Late January 2013
Whale watching! I was so excited I could hardly sleep. Based on a recommendation from Layla at Standup Paddle (SUP), we went with Pato’s (whose nickname is Chingaling) panga. We were to meet Pato at SUP at 10:00 and in typical Mexican fashion, when he didn’t show, Layla suggested we walk down to the boats and find him. This was no bother. I am liking more and more the relaxed attitude here. Unlike what many of us experience in busy US, folks here are easy-going and not imprisoned by their watches, trusting that they will happen into the people or things that they are looking for. And hey, at least in a small town, it works! Chingaling and others were there fiddling with the boats and hanging out.
Chingaling is one of these guys that is fun to hang with. He’s good natured, smiles and laughs, cracks jokes. He’s like a thinner, cuter, friendlier Cheech. Possibly just as stoned, but this is a total judgment on my part. (Scott: he was high as a kite! No judgment.) We watched as the older guy (name unknown, but jokingly called “Tata” by the others) got his big ole pickup, hooked up another boat to pull it out to sea. This other boat swung around knocking Pato’s boat and almost running us over. We jumped out of the way and watched in amusement at how Pato and the others laughed at the damage brought onto his panga (minor really, and given the condition of the boat barely noticeable).
While hanging with them chatting, Pato reached down to a small pile of rubbish and pulled out a champagne cork wire thingy. I said in very poor Spanish how sad it was for me to see the litter on the beach. He agreed and surprisingly recognized how bad it was for the environment. He picked up the whole pile.
Fernando was our boat operator. At the onset of our journey, a plastic bag blew out of the boat. I don’t know if it was my tortured facial expression or Fernando’s ethics, but he turned the boat around so that Scott could collect the litter. Delighted.
And there we were. Just the three of us and the big open sea. No life vests. Just us and the raging Pacific waters. The thought “I may die today” crossed my mind several times. That dissipated the moment I saw my first of about 12 whales on this journey. Whale pods, jumping, waving, spy hopping, splashing. I felt like I had been beamed to another world. A very happy, peaceful whale world. I liked that place very much. I also appreciated that Fernando kept the boat at a respectable distance. We then came across Chingaling and two other guys spearfishing. Wish we hadn’t though.
Fernando then took us to a private cove where Scott and I snorkeled. I saw beautiful purple-blue fish, striped fish, shy fish, eel-like fish. Cool.
We got back to the shore in typical Sayulita panga style (I know this because Scott and I observed this phenomenon on numerous occasions): Fernando told us to hold on tight to the boat. He gunned it, barely skimming past paddle boarders and other water recreators, so that he could get the panga as far back onto the beach as possible. Fortunately everyone survived and we returned home alive and complete.
That morning I took Scott and Stella to that stunning, isolated beach on the north side. It’s a great hike in the jungle and not exactly easy to find. We didn’t stay long but enjoyed the serene spot for a brief moment before heading back to the trails.
Scott went down to the Iguana Gardens about 4:45, and I hung back taking care of some things at home. I met up with him about 5:45 only 15 minutes into the game, and the Ravens had already scored a touchdown. By halftime, the Ravens were up 17 to 3. It was starting to look like a spanking.
How cool it was to hang outside and watch a football game! And the place was packed, fortunately with mostly Niner fans. Matt had a BBQ and offered veggie burgers with tortilla chips and very yummy salsa. I was having a craving for papas and went to the local tienda (the one that has the good tortillas) for papas and also got some spicy, roasted, peanuts. That, along with Christian’s amazing Sangria, which is really more like a health drink, Scott and I totally stuffed ourselves. We were busting a gut. While the Niners picked up second half, we still, sadly, lost the game. My consolation is that my family back east was very happy with this outcome.
Between the Vagina Monologues rehearsals and the Siete Dias de Basura, I have actually been busy. Shocking. And what is the Siete Dias de Basura you ask? Well, I’ll tell ya. This is a project that I’m doing with the Middle School kids at Costa Verde – there are 13 kids total. Some may remember the 21 Days of Rubbish I conducted two years ago. Click here to learn more and to read the first article. With the guidance and support of the awesome Costa Verde Director, Kathy Nicoletti, I’m helping to lead a similar project with the kids. Only, instead of 21 days it will be seven.
Starting Tuesday, February 12 though Tuesday, February 19, these 13 students are hitting the streets of Sayulita collecting, researching, and writing about the litter they find on the beach, in town, or around their homes. The tools of their trade will be buckets and reusable dish gloves. We are asking the students to educate others on the harmful impact of tossing cigarette butts on the ground (many are unaware that filters do not biodegrade, because they have plastic in them), and the impact of single use plastics (including but not limited to bags, bottles, utensils, etc.) on our oceans. The students will also be challenged to avoid using plastic bags for that entire week. They will journal about this experience each day, and we will be publishing several of their journal entries in the form of articles on Conducive Chronicle, the same online news source that published my articles. This project is all part of these students becoming Eco-Warriors, a term coined by worldclass surfer, James Pribram.
These last couple of weeks, we had to say good-bye to our friend, Shana, who headed back to the states to be with her hubby, Tom, in Austin. I also got my first pedicure since two days before I broke my ankle. For over 18 months, I have basically had a fear of getting a pedicure…long story and you may have to read that post to understand.
I went to Raphaela’s near the bus stop to indulge in this toe luxury. I noticed Nancy’s (at Costa Verde) perfectly manicured toes. I was like, “girl, where did you get those awesome toes?” She told me Karina did it. I departed thinking, ah yes, Karina. Realizing much later I had no idea who Karina was.
