While we were still in La Paz in early May, the temperature started to climb and the weekend was predicted to be in the high 90s. This sounded unpleasant to us, so we looked for an escape and figured out that we could spend the time on the Pacific side of the Baja peninsula where it was significantly cooler. I quickly booked a really nice Inn and we planned to use our friend’s Penny and Lawrence’s (on N50 Northern Ranger) trusty little red truck to get ourselves there and back.
A day or two before we planned to go, we came out to the truck to find the battery was dead. Larry got to put his battery fixing talents to work sourcing parts and replacing the terminal connectors.
On Friday we drove out of La Paz, which seemed to go on forever in the hot sun, with the same type of urban sprawl we have in the US. About halfway across the Peninsula, we suddenly felt a welcome and distinct drop in temperature as the Pacific breezes kicked in.
Approaching Todos Santos we drove through lush irrigated fields growing crops we couldn’t quite recognize. In town, we found the old streets to be narrow and quaint in the restored part of the town. Our hotel, The Todos Santos Inn, was in a recovered sugar plantation home, with a lovely interior courtyard and small swimming pool. Our room was at the far end, opening onto the courtyard, and it felt like we were nearly the only people there.
This was the first time we had been off the boat overnight in nearly 5 months. I luxuriated in the very large shower where I didn’t have to keep my elbows in, and unlimited hot water.
The town is popular as an artist enclave – mainly American and Canadian artists from what I read – and has many galleries. Nearly all of them were either closed or only open for appointments because of COVID, so we decided not to focus on looking at art. The historic section of town was a few streets lined with beautiful old restored buildings, and the town square was bordered by the church. The square itself was not the focus of town activity though, a change from most Mexican towns. Rather, the commercial streets with restaurants galleries and boutiques seem to be the most heavily traveled. There were a fair number of tourists around, fairly evenly split between Mexicans and Americans.
There were a number of restaurants with outside seating. Because of the slow season, we were fortunate to get a table at the last minute at El Refugio Mezcaleria, which serves traditional indigenous dishes and mezcal. Noel Morales, the chef, is a Mexican man from Guerrero and an expert in traditional arts and food, and his wife Rachel Glueck is an American writer who published a beautiful book called the Native Mexican Kitchen, which I am enjoying reading for a lot more background on the culture and the explanation of foods and how to use them. I am inspired to make some of the dishes now that I understand the different types of chilies and how to use them.
Strangely, it is difficult to get to the beach at Todos Santos. We are not sure if that is by design, since the waves are quite strong and the reason this is a popular surfing area, so maybe they don’t want unsuspecting tourists to drown, or it’s just the way the town developed, but we spent a good bit of time driving carefully down narrow one lane sandy roads toward the beach side attempting to find an actual path to the beach.
We finally succeeded by following the instructions to reach Laguna La Poza from some blog posts and Google maps, which does map out the dirt and sand roads. The trip took us up the hill between the town and the water, past a neighborhood of vacation casitas and larger homes, through a lowland area with dense tropical vegetation and barbed wire and the sudden appearance on my side of the road of a man in camouflage gear and a machine gun who was talking on a cell phone, before we found a place to park the car. We avoided getting stuck in the sand, and crossed the dunes to the beach and the lagoon.
I had read a variety of information in articles and blog posts discussing Laguna La Poza as a bird watchers haven. But I had also seen some complaints about the decreasing water levels in the lagoon from development and other issues, and so was not totally surprised to see both the homes right on the edge of it and the lack of any real sign of bird life.
We enjoyed watching the crashing waves and the fog that drifted across the scene. All in all, an enjoyable respite from the boat and the heat!