get ripped off, but if I were to visit again I’d go directly to the ticket office. There we met 2 French, Henri and Alice, who would later go back to Creel with us but we never saw again. That night Marc and I tried “taquiquesos”, which are tacos of a burnt cheese wrapped meat.

 

 

The following morning we had breakfast at a cozy café called La Troje de Adobe, right behind our hotel. We had machaca con huevo, huevos a la mexicana, some fruit and coffee. It was really delicious and well-priced. I’d recommend this place if you don’t know where to have breakfast.

Then we decided to bike our way to the Rekowata thermal springs. You have to do 6 km of paved road plus 11 km trail road to get there. There’s a point where you have to pay to enter, 15MXN for students and 30MXN normal price. Even though we only enjoyed the thermal springs for 30 minutes (because we wanted sunlight for the way back) it was an amazing experience. Getting into the thermal springs felt so good after that bike ride. At the end Marc went back to Creel alone to get the car and then picked Hannah and me up at the entrance of the trail road because he’s a lot more fit and faster than us.

 

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Our last morning at Creel we had breakfast at the same café and handed in the rental bikes a bit late. The lady charged us half the price of the day rental. If you want to rent bikes don’t go with the 3 Amigos, there’s a cheaper option (plus it’s managed by Tarahumaras) on the same street. The fee is 200MXN for the day (though it’s really from 9:00 AM until 5:00 PM).

Finally we visited Lake Arareko (or Arareco), the Valley of the Frogs and Mushrooms (Valle de las Ranas y de los Hongos). The same ticket you pay can be used to enter all of these places, but it’s only valid for a day. If you’re visiting these places I’d recommend you go really early because when we were leaving there were a lot of vans full of tourists arriving. Then, on our way back to Chihuahua, we had some really good Mennonite cheese pizza at Pizzería La Sierra. The day ended with us driving Marc to a hotel in Chihuahua (he was leaving Mexico the next day), dropping off the Chevrolet Spark and traveling to Guadalajara.

 

 

The Recap

Day 1:

  • Downtown Chihuahua
  • Drive to Creel
  • Explore Creel

Day 2:

  • Breakfast at Creel
  • Barrancas del Cobre
  • Dinner at Creel

Day 3:

  • Breakfast at Creel
  • Biking to the Rekowata thermal springs
  • Dinner at Creel

Day 4:

  • Breakfast at Creel
  • Lago de Arareko (or Arareco)
  • Valle de las Ranas y de los Hongos
  • Mennonite cheese pizza at Pizzería La Sierra
  • Drive back to Chihuahua

 

P.S. It was nice meeting you Marc!