The time has come that I must leave Sayulita and embark on my journey northward to Seattle. The past few days have presented apprehension and fear as I have been thinking too much about the future. I want to return here within a few months. I want to want to return here. But what if something happens in the next few months that causes me to change my plans? What if I forget how good this place is for me? What if I become stuck and unwilling to move? And so, a letter to myself.
What is it about this place?
I am happy, joyous and free here in Sayulita, Mexico. Joyous and free in particular. It’s hard to pinpoint why.
The sun, the light, the waves, all are a constant source of energy. But there is something more. I can be anonymous if I want to be. Or I can reach out and make friends pretty much immediately. I wonder if I could do that anywhere, I don't think so. There's something about this town. Maybe because everyone's like me, nobody's really from here, everyone is a tourist at some level. But it's not tourism exactly, everyone is looking for something and the ones who stay here, they're like me. Not exactly like me but they share a common pursuit.
I like that it’s a small town. I think I could really stay here, make a life here. I could surf, meet people, some will stay, some with go. I'd really like to know and make friends with all the different groups of people here. The local surfer guys, I'd like to know them but I have to get my Spanish better. I'd like to know the locals who work here. I'd like to know some of the older people. A lot of them are North Americans, who have come here for retirement; I bet some of them are really interesting.
People here are happy, and I think the ones that aren't are trying to live the lives they are used to with big houses, fancy cars, parties and lots of stuff. But the ones who live a simple life are happy. I love the Mexican culture, I really do. The people are so open, friendly.
I like the sounds: the roosters, the old trucks. I like the way the local people, they're not sure if I'm going to be okay or not. But when I say Hola! and buenas tardes, they're so friendly, their faces light up. They are open. They don't hate…us…the North Americans…they don't hate me. It’s amazing really.
I don't know, life seems manageable here. More than manageable here, it seems wonderful.
It’s hot and I certainly love the heat. I'm sweating right now. I'm very comfortable like that though. Never have to wear any real clothes. My skin is brown and healthy. My hair is a mess but I love it.
I'm afraid of leaving and I'm not sure why. I think I'm afraid of letting this place go without my being here. I'm afraid I won't be able to come back. I think what I'm even more afraid of though is for some reason, something will happen and I won't want to come back. And that I'll forget how wonderful it is here. How happy, joyous and free I truly am. And so I have to remember, I have to write it down.
And yet it's so hard to articulate, what it is about this place.
Places are significant to us as humans. I don't think I'm the same person here that I would be elsewhere. I don't think I would be the same person in New Hampshire as I would be in Manhattan. And so it’s not unreasonable to choose a place because it suits us, because it helps us become a good version of ourselves.
Sayulita certainly brings out a good version of me. The best version. I am kind and patient, very rarely in a bad mood and if I am it’s usually because I'm tired. And if I'm tired it’s probably because I've been doing so much surfing and so much living. I do get uncomfortable here, but not for long. If I am patient, the feelings of discomfort pass, and the next day, or even sooner, I am filled once again with love and joy. When my friend Shannon walks into a room, she brings light and love with her. Ever since I have known her I have wanted to be someone who brightens the lives of others the way she does. And somehow here I feel that this is possible.
I could do some good here. I could do some good beyond just this town. I think if I join up with the peacemexico group we could do really good work throughout this country. And I like that group because it isn't only dedicated for animals, so it’s very hard to attack it, because it has a broader mission. I can practice my legal work here, write a brief or two.
The dogs are happy here. They run around the yard. Carrie and Robert have never played so much as they play here. Carrie loves to rub her belly in the grass. Joe is all smiles when he runs on the sand and through the water. Robert would probably be happy anywhere, but here he loves the sun. They get to be outside. There's no snow. We don't hike but we walk. We walk on the beach and through town.
They need so little. We should take an example from them. They need so little to be happy. They need a nice place to sleep; they need food and water, and companionship, a little bit of exercise, and lighthearted love. These are all any of us needs. And yet we think we need fancy cars, big houses and stuff. And I don't think those things make anyone happy. I understand the desires to have them. I think it’s human. But once we have them, do they actually bring us anything? Do they bring us any joy? About the only material items beyond the basic necessities that might bring joy are photographs, pictures of happy times, people and animals we love. I've never really been one for wanting to give things to people and I have often given photographs instead.
I'm an experiences girl, not a stuff girl.
I love surfing. I don't ever want to forget this fact and so I am putting it in writing. All of my problems and concerns and fears simply cease to exist when I am on my Robert August surfboard on the water. Surfing. Surfing makes my problems go away. It doesn't solve them, it just removes them. Surfing is a pure source of unfiltered joy.
I caught over a dozen waves this morning, right here in Sayulita. I was the second person on the water; we were out on the dark blue waves beneath grey skies before even the sun had crested the horizon. There is a moment in surfing that I love above all the rest. It is that moment when I am on my stomach, I have been paddling for the wave, and I feel the wave picking me up. The tail of my board becomes light, as it begins to shoot forward, pushing me. The water rips past my fingers more quickly. The moment has come. I know that I am on this wave. I arch my back to keep my weight balanced on the board. My chin lifts. I press my hands down evenly, close to my ribs so as not to disturb the run of the board. All I have to do is press up and pop my feet onto the board. But it is that moment right before I plant my feet that I love the most. The board is graceful as it catches the wave, my face is close to the water, as the wave breaks to my left and is clear to my right. On a bigger or faster wave I would not have the luxury of relishing in this moment; I would have to popup fast or be tossed. But on these slower waves, I enjoy my consciousness of this moment, when I am one with the movement of the great ocean.
After months in the water, I still rank as barely an advanced beginner, at best. But I have become so much more in tune with the water, the movements of the ocean and the speed of the waves. I can recognize waves that are too big for me, waves that offer barely enough force to be caught, and waves that are perfect. This last group is awesome because I have confidence as soon as I see them forming and I am psyched to pursue them. Surfing, like many activities, requires a mental commitment. Sometimes I start to go for a wave but my heart is not really in it. I don't think I have ever caught a wave under these circumstances. But when I am able to commit fully and paddle with intention and confidence, the result is magical. Even if I catch the wave and fall off the back, I am satisfied with the attempt and I learn how to do it better next time.
I have begun to accept greater speed once I am standing up on my board. When I feel the wave changing behind me, I add more weight to my front foot and ease the board forward into higher speed. I can also now change directions, angling to the right into the clear shoulder of the right-breaking wave, tipping the board to the left to turn back into the whitewater when I get too far ahead of the breaking point.
I love the surfing. I don't ever want to forget how much I love the surfing.
All I need is my surfboard, some wax, and some sunscreen. I need Joe, Carrie and Robert to have their needs met and to be safe. And I am completely fulfilled.
How do I convince myself to come back? Just do it. Just have faith. Have faith that this place is right, and just come back.
And if all these words don't do it, maybe the picture will.