Consider the location of the beach – an easy five minute walk along San Pancho’s main street which ends at the Plaza with its statue of the village’s patron saint, Francis. Look over his shoulders, beyond his hands full of birds and blessings, and there it is: a roiling open sea and a stunning mile-long stretch of white sand lined with palm trees.
The river which runs through San Pancho empties into a lagoon where the birds — herons and frigates, pelicans and egrets — hang out. Stray horses can often be seen lounging around this estuary, nuzzling one another, occasionally snorting. The peacefulness of the scene – there are only three small restaurants at its center, and except for a dozen or so houses, the beach is relatively undeveloped — is regularly shattered when a school of mahi mahi or red snapper or some other delectable fish swims by and all hell breaks loose in a frantic flurry of feathers and beaks and head-first diving.
Tourists look up from their margaritas, order more shrimp tacos and smile at the freedom, the vast delicious reeling freedom of the sea and the birds and the sail boat on the horizon. Because the ocean here is ornery, calm one moment and tossing like the devil the next, the beach is rarely crowded. At certain times of day, planned properly, you might well be the only one watching the fishing pangas heading out or the curling crests of waves turning emerald in the gold light that falls when the sun takes its first peek over the mountains to the east.
San Pancho Beach, with a large rock cliff jutting into the sea at both ends, is as lovely as any I have ever seen. On the north headland, cunningly tucked between its massive boulders – easily climbed like a staircase -are tiny mini beaches, large enough for a Tommy Bahama chair and umbrella. The view down its length to the mountains and distant bays to the south is the sort of miracle you don’t expect to find after a lifetime of middle-class wages and absent pensions.
For most of us who live here, this beach was why we came. Along with the jungle that covers the surrounding mountains and the welcoming community of Mexicans who live here, the sea was a symbol of paradise found. We called the vultures buzzards and disregarded the unpaved streets, the ravenous summer bugs, the drug cartels.
Considering all of this, the short walk, the splendid destination, the solitary pursuit of nature at its best, why then do I not take more advantage of the reason I came in the first place? Why do I not go daily, twice daily, to the beach? What is the inertia which holds me in place, sitting on my veranda with my first cup of coffee, watching the sunset as I read my book or write in my journal –all things I could easily do on the beach just as easily?
What is it in me – and us for I am not alone in this — that holds us back from embracing the joy that is barely five minutes away? Is it the walk? Though if that is the answer – the walk — why not drive? Perhaps, it is because it is getting too hot. I should have walked more in December and January, in February and March. But now, now after beautiful April, perfect April, I am in May and it is a particularly hot May. Too hot to climb the rocks, too hot to sit and read under a yellow and white striped umbrella. It must be the heat, I think, as I consider why it is I do not go – the heat combined with the weight of the umbrella and the chair and the bag with the kindle and the water and the towel and the journal and the pen.
In considering all this, I come at last to realize a pattern. There has always been enough – yes, yes, I know such a cliché – and I, crippled with anxiety and doubt and bills and children and divorces and accumulated resentments and miscellaneous annoyances, have not recognized the abundance at the edges of my life. More to the point – I often ignored the offerings, preferring the inglorious nature of survival over the rich stew of recognition. Everything I needed and most of what I wanted has always been close by. And now the long-dreamed beach at the end of the main street is mine to have and I sit instead on the second floor veranda, peering through the foliage at a tiny slice of beach and pounding surf wondering why I am not up to my eyeballs in it.
This mind has a way of dealing with life which is deadly dull and complacent. And so I give notice: My name is Eileen, I live in San Pancho. I have ignored too much of what has been given. When I wake up on each of the next 30 days, I will consider how I can embrace the edges of my life as the Main Course. Today, the beach; Tomorrow, the world. The clock is ticking…