I’m in bed, engulfed in white sheets, watching and listening to the sunrise waves roll in. Here, where I’m dry and grounded, the world out there seems so far removed. It’s a world unknown to those on shore. Who lay and sunbathe in the sand, drinking and eating and socializing, maybe dipping their toes into the water, maybe walking in waist high, even to their shoulders—still, like that, they aren’t experiencing what it’s like out there, past the break.
For those who paddle out and sit upright, straddling their boards, feet dangling in the water, studying the ocean’s movement, waiting, trying to be patient—that’s where the ocean shares her secrets. We all share in it. It’s an entirely different world from that a hundred meters away. There’s a dance we do out here, while riding the waves and waiting, in a world removed from what’s back here, the place where I’m sitting this morning on the bed in my second-story bungalow at the Sayulita Beach House, a hotel in Sayulita, Mexico.
About 50 years ago, locals started surfing in Sayulita. Then in the 1980s, travelers (gringos) started venturing in, camping, staying in parks. “It was a hippie town,” says Rene, one of the instructors at the Sayulita Surf School that’s stationed directly in front of the Beach House. In the past 6 or so years, the town’s popularity has exploded. It’s not so unknown anymore, in large part because of the mellow wave that’s easy to learn on.
“You gonna surf?” I ask the American girl in the surf shop the day before.
“No, I wish!” she instinctively replies. As if surfing is off-limits, something to fear, something not for all, something not welcoming. I encourage her to paddle out but she declines. I want her to learn the ocean’s secrets.
The Beach House’s rustic second-story beach-view bungalow is a surfer’s fantasy. Wake up to the waves, walk out to the waves, fall asleep to the waves, dream about the waves. The brick-layered arches on the balcony beautifully frame the view, white curtains fluttering in the breeze, inviting you to get up, explore, hop in.
At 8am, I walk down the concrete steps, a board under my arm I’m borrowing from the surf school, and paddle into an overcast morning. Waves are warm and juicy—not too big, not too small, inviting. Simultaneously paddling with both arms, I excitedly get closer to the sea of surfers bobbing up and down, waiting for the next set to roll in. Soon I realize all but one are women. The feminine energy wraps us as one, like a blanket, lovingly. Usually, the energy in a group of women when another enters their space is filled with judgment—stares and distrust. But here, with the waves, we smile at one another, bid good mornings, and a dozen accents peacefully float along the surface. I am proud in this moment to be a woman, a giver, a connector.
Out past the break, in an unknown world to those back on shore, we communicate with smiles and laughter and pleasantries, with kindness, easy like the Sayulita waves.
And this is why we travel. This is the ocean’s secret. To explore, to experience newness, to meet people who invite us into their worlds, even if it’s only for two minutes before another set rolls in and interrupts our conversations.
If you’re headed to Sayulita, I recommend the Sayulita Beach House for its proximity to the beach—it’s ON the beach and one of the few original buildings left on the water front. Note that the grounds are a bit rustic and the interior shows age, but the hotel is peaceful, affordable, energizing, clean, and airy. Plus, the photo ops, like many of these hotels, are superb!
Also check out Sayulita Surf School directly in front of the hotel for Sayulita surfing lessons. Sergio, the owner, will hook you up! Visit the Sayulita Surfline report to check the waves.
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