Monday, September 8, 2008

The Surf Report from Seattle WA

While I missed the initial group departure, I wasn't far behind. Finally on the plane, I reflected back on my bittersweet last days in corporate America, marked by the launch of my final marketing campaign for an unamed social network, the use of words like "knowledge transfer" and "departure communication plan", and flip-flops, lots of flip-flops. Landing in PV, a sola, was like a dream come true, the busy mercados, gaggles of merchants and careening buses-of-imminent-death packed with a friendly people who humor my Spanish recollections like I humor the quasi-English utterances from my 1 year old nephew.

"Nic wanted me to tell you they're heading back," Jen told me within minutes of arriving in Sayulita. Hot and tired, I dumped my travel pack onto the floor. "He said Washington surf was better, and he could get more work done from Seattle. So they just took the last bus back to town."

My heart sank, "But, he hates the Washington surf. He flew all the way out here just to turn back around the day I get here?"

I questioned this so-called-vacation, looking at the stormy sea below as she tells me "Said he had to go back. He had no doubts you'd still find a way to have a fabulous time. I was going to go back with them, but thought someone should tell you where we'd gone. Anyway, I'm sorry, I gotta run too..." She vanishes.

I awake with a start. Palapa thatched walls turn to beige drywall. Pools of turquoise water evaporate into my brown-green lawn. Relief. It was just a nightmare. It's ok. I'm still in Seattle. It's ok? I'm still in Seattle?!

Ugh!!! I hit snooze and fall back to bed.

Just two days to freedom, four days to Mexico. Oh wait, this is a blog was about actually surfing Mexico, not dreaming...

Say hi to Jose!

Jose our new friend

Upon first arriving at our house, we noticed a lazy, and I mean LAZY, dog basking in the heat and humidity on the ground floor apartment. We said hi, he batted an eye open to check us out, but didn't budget otherwise as we carried our bags upstairs. We ended up passing him a few more times that evening as we explored around and grabbed dinner, each time greeted by with one eye opened, as if to say, "I see you" but never more.

That all changed this morning as we walked down to the beach. The dog, now christened 'Jose' by Jen, decided that maybe if we were going to be here a while he should get to know us. And so he did. Through the town we walked, scoping out the town for tortillerias and grocery stores, and all the while Jose followed us.

One oddity in Mexico is that apparently dogs have the right of way on roads. More than once we'd be yelling at Jose, sometimes in English, sometimes in broken Spanish to get out of the way as a car approached. And more often than not, Jose would stand there obliviously. Once, a pickup truck seemed to 'tap' him a bit, just a gentle nudge to please move over as it tried to work its way through the so called road.

Jose followed us throughout, and ultimately right back to the house. Later in the day we went out to get some cash at an ATM (btw, the universal use of $ as pesos always makes confirming your $3,000 withdrawal a nerve racking experience). Jose, as is now usual, followed along and right into the grocery store where the ATM was. Perhaps this was no coincidence though, as just in front of the ATM, in giant opened 100lb bags, dried dog food was on display. Jose stood by it, not whining, but perhaps in that psychic dog way merely suggesting another purchase while we were there.

We resisted this time, but I can't imagine we'll manage to leave without at least a goodbye feast for the old guy.

Arriving in Mexico

Nic is a far better writer than I, but I will kick things off.  

Flying to Mexico is surprisingly easy.  A couple 2.5-3 hour flights and you're there.  With a little layover in the middle to break things up and stretch the legs that worked out better than expected.  We had slightly more time to stretch with our legs than necessary since we ended up flying out on the backup-backup plane (hey, as long as it takes off and lands okay, then I'm cool).  For our troubles we were allowed a complimentary beverage once we were in the air -- you see, with the economy the way it is, of course water in coach isn't free any more.

We landed in Puerto Vallarta and outside of it feeling like a steam bath with no exit and all the Mexicans, it didn't feel that different.  That is until we stepped out of the airport.  I found it quite shocking that even in a city like Vallarta there were lots of street vendors and busted up buildings.  We then took a $20 bus ride north to Sayulita.  Ok, ok, so pesos use the $ symbol too and that's actually only a $2 USD ride -- which is pretty dang cheap considering it was an hour long ride.  Nic handled the finances which is good since later in Sayulita I tried to give a girl $40 USD (and later my entire wallet) for a latte.  Though I have to say it was cool to have the ATM tell me that I could buy a house with the balance in my checking account..  if only it were USD.

On our ride down a native started speaking with us in English and was very friendly welcoming us to the country.  He also clued us in that there was no sense getting used to the 2 hour time difference since crossing from Jalisco into Nayarit we were getting 1 hour back anyways.  As the bus came out of the winding jungly rode and into Sayulita, all those National Geographic videos I watched started to pay dividends.  This town met all my wonderfully gringo expectations of a small Mexican village.  From the mariachi band playing in the stands of a small baseball stadium to the bus driver with nerves of steel driving through a dirt road (which is generous calling it that since it had more potholes than road).  It was so narrow that cars were close on both sides as the bus violently shifted from right to left.  And the dogs.. wow, there's a lot of dogs.. with nuts.. everywhere.

Our place is pretty dang nice..  We are on the top floor of a three unit house and it has lots of covered outdoor space (with the requisite hammock) and a view of the beach.  I can definitely see why people take up residence here. 

It's currently the tail end of the rainy season but its still beautiful when stormy.  We spent some time of our first day just playing in the ocean while watching lighting strike around the cove.  I have to say, the dynamics of the water motion and temperature are pretty unusual.  Strong rip tides shuttle you around and usually in unwanted directions.  To go with that, as you move about and the sets of waves come through the water around you shifts from a cool refreshing splash to feeling like the heron next to let go of a full bladder.

We've got a lot more to post later, but I'm late for my siesta and I'm going to need it for tonight's surfing adventures.