San Pancho Francisco
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San Francisco, A Town Where Nature and Culture Intertwine
San Pancho, known as San Francisco on the map, is a little town along HWY200 in Mexico north of Puerto Vallarta.
San Francisco, also lovingly nicknamed as San Pancho, is a charming, non-commercialized town in Riviera Nayarit. This tropical town is a one-hour drive from Puerto Vallarta airport and sits near the mountainous Sierra Madre Occidental. San Francisco has beautiful, clear beaches and is covered with lush jungles teeming with jaguar, reptiles, bird species, and some exotic animals.
Indigenous tribes were said to be the first inhabitants of San Francisco. The Spanish soon arrived in Mexico, and in 1524, the Spanish called the town San Francisco de Azapan. People began trooping to San Francisco until its population grew. Yet, it maintained its quaintness and charm as a small, rural town.
The locals lived as fishermen and crop growers, following a rather traditional townsfolk lifestyle. Apparently, San Franciso lacked the grandiose of urban living, testament to that is the locals’ humble palapa homes, which neither had electricity nor water.
But in 1970’s, President Luis Echeverria took note of San Francisco. In fact, he built his vacation mansion in the town, along with a hospital and a few schools. With this, he intended to make San Francisco a self-sufficient town and a Third World village model. His plans, however, ended as his term ended. But the town continued to benefit from his efforts. And it gradually became the town that it is today.
The Culture Hub of Riviera Nayarit
San Francisco is touted as the cultural capital in Nayarit. This doesn’t come as a surprise, since San Francisco has maintained most, if not all, of the Mexican traditions. Aside from cowboys passing through the streets and history-rich pueblos that line the town, different art museums, galleries, restaurants, and tourist centers resound with Mexican culture and traditions. The modernity of the times seems to skip San Francisco, as it sits still with its culture and history intact.
Art appreciation activities are also held in the town on a regular basis, in part to give honor to artists and in part to maintain the artistic sensibilities of the residents. Art expositions and exhibits, for instance, are staged in different galleries in San Francisco. The town also celebrates an annual music festival.
The presence of the Huichol Indians in San Francisco also makes the town all the more charming. Their culture, community, artistry, and art crafts and handicrafts give another dimension to the innate splendor of San Francisco.
San Francisco holds an interesting mix of cultures. The culture of the locals plus the cultures of the foreigners living permanently in the town make San Francisco a very culturally diverse community.
The Nature to Behold
As much as it is culturally engaging, San Francisco is a beautiful gift of nature. The wonderful beaches that are a favorite among surfers, the diversified population of animals, and the mountain ranges and jungles to explore are the gems that locals, expats, and visitors hold dear to their hearts.
Although it doesn’t adopt the modernity of the times as much as other Mexican towns have, San Francisco remains a wonderful place to stay in. Its tranquility is incomparable, and its loveliness is like no other.