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Time to stop. A new life in San Pancho

Bridges and Balloons beach

I’m writing this from the roof terrace of my new home, surrounded by palms, fuchsia pink flora and the sounds of tropical birds. Later, I’ll walk three minutes to the beach to watch the sunset as surfers catch waves in the evening light, and volunteers release baby turtles into the ocean. On my way I’ll pass new friends – bartenders, artists, musicians. When you walk through San Pancho, Mexico, it’s as though the whole village smiles.

Sunset at San Pancho

My yoga teacher training was up in the jungle, an hour’s walk out of town, but we came down once or twice a week, high on our freedom from the awesome but intense retreat. I made dear friends, was enchanted by the sunsets and cobble-stone streets, and felt inspired by the active local community. It felt like a paradise, and as I pondered the question ‘where next’, it slowly dawned on me that I didn’t have to leave.

Would Steve like it?

Steve was away for the whole month of the training, the initial two weeks extended as he successfully chased an elusive but awesome interviewee across India. I worried that he might not like it in San Pancho – perhaps yearning for city-time rather than a one-street, tiny town – but when he got here, on the day my course ended, he fell easily for my paradise’s charms.

San Pancho beach in Mexico

Now we’ve moved into our beautiful apartment in the centre of town. We initially planned to stay two months but have extended that to five. Steve is working on the edit of his feature film Continuum, and in March the rest of Planetary Collective will join us down here to work together on the film.

A different pace of life

My life is very different to how it was in Ecuador. Instead of working 12-hour days online, I begin each day with my own yoga practice, and then teach a Vinyasa class in the town plaza. If you’d told me this before I did my yoga teacher training course, I’d have laughed, but my teachers showed me I could do it.

Fruit for yoga

My class ranges from 3 students to 15 and we’ve built a little community around it, often going for breakfast together after class. I offer the lessons by donation and get all sorts of treats in return – from meals to cash to massages to a weekly box of fruit. Most of all, I get the satisfaction of teaching. I love every part of it, and it’s an amazing opportunity to be able to practice my teaching four times a week.

Finding balance

Returning to the computer after four weeks on my course with barely any internet was difficult. I had gotten used to living in nature, absorbed by the practice and study of yoga. The hum of my laptop felt draining and toxic. Before the course, I had been spending too much time looking at a screen and I didn’t want to fall back into that habit. On the other hand, I still wanted to write and work on this blog.

Digital nomad San Pancho Mexico

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been learning to find a happy balance. Most of the morning is devoted to yoga, and afternoons are alternated between the blog, freelance writing and yoga study. At some point, the Vegetarian Travel Guide will be added to the mix, but for now it’s on hold while I wait for the designer and programmer to reach the next stage. It’s a process that will continue to evolve but I’ve definitely learnt that time away from the screen, and face-to-face interaction with people, is something that’s important to me.

Our community

Another aspect of San Pancho that Steve and I are enjoying is having a community of wonderful friends. Right from the very first time I wandered down to the town, I started to meet and make new friends. It was the off-season when we arrived so we met the people who live here – a mix of Mexican locals, ex-pats, volunteers, artisans, musicians, long-term travellers and seasonal workers. There are also a few ibogaine clinics, used largely to treat drug addicts. Many of the patients stay on for a while to continue their recovery, adding an interesting element of retreat and healing to the town

Down to San Pancho beach Mexico

A month after we moved here, we hosted Christmas at our house and ended up with around 30 guests. It already felt like a sort of family and, while Steve and I have enjoyed our time travelling alone, it felt good to be with others. We like walking down to sunset and knowing we’ll likely bump into someone. We like watching our musician friends play every week, and it’s great when the shopkeepers know our name.  The street dogs even recognize us. And although tourists are now arriving, it’s still very low-key, with most of the partygoers heading to nearby Sayulita.

Small-town life

Both Steve and I have spent 10 years living in London and we wondered if we’d ever be able to adapt to small-town life, away from the cultural deluge of the city. This time in San Pancho is proving we can – perhaps not forever, but for now it feels like paradise.

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Comments

  1. says

    Good luck with Semana Santa! We were going to stay forever in Sayulita but got pushed out because there just wasn’t any room in the inn (LITERALLY).

    I love that part of Mexico. I long to head back.

