So Yulia came back from her morning run pretty excited. We had been talking all week about going out to Todos Santos, or some other small town to see something that was less resort like. Todos Santos was high on our list because of the Hotel California there, and because Yulia went there with her brother last year, who was in Mexico on business at the same time she was. Most of the tours that we had heard going out to that area were pretty expensive for what you got, and didn’t spend much time in the city in general. Yulia as it turned out was talking with the girl at the tour/rental desk, and the girl there told her that the best option was either to just rent a car and drive, or take the public bus. lots of the hotel workers commute daily from Todos Santos, and it is a quick drive if you aren’t on a tour that stops all the time.
With six of us, renting a car was only a little more expensive than the public bus, so we went with the car. There is only one road between the cities, so getting lost wasn’t that big of a deal. And since I have driven in southern California, I know enough roadside Spanish to get along. We signed for the car and the girl brought around a Chrysler minivan, which was perfect. There is a nice little ring road that bypasses the downtown, and it took us straight over to Highway 19, the main strip going north.
The road between Cabo and Todos Santos is a really nice, freshly paved four-lane highway – for the first two miles. After that, it turns back into the narrow, two lane road that twists and turns around the hills, climbing and diving along the terrain. Warning signs for dry creekbeds across the roads and wild cattle were everywhere. Every few miles there would be a nicely build gateway, announcing the entrance to Rancho Something Or Another, with no actual ranch or homes behind it, and no apparent way to drive into the gate. Land For Sale sign were everywhere, and it wasn’t too hard to imagine this whole area turning into the same kind of suburbs that Cabo has on the way from the airport, Big expensive houses on the water, with little support towns on the main road.
We eventually caught up to a slow moving truck, towing some kind of generator or other equipment, and shortly thereafter a rapidly approaching Tour Bus caught up to us. The bus driver had no interest in slowing down, and came right up to our rear bumper before slowing down. He jockeyed about a bit, and finally passed both of us on a downhill stretch, followed by a caravan of local trucks and cars, until only other tourists were behind us, also not interested in passing the slower truck. We finally got to slow down as we hit the speed bumps in Pescadero, which we were told is a very cute town. We chose to roll past Pescadero and get lunch in Todos Santos. A few minutes later we were there and looking for a place to park.
Yulia recognized most of the streets, and was pretty excited once she saw Hotel California. We parked just around the corner from the hotel, and headed into the little gallery on the side. It was actually a pretty nice gallery, but once you find out that the whole town is filled with galleries, you get really picky. The lady running the hotel (one of the owners) was very happy to spin us the tale about how the hotel was the inspiration for the song, even though none of the Eagles had ever been there, and have actively denied the song having anything to do with any actual hotel at all. But obfuscation is smart business in this case.
We walked around a bit, checking out the shops and galleries, looking for a place to eat. We came down to two places, and picked the one that had outdoor seating by the street. As usually, the food was fantastic, and the Margaritas were as big as your head (not my head, but maybe yours). The pico de gallio was so good we were eating it with a spoon. Yulia had a fantastic Chille Relleno, and I had a sampler of everything. It was also good to get out of the sun for a bit, even being just a bit further inland you could feel the difference in temperature that not having a ocean breeze makes. We talked to the waiter a bit, and told him we were from Seattle, which he had never heard of. We then mentioned that Yulia and the others were from Russia, which he had also not heard of. At this poiint we just commented that the tortillas were nice, and he was glad to hear that. A short time later, Yulia realized that this place was where she and Kolya had lunch a year before, and the waiter finally recognized her. We told him that we’d see him in a year, and he smiled and waved at us like the idiots that we were.
Along the streets we ran into a few more interesting things: a little shop ran by a big happy dog, with help from his owner; lots of Real Estate agencies, A business that advertised “problem solving”, and a new market for fresh fruits and vegetables with cool metal lizards on the walls. This place was very new, and stood out for that same reason. It was also humorous to notice that all the dry goods in the store were “Kirkland” brand, from Costco. Sasha was pretty collected here, getting a bunch of mini bananas, taking then to the counter herself, paying in pesos, and saying “Gracias”, all from a kid who two years ago was nervous to talk to her own Grandparents.
The cactuses here were in bloom, covered all over with very beautiful, and really painfully sharp flowers, (only if you are an idiot and pick one up without thinking – note: me==Dumbass). Further into town we found a little hole-in-the-wall hotel called the Todos Santos Inn. What was surprising was that once we went through the entry way, it was this exclusive beautiful hotel inside. And it was totally empty. We snuck past the front desk into the courtyard and were really amazed. The whole place was just amazing, little rooms on a brick courtyard, down a small set of stairs was a dining patio, down another were more rooms, the honeymoon suite, and a little pool. I went to the lobby to keep the hostess distracted, by seeming interested in the place and asking her rates and times, meanwhile, Yulia and the girls took a quick dip in the pool to cool off. When we left we thanked her, and left a trail of wet footprints on the way out.
On this hilly section of town, you could really see the difference in how the buildings are laid out, each curb was different in height by between two to three feet. Little concrete steps were built into the corners to get you up onto the higher curbs. I’m just glad I didn’t fall off without looking. We headed back towards the town center and to the Tequila Factory outlet. We had passed it earlier, and they had free samples, of which we did our best to determine the cream of the crop. A few bottles later and we were ready for church. As expected, the church is in the center of town and really serene. We stopped in quickly, sat for a bit, and headed out of town.
On the way back we wanted to stop somewhere nice for a few more beers, and Pescadero was supposed to be older and cute. It is entirely possible that there are two towns called Pescadero, because the one we saw was a mess. There was nowhere to stop, and nothing that was truly old either, it all looked like pretty new, pretty bad construction, run down and in need of paint and screen doors. It was also small enough that we were out of town before we realized it, and just kept heading south.
The road was totally empty for the longest time, then Sasha saw a place coming up, and we pulled in. It was located at KM post 69, and called Art & Beer. Personally, I chose beer at this point, but we were going to get both whether we wanted it or not. The place from the road looked like a farm or ranch or something. The fence was tall enough such that you really couldn’t tell. As we approached the gate, an old man with flowing robes and a beard, like a Mexican Jedi, came out and asked us if we were there for dinner. Not really knowing what was going on, I said we were there for some beers, and he told us to go in and find a table.
On the inside the place was a cross between a sculpture Garden, fine art gallery, Tavern, and Mos Eisley from Star Wars. It was pretty hot, so we got round of drinks to cool off, found a table at the end of the place near their “stage”, and relaxed for a bit. Every inch of the place was covered in some form of artwork, from paintings, to cocktail umbrellas in the woodwork to an old schoolbus painted up to mean some damn thing that I couldn’t figure out, but must have had meaning. New Age music was playing over the speakers, composed any played by the owners as well. Choosing Beer, I still got art.
The food was also great, we just had some fruit, all fresh, chips, a fish and Jicima spread, and a collection of insanely great salsas. These were too hot to eat, but too good to stop. We were all hopping about from the hot sauce, and drinking water to cool down as best we could. I bought a CD of their odd Music, and as we left to pay, we each got an extra beer on the house. We talked with the owner as we finished these, and apparently the place is a favorite hangout of many of the Hollywood types that live in Cabos. Anthony Hopkins is a regular, Michael Jordan another. Yet another Famous place that no one knows about.
We headed out, and as we drove, Gena noted that the signs on the side said “Curva peligrosa” or “Curves Dangerous”. As it turns out Curva is a Polish swear word for Whores, but since we didn’t see any dangerous whores around, we assumed this to just be a coincidence.
But we kept our eyes peeled, just in case…