Page 2 - A Rumi of Her Own in Sayulita

A Rumi of Her Own in Sayulita — Page 2
Story and photos by Anna Elkins

Sayulita travel story

Granted, Nacho looks like an Aztec god, shirtless and gleaming. But A) he knows it and B) a wise woman, let alone a woman travelling alone, knows that the shiny trinkets rarely have or offer value.

After declining a beer, I say "Buenos Noches," and keep walking.

Some of my favorite parts of travel are the conversations with strangers. I find myself in a more engaging one the next afternoon. I'm always attracted to galleries, and one of the little streets off the plaza radiates with art. I step into Jalu Gallery and am immediately greeted by the artist and owner, Janine. We talk about art, Sayulita, crab season. She mentions that her partner owns the Miro Vino wine bar on the plaza and that she is there most evenings after eight: "Come by."

I do. We sit at the bar stools facing what would be a large street window in temperate climates but here is open air. From the wine bar, you can see across the plaza and keep a finger on the thumping pulse of weekend Sayulita. Janine's friend, a ceramicist and gallery owner named Cory, joins us. These US expats—one from the East Coast and one from the West—have chosen to create in this village of great beaches, art, food, and the people who love them. I am beginning to see why.


This region is known as the Riviera Nayarit, part of the coastal corridor that runs from Litibu to San Blas. And though it has been "discovered" by traveling surfers and sun seekers, it still retains its authenticity. Both Mexican and foreign artists gravitate toward Sayulita, as well as the native Huichol and Cora peoples. It's a tiny hub of multicultural creativity expressed in many genres.

If Sayulita had an audible voice, I have a feeling it would sound like a progressive chorus: the ocean would be first and constant, overlaid with fishing boats slapping surf, surfers riding it, and sunbathers splashing in it. Then there would be the staccato of pen on paper, brush on canvas, clay in hands, and tortillas on a stone.

Janine asks if we are hungry just as Luca, her partner and the owner of the wine bar, comes by to check that we have what we need. What we need turns out to be some aerodynamic ceviche and an oven-fired pizza. These pair well with pinot noir and nightfall, and it is after 11 by the time I begin my walk back through town and up the dirt road along the southern beach. I feel safe, even on the unlit sections of the road. Another woman walks by, then a couple—hands and arms linked, walking the slow pace of lovers.

A hill below the villa, a wedding reception is still underway. I pass Woody's gravestone en route to the gate and then climb the three stories up to Casa Rumi. From my terrace, I can see down onto the wedding party nicely. They dance out on a green bluff, lit by tiki torches. A band, hidden beneath a palapa, plays the music wedding DJs use to get three generations to dance: seventies disco.

I dance solo beneath the stars, singing along with Gloria Gaynor while the Dipper pours down its celestial bliss on the dancers. I am filled with more than the fish.

The days roll in and out like the tide. Yoga. Papaya and avocados from Omar. Telling time on the beach by how often I have to move my towel to stay in palm-frond shade. More fish tacos from Naty's. My honey margaritas.

I have to pause here. If someone has done this before, I apologize for taking credit. But I think I've invented this version of the honey margarita. It was an accident. I was blending my lime juice, tequila, ice, and local honey in the blender, when I belatedly remembered that honey doesn't like to be cold; it ends up as a solid blob attached to the blender blades. Still not wanting to use sugar, I paused. Then I saw la luz! I rimmed my margarita glass with a generous run of honey, lightly salted it, poured the body of the drink inside, and sipped around the rim of the glass.

Serve this on a warm afternoon in a bikini still dripping from a villa pool while facing the blue horizon of ocean.

And so the week draws to a close. I walk, I watch, I write, I sketch. The last morning, I walk to the northeast end of the beach. That means watching the sunrise for over half an hour. With each step, the sun remains right at the edge of the mountains. Time suspends.

I find a spot where the beach angle causes two pulls of surf to meet in a diagonal wash. I can see the villa far back along the coastline, Casa Rumi's top blue cupola a gracious landmark. It has been a delightful and productive writing retreat.

Standing on the beach, I have the same feeling of being beneath that dome, even with the roar of water—or maybe because of it. My voice has found me so that I may release it back into a chorus grander than any solo.

I speak to the sea, promising to bring back the gift of the villa: my voice—rediscovered, remembered, reclaimed. The best souvenir of my trip to Sayulita.

I look up at the sky where the stars hide behind a dome of day blue. Then I know. Wherever we stand, we are perfectly placed for heavenly acoustics if we are listening. This whole, bright world is a room of one's own. It sometimes just takes a certain place to remind us.

Anna Elkins has written, painted, and taught on six continents. Her words have been published in various journals and books, and her art hangs on walls around the world. She is the author of the illustrated children's books for grownups, And: The Story of More and The Heart Takes Flight; the novel The Honeylicker Angel; and the poetry collection The Space Between.

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Related Features:
Officially a Woman in Mexico by Stephanie Elizondo Griest
Beyond the Fear of "Other" in China by Anna Elkins
Trail Magic on the Way of Saint James by Beebe Bahrami
Calling Ancestors Through the Butterflies in Guatemala by Tim Leffel

See other Mexico travel stories from the archives

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Buy The Heart Takes Flight at your local bookstore, or get it online here:
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Buy The Honeylicker Angel at your local bookstore, or get it online here:
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Buy The Space Between at your local bookstore, or get it online here:
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Buy And: The Story of More at your local bookstore, or get it online here:
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