I’m typing this as I sit in the kitchen in the home we are renting in beautiful San Pancho, Mexico, while we await the end of thunder and rain storm that puts Portland, OR to shame. When friends warned us that it rains buckets during the rainy season, in Mexico, we didn’t know that we should actually expect to see buckets, and coconuts, flowing down the river in the street in front of the house.
We should have expected it, considering the house is just at the edge of a rainforest jungle, judging by the wild animal sounds that never seem to stop. We have enjoyed watching the dance of the fireflies each night before turning in, however, we are a bit annoyed with the mating calls of some of the tropical birds that seem to begin sometime between midnight and 2am. And we have learned not to leave our shoes outside overnight, not because of the scorpions, which we were warned of, but rather the wild mini attack crabs, who seem to percieve humans as their biggest threat on earth. Under normal circumstances, these creatures might be something to fear except for the fact that they are no more than 3 inches from pincher to pincher, so it is more of a comedy routine than anything we should be frightened of.
All of the experiences we have had since we’ve arrived have given us all a peek into the everyday culture in San Pancho. Our first night here gave us the opportunity to adapt to a new and unfamiliar place, the biggest challenge beyond the stifling heat, has been the welcoming of the many insects and bugs that are just everywhere. We were warned about the mosquitoes, common to any wet humid climate, and we came armed with bottles of very strong bug repellent and daily doses of anti-malarial medication. But, I don’t think any of us were prepared for what this meant in practical terms.
The home where we are staying is quite nice, relative to most of the homes in town. And the town itself, is by far the smallest town the kids have ever spent time in. But although the house is newer and well-cared for, it is very small and is by no means luxury accomodations. There are only 3 rooms – 2 air-conditioned bedrooms and a kitchen/living room. We are lucky in the sense that the home has hot running water, which is not a given in the rest of the town, however the outside bathrooms take a lot of getting used to. Yes, both bathrooms are sheltered, yet open to the elements. Which means that you have the sounds of wildlife as the background music, while you tend to your business.
I am certainly grateful for the hot water for showers, however I couldn’t resist investing in a mosquito repellent candle to ward off the mosquitoes in the bathroom, when we ventured back to Puerto Vallarta to shop at the super store “Mega” to pick up some food. I am also grateful for the AC in both of the bedrooms, which makes it possible to sleep comfortably and keeps the room fairly free of mosquitoes. It has been a challenge for Little Son E to remember to close the screen doors behind himself, but he is getting better about it and I’m sure he’ll get the hang of it before the end of the week.
Probably the biggest surprise for all of us has been how much we would enjoy the food . By now we’ve dined in 4 different local restaurants – which are often just the front of a local famiy’s home – and our favorite is definitely the one we visited the first night we arrived: Los Delfines. On that first night, we were greeted warmly by our server, though once we asked about ordering in English we were introduced to a young lady no older than 16, who became our way of communicating to all of the women who worked in the restaurant. The first challenge was choosing what we wanted to order because, although much of the choices were in english, many of the names of the dishes were not translatable in English. So we asked our young translator to describe what a Volcane and a Sope was and both Little Son E and I chose to try these new dishes. The rest of the family ordered familiar choices – fajitas, tacos, enchiladas, and quesadillas. And none of us were disappointed!
In fact, Little Son summed it up after his second bite when he asked, “Can we come here tomorrow?” Even our spanish hostesses understood what he meant and smiled with pride. Since we’ve arrived, we’ve become some of their best customers in town. We’ve decided that whenever possible we would eat at the local restaurants because for the cost, there is no reason to try to cook for ourselves. Our typical dinner at Los Delfines, came out to less than 200 pesos, which is about $16 (for 5 people).
We are all learning how to adapt to our new environment and enjoying the new experiences as a different way of life.