Following a dream - from Detroit to Mexico
"Get your fresh donuts here! Pineapple, strawberry, and caramel! Better than Krispy Kreme!"
Until he claimed his donuts were better than Krispy Kreme's, I'd been ignoring him. After all, I was reclining on the secluded Mexican beach town of Sayulita, a half hour or so from Puerto Vallarta. Sayulita is famous for its waves and its assortment of fresh fruit juice drinks, certainly not its donuts. Not quite anyway.
"Best donuts in the world!" the donut seller called out, and I was curious enough to be sold.
"Why are you here?" I asked Santiago the Donut Seller, as he offered me a homemade pastry filled with Mexican caramel and dusted with cane sugar. He had an American accent. Specifically, he had a Midwestern accent, and I was intrigued. Why on earth was a young Midwestern man selling cheap beach donuts in an off-the-beaten path Mexican surf town?
Three years ago, at 23, Santiago moved from Detroit to Mexico City. "I looked around me in Detroit," he explained. "And I realized that all my friends were dead." So, he decided to move to Mexico. At first, he worked in construction in the capital. But things weren't going well, and one day someone suggested to him to try out the small town of Sayulita. He packed up, and headed for surfer's paradise, met a woman, got married, and cooked up their own plan to make ends meet, trying to figure out how they could both work together to fulfill their dreams. One brainstorm led to another, and finally they decided on...donuts.
Skeptically, I sampled his wares. My skepticism didn't last for long. The caramel donut was hot to the touch, fresh from his missus' oven, and the cateja, the Mexican caramel, was buttery and rich. Santiago was right. His donuts were better than Krispy Kreme's, and I pointed this out right away to him.
"Look around you!" he cried gleefully as I munched. "This," he said, pointing incredulously at the beach around us, as if he were seeing it all for the first time, every single day."This is my office!"
Maybe the best part about Santiago's story is that he is so completely in love with his new life that he doesn't even bother to reconnect to the rest of the world. I'd offered to tweet about him, and he shook his head, "I'm not on Twitter." What about email, I asked. "Nope," he said. "But I really gotta get me one of those accounts one day." So, if you or someone you love likes a good donut as much as I do, you'll have to travel to a secluded Mexican surfing town to get it. Look for the donut seller, and listen for his big, bold claim that his donuts are the world's best. He isn't wrong.