Sayulita Local Legend: Anna la Vikinga

Sayulita Local Legend: Anna la Vikinga

For this edition, I had the honor of re-telling a story I have heard a thousand times before: me and my mothers arrival to Sayulita in 1999. I was only 6, she was 34, and we had previously been living on Margarita Island in Venezuela. With her boyfriend Tomás, we made our way to Mexico. She quickly earned the nickname “la Vikinga” as she was one of three foreigners named Anna back then, “la Brasileña” and “la Española” were the other two.

“Well, me and Tomás had already driven around the whole country looking for the right place to settle down,” she starts to tell me the story, “but no where felt quite right. I had left you with your dad while me and Tomás took busses traveling all over Mexico. Do you remember we lived in Yelapa for a month or two at first?” she asks me.

I do remember. I remember the jungle and the river opening up into the ocean, buying groceries in town and having to cross that river in the middle of the night in order to get back home. The river might have reached only my mothers knees, but I was not very tall and it almost went up to my shoulders as I clung to her skirt, crossing. She couldn’t hold my hand because she was carrying everything on top of her head, and Tomás was voicing his concern that sharks could definitely swim up river from the ocean.

“Yelapa was too secluded. Your dad was worried there wasn’t a hospital close enough, so he flew down to Puerto Vallarta and stayed there for a bit. He somehow heard of Sayulita and told me about it so we went to see for ourselves. And he was right. I loved it. I can’t explain it well, but there is something magical that happens when you drive into the jungle from Puerto Vallarta to Sayulita. The tunnel that formed from the jungle canopy is the most beautiful feeling to drive through. This place enthralled me completely, and it was it’s wildness. There is something in Sayulita like a microclimate, a jungle that is so special. I mean, there was. It’s almost gone now. But back then, the minute we drove through that arc of trees and down the windy highway, I knew we were stepping into a special place. San Pancho is beautiful, other beaches in the Pacific as well, but nothing like Sayulita. Back then I would walk through the jungle and see big Boa snakes, Macaws, wild boars. The jungle was lush and mysterious and felt powerful.”

My mothers words bring back my own memories. I remember being on my bicycle with my friend Malinali riding out to her moms ranch and stopping to wait for a big anaconda to finish crossing the highway. We were both 7 and there was a truck stopped as well, waiting. I remember our very first day and how there was a payphone “shop” right in the middle of the plaza, where “El Negrito” is now. My mom took me there to call my dad and she crossed the street, and I remember the plaza felt so big and far away. We later walked down the beach and I was hopping from stone to stone when one of the stones turned out to be horse manure. My mom laughed and took me to the water to wash my feet, where we got yelled at by a fisherman for scaring away the fish! The memories are bittersweet as they make me yearn for a time when it felt like Sayulita only belonged to a special few, but fills me with gratitude to have an adventurous mother who searched near and far to find this hidden paradise.