Sayulita Days

So, since our last entry we have passed through the party gauntlet of Sayulita Days. This is the time that the whole town sets up a big carnival with live music, rides, street food, and lots of vendors. I’ll cover the normal and the Mexican absurd portions of each of these.

Test your Mexican carnival IQ with the following question.

Which of the following can be found at a Mexican carnival? Mark all answers that apply.

A) Brightly lit, colorful displays of gummy worms, sharks and bears.

B) Action figures, Florida coffee mugs, little zucchini-shaped magnets.

C) Two story bouncy-houses

D) Carnival workers re-attaching belts to ride machinery and electrical cords strewn across walkways.

E) Full liquor bars, Cup Noodles and hot dogs cut to spiral around a stick

F) the BEST GAME IN THE WORLD (see below for more details)

Answer: All of the above!

First the music. Each of the top nights of the festival we saw the workers set up a full stage and sound system in an enclosed area. A cumbya band preceded to play for hours, sometimes until 2AM or later. The strange thing was that nobody went into the enclosed area. One night the tickets were only 10 pesos and the band sounded good, just nobody wanted to go in. The one entrance was populated by some burly-looking caballeros that gave us the stink eye when we asked about the admission. Through the holes in the fence we only saw two members in the audience, dos ricos sitting in plastic chairs in the middle of the lawn. We have not fully understood this phenomenon yet, we’ll update you with any new info.

Next the rides. Here’s an excerpt from my journal entry for the night of 2/20:

“Sayulita days are upon us. The carnival crew has arrived in town and is almost entirely set up. Tonight appeared to be the official first night as everything with lights on it twirled, blinked, and attracted customers. A band of five of us entered the fairgrounds after passing through the brightly lit streets full of vendors. At first many of the rides reminded me of those I have seen or ridden stateside. The outdoor version of the Gravitron, a small ferris wheel, a spinning top with psychedelic paint, many different car rides, and a carousel.

What I found exciting were the differences from my stateside memories. The zero liability environment allows so much more fun to be had at these kind of events. For instance, this carnival had two story bouncy houses. They weren’t inflated, instead I saw two full-sized trampolines bolted to each-other, one above the other. This was then fastened to two more vertically-linked trampolines, which were all tied together via a make-shift bridge. Definitely a US insurance company’s worst nightmare.

The safety issues regarding the mechanical rides definitely made me think twice before paying for a go. One of the rides supposedly had lost a wheel earlier in the night and knocked a lady unconscious. By the time we had arrived it was running again. So, avoiding the potential mechanical injuries, we made our way to the entire row of the carnival devoted to some of the most entertaining things in life: drinking and breaking shit!

BEST GAME EVER: Step right up, step right up. Hit one bottle and get a beer; hit two bottles and you get two beers; hit three bottles in a row and get a six-pack. I couldn’t resist. I gave the man 20 pesos and picked out my three favorite rocks. I told the man to re-load the bottles on the rack (wooden boards with holes cut out, which held bottles up by their necks). I wound up and slung the rock. I heard the crash of the glass followed by the clash of the rock on the aluminum backing. One beer won. I wound up the second time, followed by the same wonderful sounds. By this time the crowd had started jeering me on. I wound up the third time, the rock didn’t hit the bottle I aimed for but shattered the one next to it! Three in a row!!! The attendant reluctantly gave me the six-pack and the cheering crowd gave me a bunch of high fives. The best 20 pesos I ever spent.”

John breaks the bottle with his first rock. You can actually see the bottle pieces flying in the air - 2nd row down.

Quebrador de Botellas

WEIRDEST GAME EVER: Satan holds a microphone and taunts passersby with demonic laughter. If you hit the person wearing the devil mask with a rock through that hole, you win!

Sinners and righteous alike can punish the Devil.

Street Food. Don’t believe the guide books when they tell you to avoid it, I think you would be doing yourself a huge disservice. We sampled the flan, chocolate tres leches, and hielo de tuna (a flavored ice made with cactus tuna fruit). All were excellent and not one case of food illness. Many other stands sold numerous variations of carne asada, el pastor, and tacos de camarones.

Anyone want a drink? The menu included "Bye Bye MotherF*&$%!" served in a ceramic cup.

The Vendors. Amy and I had to go to Puerto Vallarta last week to pick up a package. We had accumulated a long laundry list of little things we needed to make life better in the camper. We thought that by hitting up Costco, Wal-mart, and Home Depot we could get the things on our list a lot easier than looking through many little tiendas. Our mistake. We found these nightmarish gringo stores full of horrible music, incomprehensible loud speakers, and frustrated and unhelpful employees. The Wal-mart even had a sign at the checkout stating that baggers were not paid and worked for tips alone (how evil).

When I returned to Sayulita that night and walked the streets of the carnival, I passed many small vendors selling many of the items that were on our list. These vendors seemed generally happy with their livelihoods and helped me find what I needed. They would usually budge about 10-15% on their prices, but not always. Their prices were almost always cheeper than in the aforementioned stores. Considering the low wages we’ve heard about around here (~100 pesos/day – <$10), these vendors seem to have it figured out. They play an important part of life in towns like this by bringing the store to the people.

The scariest booth at the carnival market


1 Comment

  1. Linda Cloud said,

    March 3, 2010 at 11:58 am

    Hi John & Amy,
    Wow, Sayulita! I haven’t been there for about 5 years but we used to go every few years for the last 20+ years. Pictures look the same tho I’m sure there’s more tourists/expats every year. This is the time of year we always went – brings back such fond memories with Kelsey a little one then. Now, we’ll want to bring Lucy, who’s turning 4.

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