Buena onda

The first week of November had me on a plane flying to Sayulita Mexico.  I was meeting a friend there to celebrate our 50th birthday year together.

I rarely travel (but plan on doing it more often) so I am not used to all the hustle and bustle of getting to and from airports, hauling luggage and dealing with the crowds.  When I went to Costa Rica a couple years ago, I traveled with Mia and some good friends.

This time I was solo.

I stayed the night before my flight at a hotel near the airport and ate dinner in style.

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There is nothing like hauling a surfboard around with you at 3 am so you can make your 6am flight.

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I highly recommend US Airways.  They did not charge me for my board on either leg of this trip.  Hoooyah!!! That is huge, as it would have been $400 for the board on another airline.  Seriously, how some airlines can justify those charges is beyond me.  While we are on the subject of $$ for travel lets go down a rabbit hole: what makes them charge less for a layover flight than a straight non-stop flight?  I mean, the added costs of unloading a plane full of luggage and transferring it to another plane plus the fuel costs can’t be cheaper than a one shot flight.  It makes no sense at all other than to make it a hassle for their customers.  I miss the old days of air travel for sure.

Flight into Puerto Vallarta
Flight into Puerto Vallarta

My friends and I met up at the airport in PV, and took a shuttle to the grocery store and loaded up on way too much food.  Everything looked amazing.  Look at these pastries!



America needs more bread and baked goods to display like this instead of all the behind glass sanitary paranoia. Just sayin’.

The house we stayed in was absolutely perfect. Lots of river rock, stucco and open spaces.


The bedrooms had A/C and the rest of the house opened up to the patio and pool.  It was amazing.


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We got there early enough to hit the beach the fist day. There were some small waves so I was really glad I brought my board.  I actually had considered renting there, but in hindsight was super happy I did not.  The shops that were there had a limited selection of short boards and they were pretty beat up.  Now, if we go back I would totally consider renting a long board there, but will for sure bring my own short board with me.


The town itself is amazing.  It is a very laid back surf community and I loved the hippie vibe.  Yes, there are lots of tourists but it seems like they are mostly there for the surf, so my kind of folks for sure. The break can get very crowded and the waves are pretty much focused on a very small area.  This can make for lots of snaking and dropping in.  The first day I was very reserved and only caught 2 waves.  The second day one of the locals told me to get aggressive and scratch into whatever I could, so I did from there on out and had a blast.

The waves while I was there were around waist with occasional chest high sets.  It breaks on cobblestone and at low tide they can be a foot or so below the surface.


Covering these rocks are sea urchins.  At one point a guy paddled over and asked me to pull some spines out of his hand. Yeow! Basically, don’t fall.  I made a special effort not to but still ended up with a knee full of painful spines while kicking up onto my board after a dip to cool off.

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I asked one guy how to get them out and he told me to wait until they got infected, and then they would come out with the puss.

Right.  Not.

I spent a good hour back at the house digging them out with a needle while drinking red wine.  And yes, it hurt to get them out, but the waves were worth it.

The town is located at the foot of some hills, so there is lots of exercise to be had going up and down “Gringo Hill”…


…and the streets are cobblestone.  I just loved how they had a pattern and were all hand laid.  I can just imagine the workers taking the time to make them look like this.

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Every now and then we would come across a heart, obviously placed with care to be seen by those walking the town.


We stayed for 6 days, enjoying the beach, surfing, eating awesome food and walking about shopping at the many artsy and eclectic shops there.




Cobblestones everywhere.


All the different, fresh salsas.


This was the stairway to the bathroom at a taco spot.  Simply awesome.






Some Halloween decorations still up.


I absolutely loved the street dogs. Most had collars and were obviously pets….folks just open their doors and the dogs go roam the town like little tourists.




I loved this guy who appeared to be guarding Hotel Hafa.  He was like a Royal Guard and would not look at us or move from his post.  Loyalty.? Or just a dry spot on a rainy day?



All the colors!


One of my favorite shops there was a place called Pacha Mama.


The artist that owns it makes these beautiful leather and Tahitian black pearl necklaces.  Surfers all over the town wear them. Historically, surfers brought them back to Hawaii from Tahiti: a single black pearl on a leather cord.  At Pacha Mama they had those (which is what I got), but also some beautifully unique necklaces such as the one my friend got.


“Live what you love” is now her motto for her 50th year on earth.


You can read about the Mignot sisters here.  While shopping there we met Nathalie, one of the sisters and owners of Pacha Mama.  She was a joy to talk with and when I asked her where she lived, she said “Come here. Let me show you” and took me outside and through a door up to her home looking over the entire beach in Sayulita.  All I can say is, WOW!  It was amazing.  Very simple, Bohemian and peaceful. Hammocks hanging from the ceiling, multi-stories of open air living areas and the most beautiful views imaginable.  What a gracious soul for opening her private home for me to see.  The shop and a few pics of the house are here.  The image of the stucco balcony overlooking the water? I stood there and the view took my breath away.  A great memory.

Feliz Navidad Coca Cola.


This thing was huge. Must have weighed 5 lbs.

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Crepes that were so incredible.

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Yes, the surf board went everywhere with us. It was a steep, longish walk up Gringo Hill to our house, so to avoid going back and forth I pretty much brought it down and it traveled the streets with me after being put to proper use in the water.  Here she is holding up a wall in one of the finer restaurants.

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And joining us for a beer at a taco stand. 🙂


I will for sure go back to Sayulita, and I want to bring my family.  I can’t wait to share this sunset with them.



My friend who was there with me speaks fluent spanish and she said that in Sayulita instead of greeting with “Good morning”, “good night” or “good day” everyone was saying “Bueno onda” which means “Good wave”.  My single black pearl will always remind me of this. Good wave. Good life.

I have no fear of turning 50, although recently I have aches and pains I never had and I seem to be slowing down…which is inhibiting my ability to go 90mph in everything I do. (Which quite frankly is pissing me off).  This morning I had some issues after a very hard day of surfing.  I went to the clinic and after Bill checked me out he assured me it was just more of the overuse stuff I have continued to have from time to time since 2011. “This is really PISSING me off” I told him through tears. His exact words were “You just can’t push as hard as you used to.  Stop over doing it.”  Switching gears will be hard for me.  I really don’t know how to sit back and enjoy the scenery as much as I should.  For my body’s sake it is time to learn how to do that a bit more often.

Through my life, a wave has traveled. It started as a ripple in 1965 and year after year it rises and falls with the rotating moon and sun.   Sometimes it is huge, harsh and slamming.  It pounds me when I fall, thrills me and makes my body ache.  I have enjoyed that ride immensely.  Other times it is a small, gently rolling swell that carries me along on an endless left…a goofy footers dream.  I have been so fortunate with what the wind and tide have brought me so far in life.  Every year it is different and there is honestly no way to predict what will come rolling in.

I have learned to paddle hard and not fear the drop as it makes its way through my life.

La bueno onda.


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