For this weekend’s getaway from the intensity of Guadalajara, my sister and I joined Fer, Mia the dog and their crew of friends to the coastal villages of San Pancho and Sayulita in the region of Nayarit, about three hours’ drive from the city. We followed the picturesque and winding road under the arched trees until we reached the deep blue Pacific Ocean late after dark so nobody could see us put up camp right on the beach outside the gates of a rundown camping site.
Ignoring the approaching storm, we collected wood to make a fire which lasted just enough time for a beer and a skinny dip in the sea. The rain blew past quickly, but I crashed in the tent leaving my new friends to deal with their stubborn activity of repeatedly re-lighting the fire and defying the weather.
The next morning, we found the storm had brought us a bamboo raft typical of those castaway stories which always end tragically. After the local kids had their go on it, it was our turn to take it out on a float around to balance, dive and sit on it with glee.
As we burned under the midday sun and wished for a coconut to drop from a palm, I noticed an unusual group composed of a gringo and two Mexicans approach and study the palm trees with mischief on their faces. In no time, one of the locals was on the tree, knocking down coconuts! I lent them my knife and my friendship in exchange for some of the fresh juices. As it usually happens in these heavenly places, our desires had magically become reality. Then, my new mates decided to set up an improvised business and appointed me as their creative director. I made a water coloured sign for them and then surfed off to catch a couple of waves.
Before sunset, my sister and I walked along the beach to play models with the camera, enjoying the wildlife and nature of San Pancho beach and its surroundings. The small, tranquil village is still emitting the chill vibes of a fisherman’s cove, were inhabitants walk around vaguely, doze off in the shade and children play in the square. Hip bars, boutiques and restaurants combine with street vendors and artisan stalls in a colourful and harmonious pattern of traditional and alternative, all in the pretty frame of the flourishing nature.
Back at free camp, the grumpy man from the official camp had returned and was expecting money from us… we made him happy and felt a bit more secure about leaving our belongings in the tents while we went out for pizza, drinks and live music on the beautiful Darjeeling terrace. Incredible world music by Guadalupe, Rob and Jovan; delicious food, dancing and singing under the starts with an unusual combination of gringos and locals made up for an unforgettable night of great vibes!
On Sunday, we woke up late and went for breakfast at ORGANI-K – I was immeasurably happy to have found a café selling Açaí bowls which had to be the one single thing I miss most from my travels across Brazil. The exotic bowls consisted of a palate-breaking combo of the Açaí juice and other fruits and superfoods.
We left the camp side with an unpleasant sketch of Mexican mafia that we probably didn’t take as seriously as we should have. The owner of the land who the day before had squeezed 300 pesos on the pretext that the beach in front of his land was his, had a go at our German friend who wanted to hang his hammock to chill for the afternoon. Of course, he wanted money- but this time we couldn’t accept it. While the man walked around with the machete he was using to cut down palm leaves, being rude to our friend, we stared in anger, Aila took photos and I shouted “La playa es libre!” (“The beach is free!”) which pissed him off for good!
After a stop for fresh fish ceviche tortillas at the nice lady’s push trolley, we drove to the much busier village of Sayulita, in the next bay. With no enthusiasm to stay on the main beach due to the scarcity of waves and excess of tourists, we took the dusty track over the hill and past the cemetery to Playa los Muertos (Death beach). As we explored the beach, we found that the name seemed to be quite fitting: on the western (right-hand facing the sea) side, we climbed the rocks and reached a smaller cove with a massive old tree on one side and a rocky little island coming out on the other.
From the rocks, tens of young kids sat patiently but excitedly, finding the right moment to free dive into the deep turquoise waters. We joined them and all took turns until Fer’s turn came and passed, she spent a long while up there until everyone gave up on seeing her jump. I stood with my camera, waiting for her courage to overcome her fear, and in the boredom photographing spider-webbed dried flowers and dead, red crabs. Eventually, our friend Fer climbed back down in embarrassment as the young gringos and locals ran up again. The poor girl wasn’t the only one to lack the guts to jump: Mia also made the wise decision to trot back down, perhaps with more dignity, since no one laughed at her. I understood them, as I too had to concentrate a great deal to clear all my fears from my mind and find the motivation to take that step into thin air. I realized that these kinds of challenges lose their thrill as you get older as they are substituted by an unpleasant sense of terror.
Time flew past as I relaxed on the beach watching the kids run around, jump, fight and deep down adore each-other on the shore! Little shell animals crawled on the colourful, shelly sand and the ants too made a considerable effort to be part of the scenery by creeping upon us, leaving bloated and itchy stings.
By the end of the afternoon, I had fallen in love with the small beach and I really did not want to leave. I put on the act of a four-year old, stamping my feet in the sand shouting out to my friends “No quiero irme! Yo me quedo aquí” (“I don’t want to go! I’m staying here!”). But we were off and away heading back to the city to look forwards to the next Mexican adventure.