I walked up and down the street the next day looking for a place called Karina’s, and finally asked some guys Donde es Karina’s? They pointed me to Raphaela’s. Raphaela is Karina’s mother. Just to add to the small townness, Karina is Ramon’s wife. Ramon is Nancy’s brother. Nancy works at Costa Verde, and she is the one who hooked me up with the book readings to the ESL classes along with my own Spanish lessons. The only reason I know Ramon is Nancy’s brother, is because she accompanied him on a visit to one of the properties he manages. That property is located adjacent to Rancho Zen where we stayed when we first came to Sayulita. I just so happened to be looking outside when they walked by. If none of that makes sense, no matter.
On the walk to the place, I had the worry that no one would be able to speak English and then realized that I’m in Mexico, and it’s my responsibility to figure out how to communicate. That notion brought me some relief and a bit of excitement. The best way to learn is to jump right in there and figure it out, si? I attempted to speak Spanish to Karina. She was gracious and helpful. I attempted to explain my ankle situation, and gave up and finished in English. She told me I have princess feet. That felt so good given the judgment I have about the scars on my left ankle. I was sitting in the place looking around thinking, this is a really nice joint. Karina clearly took her time designing the space and setting it up to look like a sophisticated salon. With just two cutting chairs, and a hammock-type chair for pedies, I sat in the hair washing chair. Karina carefully pulled up a piece of furniture that resembled a metal end table (larger though) and another metal table. She filled a large bowl with warm water and carefully laid out her tools much like a nurse would lay out the tools for a surgeon. There was a white tiled floor that was surely difficult to keep clean given the fact that there were two open walls at this establishment. Just during my time there small dispatches of dirt from outside found a way to their new destination, the shiny, white, floor.
People stopped in throughout my 2-hour stay at Raphaela’s. One woman, a gringo, came in to have a full on chat with Karina. Seriously, she was there for what seemed like the better part of 20 minutes. She needed some advice for shampoo, needed to return what she had. I fretted not. I’m here in Mexico, in beautiful, sunny, Sayulita. My next commitment wasn’t for another 3.5 hours. And besides, the gringo lady was speaking Spanish. I could understand her very well. It was like a free Spanish lesson.
After gringo-shampoo lady left, a family came in to get their young ninos hair cut. Karina switched me out with the one other lady in the salon who just finished another pedicure. Chris (pronounced Crease) came over to me while Karina moved onto the boys. I didn’t know what was more awe-striking, Crease’s three-inch, rhinestone studded, turquiose, gold, and white nails or the fact that the hysterical 18 month in the barber’s chair was easily calmed by a young Mexican girl (Crease’s daughter) who had a parakeet on her shoulder. Crease let me touch her nails. She told me she’s very careful when I asked her if its hard to work with them. Frankly, I just wanted to get to the foot massage. I knew it was going to be gooood. And it was.
I left there with a lovely smile from Karina and beautiful red toes. All of that for 200 pesos ($16 US). Plus a 50p tip.
This past week, we’ve enjoyed the company of some friends visiting from Santa Cruz, Limah, Manuel and their two adorably edible daughters, Gigi and Sofia.
The evening of February 13 we hung out at Sayulita Café with Limah, Manuel, and Phillip (a visiting cousin of Manuel’s). I haven’t laughed that hard in ages. I laughed so hard that I choked on a tortilla chip almost destroying my voice for the Vagina Monologues show the following day. But alas, it all worked out. More on that next post.
“We owe it to our children to be better stewards of the environment. The alternative? – a world without whales. It`s too terrible to imagine.”
~Pierce Brosnan (yes, Pierce Brosnan)
*Photos and stuff* Please contact me for permission to use images and text for commercial or private use.
This is Mexico Post #4, to see the other Mexico posts, click click click
Mexico Post #1, Me and My Trimalleolar go to Mexico with my Husband and our Pooch
Mexico Post #2, Dos Americanos y Su Perro en Mexico
Mexico Post #3, Feliz Ano Nuevo 2013
Mexico Post #4, Ballenas, Ballenas Hermosas
Mexico Post #5, Una Visita Morelia
Mexico Post #6, Mariposas Monarcas!
Mexico Post #7, Los Pueblos de Patzcuaro, Paracho, y Tzintzuntzan
Mexico Post #8, La pintoresca ciudad de San Miguel de Allende
Mexico Post #9, Guanajuato, Guanajuato
Mexico Post #10, Back to Sayulita and Jaime Visits!
Mexico Post #11, Semana Santa y Semana Pasqua
Mexico Post #12, Semana de Animales
Mexico Post #13, Semana de Amigos y Amigas
Mexico Post #14, Frida y Diego
Mexico Post #15, Adiós Sayulita
Mexico Post #16, Living and Grinning in San Miguel de Allende
Mexico Post #17, Puddle Jumping in San Miguel de Allende
Mexico Post #18, Guanajuato International Film Festival
Mexico Post #19, Ciudad de Mexico/Mexico City: Colonia Condesa, Colonia Coyoacán, y La Casa Azul
Mexico Post #20, Ciudad de Mexico/Mexico City: Chapultapec y Centro Historico
Mexico Post #21, Ciudad de Mexico/Mexico City: Museo Nacional de Antropologia y Templo Mayor
Mexico Post #22, Living the Dream in San Miguel de Allende
Mexico Post #23, Viva la Independencia!
Mexico Post #24, Adios San Miguel
Mexico Post #25, Valle de Bravo y Teploztlán
Mexico Post #26, Ciudad de Oaxaca
Mexico Post #27, 50 Shades of Green: On the road from Oaxaca to Chiapas
Mexico Post #28, San Cristóbal de las Casas
Mexico Post #29, Almost Halloween Ed.: Dark Mountains, Foggy Cliffs, Witches, Jungles & Shamans
Mexico Post #30, Veracruz, Tampico y Estados Unidos