Getting my house guests out of San Pancho and into Puerto Vallarta is a tough sell. The appeal of our little village is such that even hard core explorers turn parochial, reluctant to leave for a look at the world-class resort town an hour to the south.
“Take this,” I tell them, as I all but force a map with a walking tour into their hands. “Zigzag between the boardwalk and the hills above it. Vallarta has its charm. Go see.”
They go, but they don’t see. As a rule, after a stroll down the boardwalk, they say they feel besieged by hawkers and bus fumes. They rarely climb Vallarta’s steep back streets, lined with balconies above, the tiny spans overtaken by begonias, geraniums, “oreja de elefante” and “pata de leon,” color blazing from the rusted coffee cans that make do as pots. They don’t experience the renowned warmth of Vallartenses who give up the narrow sidewalks and offer a soft “Buen dia” as they pass. They miss peeking through the open front doors in Gringo Gulch that reward the nosy with sweeping views of the city and sea below. Instead my guests opt for an early out, after a run-of-the-mill lunch at a tourist trap, and return to San Pancho to declare PV a bust.
To each his own, I concede. Flattering, too, that San Pancho has captured their hearts and minds. Still, it seems a shame to forego such an array of sights, shops, cuisine, and busy beaches made for people-watching, all of it right down the road.