Sun, Sea And Yuletide Blessings On The Riviera Nayarit

The festive tidings are rolling around once again. Facebook tells me that the John Lewis ad is having its annual media moment and Christmas markets are slowly but oh-so-surely beginning to seep into my Instagram feed. I feel a million miles removed from it all as I find myself lounging poolside at the Maraica Hotel in San Pancho - the self-confessed cultural heart of Riviera Nayarit, Mexico – dreaming of fried fish tacos and ignoring the countdown to when Christmas FM will blast from every car radio in Ireland.

It is my belief however, that nothing signals the arrival of the festive season more aptly than family get-togethers and friendship celebrations. And since I am currently luxuriating in jolly sisterly reunions, it’s fair to say the yuletide shindigs are well underway for these two McCarron family members.

It’s one thing reunioning on home turf whilst propping up your local bar or chin-wagging over cream teas, but add to that the eco-friendly elegance of Maraica by Casa Maria’s, complete with finished concrete floors and hammocks overlooking the vast Mexican Pacific coast, and you are next level blissed out.

Looking back, it has been nearly four months since I accompanied my sister to the bus station at 6am, through the sleeping streets of Sayulita, vowing to return to Mexico by November and relive the dreamy beach-themed days we had come to call real life. She was off to the Mediterranean to join a boat and replenish the good-timing funds, and I was off to see a good friend walk down the aisle on the banks of the Columbia River in Revelstoke, B.C. before road tripping back to NYC. The wedding was beautiful and New York the forever dream, but fast forward to the present and I have made it back to Mexico.

There is something magical about someone waiting for you at the airport arrival gates. Richard Curtis made damn sure to instill its wonderment in each of our minds, not least during the build-up to Christmas. And so I waited manically at PVR for my sister’s arrival before seeing her emerge, a vision in pink with messy blonde hair piled high – not one to be easily missed. Cackling furiously, we made our way to the outside airport bar to collect ourselves over an ice cold Pacifico and sensibly settle on Uber-riding it to our Maraica Hotel destination.

I had heard it said that the tranquil pueblo of San Pancho lends its cobblestoned rural authenticity to its brightly hued artisan establishments and musical abundance. Folk are forever lamenting its peaceful serenity, its art scene, its traditional essence and of course its lush jungle-wrapped golden beach with surf not meant for those faint of heart. I could feel its alchemy strike as its picturesque reality came into view.

Check-in was a zero-fuss affair and en route to our boudoir I clocked sight of the infinity pool jauntily located alongside the small bar/restaurant, twinkling beneath the bohemian-esque garden lights. I wasn’t to know it then but the following day would be spent horizontal by that pool, exposing my milk bottle white limbs to a midday sun scorcher, while listening to my sister exclaim “This would be perfect for my wedding reception” and chowing down on chunky homemade guacamole and tostadas. Made for a fetching sight I’m sure.

Our room bore that exotic minimalist appeal you see in the likes of Architectural Digest, punctuated with splashes of Mexican flavour by way of colour and accessories. I idly rocked in our balcony hammock, ogling the hazy blue of our panoramic view and day dreaming about how I could happily live forever in this one room, big and airy as it was. I envisioned myself walking barefoot, clad in breezy cheesecloth and talking to my indoor tropical flora garden while sipping beet juice, feeling all earthy and connected.

The sophisticated surroundings of Maraica and the sheer charm of San Pancho itself could not have welcomed us back more wholeheartedly into the bosom of life as we had come to know and love it in Mexico. But to run the risk of stating the obvious, it is the people who populate our lives that bring about the best stories for our memory books, not just a postcard-worthy view or trendy hotel.

As it happens, I have gone from sleeping in starfish mode on massive beds in airy rooms to sharing a bed with my sister and two other people I have only just recently met through friends of friends from Newquay - that other little coastal town I’ve come to cherish. So, while I can say I am thoroughly lapping up reunion time with the youngest of the McCarron girls, I am rather pleased to say that Mexico has lived up to all prior expectations by providing me with friendships I’ve no doubt will survive well beyond the silly season.