We drove on the coastal road heading away from Puerto Vallarta, past the sign pointing to Sayulita, and veered right to make a left turn, a counterintuitive driving manoeuvre common in Mexico. Entering the tiny town of San Pancho, our rental car bumped along the cobblestone streets, a remnant of former Mexican president Luis Echeverría's effort to establish a self-sufficient model town there in the early 1970s. While that effort was deserted at the end of his term, San Pancho lives on as a humble fishing town with a reputation for some of the best seafood around.
The original plan was to base ourselves in San Pancho to explore the rest of Nayarit. With no itinerary for the town itself, we found ourselves stumbling upon gem after gem each day. The delightful feeling of genuine discovery felt like an anachronism in our age of global data plans and travel listicles.
Each day we woke to the persistent sound of roosters crowing. We watched locals skateboard to the beach with surfboards in tow, as eateries slowly unfolded their tables for the day's business. Strolling the narrow side lanes in the afternoon, we soaked up vibrant colours and architectural textures. Sat by a rickety streetside table, we ate oysters presented on stones with chorizo and crème fraîche followed by fish chicharrón tacos. A spirited game of pick-up basketball materialised around sundown, mere steps from the sand. A trio of teenage boys began to breakdance at dusk, captivating people dining on the main drag.
This series of simple moments unfolded at their own tempo, unhurried by the demands of urban timekeeping. This is all a traveller truly seeks.