Before you go
The U.S. Transportation Services Agency (www.TSATravelTips.us) is an excellent site where you will find everything you need to know about new airport security measures. They have the most current list of prohibited and permitted items, timesaving tips, information on assistance for special needs and other information that will help you travel quickly and safely. Also, check with your phone company to see if they offer free calls between the US, Mexico and Canada using your US number.
The U.S. Customs
This site provides an overview of Customs regulations and procedures that apply to travelers entering or exiting the United States. You can download a brochure called “Know Before You Go”, as well as many other useful forms, reports, and articles. http://www.customs.gov/travel/travel.htm
You will get this card on the plane, which should be filled out before you land. It will be checked by a Mexican at you enter the room and you will then get in to a line where it will be stamped by an immigration agent. Do not lose this card, as you must have it to leave the country so keep it with your passport in a safe place . Should you lose the card, a new one can be issued at the airport but it’s a pain and you must allow extra time and possible expense.
You can get money at the Airport, at a bank when grocery shopping on the way to Sayulita or in Sayulita but we recommend that you only use ATMs that are inside buildings. And, always cover the pad when entering your code. Most of the restaurants take credit cards but do ask if that’s your payment of choice.
Arrivals and Departures
If you arrive at the house before 3 pm, and the house is not yet clean, you can hang out on the patio or leave your luggage at the house and go to the beach, take a swim, walk or have a beverage at one of the beach restaurants and relax. At the end of your stay, we ask you to leave the house by 11am. If you ride to PV is later than that, please move out to the patio so the maids can clean.
The houses have the same voltage electricity as in the US and each house also has basic living supplies (i.e. towels, sheets, plates, seasoning, cooking utensils). A coffee grinder, coffee maker, and a music player are in the house. We suggest that you bring your own binoculars. There are flashlights, but they may need batteries, which are available in the village. A flashlight can be helpful for evening travel in and around the village if you are not lucky enough to get a full moon. Purified drinking water is in a 5-gallon bottle in the house. Those bottles will be replenished whenever necessary.
The houses have water tanks that are filled from a large tank at the bottom of the hill. The hot water tanks are not large and short showers will guarantee warm showers for all. If there is no hot water at all, pls check to be sure the pilot light is on under the tank. There are instructions at the hot water tank or ask the maids or Ramon, our gardener and handyman..
The village is normally very safe, but you must take ordinary precautions as you would in any foreign country. Please keep the house locked while you are away and leave the key in the locked box where you got it on arrival. Please don’t carry the key with you! The houses all have “hotel” safes and we highly recommend you leave your valuables there on arrival and before the “party begins”! We cannot be responsible for lost articles so please put everything in the safe when you are not present. While the village is generally a safe place to be, there is petty crime so be careful with your things and when out late at night.
You will meet Nancy Avila or her husband Herasmo on the morning of your second day. Both speak English and can answer your questions. We have three maids that work on the property and Ramon the gardener and “fixit person”. They all understand a lot of English but don’t speak much. They all come every day, except Sundays and holidays, arriving in the morning about 10 am (unless you tell them to come at a later time). Alma is the maid at Casa Botellas. The maids will wash the dishes (please rinse and stack them in the sink), make beds, sweep, mop and generally make the houses presentable. All of them know their jobs and are excellent with guests.
When you leave the house, it is customary to tip the help if you have been well served. The tip is flexible assuming how much you use and appreciate their services. We recommend that you tip about 200 Ps per week per couple (or two people).
In the village restaurants, the tipping is similar to the US and Canada. Tipping is, as always, totally discretionary and based on the quality of the service you are given and 15% has become quite normal at the nicer establishments.
Help with Cooking
Arrangements can be made with the Judith if you would like someone to cook for you. Generally you will pay for the food separately plus a fee for the cooking, and it’s best to agree on the food and the price prior to the meal.
January and February are the “cooler” months, which usually means 80 during the day and it could drop into the upper 60’s at night. So, beachwear, shorts, simple shoes that go anywhere, lots of tee shirts and long pants and a sweatshirt or a light acket for evenings. The “hot” months are late May through mid-November with the temperature feeling the hottest once the rain start in late June when the humidity usually goes to 95 and stays there through October. The temperatures often mimic the humidity in the summer months.
There are a vast array of insects in this part of the world. Interestingly colored moths, Horned beetles, amazing butterflies as well as the common Cucaracha. While the number of insects vary with the seasons, there will always be some so, be prepared to see, study and protect yourself from them.
If you are prone to mosquito bites, bring insect repellant with you or buy it in the village. “Dr. Bells”, an effective remedy to ease the itching of bug bites, is available in the drug store in the village as is cortisone cream. You might also consider taking Vitamin B1, as that helps some people keep biting insects away.
There are scorpions in this part of Mexico, but they tend to avoid houses that are occupied but it is always wise to check your shoes and clothes before putting them on. If you should see a scorpion in one of the houses, they are easy to kill as they move slowly. In general you need to remember that in the tropics you need to be careful where you put your hands and feet. Should you get stung and have a reaction, there is a clinic in the village (the “Salud” at the entrance to the village) and another in San Francisco, the next town north.
All the houses are wireless. Do read the manual on the table in the house. If there is a problem, talk to Nancy or write your house contact.
Check with your provider prior to going to Mexico. T Mobil and others are now offering calling between the US, Mexico and Canada and in those countries.
The main holidays in Mexico are January 1, February 24, Holy Week (the week before Easter), November 20th (Revolution Day), December 12 (Celebration of the Miracle of Guadeloupe), December 25 and 31. The day of the Dead is at the beginning of November and Mexican’s decorate the graves of the dead in Sayulita with flowers and candles. If you are interested in this type of holiday, which is a mix of Christianity and Indigenous Indian tradition, consider a visit to Patzcuaro in the state of Michoacan.
Communicating With People
Many service people speak English but most other locals in Sayulita do not. Any effort you give to speaking Spanish is appreciated. The traditional greeting is “Hola”, pronounced “oh–la”, and “mucho gusto” is their rendition of “Glad to meet you.” “Gracias” and “Por favor” (please) can’t be used too often. Don’t worry if you speak only English as you will rarely have problems in Mexico’s tourist towns.
Of Special Note
It’s important to remember that Mexico and the Mexican people do some things differently than we do. If things begin to get to you, sit down and have a beer (best with lime and salt) or a soft drink and chill. Most problems solve themselves in short order. Have a wonderful time and relax.
Need a few additional nights?
Hotel in Sayulita: Google “Sayulita Hotels” or ask in town.