Fast forward to last Saturday night at the polo club. The field is where the mango orchard used to be—when San Pancho had huts. Viewing is from multi-leveled terraces, some with sofas, some with tables, some with, well, beds. Queen-size, white leatherette, green suede bolsters and pillows. One expects grapes to be peeled. Twenty ponies are stabled on the opposite side of the field. Our players have nice white pants, high boots, knee guards and lovely posture. The sweet night comes on, the field is lit, and we sip wine and eat lobster as we watch the matches.As you come up from Vallarta, just before the town where the big corn field used to be, you can’t miss the vast Cultural Center and its satellite condos. You can’t miss the fears of the townspeople about them either. Will the size and composition of the community shift San Pancho’s center of gravity? Can galleries with classy art, a 5000 square foot common room, restaurant, spa, and boutique hotels add anything of value to our happily balanced mix? There is, however, a movie theater.
Today, the seaside town of Kuta, in Bali, playground of Australians, resembles Vallarta with big hotels and hundreds of shops and restaurants. In 1970 my husband and I visited for the first time and shared a sunset on Kuta beach with a sarong-clad old guy, gone native. Just the three of us and a kid selling coconuts, the tiny thatched-roof village behind us. “You think Bali’s great now, you should have seen it in the Fifties,” he said. But then added, looking vaguely out to sea, “Of course, you had to put up with people saying, “You should have seen it in the Thirties.’ ”