Mexico is a nation overflowing with remarkable natural wonders, pristine jungles and mountain forests, and a virtually endless supply of beautiful relaxing beaches. The tides and culture of the Gulf and the Caribbean play against the eastern coast, while the Pacific Ocean swells in from the west. The mainland area of Mexico narrows significantly as you travel south from the United States, and eventually the distance between the coasts – and their distinct cultural influences – becomes much smaller. In the tiny village of San Francisco – better known as San Pancho – in the state of Nayarit, Mexico, those influences have mixed in a special way, creating a local environment that is at once wholly traditional while being distinctly unique.
Not only do the denizens of San Francisco carry on their age-old traditions, but they carry on their respect and gratitude of their natural surroundings. Mexicans know the area San Francisco/San Pancho is nestled into as the Riviera Nayarit – a fifty or so mile long stretch of spectacular Pacific coastline tucked against the Sierra Madres and their rainforests and jungles. The area around San Francisco is entirely sub-tropical, spawning an immensely rich diversity of life in the waters, on land, and in the air.
The people of the area treasure this rich diversity, as it reflects the broad diversity of their population and its varied artistic, cultural, and ethnic influences. They are fiercely protective of the ecology and wildlife of the area, and despite the small size of the village, San Francisco boasts the support of a tremendous eco-community that is highly active. For nearly twenty years, the San Francisco-based Costa Verde Ecological Group has funded and led efforts to increase the critically low sea turtle population. Despite continuously diminishing numbers around the world, the non-profit group has been able to increase the sea turtle population off the coast of little San Pancho, Mexico by ten-fold since 1992. Recently, several locals halted the cutting down of hundreds of trees and the destruction of the town’s permeable stone streets by staging a spontaneous sit-in to protest.
Despite attempts to heavily develop San Francisco, aka San Pancho, into a resort spot, natives and ex-patriates from the United States have made a concerted effort to maintain natural state of the region. Over 500 species of birds live and migrate through the vast array of trees in the mountains and jungles. Scores of different mammals, reptiles and ocean life are actively protected and managed by the broad diversity of people who lovingly call San Pancho home.