Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Punta Sayulita Longboard & SUP Classic

Once again, this year's competition did not disappoint.  The waves were here all weekend and the weather was pretty much perfect.  G. Love & Special Sauce performed on the beach Saturday night between two great days of men's and women's international surf and race talent.

One difference to this year's event was the addition of a youth SUP surf division and what was called the "Old School" division.  With some peer pressure and the fact that I did not want to listen to a few of my surfing friends talk about great competing was, I decided to join the "Old School" SUP Surf division.  This way, I could participate and go out there with the 40+ year olds and not have to compete agains the "20 somethings" pros.

Well, the idea of not competing against the 20 somethings was short lived as the brackets came out for the weekend's competition.  The "Old School" participants were included into the "Open" division.  In other words, the old guys were in same heats as some athletes who compete on the SUP World Tour.  Bracket fodder I guess.  Now, understand that the Punta Sayulita Classic is basically a fund raiser and an ocean/reef conservation awareness event and there is no prize money.  This does not mean the caliber of participants is less than World Class.  Hell, there are many SUP surf locals who call Sayulita or the surrounding area that have competed successfully internationally so being out in a lineup with guys of this caliber was not exactly new to me.

My heat the first day was before 9am so the crowd was growing but still modest and the waves were good.  As expected, I did not move on in the "winner's" bracket but joined the "Repechage" bracket.  I surfed again later in the afternoon after cooking on the beach waiting for 5 hours.  During that time we cheered on friends and local talent in the SUP Surf and Longboard divisions.  By the time my heat came up later in the afternoon there were thousands on the beach enjoying themselves and watching the competition.  Four lonely competitors out in the break with thousands of eyes watching.  Yes, I made sure my board short were tied up tight.  Though I surfed reasonably well, I did not qualify to continue on in the "Open" division(no surprise) and looked forward to the "Old School" Division Sunday.  A great experience the first day and hell, I got to surf with good waves, no one dropping in or tourists to look out for.  G Love & Special Sauce played on the beach that night to a big crowd with the surf breaking just feet from the stage.  Great day, night and I was more than exhausted.

Mom and Dad at the concert.

The second day of competition was the day to compete against the old guys.  Pretty much the whole bracket were guys who I surf with regularly(when I do go out) and knew I had little chance of doing well with little practice and the talent of the men even in this group.   I gave it my best but did not advance as far as I would have liked to.  Participating in an event like this was fantastic even though I was less than prepared and honestly out-skilled to do very well.  It amazed me how tired a I got during only a 15 minute heat.  The stress of competition and surfing as much as you can in only few minutes totally drained me.  The men and women who do this are in amazing shape and many of them compete in multiple divisions.  Lots of waiting, sun, getting stiff and tired.  Not quite as glamorous as one might think.
Congratulating fellow "Old Guy" Mitch on his heat.

There were lots of family and friends on the beach cheering on the old guys during this whole weekend and it was great to get an exhausted pat on the back when a heat was over or a big cheer after a good wave was ridden all the way to the beach.  Very much appreciated and it was fantastic to have "groupies".

A small part of the crowd

Anxiously waiting for my first heat.

Though I had nothing to compare it to I thought Punta Sayulita put on a great event.  They made it very entertaining for the spectator and the participant.  Many seasoned competitors and media people said the same.  The weekend came to a close at the awards dinner at the Don Pedros palapa which is one of the most spectacular settings in town.  It was a full house and it was lots of fun being part of the scene and rubbing elbows with some big names in the surf world.  No, I am not going out on tour anytime soon but I would not hesitate to be involved again next year.  More practice.

