Slow Travel///San Pancho, Nayarit and Guadalajara


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Nov 15, 2012
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Splurged; bored, day drinking mexican artesanals (anal! Ha!) and streaming american football bc it's nice to hear the english.
Here's my last few months, traveling in these uncertain times.

The big goal this year was to spend 2ish months doing big treks in Patagonia. I worked a shit job all summer up in Yellowstone and then West Yellowstone to earn the cash for it. When I started planning in Sept Chile's border was still closed due to COVID, and I wasn't sure I would be able to do what I wanted to do if I did go. Patagonia is a once in a lifetime type trip for me, so I didn't want to commit unless I knew I could do everything I needed to do while I was there.

I decided to scratch Patagonia bc of the uncertainty of travel but didn't want to stay in the states all winter. All the election bullshit was annoying and I had cancelled my winter travel plans last year bc of COVID as well so I was keen on a few months in the tropics. I started researching where I could go, with Brazil and Mexico being the final two. Brazil looked dope, but Mexico was so cheap and I felt more comfortable with getting home and/or being stuck here if any covid travel restrictions did happen while I was travelling.

A lot of times I end up in countries bc the airfare is so cheap from whatever airport I am closest too. I was in Flag for the fall but I had to drop my dog off at her mom's house before I left. (you know how people have baby's mama; I have a dog's mama. I'll never tell you to wear a condom, but, get a dog and pull out kiddos. It's for the best.) She lives in Tempe. After playing on Skiplagged for a while I found dirt cheap tickets from Phoenix to Puerto Vallarta and then two months later from Gaudalajara to Phoenix. I had done a lot of the Yucatan and some of the baja penisula so at least this was new. I decided to work my trip around the cheap airfare.

Usually when I travel it's a frenetic pace. I'm in a town or city for 3-5 days, see what there is to see, then onto the next. It amounts to a lot of travel time. Which I both like and dislike. It can get exhausting. I thought it would be nice to change that up, try the "slow travel" thing and choose one place to hang out for a month, still get to travel but minimize the hassle of covid travel. I make it a point to see the sea twice a year, but I haven't lived at the ocean for 15 years, so being a beach bum for a month sounded great. The idea of getting to know a town more intimately than a few days allows also appealed to me.

I started researching smaller beach towns close to Puerto Vallarta and decided on San Pancho, a town of about 5,000 about 30 miles north of PV, about an hour by bus from the airport. Money was good so I also decided to go full on bourgie for the trip and found a nice casita on AirBnB for $450 american total for the month. It had a small kitchen/living area and a small bedroom and was 3 blocks from the beach.

San Pancho is tiny, maybe about 12 square blocks total and one can see the whole town in an hour or two on foot. It's surrounded by jungle to the north, south, and east, then the ocean on the west obviously. It's touristy, but more so for Mexicans from the cities. There are a small amount of gringos there, but they are older, post 50 yo crowd that winter there so there isn't a backpacker/party vibe; that being said I spoke with more than a few people that said there are usually far more europeans and canadiens that come down for the winter but COVID kept them home. I was grateful that the town was quiet. The town isn't really built up for tourism yet. There is one large 4 story condo on the beach but that's it. Everything else is small. However I could see this town being completely blown up in a few years as there was a lot of construction going on there and development keeps moving north from PV.

All in all I thought San Pancho had a fairly authentic, laid back feel about it. It certainly has a beachy-bohemian vibe about it. There are a good amount of surfers there. You see dreadlocked, tatted ladies doing african dance classes in the park. Bc it's so small there is a clique-y social scene but for the most part that scene was approachable and everyone was nice. You know everyone after a week.

Aesthetically the town is very pretty. Cobble stone streets lined with colorful flowers and tall palms and birds always singing for you. There's a beautiful plaza on the north side of town to hang out at that has a market every thursday. It's very clean by latin american standards. The main strip is about a half mile long and has all the restuarants and bars. There is usually some pretty okay live music at one of the places 2 or 3 times a week. The beach is about a mile and a half long and free from any high rises or resorts. It gets crowded on weekends but for the most part you can find a nice patch of sand far enough away from people that you don't feel on top of them. During the week it wasnt uncommon for it to be almost completely empty. Sunsets on the beach were amazing, I think I missed one in the month that i was there. Camping on the beach is common and I usually saw a few tents set up every morning when I would walk the beach.

Cost wise San Pancho is expensive by Mexican standards, but cheap for those of us that live in the states. a 40 of Pacifico cost you $1.50, street food was $2-3 dollars for dinner, dinner at a restaurant will run you $5-8. If you have the capacity to cook you could easily live and eat well on $5 bucks a day. The fruit we are used to spending a small fortune on in the US is so cheap. Papaya and Pineapple were my favorite and I loved making frozen rum drinks with them.

A pleasant surprise for me was the drug culture. There was a large faction of argentinian hippies there and one can find a number of psychodelics at a very fair price if they fancy. I got 2 doses of Peyote and one of Ibogaine. I havent done the Ibogaine yet but had a lovely time staring at the ocean on Peyote, enjoying rich visual and auditory effects.
Weed of course is everywhere .

For a jungle adventure you can take the one road leading north outta town. After about a mile the road turns into a dirt jeep road and climbs up into the jungle. The road is about a 6 mile loop that leads to a very cool old buddha statue. You get some great views when you top out, and spend some stretches under the canopy. You can easily spend a day exporing up there. There is also a secret beach off the jungle road that I loved, about 400 meters long with tall cliffs on either side. A mile passed Bungalows de Lydia there's a clear single track path that descends down to the beach. I went there a bunch, it was almost always empty, and never more than 3 or 4 people.

If one gets bored in San Pancho you have some options for day trips or overnights. Buses are easy and cheap. PV is what you would expect, it's big and resort-y and expensive.
Sayulita is about 5 miles south, about 4 times the size of San Pancho, and the party/backpacker spot. Not for me but if you want to drink, dance, do a few toots and fuck, this is the place. 5 miles north is Lo De Marcos. I liked this lil town. Mostly untouched by tourism, there's not much to do here but enjoy the beach. There is also the marietta islands; which I didnt do bc you have to take a tour to get out there, but it looked really cool.

I still really wish I was up high in Patagonia as I've never felt the clarity that I feel when looking at that type of isolated beauty; and wanting that makes me feel like an entitled shit. I just got to spend a month in winter playing in the ocean, running in the jungle, and drinking frozen rum drinks. Happy New Year.

This got long and Im tired of writing. I'll sit down later and write down my thoughts on a month in Guadalajara and try and upload some pics.

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