Sunday, April 3, 2016

A Week in Todos Santos

Todos Santos is a Pueblo Magico, one of 83 small towns that the Mexican government has designated as magical--somehow very special and deserving of attention (and tourist dollars).
Magical Todos
Even though the address of our casita is Todos Santos, we're about 10 miles south on Cerritos Beach. A few times a month, we drive down our bumpy dirt road and head over to Todos. When a friend asked us if we could housesit for him a week, we thought it would be a great opportunity to get to know Todos Santos better. And what a week it's been.

Lazy dog days
The palapa-roofed house is a stunner on a beautiful piece of property in el otro lado. Literally "the other side," that's what people call this area of town. Every morning we wake up to zillions of doves cooing. And some nights we can hear the waves crashing. It seems like there's always a breeze here. I was actually a little cold sometimes and had to put on a sweater. Mexico's climate has made me a wimp.

We enjoyed walking around the area. One day we hiked to La Poza, the closest beach. Not swimmable, but stunning.

La Poza
We hiked down the beach and then over to these rocks, climbing up and around to head back.

This water flows out of the huerta and sometimes connects with the ocean.

 On our walks, we saw all kinds of creatures.

Anyone know what it is?


pájaro amarillo y negro
Another day we walked into town on this road to do errands, including going to the optometrist to pick up my glasses.

I like the optometrist. He has a brilliant smile and knows very little English, so interacting with him challenges me to work on my Spanish. At his office that day, we also ended up talking with a Canadian who now lives here and teaches in the local school; he used to teach on a reservation in Canada. When Dave mentioned I'm a writer he said, "Do you ever help people edit their books?"

Universe, you crack me up!

Why yes, I said, I'm a writing coach--and he launched excitedly into a description of the Young Adult novel he's writing. The protagonist is an indigenous girl in Canada who becomes a political activist. I told him it sounded right up my alley.

Speaking of political activism, we saw this protest on the road...locals protesting this.

A lot of gringos have been drawn to Todos Santos. One morning when Dave and I were out for breakfast, a big guy and a big St. Bernard sauntered through the door. Kevin, who lives half the year in Montana and half here, said he came to that restaurant for desayuno every morning. Sure enough, he hadn't ordered but the waitress brought him his usual, which he shared with Romeo. One-year-old Romeo is a sweetheart and a galumph; he reveled in our hugs and slobbered all over us.

"Are you going to share that bacon?"
Rob, another American guy we met, told us he's ten months into a year-long around-the-world trip with his wife and two daughters. We'd been planning to come back to our casita to water our yard, so we invited them to our little resort's pool. His daughters (12 and 15) years old were so fun to hang out with. They are citizens of the world, having lived in Jordan and several other countries before spending this year on the road.

Rob talked about having an adventurous mindset, one free of conventional limitations.* He and his wife Nadia want to live now. They don't buy a lot of consumer goods--they don't even own a car--and aren't afraid of spending their savings to travel. For many years, they have lived and worked all over the world, so this year of traveling with their daughters is a natural extension of their lifestyle.

And as it turns out, Rob just got offered a job in Myanmar, a place we'd been hoping to go when we're in China. They will be moving there this summer. I have a feeling we will see them again.

You know you're in Mexico when...
In addition to meeting some great people, we've enjoyed stumbling across cool things happening in town. One night we heard music and followed our ears. We ended up at an open-air restaurant dancing to a really fun Mexican band playing a cool fusion of rock, funk, and reggae.

One Saturday morning we also heard some live music and discovered the main street was blocked off. The band played on a makeshift stage, and people milled about, waiting for bicyclists whose race began in La Paz and would be ending in Todos. Soon, the cyclists appeared in their colorful outfits, marked Costa Rica, Guatemala, and various other Latin American nations.
Fun scene.
Another thing that makes Todos Santos magical is its artsy vibe. Lots of musicians, writers, and artists live here--and the streets are lined with galleries. Many of the galleries double as art studios, so you can watch the artists work.

Our casita walls have been bare for two years, and we had a feeling that a week in Todos Santos would cure that. And sure enough, when we walked into a gallery and saw this piece by a La Paz artist, we knew it was the one.

Oceany and expressive.
One of the best parts of this housesit was taking care of Bonito and Negra, two of the sweetest watchdogs. You wouldn't know it are by looking at them (or hearing them bark and protect the yard), but they are love bugs.

Bonito likes to recline while eating.
When our friend asked us to housesit, we didn't hesitate. I like saying yes. Yes opens gates to lands you didn't even know existed.

The gate into the housesit property.

* PS: Speaking of traveling and living with a freed-up mindset, check out this piece I wrote about a young woman who is bicycling around the world.