Trace hung out to cheer on his old man.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Oh Dillon

February 12, 2004 - March 4, 2014


Thank you for being such a wonderful family member, dealing with two young children and letting them crawl all over you, for protecting them and us in the snow and from all of the Moose.  For being patient when we didn't have the time to go hiking. Thank you for dealing with the move to Mexico, all of the skin and tick issues as well as the heat.  Thank you for protecting us in the water and keeping your eye on the children as they swam and surfed, for staying on the beach while mom and dad surfed and for always coming home or trying to get as close to home as you could when there were loud bangs, cannons or fireworks. For your ferocious bark when you felt our house was in danger knowing if someone unwanted entered you would run to them looking for lovies.  Thank you for your companionship and loyalty.  Thank you most of all for your love.  We will miss you terribly.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Sayulita Days Returns

One of the kid's favorite times of the year. Sayulita Days has arrived. The carnival is full of the usual lights, music, rides, attractions, shopping and food that comes once a year. I met up with friends and adopted one kid last night and the energy they were producing from pure excitement could have lit up a small town. Somethings can be kinda sketchy so you have to check things out. I didn't see anything too bad this year but I have in previous years. No, this is not something that will compare to Disney but a great time for the kids and the adults can socialize and cocktail it up while the kids have a blast.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Escuela Del Mundo - 2014 Updated Video From The Mango Tree

We get more than a few questions about our school experience in Mexico. This new film is from a very talented school parent, Darrin Polischuk of The Mango Tree. It is a brief look at the Montessori based school our kids attend just a few minutes down the road in San Pancho, Nayarit.

Escuela Del Mundo San Pancho Nayarit Mexico from Darrin Polischuk on Vimeo.

If you are looking for a great school option in the area please contact Escuela Del Mundo. If you need great video production services contact Darrin. Darrin and his wife, Paulina, do more than just video so check out their web site link above to see other creative services they offer.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Mexicuted, Part IV, unhappy Land Rover

The Land Rover has decided to have an issue.  Ozzy was on the way to work one morning with Keith and the Land Rover (LR) started overheating.  Keith remembered that there was a sign for a radiator mechanic near where the LR was having trouble so they pull in to what is a persons house.  I get a call from Ozzy wanting me to pick him and Keith up from this house and take them to the shop so they can continue their work day.  Good thing I have my new car!   Ozzy communicated  with the mechanic enough to learn that he could not fix the car.  That the radiator needed to be flushed but he could not fix it because the LR radiator has special brackets that only the dealership knows how to get off. Ozzy was right in the middle of his huge project and pretty much said, "you deal with it, I don't have time."  Awesome.  So I step in.  This about sent me over the edge.  After dropping Ozzy and Keith,  I go back to this "kids" house to find a huge mess under the hood.  It seemed that there was nothing intact.  And  he is working out of a pouch.  Like as in all of his tools are in a small pouch.  He is putting the LR back together and I ask him if I can leave it there overnight until I figure out what to do with it.  He is super friendly and helpful, as most of the locals are, and says sure, no problem. I even remember him searching for someone in the neighborhood that spoke english, so he could confirm the problem.  I pay him for his trouble, move the car so it is not in the way and leave. He did put it back together pretty well I must say.  He mentioned  a Radiator Specialist in Mescales, 45 minutes away. So I drive there, right then, in my new car and ask them specifically if they can fix Land Rovers and their  "specialness"?  The guy says yes.  Sweet! I have to mention that all of this is going down in my broken spanish because none of the individuals I am dealing with speak english.  Why should they, we are in Mexico.  So I tell this nice, mexican man that I will get the car to him if not today then tomorrow.  Fine.

 The next morning I call on my friend Virginia, who speaks fluent Spanish, to call a towing company and make the arrangements to get the LR to the Specialist in Mescales.  WOW!  That was easy.  The towing company came from Puerto Vallarta, met me at the Pemex when they said they would and followed me to the car, loaded up the car, then followed me to the Specialist in Mescales.  I paid them and they were off.  Sweet, easy breezy and thank you Virginia.

