4 – Following the Expat Trail to Todos Santos – Baja California

5: Following the Expat Trail to Todos Santos

30 August 2002
Let me paint a picture…
…of this moment. I am at the Aguilar Bus Station. It is a concrete square room decorated in the official blue, orange and white Aguilar colors. The ticket counter has blue iron bars protecting the pretty ticket agent (or the customer?).

A gringo sits across from me, reading a Spanish magazine and translating it into English with his phrase book. Next to him a little girl pretends to get a phone call and speaks with her imaginary friend to the sound of dial tone.

There are sleek new ceiling fans buzzing to no avail above, and strategically placed floor fans below which I myself have sat in front of. A few ladies fan themselves with newspaper and chat rapidly so that I cannot even pretend to follow.

Translating gringo just pulled his stocked mountain bike up to the entrance.

Little girl no longer talks to herself.

To Todos Santos

rush hour in Todos Santos
Ladies and Gentleman, rush hour in Todos Santos.

Outside the traffic is laughable. There is a strip of newly placed blacktop that autos fight over for a “lane”. No order, stop signs or streetlights. Stop signs in general are a joke, a waste of space. The bus seems to take up the entire road until we get out into the suburbs of ritzy Cabo San Lucas.

One quick note for all those who travel here via Aguila bus. The station is about a 15-minute Urbano bus ride from the centre. It is advised not to walk the excruciatingly long distance through some rather dodgy areas. Just walk out to the main road and flag the first mini-van looking bus with white chalk writing on its windshield and ask “el centro”?

Again dirt roads veer off the main highway to cinderblock hovels amongst the cactus and brush. I am glad that I escaped CSL when I did, as seeing this type of poverty is disturbing when compared with the glamour of beachfront hotels.

The scenery is unchanging. Brown, dying cacti amongst thirsty brush. The two-lane road winds through the desert and makes its way to the Pacific coast, which is startlingly beautiful in comparison to its desert shore.

Beautiful strings of white sand beaches meet blue waves… I cannot wait to learn how to surf in Todos Santos.

Way of Nature

Way of Nature Bed and Breakfast
The road ends here… at Way of Nature Bed and Breakfast, Todos Santos.

Finding a bed in TS proved none to easy. As it turned out, no one knows where the Youth Hostel is. Funny that. And why do they not know? Because it closed down a year ago.

The place where I wanted to learn how to surf, Todos Santos Surf Camp, is closed until mid-October. Lovely.

So I made my way down a dusty yet vaguely jungle-like driveway to the Way of Nature Bed and Breakfast. Craig greeted me and offered me a room for US$10 that suited me just fine. He told me the room I got usually goes for $40 but since it’s the off-season, sometimes it is just nice to have travelers around.

The bugs may prove to drive me insane, but I’ll have to suck it up as the money for two nights has been dropped.

Craig enlightened me on the odd situation with Mexicans and giving directions. They would rather bullshit you than not know where something is. So yes, they are incredibly friendly and willing to try, but are more than likely hindering than helping. Almost the exact opposite of the stereotypical male who will not stop and ask for directions – the Mexicans would rather not admit they don’t know where you are going.

After settling in I walked back into this one-horse town and wandered my way to the ATM followed by a spot of internet. This café advertised $50 pesos for 1 hour, so as I plugged away on the high-speed computer under the palapa roof I proceeded to fall in love.

His name escapes me, but he was the most beautiful, well-mannered man in the world. And if I had a yard back home, I would have picked up a travel partner. He was a little chocolate-colored puppy with black-tipped paws that’d curl up at my feet while I typed. He whimpered when I left, as did I.

As I write this I sit in the town square right in front of the historic mission church and theatre. One could imagine this place stung up with lights and a mariachi band on the raised stage at the opposite side of the plaza: couples dancing, sombreros perched on smiling heads.

Interior of Todos Santos' Mission
Interior of Todos Santos’ Mission, Iglesia Catolica de NTRA, Sra. del Pilar

The breeze from the Pacific is gorgeous up here. There really is a startling difference between the climate on the Sea of Cortez side versus that of the western coast towns.

Shut Up Frank’s

Sometimes wandering lands us in the best of places. I am pulling down two-for-one Margaritas in Shut Up Frank’s, a laid-back bar/restaurant on the Mexico 19. I decided on this place because of the four pretty surfer boys sitting out front, and I was in the mood for some human contact.

The bartender speaks very little English, about as much as my Spanish but the two older Mexican gentlemen sharing free appetizers to my right are fluent. They questioned me on my travels, especially about traveling alone, which never fails to shock the locals I speak with. Thinking back now I only met one traveler from Mexico while in Europe, as I understand getting a passport in Mexico is incredibly expensive. Another advantage afforded us non-third world inhabitants.

Vincent, Miguel and George were patient with my stumbling Spanish. We talked beaches and beer. They suggested, as the surfers did before they departed Frank’s, Playa Los Cerritos, a wonderful beach about 6k south of Todos Santos, just south of Pescadero. As Craig, the owner of The Way of Nature, was to teach me how to surf the next day, it was rad getting beta from the local brains.

Vincent hands me a marker and invites me to sign the wall with other travelers’ graffiti. My scribble?

“30 August 2002. Delara Adams. I came, I saw, I surfed.”