Thursday,23 Jan 2014

After all the partying, films, tequilas, surfing contest, and general good times had by everybody throughout the three days of Festival Sayulita, the whole thing ended on Sunday morning with an Awards Brunch, held at festival organizer Storm Richardson’s Sayulita Public House. With live music on the rooftop, Sayulita sunshine pouring down along with Champagne and Bloody Marys, and copious quantities of great food, it was one last special, Festival Sayulita moment. > Read more


Wednesday,22 Jan 2014

One of the high points of the recent Festival Sayulita was the Master Tasting, which, contrary to the slightly studious sound of the name, was really just a great big party under the Don Pedro Palapa up on the bluff overlooking the town, beach, and sea. We all know this Las Brisas palapa to be of the greatest event venues around, and with the Festival by then nearing its end—the last movies were shown later that night—there was a sense of congratulatory celebration in the air. > Read more


Tuesday,21 Jan 2014

Along with movies, tequila, and music, the Festival Sayulita and the Sayulita Surf Club managed to stage a wonderfully entertaining surfing contest on Saturday, right in the midst of all the Festival Sayulita activities. And this was no dog eat dog event, with all our local shredders attacking the waves. No, this was a super-mellow, super-fun kind of contest, dreamed up by the surf club guys, with a whole different format than the usual contest. > Read more


Monday,20 Jan 2014

Friday night, January 17th, the second night of our magical and merry Festival Sayulita featured, along with a lot of great movies on the beach and in various venues around town, a simultaneous food and tequila tasting event. The deal was this: those who signed up got to sit down in an excellent Sayulita restaurant, and, while being fed fine food, taste fine tequila, in a sequence designed to enhance the offered food. This event, called a pairing (pairing distinct dishes with specific tequilas) was designed to enlighten those of us unaware of the charms of tequila not only as a barroom, night time fiesta drink, but as a liquor with subtlety enough to accompany fine food. > Read more


Friday,17 Jan 2014

Tuesday and Wednesday evenings, and Thursday afternoon, saw the premiere events in the first annual Festival Sayulita, as a pair of VIPs-only screenings ran Tuesday and Wednesday, followed, on Thursday, by a VIP welcoming party featuring a tasting of maestro tequilero Alberto Becherano’s El Secreto tequilas and Elixirs of Agave, paired with half a dozen beautiful-to-look-at-and-even-better-to-taste appetizers whipped up by the chefs who do their work in the Hotel Playa Escondida restaurant kitchen.

This event, attending by several dozen festival VIPs (who paid a premium for the VIP designation) as well as hotel managers and festival organizers, took place on Playa Escondida’s Terrazza, a lovely and inviting shaded outdoor space (which doubles as a sports bar when necessary) overlooking the beach and sea, with a yoga platform nearby. With the tequila flowing and endless trays of appetizers coming out of the kitchen, there wasn’t much yoga going on, but there was plenty of gourmet eating and drinking, as the VIPs settled into their festival-going groove.

VIPs were presented with an informal presentation about tequila—the differences between blanco, reposada, and anejo—which have to do with aging and the flavor suffused into the tequila from the type of barrel it is aged in—as well as the special qualities of elixir of agave. For those of us who grew up swilling Cuervo Gold and thinking it was the real deal, the explosive growth and emergence of refinements in the tequila industry, followed by similar growth in interest in mescal and elixir of agave, have been inspiring and informative, as well as offering us all another level of sophistication to be achieved in our imbibing.

And these special tequilas are, above all, extremely tasty as well. The myriad iterations of distilled agave liquors offer a wide range of flavors, all subtly different: blanco, white, reposada, resting (aged at least one year), and anejo, (aged at least three years), tequilas each have their charms. And let’s not forget this is a festival about tequila as well as film!

VIPs were also treated to a margarita, a bag of gifts, and brief welcoming speeches from the hotel owner, Diego Luna and several staff members. Festival organizer Lina Weisman also said a few words, offering VIPs info on how best to enjoy the festival during its three day run (to be capped by an awards brunch on Sunday morning.)

Festival film programmer Sheryl Orr pointed out to me that one of the great strengths she’s seen in the Festival thus far is how welcome the talent feels. She noted that Christian Lybrook, the director of The Seed, one of the short films entered in the festival, has been thrilled with the reception he’s gotten, the reaction to his movie, and his time spent in the company of the local family that agreed to host him. Thanks to Kimberly Flor Keehn, Christian’s host, and all the other “host” families who’ve allowed film makers to stay in their homes and rental properties. It’s a great way to connect the community with the real stars of the Festival, the writers and directors whose work is being shown.

