The day after Christmas, J and I woke up at approximately 3am to board a plane to Mexico. In short, we had the time of our lives.
We landed in Puerto Vallarta and met our friends in the airport, who had waited an inordinate amount of time while we trudged through customs; in the meantime, they snagged cheap cab info (across the street from the airport) by using our gent friend’s trusty Spanish skills. We hopped into the slightly rusty beater, windows down, sun setting, ready for adventure. We got to Sayulita when it was dark. We heard the ocean waves crashing across the street. The next morning, once the sun rose, we saw our rental house (above) in all its ocean-view glory and pinched ourselves to see if our luck was real. It was. For the record, this fancy-pants crash pad cost $140/night. Total. Split amongst 4 people. Good deals exist.
This little stairway to heaven led us to our open-air yoga class overlooking the Pacific Ocean. If you find yourself in Sayulita, walk past Villa Amor, through the archway to the (shockingly colorful and beautiful) cemetery. Across the way is a set of stairs. Ascend into workout heaven.
See? Heaven. Not that it was completely perfect. There may have been strange critters stretching their limbs along with the humankind on the smooth cement ground. But they came in peace. And humanity-loving yogis gently pushed the critters along their creepy-crawly way. Namaste.
We hiked through a mini-jungle (forest?) to find an incredible stretch of beach with less than 10 humans in sight. Brilliant. We climbed through an abandoned home that had fallen down the cliff. Maybe not brilliant. Saylita was lovely.
After Sayulita, we took a bus to Puerto Vallarta and a water taxi to Yelapa. Our water taxi carried tourists, sacks of limes, onions, avocados, a captain and his toddler son clinging to his back and 1 mate. The ride took about an hour and featured jumping dolphins and lots of giddy laughter. Magic.
Rounding into the cove that houses Yelapa is an experience that must be had on a sunny day. The sapphire and teal water sparkled. The buoyed yachts lazed about. The perfectly-hued sand and umbrella-lined beach was a set for a Corona commercial. We jumped off the boat, into the ocean, waded to the beach, threw on our huge backpacks, and walked barefoot to our beachfront hotel. The magic continued when we opened the door to our thatched-roof palapa. The only thing separating us from the jungle and beach was a piece of linen hanging on a rope. Rustic meet romance. But be sure to zip your bags and check your sheets every.single.time. We never saw a scorpion, but our friends killed one in their room. Not very yogi of them, but I would’ve done the same. Obviously.
We had to wade through the river that connects to the ocean to get into town. This made things interesting, but ultimately uneventful, on New Year’s Eve.
We rang in the New Year at the most amazing outdoor “Yacht Club” (below) with seemingly every person aged 1/2 to 100 who was planning to sleep in town that night. And every person in town was planning to stay that night, since Yelapa ingress and egress is strictly limited to water taxi during daylight hours. There was fireworks, good luck lanterns, and enthusiastic dancers galore, some of whom clearly left the U.S. in the 1960’s and likely haven’t been back since. Well after midnight struck, we said goodnight to the donkeys tied up outside, the primary means of transportation other than on foot, and waded back to our hotel room. And then, the rain started.
We cut our trip to Yelapa short since it was raining in our room and the rain was pooling on our floor. The entire draw to Yelapa is to sit outside and do nothing but stare at the beach or take a long hike through the forest, so frankly it was fairly useless to us during the storm. That may sound harsh, but we’re Seattleites and we didn’t travel to Mexico in January to see the rain. It’s not supposed to rain like that in January, they claimed. But rain it did. So flee we did. And it was terrifying. A boat already far over capacity, with far too few life jackets, that was stuffed to the brim with locals and their luggage covered in plastic garbage bags, which ran out of gas as soon as we “boarded,” led by the fearless captain and entirely frightened mate that were maybe 35 years old between the two of them; this is how it started. After about 30 seconds in the open-air water taxi that had been glorious 2 days prior, we realized we were soaking wet, our backpacks were imminently close to bouncing overboard, the look on the mate’s face suggested he had already soiled his pants in fear, and everything I knew about maritime law was exceptionally unhelpful as I knew we would not travel beyond the 3-mile boundary to international waters and I know zero about Mexican maritime law. But I did tell J that that the Death on the High Seas Act precludes recovery for pain and suffering. So that was one helpful tidbit of information in case we went overboard and the sharks slowly ate us to death.
Needless to say, we survived. We showed up to our all-inclusive resort dripping wet. Actual droplets were falling from our shirts, pants and shoes. The Barcelo felt like nirvana. The drinks came free and often, the tacos were never-ending, and our super-spacious, bug-free, mosquito-net-free room had TWO televisions with access to CNN. And Keeping Up with the Kardishians, if I’m being honest.
We spent the next four days laying next the pool, eating, drinking, and trying to muster enough energy to eat and drink again. We never made it to the nightly shows because we were busy trying the fancy restaurants that are only open for dinner. Somehow, we managed to entertain ourselves for 4 days with a swimming pool and swim-up bar, several novels, and bottomless tacos. When it was time to head home, we left the resort at least 10 pounds heavier and happy as clams.
Mexico was exactly what we needed. And we felt about 1 billion times less guilty for our amazing trip when we found Runaway Stella (who is back to her happy, opinionated, sweet self) a few days after arriving in Seattle.