    • Victoria says

      Luckily, we already have our apartment all booked up. We were lucky to find it before prices were hiked up for the holidays. Sayulita is just a ten-minute drive from here. We go there now and then and love it – it’s small but feels like a city compared to San Pancho!

    • Victoria says

      It came as quite a surprise to us when we realised we wanted to stay put, but it feels like exactly the right thing for us now. We love getting to know the place well.

  2. Tabitha and Ben says

    Dear Steve and Victoria,
    Ben and I just read your post from the comfort of a sofa by an open fire in Sussex with snow on the fields outside… And it captured the spirit of San Pancho beautifully. Of all the places we visited on our overland trip, it was the town we felt we could live in the most.
    And so I’m glad you are doing it for us! (or ahead of us…!)
    Ben wonders whether Steve’s got on a board yet, and is dreaming of the Kumbh Mela…
    I’m currently searching for a yoga teacher training course in March (the Feb dates didn’t suit). So you have inspired me Victoria!
    Much love from us both xxx

    • Victoria says

      Aw, we miss you guys! Come back! I’m likely doing my second teacher training in September with Drishti. It’s at the same time as the 200-hour, so if you went with them we could be there together! I’m delighted to hear you’re going for it. It’s really so much fun, and incredibly rewarding. It’s changed my life for sure. Hope to see you again soon! If you need help at Glastonbury, we may be around at that time :) Send love to Ben.

    • Victoria says

      Awesome. I didn’t know you were so close by. We love everything about Entre Amigos. It’s such an amazing place. I’m thinking of taking up trapeze lessons there!

  3. Jamie says

    Just discovered your blog and you have definitely ignited my adventurous spirit. My husband and I fell in love with Sayulita a few years ago. The charm of that area did us some good. A little jealous you will be immersed in it for a season of your new life. Thanks for the inspiration!

    • Victoria says

      Thanks Jamie. We love Sayulita too – especially the organic market on Fridays. It’s such a box of delights! It’s great to hear we’ve ignited your spirit – go, go adventure!

  4. says

    Wow, it sounds like you’ve got a beautiful way of life out there. I often dream of escaping the buzz of London and living somewhere as peaceful as San Pancho sounds.

    Looking forward to hearing how you get on with your yoga teaching. How long have you been practicing yoga for btw?
    Monica recently posted..Spotting the Big 5 in South AfricaMy Profile

    • Victoria says

      Hmm, I’ve been practicing yoga on and off for about nine years, but had huge breaks within that time (sometimes for more than a year). I’m by no means an advanced yoga practitioner but I’ve realised that isn’t essential for teaching.
      It really is beautiful here in San Pancho. I think I’d find London life way too busy these days!

  5. says

    Hi Victoria,
    I just arrived in San Pacho yesterday with my partner, David. So for we are loving the local flavor and character of this small paradise town. As i write we are sitting on our patio having a breakfast of fresh fruit, pastries, cafe, and yogurt surrounded by a concophany of birds, roosters, a baying donkey, street music, and children’s laughter. We are hoping to find bikes today, explore beyond Main Street and find your yoga classes.
    I am also a yoga teacher too and am hoping to practice everyday. Please let me know what your teaching schedule is and where I can find your class.
    Mira

    • Victoria says

      Hi Mira,
      How wonderful to hear from you, and I’m delighted you’re enjoying San Pancho as much as we do. Today is my day off from teaching yoga but I’ll be in the plaza (underneath the shaded area next to where they do zumba) tomorrow and on Friday at 10am. It will be lovely to meet you. I had a look at your website and it looks as though you do some beautiful work.
      Enjoy your day exploring San Pancho!
      Victoria

  6. says

    My personal paradise is Boracay Island in the Philippines. My family visited is one day and while we were there I was just overwhelmed by its beauty. You should visit it some time. Another place I love is Davao. It is a city but the people are so nice and you have everything there without feeling like you are in a rat race like most other cities.
    Thank you for sharing your adventure. It gives us inspiration to continue with ours.
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    • Victoria says

      Thanks Ted. That’s so wonderful to hear. We may possibly make it to the Phillipines while in Bali and will be sure to check out Boracay. It’s great to hear from people with similar tastes. Where is your next trip?

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