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This week’s guest post for the ‘Day-to-Day’ series comes from Stephanie at Twenty-Something Travel who’s currently living in Sayulita, Mexico…and now making me crave Mexican food.
Are you living abroad and interested in participating? Shoot me an email at thepaperplanesblog @ gmail . com.
I live in Sayulita, a small beach town about an hour outside of Puerto Vallarta along the Riviera Nayarit. My new husband and I moved down in October, shortly after we tied the knot, on what we’re calling an extended honeymoon. We’ve been here a little over five months now.
We decided to head down here for a couple of reasons: the lower cost of living, a curiosity about Mexican culture and a serious desire to skip a dreary US winter. Considering the way the weather has been up north this year I feel like we made a good decision! Our town is small, about 5000 people, so we have really gotten to know it well.
We have a beautiful one bedroom apartment near the center of town. It has a jacuzzi bath tub, a full kitchen and best of all, a long balcony where we can sit and watch the world go by. Although not as cheap as South East Asia, our rent is far less than we would pay in the US and includes twice weekly maid service.
I work online full time so my weekdays are fairly routine. I’m woken up by the repetitive jingle of the gas truck each morning, I call it my Mexican alarm clock. While it’s still early and fairly cool out I head to the gym. On the way back I’ll pick up a Diet Coke (it’s an addiction) from the shop underneath my apartment and then devote myself to writing for the rest of the morning. Lunch is usually something quick and cheap: barbacoa tacos, tortas (a mexican sandwich) or maybe a burrito. Then it’s usually back to work until five or six o’clock.
The hardest thing about working here in Mexico is the noise level. Mexicans are really loud people, and I both love and hate it. Our apartment faces a busy street so all day long we hear dogs barking, cars revving and people shouting. Our landlord runs a smoothie shack just across the road and blasts American music all day. He is particularly partial to eighties soft rock, Madonna and Rod Stewart. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard We Are the World since we moved here.
I like to cook for dinner. The produce is so fresh and so cheap in Mexico that I usually end up cooking something healthy and vegetarian. A few times a week we will go out for dinner. Sayulita has quite a diversity of restaurants including a couple of great pizza places, an Indian joint and and Isreali-run falafel shop. Of course there are a ton of fantastic Mexican places as well. It’s nice to have a variety.
Learning more about Mexican food was a major goal of mine. Legitimate Mexican food is very different from what we think of as Mexican in the states: there is so much variety and nearly all of it is marvelous. Corn is a major staple and it is used to make the fresh corn tortillas that accompany nearly every meal. Tacos are everywhere and you can get everything from steak to shrimp to vegetarian squash and cheese tacos. My favorite is probably tacos al pastor, which is made from rotisserie pork, similar to a middle eastern kabob.
After dinner I force Mike to stop working and we’ll watch a movie or maybe a tv show together. Right now we’re working our way through Breaking Bad. Occasionally we’ll go out for ice cream, churros or paletas, frozen fruit popsicles. At night Mike likes to play computer games and I’ll usually watch some Netflix if the internet is running fast enough. We both read for an hour or so before bed (thank god for Kindles).
The weekends are kind of a grab bag. Usually we sleep in a bit and either eat breakfast at our favorite local Mexican spot or pick up some chocolate croissants and coffee from the french bakery. Sometimes one of us will have work to finish up but I try to make it a point to relax and take it easy.
Although the beach is so close I can see the ocean from my window, we usually only make it to the beach about once a week (pathetic, I know). The main beach is usually crowded with tourists and vendors so we’ll walk the extra half mile to the more secluded one. Mike has a surfboard and will sometimes tackle the waves, but I prefer to hang out on the shore, read, and maybe sip a fresh coconut.
One of the fun things about Mexico is that there is always something random going on. At the most random times we drop everything to check out the spontaneous parade, concert or party nearby. This week there is a carnival in town complete with rides, games and food. Oddly, instead of funnel cake, the snack of choice seems to be “hotcakes,” which are essentially pancakes.
I knew I would like Mexico but I’ve really been blown away with how much I love it here. The local Mexicans are just the nicest people I’ve encountered in any country. My Spanish is utilitarian at best, but luckily my spouse is fluent, which lets us connect with a lot more people.
Best of all, I am constantly making new discoveries: a bright green iguana in the tree outside our window, a truck overflowing with pineapples or a new type of taco. It’s loud, crazy and sometimes pretty weird but it’s never, ever boring.
Stephanie Yoder is a girl who can’t sit still! Since graduating college in 2007 she has either been traveling or planning to travel. She’s lived on four continents and visited everywhere from the Great Wall of China to the Great Barrier Reef. She now writes and travels full time, blogging about her adventures on Twenty-Something Travel. Follow Stephanie on Twitter or visit her on Facebook.