 The guys at the Specialist said it would take about four hours and I could come get the car.  I hadn't heard from them after five hours so I call and ask whats up?  I had my friend Katie on hand to talk to them because I knew that I would not understand a lick of what they were going to tell me especially over the phone.  Katie, of course, speaks fluent Spanish. I am looking at her as she is talking to them and her face is telling a story that I do not want to hear.  I just knew it was bad news.  The Specialist in Mescales told her that it was not the radiator that needed to be fixed and that he didn't know what it was but the car needed to be gone and out of his shop by tomorrow at the most, but he wanted me to come there and talk to him so he could explain the problem to me, in person, in spanish.  I just kind of laughed and cried at this point, said okay and went to buy a bottle of wine. At that time Katie's husband Frank gave me the name and number of a guy that they used in Becerias to fix their car.  He owns a rental car company and has a mechanic shop for upkeep with his cars.  Okay, hopefully this guy will help.  I go home and drink my bottle of wine.  I haven't eaten for two days and am up all night wondering what to do with the LR.  What if Frank's guy cannot fix it?  The Specialist in Mescales wants it off of his lot.  The car cannot be driven more than five feet so it has to be towed to wherever it goes.  Since I do not know what is wrong with it, I do not know where to take it.  Do I have it towed to Guadalahara to the LR dealership?  Do I drive it ten feet off this guys lot and hope someone steals it?  Do I make sure it  accidentally ends up in the river?   And legally, does the car have to end up back in the USA?  Mexico is not too keen on people bringing their cars down here and leaving them.  They want whatever foreign car that is brought in to leave as well.  Shit!!!  I cannot do this, I cannot afford to tow my LR all over Mexico, I do not speak the language, I am a female, I know I will be taken advantage of.  What is a woman that only speaks english with a southern accent to do?  I am feeling a bit like Scarlet O' Hara right now.  So, at four in the morning, my best thinking time, I decide that if the guy that Frank recommended cannot help then I will have the LR towed to Ozzy's shop and let it sit there until I figure out what to do.

Next morning, wake up, want to throw up! F@$%ing LR!  I have to get it today but the Specialist in Mescales wants to explain to me, in person, in his muy rapido spanish what is wrong and why he cannot fix it.  Yeah, just imagine how that went.    Not too well, so he sent his guys out into the hood to look for a translator but no one spoke english, but on of them had a friend that did so he called her up and she translated everything for me, us, over the phone.  As I am writing this I am laughing and thinking that so many people down here could have taken so much advantage of me because of my ignorance of the language but they continually try to help and communicate and are always honest.  I love these people.  They are good people.

So I tell the Specialist that the car will be gone that day, I pay him and leave to drive to Frank's guy, Lalo, at Gecko Car Rentals in Bucerias.  I walk in the door and he says, "are you Ashley?"  The heavens have opened up.  Frank called Lalo and told him my predicament and said I would be coming in.   I explain the situation to Lalo, he calls the Specialist in Mescales, who explains the situation to him.  Lalo is American or Australian and speaks wonderful, perfect, fluent spanish.  I am sitting there dying.  Lalo explains to me that it is all okay, we will figure it out, not to worry.   He will take care of me.  Love him!!

 Is it now 4:30 am and I have finally fallen asleep and am dreaming or is this Lalo person for real?  A quick pinch and I realize, YES, Lalo is for real!  He tells me that he will have my car towed from Mescales to his shop.  He will look at the car, diagnose the problem and call me.  No way!  I get a call at 4 pm that same day.  He has found the problem, fixed the problem, changed the oil and washed the car.  What?  What?

Nothing in Mexico has been that easy.  It was such a weird feeling to walk out of there and have someone tell you that they would take care of it.   What?  He did.  Lalo did it all.

The problem ended up  being a plug or something that wouldn't allow water to get to the radiator.  And the price?  So inexpensive I just had to laugh.  I did get a small lecture about how dirty the oil was and that we should change it every 3,000 miles as opposed to every 30,000 miles and that the LR was not the best car to have down here because sometimes it can be impossible to fix.

 So far we have been able to fix it.  The one time that it is impossible, it may just end up in the river or on the side of the road for "partes".  We will deal with the legalities manana.

Our Mexicutions are over for now.  Ozzy has completed two of the jobs, I have plates and title for my cute little Mexican car, the LR is alive and kickin.  All this in thanks to our friends that we have made down here and the honesty of the locals.  I will say it again and again,   I love these people.  They are good people!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

It's That Time Of Year Again ...Finally!!

