After the hectic two days of midterms, we were all intensely relieved to finally leave for the long-awaited spring break. When we were accepted to the program, we were told that our spring break was five days in which we all had to leave campus. In college speak, five days actually usually means at least seven days, sometimes nine, because breaks in the states almost always include weekends. While these weekends are almost always used for travel, this means that you actually have five days to be on break.
Alas, here, five days meant Wednesday to Sunday; this meant that, because we had to take a long bus ride from PSC to La Paz, and from La Paz to wherever else we were going (and then do the reverse to come back to school), we really only had three days of relaxation in one place. While this was a bummer, we were all hoping that it would feel like longer, or that our travel time would be mitigated. When my friends and I started looking at places to go over spring break, there were two immediately obvious choices: Cabo San Lucas or Todos Santos. As it was described to me, Todos Santos is still primarily a tourist town, but is less built-up than Cabo. This was appealing to me because I am neither a particularly devoted drinker, nor someone who likes to be in a club until all hours of the morning. While this is still available in Todos, this is not the main focus.
There are a number of housing options in Todos. Initially, two of my friends and I had looked into the San Pedrito Surf Hotel because it was small, relatively inexpensive (particularly compared to anything we would experience in the US), and came with a full kitchen and many of the things you’d need to get started cooking. After some more looking and an invitation from some of the other girls, we ended up in a large house on the San Pedrito Beach (in fact, literally only two or three doors down from the Surf Hotel). The house we stayed in is called Dr. Robert’s Oceanside Oasis, and let me tell you, it’s an interesting place.
After several long bus rides (and I’m discovering that, rather than making my stomach stronger, these bus/van rides seem to be making my carsickness worse, thus making them feel very long), we finally made it into Todos Santos. There were three people in our group who hadn’t taken the bus because they were renting a car for us for the break. They were also meeting several friends who were flying in, and would drive down later. The four of us in Todos meanwhile had to figure out a) where our house actually was, and b) how in heaven’s name we were going to get there without a car. Fortunately, there was a taxi service readily apparent outside the bus station, and we were able to pile ourselves and our bags into the car and drive to the house. It turns out that the house is actually in Pescadero, which is a small and quaint town about six miles outside of Todos. It has little to offer in terms of shops, but does have some very good food, including an excellent flatbread pizza place (Napoli’s Pizza, which doesn’t look like much, but does have the best pizza I’ve tasted in Mexico) and Marlin’s, a fish taco place that also serves amazing American-style breakfasts (and will serve you pancakes at 8:30 at night if you so desire). There’s also an internet cafe there, although we didn’t visit. Pescadero is also one of the richest areas for agriculture that I’ve seen; it’s also the only place where I’ve seen organic produce grown. It was very striking to drive through so many agricultural fields and know that when I look at produce labels in the grocery store at home and see that it’s grown in Mexico, that there’s a good chance it came from Pescadero.
We drove past many such fields on our way to the house, which is tucked back behind the fields and it located right on the beach. While we still weren’t sure where exactly the house was, it quickly became apparent when we saw the sign that read “Dr. Robert’s Oceanside Oasis: Recreate, Procreate, Meditate”. After spending some time cracking up about the sign, we headed inside the gate to see two beautiful houses. We met Robert, the owner of the area. While he is incredibly…quirky, he’s also extremely hospitable and willing to do as much as he can to make the experience as fun as possible. Once we got the keys, ooh-ed and aah-ed over the kitchen that was ours for the next four nights, and thrown down our bags, my three friends (including one of my delightful roommates) and I ran down to the beach. It was as though we’d never seen the ocean before – screaming and shrieking, we ran straight in. As the water rushed around us, I felt the first inklings of relaxation wash over me. When we pulled our adult pants back on, we trucked up the hill and began to explore. We chose our rooms (Naomi, Amber, and I shared a room with a balconey, a queen bed, and a couch with its own bathroom) and got set up. Once the rest of our group arrived (including two guy friends of Ellen, who were an incredible breath of fresh air), we headed to Marlin’s for dinner and an early night.
