Hunter S. Thompson once advised, “Don’t judge a taco by its price.” Coast to Costa’s founder Andrew Tyree knows this rule likely better than anyone else. He’s the type that will dive into the taco before even asking how much it costs, having made his assessment based on the recommendation of an entire town that he’s just befriended.
The rest of us – well, we’re trained to take things for face value. We overlook the details. If the taco is too expensive, we don’t buy it. If it’s too cheap, we assume it’s bland. If we didn’t see it on social media or read about it online, then it probably isn’t worth it. And in a way, this becomes a metaphor for the way we digest many experiences today. We spend more time capturing photos of sunsets than we do watching them. We stare at the world through a screen and often forget to look up. We are trained to accept things as they are packaged, filtered and advertised, but fail to remember how those moments make us feel. Our senses dull. We consume, but we don’t absorb.
For someone like Andrew though, experience is in his DNA. Bouncing around in his 20’s from Sevilla, to Bologna, Madrid and San Francisco, he is surely no stranger to adventure. Coast to Costa was born from his hunger to continue traveling – pushing the boundaries of his comfort zone – and encouraging others to do the same.
Our destination: Sayulita, Mexico. A small, less-known surf town in Nayarit that has occupied the top of my bucket list for years. We landed in Puerto Vallarta, uncomfortably disconnected. Seven strangers and no technology to distract us from making conversation. Andrew, however, was in his element, greeting us with a twelve pack of Tecate and bag of jalapeño chips as we boarded the shuttle to the rental car. Just as we made our way into town, we (appropriately) spotted a small el pastor taco stand that Andrew had heard about from the locals. This was probably the best taco I will ever have, and aptly, I have no idea how much I paid for it, nor do I have a photo to remember it by – just the memory.
The next morning, we drove down to breakfast at Maria’s – a local cafe known for its great food and strong wifi connection. I panicked at the first sight of my inbox. After firing off an hour’s worth of emails and checking my social media platforms, I reluctantly closed my computer as it was time to go. I was an addict going through withdrawal.
We headed to Punta Mita to meet our tour guide, Juan Baqueiro, the co-owner of local Santa Madre Adventures. Here, he would lead us by speedboat to Marieta Islands to hidden beach – a cove created by the explosion of an accidental bomb in the recent century. One by one, we jumped off the boat and paddled our way through the narrow opening, allowing the tide to pull us into the beach. Our phones were ‘safely’ secured in a rubber tupperware container tied to a life vest. If that went under, so would I. But as I stood up on the beach and stared into the turquoise tide rushing in front of me, I knew it wasn’t even possible for any camera to capture that shade of blue.
The next few days were spent in and out of the ocean with the Santa Madre Adventures crew, surfing, paddle boarding, eating ceviche on the beach and toasting the day with margaritas. By day four, the Santa Madre Adventures crew was a part of our tribe – our local intel, resident tour guides and old friends. Together, we had witnessed each other fall and found our balance.
And slowly I began to find my own balance. I could feel myself start to surrender to Sayulita – to time by the tides. My inbox began to feel less important than the conversations happening right in front of me. As I watched the sunset over Playa San Pancho, my phone tucked away deep in my bag, I couldn’t recall the last time I had ever felt so present.
Coast to Costa will change you. It will break your routine and shatter your perceptions of travel. It will push you far outside your comfort zone, force to you to befriend strangers, and encourage you to reassess your daily priorities. But maybe we need this push – now more than ever – for a generation that must be reminded how to experience, not observe. At the end of everyday, there is a sunset. The difference is, people like Andrew and the residents of San Pancho, stop to watch it.
Next Stop: Baja