When I moved here a few years ago with my family, the first friends we made came from two subcultures of the Sayulita community: Costa Verde International School (“CVIS”) parents, and surfers. There were a few characters who bridged the gap between those two worlds, as I did. One such character was Nick Sherman, whose wife Treva taught art at the school, whose daughter Astrid was in my daughter Jade’s class, and with whom I quickly developed a good friendship, based on the CVIS experience but also based on surfing.
Nick was relatively new to surfing back then, but he was as dedicated to it as anyone I knew. Though he had a lot to learn, he was in every day, day after day, as we met at school, dropped the kids off and headed over to La Lancha, my home-away-from-home that first year, in search of rideable waves.
In addition to being a solid surfing partner and a true Sayulita communitarian, always on hand to lend a hand, Nick is a smart, observant guy. During that first year, as my family and I struggled to find our place in this wonderful but somewhat insular community, he was very helpful. I use the word insular because in a community as transient as this – the nature of a tourist town, after all – people aren’t willing to commit to real friendship until you’ve been here awhile.
This makes sense, for as we have all learned, it’s tough to make friends and then watch them leave. It happens all the time here, especially with kids on vacation, but with adults as well. People learn to be careful about making emotional connections that can be broken so quickly. Nobody quite gets that, arriving fresh off the boat. This was one of the many insights Nick shared with me in the first months I lived here; I, in turn, like to think I gave him a little useful advice out in the water. Or at least kept him good company. He’s certainly improved his wave-riding skills in the past two years.
We haven’t surfed together as much this past year for whatever reasons. Different schools, schedules, paths. A hit-and-miss year of mediocre waves. Times change. And now Nick and Treva and Astrid are leaving on an extended trip – 6 months, 8 months, who knows? – to the states and then Indonesia, for a long stretch in Bali, where he will be tested and challenged as a surfer, I’m sure.
When I first started coming to Sayulita around 12 years ago, I met a guy working at Chocobanana whom I soon discovered was also a talented longboard surfer and a subtle kind of wise guy with a bit of an enigmatic air about him. He was smart and funny–and he was bilingual, which was a godsend to me since I seem terminally incapable of learning Spanish. Or, perhaps I’ve just gotten to be a lazy good-for-nothing here in the tropical sun. In any case, when we’d come down here on holiday I’d see this guy around, here and there, on the waves or in town, and we became nodding acquaintances. Then when we moved here, to Calle Chiripa on the north side, I discovered that he lived right around the corner with his wife and son.
And so in the past two years, I got to be pretty good friends with Jorge Grosso, and his wife, Karin, and son, Tao. We surfed together a lot, hung out on the beach, and generally enjoyed each other’s company. Jorge has been a property manager, a yoga teacher, surfing aficionado and an impresario of sorts here in Sayulita for the past 6 years, and I’m sure many know him by sight if not by name. Now he’s gone. He, Karin and Tao have left for Bali, by way of Guadalajara, California, Thailand, the Great Wherever. He and I had some good times together, surfing La Lancha or Burros.
Watch out boys! I know the waves are fierce out there. I hope you’ll be back before too long. When you do come, bring some waves. Meanwhile may you find many fine “barrels” out there in that paradise on the far side of the world. So as both of these surf amigos, who have been part of my life these past two years, are headed out to the same magical little island in Indo, a fond adieu. That’s life here in the little city, people come and go. Just like the waves we love.