This is always one of the best excuses to get out of the snow for a long weekend.  The 5th Annual Punta Sayulita Longboard & SUP Classic.  World Class surf talent, a party all weekend long and a free concert on the beach under the stars by G. Love and Special Sauce!  Even if you are not a surfer this still a great time to be in Sayulita.   See you there!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Mexicuted, Part III. Buying a car

First and foremost I have to say that this was our experience.  I doubt it is like this for everyone or anyone. At least I hope not!

I decided that we needed another car one night as I lay awake while the brain was spinning.  The Land Rover has been amazing, but the kids go to school in San Pancho, the town next to us in one direction and Ozzy works in Higuera Blanca, the town next to us going the other direction. We figured that in one month we were spending anywhere from $600 to $700 dollars per month on gas and I had turned into a taxi driver.  The gas station had become our personal slot machine, visiting it everyday to feed it a 500 peso, which is about $43 dollars.  It was making me sick.  I kept hounding Ozzy about going to look for a car and it never happened.  He was just too busy.  I didn't want to do it alone, I needed support.  Didn't happen from him so I took my Spanish speaking children with me one Sunday afternoon and we went car shopping.  My friends who just bought a car said go to a dealer.  They will do everything for you, get plates, insurance, etc.  All that can be very difficult to do here on your own.  So I went to a few dealers.  I first hit up the Toyota dealership.  The lady took my name and number and said someone would call me who spoke better english.  Next up was the Ford dealership where I found the car that I wanted.  A used, white, EcoSport.  Not sold in the USA. The lady who was working that day, Martha, seemed nice and spoke a little english, she also showed me a brand new car and I explained that it was too much.  She said okay and stood there and smiled...a bright red lipstick smile.  I told her that I would bring my husband back the next day to test drive the car.  She smiled and said okay.  I walked out of there with our money and dignity, not running from car salesmen and women.

I came home and told Ozzy that I found "the one".  So we went and drove it the very next day, which was Monday.  We decided to buy it and sat down with Martha to seal the deal.  We didn't want to get financing in Mexico so I had to transfer money or pay with a credit card.  There wasn't any wheeling and dealing so we really didn't know the total price of the car with taxes, fees, etc.  So I asked Martha how much the car would be and she figured the price out on a "post it" note and gave it to me.  Yes, a "post it "note.  OOKAY!   We told Martha that we wanted to buy the car.  "First I make sure it is okay" says Martha, meaning that the car needs to be inspected mechanically, (yes, they do not do this until someone is ready to buy it) There were also one or two things that needed to be fixed.  From home, while we were waiting for the inspection, I was going back and forth with Martha about how I could pay for the car and what is the actual price, not the "post it" note price.  Three days later Martha said I could pay for it with a credit card.  Great, I called Amex and told them there would be a large purchase from Mexico and they okayed it.  We were getting our car today.  WAHOO!  Though I still didn't know how much it would cost.   I get an email from Martha telling me they don't accept American Express (which would have been great information to know).  Okay and I still can not get the price out of her.  I didn't hear from her for a few more days so I was getting a little worried that she had sold the car to someone else.  Finally I received an email, I do not remember what it said but I panicked and got pissed so I had a friend who speaks Spanish call Martha for me and find out what the hell was going on.  Martha said she was sorry that she had not gotten a hold of me because she had been busy and been in meetings.  My friend found out that the car was fixed, checked out by Ford and that I could come and pay for it.  We were getting our car today. WAHOO!  I asked my friend to ask her what the price was and Martha was like, duh, I gave her the price.  Oh yeah,  on the "post it" note.  Duh, my bad!!!

The "Post It" Note.  Our Official Price Breakdown. The commission is not for Martha,   it is for using a credit card.

