Steph and Andres are a couple from Ireland and Colombia respectively, who both quit their jobs in early 2012 to travel the world and explore ways to make full-time travel a lifestyle choice funded through online entrepreneurship. Please enjoy this week-in-the-life of Steph and Andres in Mexico!
It’s Mexico. It’s hot. And we’re on a 12-hour bus journey from the tequila and mariachi capital of Mexico, Guadalajara, to Puerto Vallarta on the Pacific coast.
After spending two weeks working intensely with a new digital marketing company in Guadalajara, we are glad to get a ‘break’ and head for the beach.
We spend the bus journey alternating from napping, entertaining ourselves on our ‘digital Swiss knife’ (our smartphone), and playing the amazing airplane game on the LCD screens of the first-class bus. When you’re going to be traveling for more than 12 hours on a bus in a new country, we figured it was better to go with a reputable company, even though it cost more.
We arrive to Puerto Vallarta hot and exhausted. We jump on a collectivo and head towards a recommended hostel. We don’t usually stay in hostels, but while we are new in an area we usually use it as a base while we look for something more permanent.
A free beer with check-in and an overly enthusiastic hostel worker and we are all checked in.
We stroll around Puerto Vallarta to get a feel for the place before getting an early night. It’s not what we’re looking for…overly touristy…overly commercialized and ‘gringo-ized’ with huge chain stores every few steps.
Our decision to leave for the small surf town of Sayulita the next day is confirmed after a horrible night’s sleep in a sweaty dorm room. For an expensive hostel, you’d think they could afford more fans.
We check out of the hostel and head straight for Sayulita, hoping it will be what we expect. We want somewhere nice and quiet, where we can unwind and get some work done.
Sayulita is perfect. We instantly love the place. From the sandy roads to the golf cart transportation, we know that we want to spend longer than a few days here.
We check the local notice boards for cheap rentals and talk to the many friendly expats and travellers who pass by. We get some recommendations and leads and spend the day traipsing around the town with our heavy backpacks in the sweltering heat, checking out our options. After realizing that we would get a better price for staying longer than a week, we decide to fully make use of our ‘location independent’ powers and stay for a month…while learning to surf!
We find our new home at the end of the day; a beautiful little bungalow situated a stone’s throw away from the beach. It’s quiet, fully-furnished with our own kitchen and Wi-Fi, plus it’s a steal at only 5000 Mexican pesos for the month!
We start unpacking our things to settle into our new home for the month.
We wake up to the sound of a cock crowing…I guess that will be our new alarm clock here. The sun is blasting through the window, with the sound of golf carts cruising past on the sandy street outside.
Our mission for the day is to find a surfboard so we can learn how to surf.
We go back to a lovely Canadian woman we met the day before while searching for accommodation who mentioned she had a board for rent. She rents us the board for $50 USD for the month! This week is looking up!
We take our new baby back to our bungalow and immediately hit YouTube for some free ‘surfing lessons’…as we have absolutely no knowledge of surfing.
After watching one too many ‘biggest wave EVER’ videos, we give up and go for a beer and tacos in a lovely atmospheric café overlooking the plaza, to calm our nerves.
Our first day in the waves…is a disaster! All those YouTube videos made it seem so easy!
We make the mistake of going to the section where the professional surfers are. I instantly cut my toe on the rocks and we have to come out of the water.
We decide to head to the more crowed, but less professional surfing area, further along the beach.
We essentially get the crap beaten out of us by the waves. Luckily, we clearly aren’t the only ones who are total beginners at this.
There is activity everywhere in Sayulita, although at a much slower pace. Girls walk around the town, barefoot in bikinis and shorts, while the guys, with their floppy bleached blonde hair, test their capoeira skills on the beach.
Dogs run up and down the beach playfully, local vendors sell handmade jewellery and swimwear and silhouettes of stand-up paddlers glide across the surface of the water miles from the shore. In the evenings everyone gathers to watch the sunset across the Pacific Ocean. We could get used to this!
We spend the next day catching up on our online work, so as not to overdo it in the water.
We have plenty of projects to work on, as we are about to launch an online e-commerce store in Colombia, selling handmade bags by the indigenous people of the Guajira.
I spend a big portion of the day editing the photos of the products while Andres works on the website with the help of friends.
After a productive day of work, we head out for delicious stone-oven baked pizza and a stroll through the town and beach at night.
We get up early to meet some friends who have just arrived to Puerto Vallarta. We walk five minutes to the little bus stop, which is basically a few plastic chairs underneath a ‘palapa’. When the bus arrives we get in and pay the 12 pesos each to get to Puerto Vallarta, roughly half an hour away.
It’s another beautifully sunny day as we ride on a windy road through the lush jungle mountainside. ‘Stairway to Heaven’ is playing on the radio as an expat woman near the front of the bus sings along happily. The song always reminds me of this lovely moment since.
We meet our friends in Vallarta and head to a beautiful tiny beach outside of Puerto Vallarta for the day, where we drink (one too many) beers and do some snorkelling in the nearby caves. Probably not a good mix, looking back!
After too much sun, we head back to the city for a walk along the promenade, dinner and ice cream. We take the last bus back to Sayulita and, exhausted, we collapse for the night.
After a late start we decide to hit the waves again. We make friends in the water and continue our attempts to stand up on the board. We make gradual progress throughout the day.
We head back in the evening and catch up on emails, talk with family, work on our online store, HandmadeCultures.com, read, and clean. Quite a productive day!
We decide that tomorrow we will go to Puerto Vallarta to do some shopping as we are running low on food and it is cheaper to shop in the city than in Sayulita.
We get an early night after the exhaustion of the previous day. We love our new temporary home, complete with local cat, dog and chickens and a lovely view of the hilly countryside to the right and ocean to the left. I think we’ll enjoy it here for the next month.
Steph and Andres are back in Cali, Colombia, where they are living for a few months, after six months of travel in Mexico and four previous months of travel in Colombia. They launched HandmadeCultures recently and it is growing steadily every month! Right now they only deliver in Colombia but they’re looking into exporting to other countries (location independent bloggers: unite!). Their relationship with the Wayúu people who supplies them with the bags is great and everybody is very proud of the project.
Check out Steph and Andres’ blog about their travel and business experiences at Discovering Ice.