19 favourite memories from San Pancho, Mexico
This time last year we were about to start our Mexican adventure. Having decided to visit the Yucatan and Oaxaca areas we were struggling to decide on the place where to spend 2 months. Then I met Victoria from Bridges and Balloons and she told me about San Pancho, Mexico.
After describing the town to me, I went home and read her blog with Karen. Oh my god, it seemed like the town was created for us. It seemed the perfect place to spend 2 months. And………
It was. We have travelled to over 50 countries and San Pancho is by far the best town we have settled in. The town and it’s people will always be in our heart. To celebrate our time there we have created our 19 favourite memories. The list kind of runs in a chronological order, from morning to night. It basically reflects our typical day in San Pancho.
1. Our little Casita
We were so lucky with our accommodation. Having rocked up to San Pancho without booking anywhere we soon realised that we left things a little late. Most places were booked up and the chances of finding a two month rental were looking slim. Things started to look up in the afternoon when someone we asked on the street sent us to someone else, who rang another person, who knew someone with a flat to rent! Hoorah. We viewed the flat an hour later and fell in love straight away. Not only was our little casita brand new but it also had the best wifi in town, to the envy of everyone else.
Karen did manage to lock herself in the bathroom on the first day and had to be rescued but that’s another story.
2. The Locals
San Pancho is small. There are only 1,600 full-time residents. However, if I popped out to get some bread and milk it would take me about an hour to get home. Why? Because everyone in the town is so god damn friendly! With a perfect mixture of locals, expats and intrepid travellers, everyone in San Pancho has the air of knowing that they live in a great place. As I write this, I am thinking of all the friends we have back there and I yearn to go back to see them.
3. The Dogs
Every morning after waking up we would head to the beach to meditate. Before reaching the beach though we got to stroke and cuddle every dog we met. San Pancho is doggy heaven. Seriously, if you believe in reincarnation and want to come back as a dog then this is the place to be. Most of the dogs are owned by someone but they have the freedom to roam.
Once we were heading to the beach to meditate and two dogs were waiting for us. They walked with us to the beach and subsequently refused to let us meditate as they wanted to play, which in a way is a form of meditation. When we got to leave the beach they just followed us back, and stopped by their owner’s house, giving us one last wag to thank us for the little trip we took them on.
What a way to start the day. Sitting on THAT beach meditating. In the mornings it would be very quiet, bar a few people doing yoga and the occasional jogger passing by. I can still hear the crashing waves.
5. THAT beach
We have been on many beaches around the world. Some have water that is as still as a pond and some have sand that is as white as snow. The one word I have for the beach in San Pancho is: Alive. From hundreds of pelicans dive bombing for fish, to whales breaching in the distance, San Pancho’s beach is a nature lover’s paradise. Every night they would release baby turtles from the nearby sanctuary.
The beach is also popular with the local surfers. If you prefer to swim in calmer waters, do what the locals do and head to the far left of the beach where there is a quiet patch.
6. Coffee, breakfast, books and conversation at Cafe Manana
Why, oh why can’t there be a Cafe Manana in every town in the world? If there was they would have to have clones of Jill and Lincoln though (the owners of Cafe Manana.) Every night I would be counting down the hours to our daily visits. From Jill’s deliciously addictive breakfast muffins to Lincoln’s coffee and tales, Cafe Manana is a storyteller’s paradise. Although, the place is so inviting I would inevitably put off writing to spend more time there.
7. Fresh Fish from Martin and bbq’s on beach
Within our first week in San Pancho we found out where the locals purchased their fresh fish. On most days we would finish breakfast and head to Martin to get the most delicious fish. Karen then would cook it at night and serve it with the best guacamole ever. On special nights (when our friends were with us) we would bbq the fish on the beach as the sun set. Swilled down with the local Pacifico beer I can’t think of a better way to end the day.
8. Tacos from Baja Taqueria
Best tacos ever. Need I say more? I still dream of the smoked marlin tacos that Jerry serves up. I don’t know what he puts in that sauce but man it’s addictive. We would normally wash the lunch down with hibiscus water that is served all over Mexico. It’s delicious and refreshing and much-needed in 30c heat!
