Hello readers! I thought it would be a good time to formally introduce myself to all of you so you have an idea of who the person is behind the scenes sending you the Sayulero each week! My name is Aanya Sheikh-Taheri; I am a 32 year old writer, poet, teacher at Costa Verde, surfer, dancer, dog lover, and traveler. I grew up in Redmond, a suburb just outside of Seattle, Washington. My father was born and raised in Iran, and was the first generation from his family to immigrate to the United States at the young age of 17 in order to pursue an education and a better life. Because I grew up in a multicultural home and traveled to Iran in my first abroad trip at just 12 years old, I developed a deep love and appreciate early in my life for learning about other cultures around the world. I first discovered Sayulita in 2015 when a friend recommended it to me as a great place for a solo traveler to go that was looking for a place that would revive and brighten their soul. And that is exactly what I found.
At the time, I was feeling sort of burnt-out and in all honesty, bored by the routine of my life, and thus was in search of something I wasn’t really aware of at the time. After teaching high school English/Language Arts and Poetry in the states for eight years, I was feeling incredibly grateful for my life and was very much satisfied with my job, but I also felt like I was ready for a change; I didn't simply want to be “satisfied” anymore…I wanted to feel a new sense of excitement. I wanted to be challenged. I wanted something that would make me feel new again, something that would bring me the unexpected and would add an element of surprise and spice to my daily life ...but I didn’t know what that would or could be. I have been very lucky to have had the chance to travel to numerous places over the years that I have absolutely loved- Costa Rica, Panama, Brazil, Vietnam, Turkey, Thailand, Indonesia, the Netherlands, etc. Because of these experiences, however, my heart always felt sort of out of place and divided, and I felt like my idea of “home” was becoming more and more spread out across continents.
I took my first vacation to Sayulita during my spring break and called it my “soul-cation”, and from that moment on, the nickname proved true. I was absolutely in love with what would, (although I didn't know it then), eventually become my new home, my soul place.
After the first trip, upon returning to my home in the states, I couldn’t stop thinking about Sayulita-- when I could go to visit again and how I could stay longer. I made a promise to myself to return each year and take my “soul-cation” in what I now felt was my “soul-place”. And so I did. And over the next two years as I came back to Sayulita, each time I felt more and more connected and drawn to the warmth, the vibrancy, the passion of the culture, the way people actually made time to enjoy life and appreciate what was around them, the tropical weather and beautiful beaches, the color, and most of all, the slower-paced, simple kind of lifestyle.
On what would become my last vacation here, I was sitting at Su Casa Bar enjoying a margarita on the last night of my trip before I had to head back the next morning to my life in the states. I was feeling sad. I didn’t want to leave! And then, something happened that forever changed my life. Someone sat down next to me and we struck up a conversation. I ended up mentioning to him how I didn’t want to leave, how I wanted to move to Sayulita permanently, how I felt such an indescribable connection to this place, and how it was like the perfect combination of so many other places I had traveled to and fell in love with. “Because people do this, right?” I thought to myself. “People pick up their lives and move abroad all the time. So why can’t I?” I grappled with these questions and always found excuses for why it wouldn’t work. I found myself telling my new friend things like, “Oh, but what would I do with all of my stuff? What about my family? My Car? What would I do for work? How would I find a house?”
After all my questions, excuses, and doubts, he finally just looked at me and said something so simple, yet profound, that would change my life forever. He said, “Aanya, look. When you go out to eat and you are in the mood for a sandwich, what do you order?” I stared blankly back at him. “Um…a sandwich?” I said quietly. The answer was so obvious I felt like this was some kind of trick question or pop-quiz. “Yes,” he said. “Exactly. If you want a sandwich, you order a sandwich. It’s that simple. If you want to move to Sayulita, then move to Sayulita. You can do it, and all the pieces will slowly fall into place naturally. Because they have to. You have made everything else in your life work out, so why wouldn’t this”? Go for it. Get your sandwich. You can have what you want. It isn’t as hard to do as you think.”
Thanks to these helpful words from a kind stranger who would later become my dear friend, I moved to Sayulita the following summer, in July of 2017.
Now, I live in a small and simple one bedroom casita, with my sweet and goofy rescue dog, Kona. My morning “commute” to work at Costa Verde involves either driving my electric golf-cart a few blocks, or walking the colorful cobblestone streets while listening to the roosters crowing, watching the sunset rise above the ocean, always with the faint ding of salsa music echoing from somewhere. When I’m not teaching middle school English at Costa Verde, I get to write about our wonderful community, edit the Sayulero newsletter, take my dog on walks through the jungle, dance my heart out in my kitchen or at salsa nights, or grab my surfboard and walk barefoot to the ocean, and awe at the beautiful setting of the sun: salty hair, sandy feet, a smile on my face, and so much love in my heart.
Every day, something new and unexpected happens here in Sayulita- whether it be the power in all of town going out, finding an iguana in the shower, a spur of the moment surf trip, a random festival in the plaza, or people dancing in the street and celebrating life. And every day, I have time to truly slow down, and LIVE. I used to thrive on having a plan for everything, and now, I love that each day when I wake up, I have no clue what my day may bring or what may unfold. That, to me, is part of the magic of our “Pueblo Magico.”
Readers- what brought you to Sayulita? What draws your soul the most to this place? What magic do you find in our pueblo magico? Why did you decide to make the move? We want to hear your stories! Please email me with your story for a chance to be published in our newsletter in an upcoming series: What brought you to Sayulita? Why did you make the move? Thanks for reading, and I look forward to hearing from you.
*Written by: Aanya Sheikh-Taheri