The hard part about leaving a paradise like Playa Escondida is getting dressed to go, and realizing that I haven't had long pants, socks, or real shoes on for the last six days. I haven't even glanced at that long sleeve sweatshirt I wore to the airport when leaving Portland, and now I'm going back to.....that. Cold, wet, dark, while all around me as I sloooowly fill my bag is warmth, sand, sea, and sun. My flip flops seem to be mocking me as I tuck them into the bottom of my bag. Can you say denial? I've already asked for a late checkout. How much would it cost to delay my return by a day? But the truth is without the cruel reality of NW winters, all of this wouldn't have meant near so much.......
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First, setting the scene, my Playa Escondida (hereafter known as P.E.) hideaway is the lower unit of the middle palapa in this view from the P.E. beach. If you click on the link above, it is the Sol 2 unit. Two private decks, an almost outdoor shower to the left, peace and joy within.....
and this view from my bed when I wake up.
now to the delicious parts............
Sayulita Fish Taco and an example of their culinary art. Not bad for two bucks!
Chilling on the beach at Don Pablo's in Sayulita, sipping cerveza and about to slam a fresh camaron quesadilla.
Deliciously fresh & citrusy shrimp & fish ceviche tostadas at El Casteño on the Sayulita beach. A buck twenty each?? Crazy!!
And here's a hot tip for anyone visiting Sayulita anytime in the future. I was looking up information about a tiny town about 8 miles north of Sayulita called San Francisco (aka San Pancho) that I had heard good rumblings about. I read in an online article about how one family in the village owns all the fishing boats and they also happen to be the proprietors of a local restaurant that was reputed to muy bueno. Local fishing monopoly? Great restaurant? Obviously, if you know anything about me, that's all I needed to hear. I grabbed the first taxi I could to find out first hand how fresh it could get. Ten minutes and 80 pesos later I wandered the streets of SF and found the sign for their small open air restaurant called La Chalupa (fyi: a block to the south of the main street, about one block east of the beach). While I was sitting perusing the menu, munching some chips with bright salsa fresca and sauce picante that were dropped on my table, a bunch of burly looking guys marched through the joint towards a back area carrying several huge ice chests. Ever curious, and wondering if maybe they held the key to my lunchtime happiness, I followed at a discreet distance...well, six feet anyway....and right behind the restaurant they started tossing the days catch onto this table where I watched this father/son team of fish filleters make quick work of several delicious looking creatures. Taking my cue that lunch had arrived, I ordered the pescado fritto, and was treated to the best $11 lunch (incl. cerveza) that maybe I have ever had. The fish was brilliantly fresh, cruspy on the outside, moist, juicy, not at all oily inside. Served with tortillas for some DIY tacos, this was what I was looking for. Remember: San Francisco...La Chalupa...fresh fish...happiness.....
Pescado Fritto @ La Chalupa
The kitchen at La Chalupa.....I LOVE it when great food comes out of simple places.
There were several other honorable mention food moments. A plate of butter and garlic/ginger/rosemary sautéed shrimp at the Sayulita Café. An awesome fresh shrimp omelette at P.E., where the food was dazzling at every meal (dinner was always four courses for $25!). And finally, the best dinner I had all trip, not coincidentally also at P.E. ...in fact I ordered it two nights in a row...was a crazily good chile en nogada (right), which is a large poblano chile stuffed with ground beef, raisins, carrots, onions, various spices and smothered in a richly satisfying walnut sauce with pomegranate seeds sprinkled on top, sitting on top of a bed of rice. Freakishly good. Nogada is traditionally a holiday meal in Mexico, and I've only had it a couple of times before and not for years. The P.E. version was the best ever.
In fact, if I could ever recommend a place to stay in Mexico, Playa Escondida would be right up at the top of the list. If you want privacy, beautiful beaches, great food, super comfy accommodations, and employees who seem genuinely happy to be working where they are, this is your spot. It's a 20-30 minute hike to town, and if you don't want to walk back, grab a taxi for 60 pesos ($6.00). Nova, Martha, Sergio, Manuel, and my man Alejandro (killer mojito, A!) were warmly welcoming, and when I got in the taxi to leave for the airport today, it was like leaving friends behind. Which I think is about as good as it can get.
Gracias, Alejandro....good luck in the future, amigo!
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And one of my favorite signs ever, from La Chalupa, on what to do in case of an earthquake. Near as I can tell, at least according to #5 making tea is not the thing to be doing right now, nor is doing a Michael Flatley "Lord of the Dance" imitation (#6). Ducking and covering never seems top get old (#7), and the age old advice to get your ass out of there (#9) always holds true!