So, we go down there that night.    I haven't mentioned that this had to be done this week, which was now into the second week from which I orginally found the car because I was leaving the country for 15 days. I wanted this car because I didn't want to go through all this shit again. We get there to pay for it out of our Mexican bank account.  Well that account daily withdraw limit only let us get half of the money. So we have paid for half of the car.  I get on the internet at the dealership to transfer money from my Delta credit card into the checking account, (because I didn't bring that CC with me dammit!) to pay for the second half and the flipping transaction was declined.  We have no other options so we leave the dealership for the second time without our car and they now have half of our money.  I have to go to work the next day so the rest of this is on Ozzy which I was trying to avoid because he has been so busy working that he doesn't have a second to spare. So the next day he has to go to the bank after work to get a cashiers check to pay for the rest of the car.   He leaves work and what do you know, the bank closed at 4.  He is pissed.  He goes back to the next day to get the cashiers check and goes home since if he went to the dealership to pay for and pick up the car he would have to drive two vehicles home.  The next day he loads up the kids, after school onto the public bus during rush hour and heads 1 1/2 hours into Puerto Vallarta to pay for and bring the car home.  We are finally getting our car today. WAHOO!  He gets to the dealership with kids and check in hand at 5.  They are open until 7. He gives the check to Martha and she smiles and tells Ozzy that the "transfer of ownership office" closed at 1pm (which would have been great information to know the last time we were at the dealership) and he cannot drive the car home, so he and the kids have to get back on the bus and go back 1 1/2 hours home with no car and now they have all of our money.   He pretty much lost his shit at that point in the Ford dealership.  To the point where some people even came out of their offices to listen to him rip into Martha.  From what Ozzy said, she just smiled with her "lipstick grin".  So Martha takes it upon herself to deliver the car to Ozzy in Sayulita the next day with what Ozzy called "a posse".  I think they were afraid he was a safety concern but hey, we finally have our car! WAHOO!

We bought the car in Puerto Vallarta which is in the state of Jalisco.  Sayulita is in the state of Nayarit.  We wanted to have the plates changed from Jalisco to Nayarit mainly because you only have to renew Nayarit plates every four years as opposed to every two years for Jalisco.  In order to get the plates changed we needed an electric or phone bill to prove we lived there.  Great, we have one for our house so we proudly take it to Martha.  This bill is not actually in our name either.  Just the one we pay.  Not going to work.  Martha needed the passport of the person on the bill (which would have been great information to know).  We didn't know who the person was much less get this person to hand over their passport.   We don't really know of anyone who would willingly give these to us, especially the passport so we are kind of screwed right now.  This was not even necessary for our visas.  But wait, Ozzy has a shop and an electric bill with his name on it.  Score, we are in.  The problem is that bills are only delivered every two months and this will be the first bill. CFE Electric company cannot give me anything with Ozzy's name on it until that bill comes out so we have to wait to get the bill.  I think we waited about a month for the bill.  In the mean time I was driving around with no plates but I did have a 30 day permit to drive the car without plates but I had to drive the hour into Vallarta to get a new permit every 5 days and pay 800 pesos for the permit.

 So, weeks later we have what we need to get the plates, Ozzy's CFE bill with his name on it. Martha tells me that she will come to Sayulita the next day to take my car, leave me a car and take everything to Mescales to get the plates.  When she arrives she asks if she could park her car at my house, locks the car, takes the keys and leaves.  No car for me. (Which would have been great information to know)  Great, I have to pick up the kids from school and Ozzy is head deep in work.  Hope Martha gets back in time. She actually does but without plates.  That was just the first step.  She tells me they will be ready in a week.  Great, just in time for me to pick them up and finalize this deal before I have to head back to work for my December schedule.

Guess what?  As unbelieveable as it might sound, the plates are not ready.  So I go to work and forget about it, but on the way to the airport at 5 am coming out of the jungle we get pulled over by the "Federales".  Aka, " The Federal Police"!  Shit, we weren't speeding so I know it is the plates or lack thereof.  Christmas is over so the pulling over for bribes has pretty much stopped, maybe he was falling asleep and needed something to wake him up.  Ozzy was very calm, he spanglished his was through the plate situation, even offered to wake up our bilingual children to translate for him.  He shined the light in the back seat and saw our two blondies mostly asleep got a big smile and said never mind.  Tugging on the heart strings!  He let us go.  Yeah.  We were a little concerned that he may confiscate the car and leave us on the side of the road and I would miss my flights and we would be stranded.

