Saturday, March 17, 2007

Todos Santos

You mention Todos Santos and most people think, artists, surfers, Hotel California, but I came away with one prominent impression: Big Ocean. There is one big, bad ocean out there, nothing like our lake-like Sea of Cortez off Loreto.

Todos Santos is charming, it is true. It is different than Loreto in many ways. It is an oasis town built on an aquifer near the Pacific Ocean. The ground is so fertile it is stuffed full of palm trees and tropical plants and mini produce fields. It is hilly, so I can see why people compare it to Carmel-by-the-Sea in California. The air is cooler and it is less windy. And yes, the sky does seem to have a warm glow that artists claim Taos or Santa Fe share.

The Pacific makes it's presence known through sound: It is very loud. The surf break on this stretch of the Baja is extremely fierce. Surfers prefer the breaks to the north and south. They call the Todos Santos surf, "Killers" and deem it for experts only. The beach is not safe for swimming and there have been many drownings. A few days before our visit a man drowned saving a young boy when the lagoon he was playing in broke open into the ocean, a frequent occurrence. We did not know these stories when we checked into the wonderful, Posado La Poza , the small hotel behind the lagoon, but a stroll down the beach later put us in a respectful state. You don't want to mess around with a powerful force like that. Yet, what a sight it is. The sand is clean and light. The horizon is distant and unbroken. The glimmering sun on the water against the blue sky is enchanting. We darted and dodged the edges of the surf as it chased us, but we never got more than shin-deep.

La Poza is the perfect place for escape, it's secluded and tranquil. It consists of just a few bungalows oceanside. A Swiss couple owns and manages it expertly. I had the most amazing appetizer in their restaurant. Something with shrimp, oranges, and avocados. I noticed something black and furry at my feet. It was a cute little mutt that wandered in to find a comfy spot. No one seemed to mind. The grounds around the hotel are beautiful. Paths meander through a botanical garden of tropical and desert plants and statuary. The salt-water swimming pool and hot tub was ours alone; everyone else was out of sight. After sunset we sat at the edge of the hotel grounds and watched the stars in pitch darkness. I tried to tell what I knew of the constellation Orion and how he was banished to the skies for chasing women. I pointed out Pleiades and told about the seven sisters who, too, are frozen in the sky. This must have sounded like ghost stories to Allison who began to grow timid; more so, when we began pointing out different stars and planets and discussing how far away they are and what might live there, etc., etc., which leads the human mind to disturbing questions about creation, existence, the great unknown. I began to feel the unease that comes with recognizing just what little specks we are in a big universe. Meanwhile, the Pacific is roaring at us from just a stone's throw away, each break reminding me of a big lion paw stretching out to randomly snatch something up.

The next morning we explored the little town. We admired the hammered copper sinks in one shop near the mission. We peeked into the Hotel California; it looked pretty hip. We ate beef tacos at a little roadside stand. We met a realtor who showed us a lot overlooking the ocean and we wondered if we could live in a place like Todos Santos. All this took less than three hours. Then there was nothing else to do, which is probably the point of a place like Todos, and probably why it's not for us at this point in our lives, so we headed down to the highway towards Cabo San Lucas.

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