The next morning began with an amazing run on the beach. PSC has basically no beach, and as I’ve mentioned, what is there is polluted and not appealing to run on. The San Pedrito beach is clean and quiet. I saw very few people, and those that I did see were clearly homeowners in the area, all of whom were incredibly friendly. After some cereal and a shower, I sat down to do some work. The boys surfed outside for a little while and the girls set up to watch. After some lunch, they headed to Cerritos, the other beach in the area which is highly recommended for surfing. We also headed into Todos in the afternoon to poke around a little bit and use the internet. We found a fantastic internet cafe, Cafelix, which had the best chocolate chip cookies in Mexico. The owners were incredibly friendly and helpful in pointing out places to go. After some wandering around (and ogling the incredible jewelry that is one of the trademarks of Todos), we ran to the grocery store for more food. We headed home to make an amazing pasta dinner and to start the night off right. While I didn’t partak in the drinking, I did learn to play flip cup, a hilarious drinking game that involves embarrassing punishments for the losers. My team got off to a winning streak that lasted the rest of the week.
The next morning began without a run, but with plans to return to Cerritos and rent boards for those who wanted to learn. The boys and Ellen were willing to teach everyone who wanted to learn, and as a result, we didn’t have to pay for lessons. I slathered on my sunscreen (unfortunately, I still got burned) and got ready to play on the beach. I was the first one Ellen worked on teaching, and while I am in no ways a natural, I had so much fun and stood up several times (in baby waves…). For anyone looking to take lessons, Mario’s La Diablo Blanca surf shop does give lessons that are very well-reputed. After some laying out and reading, we all packed up to head back to the house. The boys cooked for us and made incredible grilled vegetables and meat. The girls made guacamole and got everything ready for dinner. Both of the home-cooked meals we made were unbelievable, and were such a flavor of food from home.
On Saturday, we made plans to head into Todos for everyone who had wanted to purchase things on Thursday, but hadn’t had the time. I went to a number of shops to find gifts for family and friends. While there are a number of beautiful shops in Todos, it is also important to know that most of the shops carry variations on the same things. As a result, it is also important to know if you are being ripped off. I am the last person who is interested in haggling, but when my friend purchased vanilla for 75 pesos and I was getting charged 100, I was more than willing to stick up and comment on the price difference. The point here is to shop around and find the best prices. I am also fairly sure that there are probably stores that carry more unique items, but they probably also take more work to find. If you are willing to put in the time, however, Todos has some amazing things to offer. I was really pleased because I was able to find a thick, nice Mexican blanket for a very reasonable price – my souvenir for this experience.
I spent the rest of the day relaxing in my pajamas in my bed watching Juno. Others went to Las Palmas, another well-known beach in the area which is supposed to have wonderful waves for playing in, but not for surfing. The pictures my friends took suggest that the area is beautiful and definitely worth visiting. After this, a group of my friends stayed in for dinner and chatted for most of the night, while others went out. They found an incredible wine and tapas bar, and then went to the Hotel California (yes, the very one mentioned in the song) for live music. Todos is known for its live music, and the Hotel California is only one of the venues in which music is played.
When they returned, I headed for bed. We had to get up early the next morning to leave for La Paz, and I was exhausted from the week. When we woke up in the morning, we frantically cleaned, ate, and packed before catching the bus from Todos to La Paz. In La Paz, we found a wonderful cafe with internet, and a fantastic ice cream place. We waited for the bus, caught it to PSC, and finally came back. It was once again a letdown to come back to PSC after being in such a beautiful and different place, but there was also something reassuring about coming back to school – in part, we were all reunited again, and we were able to hear the stories from the girls who went to Cabo, and to share our own stories with the group.
Unfortunately, as I mentioned, there are no immediate pictures from this trip – I have some on my phone, but haven’t had time to upload them – hopefully soon!