Sunday, September 25, 2011

Gringos en San Pancho


As we touched down in Puerto Vallerta, the flight attentant came on the loudspeaker and told everyone to “Give it up for Mexico!”  He let out a whoop and the whole plane joined in.  We quickly and easily passed through Customs and exited the air conditioned airport into the thick, hot air of Puerto Vallerta.  Once we made it past all the taxi drivers, who get out of their cabs and follow you, claiming to “have a good rate for you, amigo!”  We hopped on what we guessed was the right bus.  We got off a few blocks away at a bus depot, and after a while, were on a (thankfully air condidioned) bus to San Pancho.  

San Pancho is a small town just north of Sayulita, to the north of Puerto Vallerta. 

There are only 1600 permanent residents, and no large hotels.  We’re renting the ground floor unit of a large home owned by a Canadian couple, who spend the winters down here.   The town is wonderful for it’s small, sleepy feel.  The main street is lined with little shops; mini-supers that sell food, little clothing shops, a paint store, carnercerias selling meat.
We thought this was yogurt- "Cream of cow acidified," but it is actually sour cream!   
 The food has been fantastic so far.  (And we’re both feeling fine and healthy.)  We had some really excellent shrimp empanadas for dinner one night, at a cute little place off the main drag.  We also have come to look forward to Wednesday and Sunday evenings, when the churro truck is in town.  They’re hot and fresh and served on a sheet of brown paper after being dredged in cinnamon sugar, and are a complete steal at 5 pesos each.  My mouth is watering right now.  Yum. 

A fantastic dinner beneath a palapa roof.  
A churro fresh from the fryer.  
The produce is also excellent.  We buy it occasionally at a little shop up the street, but more often from a truck that drives around town with a loud speaker blaring, “lechuga, cebollas, tomates, manzanas, cebollas, bananas, cebollas.”  (He always seems especially proud of his cebollas, the onions.)  We always scramble for shoes and money when we hear him coming. 

Our purchases from the fruit truck only added up to 42 pesos, or about $3.80.  
 There are three schools, and in the mornings and early afternoons the streets are full of children in uniforms, running and calling to one another.  I especially love seeing the littlest girls in the afternoons, with one knee sock hanging down over their mary-janes, their oversized backpacks limply strapped to their shoulders, happily crunching on a bag of cheetos that vendors sell only when school gets out. 

A peanut vendor on the beach.

We’ve been spending a lot of time on the beach, both here in San Pancho, and at Sayulita, which is a 10 minute, 80 peso cab ride down the highway.
Beach time in San Pancho
Actually, the first day we went there, we were heading down the road to the highway, looking for a cab, when a little red car with a young couple in the front seats stopped.  “Going to Sayulita?” the pretty girl in the front seat asked, in Spanish, of course.    We  nodded, and she motioned us to hop in.  So we did.  Unfortunately they only spoke really rapid Spanish to one another, and we didn’t really get to meet them before we were dropped on a street corner in Sayulita.  But we’ve seen that little red car around town, and they always wave at us… Maybe we’ll get another chance.  

This dog, who is called Mats by everyone in town, has adopted us.  Whenever he sees us leaving the house, he trots alongside on our way to the beach, or the plaza, or wherever we're headed.  He's showing us the back way to the beach in this photo.   (It's a good thing we didn't drive here...  He may have snuck into the van on our way home!)
Sayulita has a much better beach for beginner surfers.  I had more success there than I have here in San Pancho.  Cody has been killin’ it, both here and in Sayulita.  I have been, well, more like getting killed than killin’ it I suppose.  I don’t enjoy getting my sinuses filled with salt water, but I really enjoy being out on the water, and paddling is great exercise.  Good thing we’ve got lots of time to practice!

Trying to catch a wave... 
Where'd that surfboard go? 
The other evening when we were out on the beach, Cody was surfing with a couple of Mexican kids.  Edgar and Armandro are locals here, and Edgar especially had been just shredding the waves all afternoon.  We talked to another gringo on the beach, and he had nicknamed Edgar “Rocket Man” because he just flies through the waves.  Anyway, Cody made friends with these kids, and just as he was leaving they asked him if they could come over and see the house sometime.  Cody of course, agreed.  On our way home, I made sure to buy a few cokes to have in the fridge for our new amigos! 
Edgar in action.
Tonight is supposed to be the first night of the San Pancho Fiesta.  In fact, as I write, the brass band that has been practicing in our neighbor’s backyard is hard at it, presumably preparing for the eight days of food, music, and partying that are upcoming.  We were chatting with Juan, the man who waters the garden at our house, and he told us there will be a rodeo, and all sorts of festivities. 

A bull in someone's back yard.  
In the mean time, we’re loving San Pancho, and looking forward to next Wednesday when our friends Brian and Hannah come down!  (And it’s also churro night.  They’re in for a treat!)  

¡Vive los suenos! 


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