From this Tasting, VIPs and everybody else headed to the Plaza, where the official opening of the festival took place (see accompanying feature article).


Tuesday,14 Jan 2014

With the first annual Festival Sayulita—the first of many, of this we are certain, for this promises to be an inspired event—just a few days away, we thought it time for one last preview before the opening events.

Festival Sayulita combines film, tequila, fine dining, music, and surf in a way that shows off Sayulita at its best. Our restaurants are offering gourmet meals paired with a selection of fine tequilas. Our local Sayulita Surf Club is putting on a surfing contest/show on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. that will be more about fun than competition, and with all kinds of boards involved, it should be a unique and lively event. There are parties aplenty, tequila tastings, live musical performances, and movies, movies, movies of all kinds: 9 documentaries, 5 action sports movies, one animation special, one full length feature—an excellent Australian drama, about surfing, what else?—and 11 short features.

The short features promise to be particularly worth watching, in my book, for it is here, in their early, lower-budget, less-complicated films that many a great film maker has found a style and made his or her beginning as an auteur. I’m sure many if not all of these 11 ambitious writers and/or directors, and possibly cast members as well, will go on to bigger and better things; this is your chance to see where they began.

The Festival opens on Thursday, January 16th, with a ceremony in the plaza which will include some words, perhaps some shots of tequila, and a folkloric dance performance sponsored by the Nayarit Tourism Board, among other things. This will get the show rolling, and roll it will, with movies slated for four different venues on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights. The schedule is available at the website, festivalsayulita.com, but even if you aren’t online, you’ll surely be able to find out what’s playing where and when by asking around. You’ll find a link to the festival schedule right here at sayulitabeach.com as well.

And if you haven’t got tickets, don’t worry. A few tickets at all levels except VIP are still available, and better still, all of the movies at two of the four venues are absolutely free. That’s right. No ticket, no problem. You can bring a blanket, sit on the beach, and watch movies for free. Same goes for the movies showing at the Casa Cultura downtown. The other two venues—the Ejido office building and Don Pedro’s Palapa—are for paid ticket holders, so if you want to visit those venues, hit the website and get your tickets. They are not expensive, you’ll be entertained, and you’ll be supporting our local festival and the arts in general. Go for it!

Friday night’s dinner pairings, at local restaurants Miravino, Sayulita Public House, Los Afortunados, Calypso, and Don Pedro’s, will mix and match fine tequila with fine food; Saturday night’s event at the Palapa will include high end gourmet appetizers whipped up by local star chefs paired with tequila tastings, followed by, what else, a movie.

On Sunday, wrapping things up, there will be an 11 a.m. brunch, complete with an awards ceremony recognizing the outstanding films shown in the festival.

This will surely be the first of many Festivals Sayulita to come. We hope everybody in town will make time to see at least a few of these films, taste a few of these tequilas, enjoy some great food, and join the party.


Tuesday,7 Jan 2014

After a week of mildly annoying weather, Sayulita’s wintry perfection returned with a sunny vengeance around January 2nd, and the sun’s been with us ever since. Warm sunny days, refreshingly cool nights—Sayulita’s signature winter weather.

Naturally this lovely weather brought a big happy crowd out onto the beach and into the ocean, where those who hit the (small, beginner-friendly) waves surfed and swam and paddleboarded while watching the frigate birds soar high overhead and the fish zip around under the surface; while on the beach people chilled in their chaises and sipped cocktails and beers beneath umbrellas, munching on shrimp and ceviche and reading the weather reports from New England: snow, snow, snow.

We love a crowd on Sayulita Beach on a sunny day, because we know that’s what the people are here for: to gather on the beach and frolic. In high season—and the weeks around Christmas and New Year’s are ultra-high season—we expect to see the beach abuzz with a mob of happy visitors, both Mexican and foreign. Nationals and gringos, that is.

There are many Mexicans visiting Sayulita these days, which is great because it further stirs the already mixed up melting pot that is Sayulita. Once upon a time, not so long ago, this was a town where mostly Mexicans waited on and catered to the needs of mostly gringos. These days, this is a town where gringos and Mexicans wait on and cater to the needs of both gringos and Mexicans. This is as it should be, in a proper melting pot.

