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Can you please tell us your name and a little bit about yourself?
My name is Barbara Lee Roche Fierman. I was born in 1938 in New York City, very close to where I now live in downtown Manhattan. (Except for a few years, I have always lived in NY.) In 2008, I bought my first villa at Villa Amor in Sayulita.
What is it about Sayulita that made you want to buy a vacation rental here?
I vacationed in Puerto Vallarta from 1967 to about 2006. It slowly became too congested and over built and I began to hate it. I learned that a friend in NY had bought land in an unknown place called Sayulita, so I came up for the day and never vacationed in Vallarta again. I was in Sayulita at least 6 times a year when I began to think about purchasing at Villa Amor, and in 2008 I bought my first villa there. I fell in love with the openness and hospitality of Sayulita and slowly I moved here full time.
How long after your first visit to Sayulita did you purchase your house/lot?
It took me several years to realize I needed to own here and be a bigger part of the community than just staying in various hotels in town. I was very involved at that time in purchasing flea collars on ebay for dogs in Sayulita, but I wanted a bigger presence.
Did you build or remodel your home? If so, please tell us one of the classic "you won't believe this" stories?
At first I tried to rent, but gave that up because there was nothing suitable at the time. Then I bought a lot on Nanzal and everything went wrong with that endeavor. Then one day I accompanied a realtor friend, Roger Burton, to Villa Amor to deliver some papers to someone in a villa named Tortuga. I walked in, took the papers away, and said, I will buy it…and I did. That was the start…
How long have you owned your home in Sayulita?
Can you share with us some of the changes you have seen around town?
When I arrived that first day, Don Pedro’s had six beach chairs for rent on the sand. No one else had any. Anyone not walking was either in a wreck of a car or truck or were being chauffeured by a young child of their family on an ATV. You rarely saw an okay vehicle. The change has been dramatic. Now one sees any manner of newish expensive vehicles and far fewer ATV’s. There is more traffic, more people, more noise, but the change in vehicles is most different.
What in particular made you decide on this house rather than other listings available at the time?
I had learned that buying land and trying to get something built is not the easy task it is back home. I was very naïve when I blundered in and bought land, hired architects, and found out there were problems with the land. I soon learned this was common to many people, but it was a hard lesson. When I walked into Villa Amor and saw the big wide blue ocean outside my terrace, I knew it was for me.
How would you describe the neighborhood your vacation rental is in?
Villa Amor is on the south side of town on the beach and is stunning. Tourists stay wherever they can, just to be in Sayulita, but Villa Amor is their first choice. Given the funds, this is where they are! It is a 5 to 15 minute easy walk to anywhere in town.
Who is the most interesting guest you have hosted at your home?
We host hundreds of guests per year, maybe per month, and truly I don’t get to know enough of them in depth. Occasionally I do find the time and interesting stories come out. There was the Mexican family who were here because they were attending a wedding at another hotel. It was the two adults and three grown sons, plus a daughter in law or two. The mother explained that when her children were teenagers the family moved to New Zealand for a year so the youngsters would learn English and how to live without housekeepers and cooks. They are back in Mexico now and we keep in touch with each other.
What are your favorite things to recommend your guests do while in Sayulita?
I really believe none of us do enough of nothing and that is what most of our guests are needing…just to hang out, eat simply in town or here, go for walks, and go to the beach. After a few days of this they are probably ready for more and this little authentic funky town has a lot to do. It is why people hire cars and / or chauffeurs to bring them here for an afternoon from Punta Mita and other locations. There is shopping, about 75 different eating places, fishing, kayak fishing, off the beach fishing, hiking, of course swimming, and on and on. Families can get involved with turtle propagation at night with even the youngest of children. At the right time of year there is almost guaranteed whale watching and educational day trips to see cliffs of whitish bird droppings *guano (that is used in fertilizer and dynamite, I think.) Sayulita is unique in that it still retains touches of old time Mexico. You can see real women wearing real traditional dress making real tortillas and feeding their children in the plaza, but steps away eat in easily a 2 star eating establishment with service to match.
What do you feel sets your house apart from other vacation rentals in Sayulita?
For an owner there is nothing like Villa Amor. You buy a vacation home, someone else takes care of it for you, and you make money and come down and use it yourself. Our owners at Villa Amor are doing extremely well with this.
What advice do you have for someone searching for a home/land in Sayulita?
Learn from my errors, if you are not going to be in residence full time, do not buy a private house. It is rare that this works out well and never easily. Go for a condo in an established community with a long history where you are protected. Naturally, because I manage Villa Amor, I am prejudiced, but it is honestly your safest choice. Do not even think of buying before you have been out at the counter at Choco Banana at least 10 times to learn the pitfalls others have fallen into. Be cautious and it won’t be you. Learn that in Mexico a realtor is not licensed and may know less than you. Mexico is not back home and we don’t want it to be. Check things you would never have to worry about at home. Does the property have a deed and if so, is it titled, should be your first question. Also, if you are buying here and do not plan to use your home, please involve a trusted property manager, and don’t forget you owe to Sayulita. Back home you pay taxes to be a part of an organized, functioning community. That is really not the case here. There are income taxes when you sell, but basically zero taxes that cover normal requirements of comfortable living, including garbage pick up. Things are very dependent on donations and gifts. Join Pro Sayulita to learn about this and become a part of the community. Truly, we do not need disinterested owners who only buy to make some income! That is outdated and becoming increasingly disliked. Buy here, be a part of Sayulita, and contribute to its welfare instead.