So, it’s adios again. This summer’s sojourn to Mexico was short, just two months, due to sadness and celebration (sudden death and milestone birthday) in our family. Our entire time was spent in San Pancho, and the imprint of this funky little town on our souls is, as always, indelible. Those who’ve read my previous blogs or bought my book (thank you!) know what I mean.
Kahlua and Rufus were spending the summer in San Francisco and returned just a few days before we left for home, so we crammed in as many jungle walks and beach romps as we could. The only four-legged friends to keep us company over the long hot summer were Valentino and Pico, the “wild” cat, who, in the absence of dogs, became an unusually relaxed, highly affectionate little bundle of feral fur. We felt so sorry for him that, with the return of the dogs (particularly Rufus, who has it out for him, for some strange reason), he would once again be banished to the shadows, on the outside looking in, creeping in after dark to sneak some chow. He thought he’d had it made in the shade.
The dog-free days also allowed us more freedom. For the first time, we participated in Dia de la Independencia on September 16, celebrating Mexico’s freedom from Spanish colonial rule. In preparation, the town’s people decorated their homes and businesses in the red, white and green colours of their country; prepared the special dish chiles en nogada, which is stuffed poblano chiles covered in walnut sauce and sprinkled with pomegranate seeds and parsley, to represent the country’s colours; and toasted with a tequila or two. On the big day, it rained on their parade, soaking the school kids’ costumes but not dampening their spirits. The show went on.
A week later we partied hardy for San Pancho Days, held September 25 to October 4. The town celebrates its namesake, Saint Francis of Assisi, the protector of animals and the environment with nine days of religious observances, parades, decorations, fireworks and general frivolity in the form of a fiesta, of course. The carnival came to town with rides for the kiddies and “midway” games of skill for the adults. Rick tried his luck with one of those classic amusement park tests of throwing a ball to knock over pins for a prize. In rough-and-tumble, small-town Mexico, the game was scaled down to a line-up of beer bottles on a wooden plank and a mound of rocks to knock them over with. Prize? No plushy toys here. One smashed bottle, one beer. Two smashed bottles, two beers. Three down, you walk away with a six-pack. How’d he do? Well, we didn’t have to buy any beer that night.
We were really hoping to see the “fireworks bull”, which consists of some guy carrying a box of rocket-like fireworks on his head that randomly shoots out into the crowd, but depending on the source, it was either a nightly performance or cancelled for safety reasons (an episode of An Idiot Abroad aptly depicted the insanity of the display with title character Karl Pilkington running from the bulls in fear for his life). In any event, there was no event; we never saw it, no bull.
The summer sped by in a flash of lightning and thunder, murderously high heat indexes, time spent catching up with old friends and meeting new ones. Best of all was ending each night with our feet in the sand, an ice-cold cerveza in hand, while gazing at nature’s greatest show on earth, a fiery sunset over the crashing surf. Will we be back next year? As we’ve said every year since we started coming here in 2010, who knows? Que sera, sera. In the meantime, below are some lingering scenes of San Pancho vida, shot by the inimitable Rick Butler, but of course. (Check out more of Rick’s scenes of San Pancho here.)