Now that we’re done with talk of happy multi-cultural crowds, the next point to be made is this: along with pictures of our busy, umbrella-mantled downtown beach, you can see photos here of nearly empty stretches of beach. Well, that pristine beach is also Sayulita Beach in the high season. Yes, at 10 o’clock in the morning on a Saturday, a couple of days into the New Year, still on high season vacation time, you can walk out onto Sayulita Beach’s north side, and take a walk along the shore, and see more pelicans than people.

Get into it all, or get away from it all, all in the same stretch of sunny shore.


Saturday,4 Jan 2014

Sayulita’s one and only Mexi-punk high volume rockn’ roll band, Los Gatos Perdidos, recently put on a loud and raucous show at Don Pato, our loudest and most raucous bar. Formerly known as Los Gatos Negros, these bad cats manage to play an ear-splitting dance show a couple of times a year, and for those of us who’ve seen the band a few times, they are always a gas. This one was no different, loads of fun, several flavors of smoke in the air,tequila and beer flowing in torrents, adults behaving badly and children hanging out where they shouldn’t hang out—in a drunken rock n’ roll bar!—but this wasSayulita on Saturday night, people, and that’s the way it is and should be.Not dangerous at all, but maybe a little scary. We were all volunteers: nobody was forced at gunpoint to climb the spiral stair and plunge into the Don Pato thunderdome. > Read more


Friday,3 Jan 2014

One of the beauties of a warm climate is the ability to go out at any time of the day or night, in a t-shirt and shorts, and take a walk on the beach or anywhere else. On a Wednesdayin mid-December I dropped my daughter at her carpool bus stop, it being the last day of school before Christmas vacation, and then en route home swerved down to the beach for a surf-check. There, I discovered a big soft moon setting over Punta Sayulita, and some pretty waves breaking in the foreground. I went home and roused the photographer, and together we wandered down to the beach to see what we could see.

Moonsets are the least seen of the four transitions: obviously everyone gathers to watch a sunset over a tropical sea; likewise, the moonrise over the hills behind town is always a thrill when the moon is full or nearly. Surfers, fishermen, and other early birds often see the sunrise. But the early morning setting of a big moon, in this case a nearly full one, is a noteworthy occasion in the cycle, and so we found ourselves on the beach on a Wednesday morning, bathed in the fading but still lovely light of the setting moon.

While we watched, the first pair of surfers ventured out into the left, which was breaking pretty well in spite of the ultra high tide. Further down, half a dozen wave chasers were already carving up the right, grabbing some well-shaped waves, lefts and rights though this part of our town break remains, at least in name, the Right. Squadrons of pelicans flew low over the surf, their wings elegantly inscribing a moving alphabet against the morning sky as they cruised, hunting whatever fish dared to rise near the surface. The moon settled slowly over the punta, while behind us, the sky drifted into pale blues and sweet pinks as the day turned on.

And on and on. As it turned out, the 18th of December was a memorable one for surfing. As you can see here in the photos, there were some solid medium-sized waves right here in town. Although I didn’t have a camera to record it, I grabbed two hours’ worth of world-class waves over at La Lancha, by Punta Mita, later this same day. The swells are rocking into town and all around, and this being winter time, soon the north swells should be rolling into town on a regular basis.

Meanwhile, the sweetness of the early early morning is here every day to be appreciated, a quiet gift from the local gods of Sayulita to all who live and visit here.


Wednesday,1 Jan 2014

Last night was New Year’s Eve, and I happened to drive past the plaza shortly after midnight. There were hundreds of people dancing and partying in the street—people of all ages, all persuasions, all colors. All smiling.

This reminded me that even when the weather isn’t so great—and there is no denying that a week straight of intermittent rain this time of year isn’t so great—there is a ton of fun to be found in Sayulita.

As these signs will tell you, even when the sun isn’t shining you can go fishing, paddleboarding or surfing. You can get on a party boat and sail with the whales. You can go to the spa and get a massage. You can go to the bar or the restaurant, and eat and drink the day away. You can even go to the beach and sit under an umbrella and drink a margarita or a beer, and watch the rain fall, if rain is falling. You can shop, and in doing so—at the Tanana Gallery, anyway—have an anthropological experience, for this store is rich with Huichol magic.

The rain will stop falling, the sun will come out, and so will the smiles of Sayulita people. Meanwhile, have some fun!