An opportunity to change my life.
Last summer, July 2016, I had the opportunity to travel to Mexico. I had never been there before and the chance was presented by my very new boyfriend. At first, I had declined the offer. I mean, we had JUST started dating, and while the plans to travel around were there, I’d be meeting his enormous family and I wasn’t sure if I felt ready to do that. Overwhelmed with nerves, I quickly decided, why not? These opportunities can pass by quickly, and even though ours was a bit of a whirlwind romance at the start, I wanted to know more about him, about his family and his country.
Jumping in, both feet.
After many years as a travel agent, I had never taken the opportunity to travel to Mexico. Not an all-inclusive, no conferences, nothing. I always felt there was something special about this country, and I wanted to do it right. So, after I had decided to take Beto up on this offer, I decided not to do a bunch of research. I was just going with it, whatever the plan was, I was in. I was jumping in, both feet.
We were staying primarily in a small town outside of Guadalajara called La Barca. I had no idea of what it would look like, remember, I did zero research for this trip! We arrived late at night, so got a good night sleep before preparing for the festivities the next day. Beto’s sister was having a huge party to celebrate her birthday & graduation, so I was set to meet about 250 people on my first real day in Mexico. There was no time for dipping your toes in the water. Just jump.
At the time, I knew very little Spanish. Like…none. I had studied Portuguese in the past, so the only words I could really pick up were the ones that sounded similar. I expected to feel totally overwhelmed, but when you’re jumping in, you really have to go for it. I met loads of new people, enjoyed a good meal, hit the dance floor with my new beau’s family, and laughed a lot. It was the perfect way to break the ice and I actually believe this set the foundation for the relationship I am still happily in.
Go, Go, Go!
The next two weeks went so quickly! We spent a good amount of time visiting family and filling Beto’s soul! We did manage to take a few days for ourselves and set off for Sayulita.
Historically, Sayulita and the state of Nayarit were largely known for the production of coconut oil. In the 1940s, production decreased and the region had to switch gears to agriculture and fishing. In the 1960s, Sayulita became an escape from booming Puerto Vallarta and the paparazzi for a few famous names including Richard Burton, Elizabeth Taylor, Ava Gardner and others. Also, in the 60s, surfers discovered the area and fell in love with the consistent wave breaks, authentic Mexican vibes and it became a hidden paradise. Since then, Sayulita has grown substantially and is home to more than 5000 residents.
If you look at photos of Sayulita, it’s exactly what you see pictured. It’s small, packed with Americans & Canadians, with great little restaurants, cafes, shops and amazing stretches of beach. We stayed in an adorable boutique hotel called Hotel Hafa which has beautiful little rooms and a great rooftop patio. There’s a number of little places to sit outside of the room, and it’s the perfect place to relax and watch the rain when it hits.
Sayulita is pretty touristy, so if you’re looking to find secret spots, it’s pretty tough. You have to travel a little bit to find those hidden beaches. We did spend a day at one (which I can’t tell you because I want to keep it a secret) which really felt like our own secret getaway. We packed a cooler with beers and snacks and walked along a hot beach to get there, but the reward was well worth it.
Unfortunately, I was hit with heat sickness while we were there, so I did have to take some time out and rest in the room. After a day at our own private beach, the cool room was a welcome sanctuary.
Throughout the next week and a half, we visited many places including Arandas, Morelia, Patzcuaro, Mazatmitla, and a couple of small towns. It was amazing to see the different landscapes that Mexico has to offer, as well as the beautiful small towns and hidden gems throughout. I’ll be writing more about the places we visited in other blogs in the coming weeks!
There is so much about Mexico to experience if you go beyond all-inclusive resorts. You’ll find warm, kind, helpful and happy people, delicious food, colourful cities and towns, rich culture, celebrations, and an expansive history.
This two-week trip changed my life. It set the solid foundation of my relationship, it introduced me to a culture I knew nothing about, it introduced me to people I now consider family and encouraged me to start learning a new language. I have learned so much in the last year, and yet I still have a long way to go.
So now, we’ve planned to go to Mexico for two months this winter. I am very much looking forward to spending a couple of months there, exploring more and learning more about the history and culture. I have been studying Spanish and look forward to putting that into practice (albeit roughly) with my boyfriend’s very patient family and friends! I can’t wait to write about the experience of living in Mexico, how it differs from Canada, and the wealth of knowledge I am sure to gain! Stay tuned!