I get back from work on January 3 and immediately email Martha and tell here we need to finish this once and for all.  Response..."the offices are closed for the holidays I let you know".  A week later, another email to Martha. Where are my plates?  Response..."I get your plates, first I need $2300 pesos"... for registration which is due at the beginning of each year (which would have been great information to know) especially since we paid $2000 pesos for plates when we bought the car.  "When you give me money?  I get plates.  Call me."  So I call Martha and make a time to drive the hour to the Ford dealer and give her $2300.  When she first needed the bill and passports she said that she would need all of this again to pick up the plates but not the actual car.  So when I go to pay her she says "Okay, tomorrow or Saturday plates".  I ask her, "Martha, do you need the passports?"  She says "let me check".  Yes, she needs the passports.  I ask, "Martha, Do you need the electric bill?"  "Oh yes, I need the electric bill."  Come on Martha. At this point I could do her job.

Our new Mexico Ride.
I first saw the car on October 13, and started the purchasing on October 14, 2013. So, about 20 emails, 10 or more trips to Puerto Vallarta, two trips from Martha to Sayulita and a different year,  I now have a legal Mexican car.  The date of today is January 19, 2014.  A little over three months.  I understand that a lot of it had to do with the language barrier but a lot of it had to do with the fact that Martha just would not give us any information about the process and really didn't seem to know her job very well.  We had to learn and figure everything out by striking out first.  It was also a very different experience having to beg to buy a car from a dealership.  Remember the Toyota dealership that got my number.  I finally received a call from them 5 days later.  They obviously do not work for commission here.  When I first wanted a car I said to Ozzy, lets just fly to the states and buy one and drive it down.  Oh no, he said that would take way too long, a week at least.  I will not comment except to say three months, shitloads of frustration compared to a week.  I suck at math but this one I can figure out.

With plates! Wahoo!
Finally, we are legal.  After all we went through to get this car and make it legal I have to say that I do love the car.  I have come to love and appreciate smaller cars.  The family fits in it perfectly, the surfboards fit on top perfectly and are so much easier to put on than the Landrover.  I love filling it up!!!  Twice the gas for half the pesos and it goes four times as far on a tank.  The car is paying for itself.  And even Dillon has a spot in the back where he fits perfectly.  When looking for a car our top priority was to have a comfortable space for Dilly.

Done and done.  Oh wait, we don't have the title.  One more thing Martha hasn't told us about and I don't even have it in me to fight for it, though I will because that is my car damnit.  I own it outright and I want the papers to prove it.  I am sure it will be a "that would have been great information to know" situation.  SIGH!

Friday, January 17, 2014

Festival Sayulita Begins

Festival Sayulita kicked off last night for a three day event of film, tequila and surf.  Last night we had dinner down town, sampled good tequila in the Plaza and caught a film on the beach with the kids and friends.  Though the organizers do not want this to be called a "Film Festival" but a "Celebration of Sayulita", I could not help make comparisons to The Sundance Film Festival back in Park City.  Well, PC can keep the traffic, crowds, cell phones, snow, taxis, attitude and the "PIBs"(People in Black) as we called them.  Great event here on day one with good organization, venues, weather and a full moon overhead to light up the town.  Ashley kicked in some volunteer hours in the information/merchandise booth to contribute to the event as well.

Photo by Donna Day

To tell you the truth, I expected a whole lot less from this event since it was the first year in small town Mexico.  If the next two days go as well as it did yesterday this will be a great event here in town for the future.  Very cool, laid back, quality films, good tequila and you don't have to stand in line for tickets in the snow in your puffy coat.  Looking forward to more Festival during the next two days.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Things You Just Won't See In The USA - Crackin me up # 2!!

You have to do what it takes to get the job done around here.  There is some serious trust going on with these two!