Part 1: Guadalajara
My last day in Guadalajara was spent soaking up some culture at the Instituto Cultural Cabañas, it’s a large museum just a leisurely 10-minute stroll from the Hotel De Mendoza which showcases some wonderful period architecture. The museum’s large arched walkways are set out in quadrants which allows air to circulate and provides a welcome break from the oppressive heat of the mid-day sun.
When I visited in May 2017 it cost just $70 pesos (about £2.90 GBP) for a general entry fee which allows you access to all the main exhibitions. There is also a great café with chairs and tables located in a nice, quiet, shaded spot; and since there is also free Wifi it was the perfect place to chill and have a Skype catch-up with family.
There were plenty of awesome exhibitions during my visit, favourite amongst them being the iron cast warrior/guardian sculptures by Xavier Mascaró. They stand about 8 feet tall, and in a previous century could easily have doubled as nasty torture chambers! They were both immensely oppressive and calmly reassuring in equal measure, depending on whether you contemplated being incarcerated inside one, or thought of them as your loyal guardians.
Part 2: Getting to Sayulita
Vallarta Plus is an affordable bus/coach company which can get you from Guadalajara to Sayulita, a one-way ticket cost just $468 pesos (about £19 GBP). From the centre of Guadalajara you’ll need to get a taxi to the Zapopan bus station on the edge of the city where the bus leaves from, this taxi should cost between $150-$250 pesos plus tip (about £7 to £12 GBP). Buses normally leave early at around 08:30am, but bear in mind that ‘Mexican time’ means things are often delayed as a matter of course; without reason, explanation or consequence. You get used to it after a while, and actually in the right circumstances it’s a nice change of pace (although us Brits are not unaccustomed to the odd bus replacement service!)
Credit where credit is due though, the Vallarta Plus buses are top of the line, I’ve travelled a fair bit and it’s the best damn bus I’ve ever been on! Huge comfy seats that recline a good 70 degrees, plenty of leg room, air con, male and female toilets at the back that rival any aircraft, and an entertainment system packed full of live music, TV and movies in both Spanish and English. I even watched Alice: Through the Looking Glass and a bit of Star Wars during the 4-hour journey! Hardly the clapped-out old banger of a bus that you hear about in all the travel stories.
Part 3: Accommodation in Sayulita
Stepping off the air-conditioned bus into the blazing afternoon sun in Sayulita was a bit of shock. Thankfully I’d already booked an AirBnB called Sayulita Suites; it’s a bit of a luxury for the long term but I wanted to use these first few days in Sayulita to acclimatise and relax into my new life, before getting super stingy with the budget and hitting the hostels. Busy season is November to April when all the ‘gringos’ come down from Canada and the US, and also when surfers are drawn by the bigger waves. The room rates vary depending on the season but luckily for me it was May, so I was paying ‘off season’ rates of about $55 to $59 USD a night. I also had some credit on my AirBnB account from a referral I made so I paid roughly £30 GBP a night. During busy season this AirBnB can cost around $100 USD a night!
Outside the suites
Main kitchen/table area
No smoking sign
The Sayulita Suites are excellent though, perfect for my needs at that point; the best bits being free Wifi, ceiling fans to keep you cool, and most importantly, free filtered water! Even though bottled water is relatively cheap here (50p for 1.5 Litres) it soon adds up when you are drinking more in hot weather, and then also making sure you have enough to drink ‘at home’. There’s nothing worse than waking up parched in the middle of the night and remembering you can’t drink the tap water.
The owner of the Sayulita Suites is a lady called Lyn, an expat originally from my native England but long since escaped to milder climes. Lyn is a fantastically hospitable host and didn’t think twice about offering me and my French neighbour Frédéric a golf-cart tour of the town, showing us all the best places to eat, where to avoid, and where we could find the famous Playa de los muertos (Beach of the Dead)! Whilst my mind conjured up images of a beach with a vicious rip-tide which must have caught many an unsuspecting tourist off guard, the reality is simply that the beach is near the local cemetery, hence ‘Beach of the Dead’. Whilst this reality steals some gravitas from the name, it is somewhat reassuring that the local waters are safe for swimming.
Sayulita High Street
Restaurant with amazing artwork
Obligatory shot of delicious fish tacos! ($65 Pesos = £2.60)
Randomly, golf carts appear to be the chosen form of transport for most expats/gringos since Sayulita is still a developing town, meaning many ‘roads’ are actually bumpy dirt tracks which can be a pain to walk large distances on. There is even a local ‘golf cart guy’ who makes a living purely from modifying and servicing the large fleet of carts in town!
Lyn’s golf cart being given a tune up
Lyn’s site manager is a friendly Argentinian musician/DJ called Nix who helps with the running of the AirBnB. Me, Argentinian musician Nix and French actor Frédéric all go for beers on my first night in town so they can introduce me to ‘Sayulita Life’. Conversation flowed easily from topics like travel, language and culture all the way to politics, philosophy and economics; sufficed to say we quickly formed a group friendship. An Argentinian, a Frenchman and an Englishman all walk into a bar…to hear more about our Sayulita adventures you’ll need to stay tuned for Blog 4 next week! ;P