9. Helping out at Entre Amigos
In the afternoons after we had worked on the blog we would help out at Entre Amigos. It is a charity that strives to increase learning opportunities for the children and families of San Pancho. We were lucky enough to be in San Pancho during Entre Amigos children’s circus. We helped out on the social media campaign for the circus. Even though we knew the children were getting trained up by performers from Cirque du Soleil (the founder lives in San Pancho) we had no idea how amazing the show was going to be. Karen was in tears as we watched these little kids who we would see every day on their way to school, performing amazing acrobatic feats. It was one of the highlights of our trip in Mexico and a real honour to be a part of it.
10. Cocktails and Sunsets
After helping out at Entre Amigos, we would end the afternoon by heading to the beach with the rest of the town to witness the spectacular sunsets. There would be such an amazing energy in the air as we all watched nature put on her show. The dogs would all be playing, friends would be chatting and laughing and if the sunset was particularly amazing, people would applaud! Washed down with the best $3 margaritas imaginable, this is how you are meant to end the working day.
11. Friends visiting us
About half way through our 2 month stay, some friends from London came to visit us. It was lovely having familiar faces in this magical town. They soon found the San Pancho rhythm and fell in love with the place. We still talk and reminisce about our time there. These friends are avid travellers but San Pancho brings out all the aahs and oohs. It kind of does that to you.
12. The weekly organic market
The weekly market began during our stay so it was another lucky thing to happen to us. As most of the traders were from the same market in nearby Sayulita we knew most of them. From amazing vegetables to thirst quenching juices the market covered everything you needed. It was still in its trial period when we were there so I hope it is continuing.
13. Friday night = Wine, Pizza and … more Wine night
Where in the world can you find a kite shop/gift shop offering you free wine and cake EVERY Friday night? San Pancho, that is where. We would stagger up from sunset after having a few margaritas and stop for some wine and a chat. We then would have a quick shower and head to Darjeeling to have their delicious pizza and Mexican red wine. This became our Friday night ritual and it would always end with dancing to the brilliant music. Which brings me to……
14. The music
The Mexican people love music. They find any excuse to play, from weddings to graduation day, you will see people playing guitars or brass instruments. We came across live bands all over the country and San Pancho was no exception. On Friday nights the band Dos Bertos had a residency at Darjeeling. No matter how much I saw them live, they never failed to impress me with their live set. They provided the soundtrack to our two month stay.
15. Charros on horses wandering around
For such a small town, San Pancho has a real cosmopolitan feel. I suppose all the expats help. You forget that you are in a town that is literally on the edge of the jungle. Now and again we would get reminders though. Like when the gauchos would wander down the main street on their beautiful horses.
Sayulita is the nearest town to San Pancho and even though it’s small too, compared to San Pancho it felt like New York. It is famous for its surfing as the beach and bay are perfect for beginners. It’s a great town with a really hippy vibe, although the developers are moving in fast. We met Steph and Michael there from Twenty something Travel & The Art of adventuring which is another reason why have fond memories of the place. Sayulita has lots of day trippers from Puerto Vallarta which San Pancho does not get, so in a way, Sayulita is like a buffer for San Pancho.
To read about Sayulita, Steph’s blog is the place to go.
17. Sunday breakfasts at Maria’s
Even though Karen and I are always on the move, we do love to have a routine. That’s why we loved the routines of San Pancho. Friday nights are Darjeeling nights and Sunday breakfasts are at Maria’s. Hailing from San Pancho herself, Maria serves up delicious food from morning to night. With the friendliest waiters in the world, every breakfast at Maria’s was a joy.
18. The nightly entertainment in the piazza
Every night as we headed home, we would pass a piazza just off the main street. Almost every night there was some kind of event happening. From the local brass band jamming to kids skateboarding. We would stop for a few minutes to have a watch. Right up to the end of our day, San Pancho kept us entertained.
19. The Community Spirit
If one thing encapsulates, San Pancho it is the community spirit. We think it is lacking in most places now but in San Pancho it is thriving. Remember Jerry from the taco place from reason 8? During our stay in San Pancho, Jerry’s wife gave birth to a beautiful girl. Unfortunately, she needed an eye operation and Jerry did not have all the funds for it. So the town got together and created a fund-raising meal and auction. Most of the town came out to the event, most businesses donated their wares and services which helped to raise double the amount Jerry needed. Talk about people power. We could all learn from San Pancho and it’s people. They prove that you don’t have to rely on governments or local councils to help you. You just have to look out for each other.
So thank you San Pancho for welcoming us into your community like we were old friends. We will never forget you.